How to Make Your Dream of Starting a Gym a Reality

 |  Thomas Ferriere

Did you know that the global gym industry was worth almost $100 billion in 2020? Millions of people use the gym as a place to destress, socialize, and train. Even with the devasting pandemic, the industry has survived and will rebound. 

Have you ever thought about starting a gym? Read on to learn more about how you could make this dream come true. 

What Should You Consider Before Starting A Gym?

As with any business, there is lots of planning that needs to take place before the doors open and gyms are no different. Some of these considerations are unique to gyms while others are typical with any new business. 

Facilities and Equipment

There are two major upfront costs associated with any gym: the building and the gym equipment. While you should check for local requirements at a gym, any space you consider leasing should have the following:

  • Restrooms
  • Separate areas for male and female locker rooms (including showers)
  • High ceilings
  • Good HVAC for airflow and member comfort
  • Significant electrical outlets
  • A stable foundation in the flooring

The exact type of equipment will vary with the type of gym you want to open. There are some basic equipment types that a prospective member will expect. Most gyms should have the following:

  • Dumbbells
  • Barbells and weight plates
  • Benches and weight racks
  • Fitness machines 
  • Exercise bands
  • Scales
  • Sound system for music

There are ways to save money on the equipment. Many suppliers offer gym packages where you can buy large orders of equipment for a reduced price, rather than buying pieces individually. You can also consider buying refurbished equipment.


Because of the risk of injury and property loss, gyms need to have insurance prior to opening. At the very minimum, you should have liability insurance. Some major insurance companies offer insurance that is specific to gyms and personal trainers, which you should consider.

Some of the other types of insurance you should consider include:

  • Crime/property loss
  • Commerical
  • Worker's compensation 

Franchise Fee

A major decision you must make before opening a gym is whether you decide to open independently or buy a franchise. If you open independently, this is a cost that you don't need to worry about.

There are pros and cons to going with a franchise. A major benefit is the name recognition that the franchise brings, which makes marketing easier. You will also have the added benefit of being able to access the resources that the franchisee provides, such as networking events. 

On the downside, getting a franchise is an additional upfront cost of thousands of dollars. You may also be required to offer certain gym classes and types of equipment, which may not align with your vision for the gym. There are also qualifications that you must meet, including overall net worth and liquid funds on hand. 

Filing Fee

While this is the smallest fee, filing with the state is important, and failing to do so could hurt your ability to stay open or result in a fine. A state may require that you file with a business office and pay an annual fee that is less than $100. 

Where Is Your Gym Located?

Associated with the upfront costs is where you choose to locate your gym. The location is important for several reasons, the first of which is the cost, typically measured in dollars per square foot. More populous areas will have a higher price.

There are other factors to consider with the location. You should review the prospective area for the number of gyms already in existence. If you are going with a franchise, you may be restricted with the location. 

You should also consider if a location is close to major roads and urban centers, like shopping malls. Finally, you should review the population to ensure that it aligns with the vision for your gym. 

Will Your Gym Have Employees?

As a new gym owner, you should expect to have multiple roles, including trainer, manager, janitor, and bookkeeper. While a business owner needs to be on top of the cleanliness and finances, hiring out professionals to perform these services monthly is smart. 

If you aren't able to be at the gym during all hours of operation, you may consider hiring a manager or front desk person. This individual could help you with the operation, answer calls and emails, and assist gym members. 

As an additional revenue stream, you could allow independent personal trainers to train their clients at your gym in exchange for a cut of what they charge their clients. If you choose this, make sure that the trainers you use are licensed and carrying insurance.

How Will You Market Your Gym? 

No matter what your gym offers, if no one is aware, it won't matter. As a gym owner, you must successfully market your gym to build brand and name recognition. At a minimum, the gym should have a social media presence on Facebook as these are free and reach a vast audience. 

You should look for areas to cross-promote, such as healthy restaurants and spas that will draw the same clientele that would join a gym. Some neighborhoods and towns offer fairs and festivals, which offer a means to showcase your gym. Offering free or low-cost drop-ins for the first time use gives a prospective customer a reason to check your gym out.

Are You Ready to Start Your Gym?

Now that you know about what goes into starting a gym, are you ready to take the leap? You should not make this decision blindly but consider the type of gym, up-front costs, location, and how you will market it. 

If you are ready to start a successful career as a gym owner, contact us for your fitness industry needs.

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