Want to pursue your passion in fitness by owning your own gym? Starting a fitness business from scratch can be very rewarding but also overwhelming to begin without the right partner. Where do you start? How do you do it right? How much will it cost? Here are some key steps to consider to put you on the path to success:
1. Find Your Niche
There are two general fitness business categories, big box gyms and boutiques. Big box gyms are pretty much what they sound like – large gyms with a wide variety of machines and free weights. They focus on members that typically work out without the assistance of coaching. Some big box gyms also have a limited number of group classes. Boutiques take the opposite approach, exclusively offering group classes specializing in one fitness area. There are a wide variety of boutiques, ranging from cross-fit, cardio, dance, strength, cycling and more. One of the most recent trends is boutiques, such as Volofit, that focus on whole-body fitness that balances cardio and strength training for everyday life. Focusing on a balanced whole-body approach allows studios such as Volofit to appeal to a large portion of the consumer population.
Which path is right for you? When considering your options, take a look at your target market. Which concepts are oversaturated or already established in your area, and which aren’t? What kind of workouts would appeal to the demographic in your area? What types of gyms are having success, and which are not? Answering these questions will go a long way to helping you choose the right approach.
Also, consider the capital needed to start a fitness business. Big box gyms require a much higher amount of capital than boutiques.
2. Understand The Initial Costs and Obtain Funding
The initial investment required to open a gym can range from as low as $100,000 to as high as several million dollars depending on the type of fitness business you open and its location. Big box gyms with a large space and a lot of equipment are much more expensive than boutique fitness studios. Most boutique fitness studios require an initial investment in the low to mid six figures. For example, Volofit, a whole-body focused boutique, has an estimated initial investment range of $373,500 and $579,700 listed in their 2022 financial disclosure document.
Once you determine your startup costs, you need to consider funding sources. Options for funding include personal savings, investors, equipment leasing and bank loans. Bank loans come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common approaches are a Small Business Association (SBA) loan, line of credit, or home equity loan. One of the benefits of working with a known franchise is that you are more likely to receive lower SBA loan rates and investors’ support compared to taking a go-it-alone approach. Franchisors also often have SBA lending relationships that can help facilitate and improve success in the loan application process.
3. Build a Business Plan
Once you’ve determined your business approach and investment costs, it’s time to create a business plan. At a high level, the business plan will be broken down into two parts: revenues and expenses. To project revenues, complete a market analysis to estimate potential membership levels and membership prices for your type of gym. Other revenue items can include retail, food and beverage items and nutritional products. The three largest expense items are typically the lease cost, marketing and payroll. Other items include technology/software, utilities, insurance, professional fees and cleaning costs. Some of these costs will start before you open your gym. In a franchise model, you will also pay a royalty and marketing fee for your continued use of branding and ongoing support.
4. Go Through Training
This step is one of the biggest differences between going it alone or becoming part of a franchise system. In the go-it-alone approach, you are learning or training your team on the job as you open and run your business. In a competitive environment, this can be quite a challenge. Alternatively, one of the most important benefits of joining a franchise is the training. For example, Volofit provides its franchisees extensive training prior to opening a studio at both its corporate location and onsite at your studio. Training before you open provides you with industry best practices and helps to avoid pitfalls. Volofit also provides ongoing training once your studio opens.
5. Find a Location
You have your concept and funding; now, you need your gym space. If you are part of a franchise system, you will work with a local or national real estate broker that will help you locate and negotiate terms for your space. Most owners sign leases for 5 to 10 years with renewal options. The type of gym business you have chosen will determine how much space you need and its location. Finding the right space for your business can sometimes go quickly and other times take months.
6. Market Your Business
Before you open your gym, you will need to develop a marketing strategy to get the gym’s name out there and let consumers know your business is “Coming Soon.” Your goal is to attract as many new members as possible before your gym opens. Once your gym is open, you will want to grow the business by adding new members through your marketing efforts. Marketing channels include social media, digital marketing, print and other means. Deciding how and where to market and how much money to spend takes some experience. Joining a franchise system like Volofit can give you a leg up. Volofit provides its franchisees with extensive marketing training and support pre- and post-opening. It includes a website, social media guides, marketing software systems and extensive marketing assets.
Tips to Finding Success
The fitness scene is no longer just about going to the gym and burning calories. Instead, many are looking for a whole-body workout in an environment that is supportive and welcoming. People want a full-service experience with a support community. Make your business a place customers want to return to frequently and with their friends.
Find Success With Volofit
Save the heavy lifting for your clients by opening a fitness franchise. Let Volofit help you achieve your ultimate entrepreneurial goal. We’re an emerging, hot franchise revolutionizing the in-studio fitness world. So, don’t skip a beat: Fill out the franchise submission form.