Are you passionate about fitness, enjoy creating a welcoming environment and love helping people achieve their health goals? If so, starting a gym could be the perfect business for you. In this guide, we'll take you through the process of starting a gym, from developing your concept to creating a business website and implementing effective marketing strategies. We'll also address the challenges that come with running a gym and provide actionable steps for overcoming them.
What is a gym business?
A gym business is a facility that provides fitness and exercise services to individuals. This type of business typically offers various workout equipment, fitness classes, personal training and sometimes additional amenities like showers and locker rooms. Gyms are designed to promote physical fitness, improve health and support individuals in achieving their fitness goals.
Why start a gym business?
Gyms have developed into more than just places to exercise—they have become integral to people's wellness journeys and social lives. The fitness industry is experiencing significant growth, with the demand for fitness services and facilities on the rise. In fact, by 2028, the fitness industry is expected to have grown 171.75% to $434.74 billion. As a gym owner, you have the opportunity to tap into this thriving market and make a positive impact on people's lives by starting this kind of a service business.
How to start a gym business
If you're passionate about fitness and ready to turn your dream of starting a business into a reality, here are seven helpful steps to lay a strong foundation:
01. Create a business plan
Develop a comprehensive business plan that outlines your gym's mission, target market, competitive analysis, marketing strategies, financial projections and operational details. This plan will serve as a roadmap for your business and guide your decision-making process. To get started, check out our guide on how to create a gym business plan.
Once you've written your business plan, write a concept statement to outline your vision.
How this business owner turned her understanding of her target audience into a successful gym business
Raquel “Rocky” Harris knows a thing or two about kicking ass. She’s a five-time Muay Thai champion, Team USA gold medalist, Fight Camp trainer (that’s basically the Peloton of boxing)—and, most recently, a thriving entrepreneur (see our guide on how to become an entrepreneur). Harris now uses Wix eCommerce to sell a collection of wellness products to athletes like herself as the founder of Warm Up.
“I was making my own hand sanitizer and thought ‘why don’t they have sanitizers that kill fungus?,’” she says. “ There are always breakouts in boxing gyms due to common skin infections like ringworms. Tea tree soap is anti-fungal, so I started adding it to my hand sanitizers, which eventually evolved into my sweat butters.”
She launched her first product line while training clients and creating Wix sites for her colleagues, all while moving across the country to shoot workouts for Fight Camp.
02. Select a business structure
Choose a legal structure for your gym, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC) or corporation. Consider consulting with an attorney or a business advisor to determine the best structure based on your specific needs, liability protection and tax considerations.
03. Obtain financing or capital
As you plan your gym, it’s important to explore different options to raise money for your business. These may include personal savings, loans from financial institutions, grants, partnerships or seeking investments from private investors. Research and prepare a solid business case to increase your chances of securing financing.
04. Set up accounting and bookkeeping systems
Establish accounting and bookkeeping systems to manage your gym's finances effectively. This includes keeping track of income, expenses, payroll and tax obligations. Consider using accounting software or hiring an accountant to ensure accurate record-keeping and financial management.
05. Choose an appropriate location
Selecting the right location for your gym is crucial to its success. Look for an area with high foot traffic, easy accessibility and sufficient parking. Consider the demographics of the surrounding population and the competition in the area. Lease or purchase a space that aligns with your gym's size, layout and amenities.
06. Source gym equipment
Research and source the necessary gym equipment to create a functional and appealing workout space. Determine the types of equipment based on your target market's preferences and fitness goals. Costs will vary depending on the brand, quality and quantity of equipment. Create a budget and compare prices from different suppliers to find the best value. Keep in mind, proper maintenance and regular equipment inspections are essential for the safety and longevity of your gym equipment.
07. Register, license and insure your gym
Before you apply for your licenses and permits, you’ll want to make sure you have a solid name for your business. Consider using a business name generator for inspiration. Once you’ve settled on a name, you can move on to registering your business with the appropriate government agencies and obtaining the necessary licenses and permits. This may include registering your business name, obtaining a tax identification number and securing health and safety permits. Additionally, you’ll need to obtain the right insurance coverage, such as liability insurance, to protect your business and members in the event of accidents or injuries.
What to keep in mind when managing your gym business
Opening and managing a gym effectively requires careful planning and attention to detail. With this in mind, we recommend focusing on the following areas.
Keeping on top of your inventory management is key. Regularly assess inventory levels and reorder necessary supplies to avoid shortages. This includes doing your due diligence to make sure you’re getting the best deals on supplies. These items can quickly add up, chipping away at your profit, so be intentional about sourcing to make sure you don’t get stuck overpaying. At the same time develop a system for tracking and managing inventory, such as exercise equipment, cleaning supplies and amenities.
Technology and software
Be sure to deploy technology to your advantage when managing your business. You can implement management software to streamline back-end and front-end operations, such as membership management, class scheduling and payment processing. At the same time consider integrating your POS system with inventory and CRM tools for seamless data synchronization, efficient reporting and improved customer service. Wix's POS solution does just this.
You can also make a website that has specific templates and features for gym owners like fitness program information, class schedules and online reservations. Check out Wix’s Gym Website Templates for inspiration.
Make sure that your gym is a clean and welcoming environment that customers will want to return to. In order to ensure this you’ll need to develop and enforce cleanliness and maintenance protocols to ensure a safe and hygienic environment. If equipment is broken or not properly maintained, it can not only be an inconvenience for your members, but can be dangerous as well, so you’ll need a maintenance process to tackle this. At the same time, seek feedback from your gym members and address any concerns promptly to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.
Employee training and procedures
Prioritize providing comprehensive training to employees on gym operations, safety procedures and customer service. This should include clear guidelines and procedures for opening and closing the facility, managing memberships, handling inquiries and resolving member issues.
Be sure to also conduct regular training sessions to keep employees updated on new equipment, fitness trends and customer service best practices.
Can opening a gym business be profitable?
Yes, opening a gym business can be profitable. In fact, the gym industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it's expected to continue to grow in the coming years. However, it's important to note that not all gym businesses are successful. There are a number of factors that contribute to the success of a gym business, including the location of the gym, the services offered and the management team.
Here are some tips for increasing the chances of profitability for your gym business:
Choose a good location. Your gym should be located in a convenient area with high visibility.
Offer a variety of services and amenities. This will help appeal to a wider range of customers.
Keep your gym clean and well-maintained. This will create a positive experience for your customers.
Hire qualified staff. Your staff should be knowledgeable about fitness and customer service.
Market your gym effectively. Let potential customers know about your gym and the services you offer.
How much does it cost to open a gym business?
The cost to open a gym business can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the size of the gym, the type of equipment purchased and the location of the gym. However, in general, you can expect to spend between $200,000 and $500,000 to open a gym business.
Here is a breakdown of some of the typical start-up costs for a gym business:
Lease or purchase of a commercial space: $50,000-$200,000
Purchase of commercial washers and dryers: $50,000-$100,000
Purchase of other equipment, such as folding tables and chairs: $5,000-$10,000
Signage and marketing: $5,000-$10,000
Permits and licenses: $1,000-$5,000
Working capital: $25,000-$50,000
Total start-up costs: $200,000-$500,000
There are a number of ways to reduce the start-up costs for a gym business. For example, you can purchase used equipment, lease a commercial space instead of purchasing it and start your gym business on a part-time basis. You can also seek out funding from investors or lenders.
What to keep in mind when promoting your gym business
Promoting your gym is essential to attract new members and build a strong customer base. Here are five tips to get your business out there and noticed.
Consider attending local community events, fitness expos and industry conferences to network with potential customers, suppliers and other business owners. Take this a step further and collaborate with local fitness influencers or trainers to host special events or workshops at your gym. You can also connect with local businesses, such as coffee shops or restaurants, and explore opportunities for partnerships or cross-promotion. Build on these external promotions by offering referral programs or incentives for current members who bring in new members, via word-of-mouth marketing.
In order to promote your business you’ll need to develop a comprehensive marketing plan that includes both online and offline strategies (and if you are already passionate about marketing, check out how to start a marketing business). Potential online marketing efforts include digital marketing techniques like search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and email marketing to reach a wider audience online.
You can also consider offline advertising options including local radio, television and print media, as well as outdoor signage and direct mail campaigns.
A branded website
When it comes to starting any kind of business, making a website is essential in terms of effective promotion and management. You’ll need a professional and user-friendly website to showcase your gym's facilities, services and membership options. Utilizing a website builder like Wix to easily create and customize your gym's website without extensive technical knowledge is a great way to build a professional site fast when you're in the throes of starting a fitness business. You can additionally use Wix’s logo maker to create a logo that you can feature in all of your digital assets. Check out these fitness logo ideas for inspiration.
Social media is an important part of promoting businesses, especially gym businesses. Consider creating on popular social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube to reach a wider audience and build a community around your gym.
The next step is then to share engaging content such as workout tips, success stories, member spotlights and behind-the-scenes glimpses to encourage interaction and attract potential members. Furthermore, you can run social media campaigns and promotions, such as free trial passes or exclusive discounts, to incentivize engagement and generate interest.
Examples of gym businesses on Wix
Gymshare: Gymshare is a home gym-sharing platform. Skip the lines and enjoy total privacy in one of Gymshare’s fully vetted at-home gym set-ups.
Impulse Fitness: Impulse Fitness is a 24/7 access gym, fully equipped with top of the line equipment and an awesome group of members. They offer one price memberships that include unlimited classes for a LOT less.
In Awe Fitness: In Awe Fitness is a ladies only health and wellness group fitness studio. They offer group classes that cater to all levels of fitness—whether you're just starting out or you're looking to take your fitness to the next level.
Classic Bodyworks Gym: Classic Bodyworks is a family owned and operated “old school” gym since 1995. They offer members 24 hour access, free babysitting and a highly certified personal training staff.
Benefits of starting a gym business
In summary, as the owner of a gym business, you’ll get to:
Be the architect of your success: You have the freedom to shape your business according to your vision. From selecting the equipment and classes to creating a unique atmosphere with music and décor, you have the opportunity to build a gym that aligns with your goals.
Create a supportive community: Gyms serve as more than just fitness centers; they foster a sense of community and provide a space for individuals to connect, motivate each other and achieve their fitness goals together. If you have a passion for connecting people, starting a gym could be a fulfilling endeavor.
Realize profit potential: With the growing interest in fitness and wellness, there is significant profit potential in the gym industry. By offering quality services, diverse workout programs and excellent customer experiences, you can attract a loyal clientele and generate sustainable revenue.
Build a flexible schedule: Running a gym provides flexibility in terms of working hours and the ability to choose your hours. You can find the sweet spot between a schedule that suits your lifestyle and caters to the needs of your clients.
Challenges of starting a gym business
While starting a gym can have numerous advantages, there are also several challenges to consider:
High startup costs: Establishing a gym requires a significant investment in equipment, facility renovations, lease or purchase costs and initial marketing expenses. It's important to carefully plan and secure sufficient startup capital and funding.
Equipment selection: Procuring the right gym equipment that meets the needs and preferences of your target audience can be challenging. It's crucial to conduct thorough research, consider space limitations and invest in high-quality, durable equipment.
Attracting and retaining members: In a competitive market, attracting and retaining members can be a challenge. Effective marketing strategies, excellent customer service and providing a unique and valuable experience are essential to stand out from the competition.
Staffing and management: Hiring and managing qualified staff—including trainers, instructors and administrative personnel—can be demanding. Ensuring their expertise, professionalism and commitment to delivering a positive customer experience is crucial.
How to start a gym business FAQ
Is a gym a good business to start?
Whether or not a gym is a good business to start depends on a number of factors, such as your experience, budget and the market in your area.
If you're passionate about fitness and have experience in the fitness industry, then owning a gym may be a good business for you. However, it's important to do your research and develop a solid business plan before starting a gym.
You should also consider the market in your area. Is there a high demand for gym memberships? Is there a lot of competition? Answering these questions will help you to determine if starting a gym is a good business decision for you.
How profitable is owning a gym?
The profitability of owning a gym can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the size and location of the gym, the services offered and the level of competition. However, in general, gyms can be a profitable business.
According to a report by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), the average gym profit margin is 10-15%. However, some gyms have profit margins as high as 25-30%.
How to start a gym business with no money?
It's difficult to start a gym business with no money, but there are a few ways to do it:
Start small. You can start your gym with just a few pieces of equipment and operate it out of your home or garage.
Partner with an investor. Find someone who is willing to invest in your gym business. You can offer them a share of the profits in return for their investment.
Get a small business loan. There are a number of lenders that offer small business loans to startups. You can use the loan money to cover the start-up costs of your gym business.
Offer mobile gym services. You can offer mobile gym services to clients in their homes or offices. This is a great way to start a gym business with no overhead costs.
Is it hard owning a gym?
Owning a gym can be challenging. The gym industry is very competitive, and gym owners often have to work long hours. Additionally, gym owners need to be able to manage their finances effectively and deal with difficult customers.
How to start a business in a specific state
If you're looking to start a gym business in a specific state, here are some helpful resources:
Don’t see your chosen state here? You can use the search bar in the Wix Blog to find all the information you need.