How to Start a Gym | The Steps You Need to Take Towards Success

How to Start a Gym

You’re probably a trained fitness instructor or have been practicing personal training for the longest time and are now looking to expand your territories by starting your own gym.

When researching how to start a gym, you want to learn about things that will help you experience profitability and ensure the gym stands the test of time.

The fitness business is one of the few highly profitable businesses in the world today as everyone tries to turn to healthy living. Most gym owners have gotten success in their fitness businesses by taking the following steps in their business plans.

How Do I Start My Gym: Your Step-By-Step Guide

Here are steps you can take when opening a gym or fitness center.

Create a Business Plan

A clear gym business plan is essential, as it gives fitness instructors a roadmap for their entire business. You will have a clear plan on how to finance the company, who your target clientele is, how to charge the clients, pay your employees, and even your fitness center’s name and mission statement.

Before you embark on anything else, ensure you have a solid business plan, as this will become your business manual as a gym owner.

Training and Certification

The first thing to get into the gym and fitness industry is to get adequately trained and accredited. You may also want to work in another gym for a while to gain relevant experience as you also perfect your skills. Fitness entails getting people to have nice, toned bodies and look good. It also involves getting them healthy physically and emotionally.

We have several personal training certification programs you can explore to become a personal fitness trainer.

Other fitness programs like Pilates, aerobics, and yoga have different certifications, so make sure you try to get most of them, if not all. The accreditation will give you an advantage while hiring, as you will scrutinize their certificates and get the most qualified employee.

Business education courses and professional fitness certification also go a long way in creating a successful business.

a person using a tablet to get the certification

Identify a Niche

Fitness is broad, and you cannot do everything. The best way to go about it is to explore the options and choose what you like and are comfortable working on. Consider your target customers and ensure you select the niche that will suit them best.

For instance, you may decide to start the traditional gyms. In this niche, you will only be required to offer your clients workout services with cardio equipment, free weights, strength training, and other fitness classes. Some will have various amenities like saunas, tanning studios, and massage therapies.

We also have specialty fitness centers where the instructors must be highly trained, certified, and experienced in a single niche. These are primarily high-end fitness centers where clients require gym memberships or monthly packages to access the gym and its services.

Another niche you may decide to venture into is the family and fitness and wellness center. These include country clubs and athletic clubs where your clients meet personal fitness goals in a more relaxed environment. They also have other fun and educational activities for children and teens, including swimming lessons, yoga classes, and even sports clubs for adults.

Find Suitable Locations

Once you conduct market research and know the type of gym you want to start, the next step is finding a suitable location. Consider the number of clients you intend to serve in your facility. This will help you when determining the gym space you require.

Your target clientele will also help you choose the parking lot you need to have, and if the clientele prefers walking, is the walking path safe and with less foot traffic?

The clients might be very cautious, especially in high-end locations. Most will only choose and go to a gym near a health center as a precaution. So, consider the kind of amenities around before settling for a gym location.

pinned location on the map

Determine the Staff and Gym Equipment You Will Require

When hiring, ensure the candidate is qualified and the certifications and accreditations are from a recognized institution. Consider their level of experience and interpersonal skills.

The employees will interact directly with your clients, and if they don’t form a good rapport, you may lose the clients and get a negative review and image of your brand.

You will also need to buy fitness equipment for the company. Some of this equipment is high-end and costly, especially if you want your gym's latest fitness technology equipment.

However, there are two options available. You may decide to buy or lease quality equipment. Leasing might be cheap, to begin with, but you end up losing ownership interest in the end.

As a business owner, it is vital to seek your lawyer’s opinion and also consider which option will make the gym profitable in the long run.

Get Financing for Your Gym’s Services

Suppose you can finance your gym independently without a business loan congratulations. However, there are various options for raising funds to set up the fitness center. You may decide to look for partners and investors, get bank loans, and even credit card loans. These sources will significantly help you raise funds and cover most startup costs.

Ensure to seek legal and accounting advice to help you get the best deals that will benefit you.

phone, calculator, laptop , notes and documents on the desk

Marketing the Gym

Once everything is set up to start running, you need a powerful marketing strategy. You can hire a marketing manager and a public relations officer for the process. Let them create a marketing plan that suits your gym or fitness center and reaches as many clients as possible.

You should also develop a business website and ensure your presence is felt through campaigns across all social media platforms.

You can also reward the membership referrals at the gym as advertising. For instance, you can offer a percentage off the sign-on fee for members who recommend new clients or offer them a week to a month of free services/ gym membership, depending on what you can afford.

You can take advantage of several marketing strategies, and you can choose one depending on your business model and target market.

Encourage Consistency Among the Clients

Some gym members will join a gym only to attend the first few weeks and then disappear forever. You can have quick training sessions on the benefits of working out consistently, enhancing membership retention.

In addition, ensure that you earn the trust of your regular clients by offering the best services. These include clean gym facilities like bathrooms and workout areas. Also, ensure the personal trainers you hire to train and interact with your clients are experienced.

people working out in the circle in the gym

Get Insurance for the Business

There are a lot of incidents or accidents that are inevitable in the gym. Many people often get injured, and some decide to sue the gym. Without business insurance, it may cause a lot of strain in the operations of your business. You may also experience fire, destruction of property in the gym, which might be expensive to replace without insurance.

Licenses and Permits

Different permits depend on the gym facility you have. However, you will require a standard business license and a license given by the local authorities to small business owners and startups in the location you choose to set up.

After getting the basic license and opening a business, check with the local government and determine the specific permits required for the gym and fitness center you are establishing. Licenses for a facility with saunas, massage therapies, and spas will require a different license than a facility with a spot for cardio and strength training only.

A good gym needs music, so you will also require music licensing to allow you to play music on the premises. Playing music in your gym space without the licensing is an infringement on the music copyrights and may have heavy fines if ignored.

You will get other permits from the local or municipal offices, like the zoning and building permits. Such licenses allow you to mount advertisement banners and signage for your business, which significantly helps marketing and business advertising.

There are also health department requirements that might require a license or permit in addition to all the other gym licenses.

the documents sorted in folders

Now, if this is too much for you and you don't feel up to setting up the gym on your own, or have more questions, you may want to seek  legal help from some of the best formation services and registered agent services out there. Here are some of the most trusted:

Trusted Services to Legally Register Your Gym

These services will make sure that you meet all legal requirements for starting your gym. They will be your reliable guides every step of the way during the registration process.

Swyft Filings

Despite only doing business since 2015, their 100% positive Swift Filings reviews are speaking for themselves. Swyft Filings offers one of the best refund policies in the industry. The company also has no processing or cancellation fee for your refund. It is a great company to consider when looking to designate a registered agent service for your gym or any other small business.


BizFilings takes you through the whole process from quality check to post-incorporation and also offers on-going support. You can choose various payment plans based on the features you want and your new gym allocated budget. The features in the higher-end packages are also available in the lower-end packages but at an additional fee. With an A+ rating with the BBB, BizFilings is a trusted online business formation service

SunDoc Filings

When compared to other formation services, SunDoc Filings business registration service provides volume discounts for multiple states and entities and equally amazing customer support. However, if you want a service that will save you money, you may find other more affordable services in the market. That said, their fees ahould be affordable for new gym owners.

Inc Authority

This is one of the most reputable business formation companies you can pick as your registered agent service. Inc Authority has enough experience in the field, having been founded in the 1980s. Its free payment package stands out in what they offer. Loads of positive customer reviews speak for themselves how satisfied and happy with their services and their LLC formation speed their clients are. 

My Corporation

MyCorporation is known for offering a fast LLC formation process. If you wish to speed up the process turnaround time, you can use their expedited service, reducing the process from weeks to a few days, though for a fee. Nonetheless, MyCorporation is an excellent pick as your registered agent which we covered in our dedicated review. It offers numerous payment packages with various features depending on your budget allocated for a new gym.

monitor and folders on the working desk

Starting a Gym FAQs

How Much Money Do You Require to Start Your Own Gym business?

Depending on the type of gym you want to establish, you may spend an estimated amount of $10,000 to $50,000. However, prices might get much lower if you decide on a small gym for fitness activities like yoga, cardio, and other light exercises that do not require heavy gym equipment.

The most expensive aspect of starting a gym is always buying the machines and equipment.

How Can I Open a Gym Without Money?

If you are a trained fitness instructor and are experienced in personal training, you can start your fitness classes online. Many people are often looking for personal trainers, and you can connect with them.

For a start, you can look for free space and make it a fitness studio, gather a few online students, and train them all in one place. The goal is to start small now and create your desired expansion later. You may be a personal trainer today and end up running your own gym business in the future through determination.

Is a Gym a Good Business, According to Gym Owners?

Yes. Gyms and fitness centers are among the best businesses to invest in. Gym business is straightforward to run if you have an excellent business plan. Also, the profit margins are exceptional.

You will also experience satisfaction when your clientele achieves their body goals, gets healthier, and starts leaving their best lives.

The business is also easy to maintain, especially the clients, as long as you hire qualified trainers. The clients set their own time and will come and leave the gym according to the schedule they have specified with their trainers.

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