Have you been thinking about starting your own gym? If yes, there are certain important steps like making a foolproof business plan, sourcing funds, allocating a commercial space, and many others which you will have to undertake for setting up your own fitness studio. Always understand the preferences of your target market before deciding on these factors.
Obesity is growing at an alarming rate among children and adults in the U.S. It is compounded by unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyles. Understanding the gravity of the situation, the U.S. government has declared obesity as an epidemic in 2009.
On the other hand, many young girls and boys are becoming increasingly conscious about looking good and having perfect bodies. In such a scenario, starting a gym will ‘work-out’ as a viable option and ensure a lucrative business. Gym business requires detailed planning and involves a huge amount of money, so one must be cautious in taking any step towards jump-starting the business. However, calculated financial risks, backed by customer satisfaction and integration of latest fitness trends can generate good revenues from a gym.
Gym as a Promising Venture
According to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35.7% American adults are obese, and it is likely to increase to 42% by 2030.
As per the Physical Activity Council’s (PAC) Annual Participation Study, over three out of ten Americans plan to spend more on health and fitness by joining or re-joining fitness clubs.
As per a market research report compiled by IBIS world, the demand for gyms and health clubs may increase over the next 5 years.
Name and Nature of the Business
~ Choose a suitable name for your gym to register your business with the state authorities.
~ Determine the nature of your business, whether it is a sole trading company or partnership.
~ You also have an option of taking up a franchise of an already established gym chain.
~ Complete all the legal formalities required for the business.
~ If required take professional advice.
~ Conduct a thorough market research about the lifestyles of prospective customers and the amenities offered by competitors.
~ Depending on your budget you can start a small-time gym in your garage or at a place with high population
~ Consider your long-term expansion plans before selecting the place.
~ Buying a place in a popular area can be very expensive. Hence, it is advisable to follow a rent-to-own policy where you rent a place initially, and later proceed to buying it.
~ It would be great if you can start your gym at places that are easily accessible and visible to your target audience such as, near commercial buildings, shopping malls, movie theaters, or colleges.
~ Register your business in terms of ‘doing business as’ with your State government.
~ Get the Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Federal Tax Identification Number for paying employment taxes.
~ Obtain a National Standard Employer Identifier (NSEI) if you wish to offer health insurance benefit to your employees.
~ Visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website to get a list of documentation required for a business.
~ Register your business for the State and local tax numbers from your State.
~ Acquire all the federal, State, and local licenses and permits.
~ Understand the labor laws before hiring employees.
~ Visit the US Small Business Administration website for more details.
~ You will have to buy or rent fitness equipment, like treadmills, elliptical trainers, exercise bikes, rowers, weights, etc.
~ The Internet offers a number of sites from where you can buy such equipment at affordable prices.
~ Compare the prices to get the best deals on equipment.
~ Do not buy substandard, cheap equipment as you may end up adding to your maintenance costs.
~ There should be adequate equipment for everyone.
~ Draft a foolproof business plan giving details about the management, operations, finance, and marketing strategies.
~ Decide what type of gym you want to start – a small garage set-up or a grand one.
~ If you have budget constraints, you can start a small gym with basic amenities, and upscale it later.
~ You can solicit the help of a professional accountant for financial matters.
~ Do not forget to include break-even analysis and cash flow statement in the business plan.
Interior Decor and Ambience
~ You can decorate the gym based on your space and budget.
~ In case of a garage gym, there might not be enough space for decoration. So concentrate on equipment and exercise space.
~ For any kind of gym, aesthetically-appealing and energy-invoking decor will have an immense capacity to attract customers.
~ While deciding the colors and flooring, keep in mind the various utilities of different sections.
~ Hang full size mirrors sprawling across the walls wherever necessary.
~ Ensure that your gym is well-ventilated and well-lit. Also, have air conditioning units and fans installed in different areas.
~ Decorate your gym with inspirational images and posters to boost the customers.
~ Use fast and loud music to motivate your customers to keep going.
~ You can also accentuate the decor with small green potted plants.
~ Invest your own start-up capital to decrease the capital funds from external sources that attract heavy interest.
~ You can also take a government-backed loan or business loan from a bank, or find a person who is interested in becoming your business partner.
~ It is better to derisk the business by sharing the risks with the other partner.
~ Have a risk management plan to support your business plan.
~ Keep all your finance and accounting matters clear by hiring a local CPA to take care of it.
~ Allocate a certain amount from your profits for your future expansion plans.
Qualified Trainers and Staff
~ Hire people having amicable and presentable personalities.
~ You can eliminate the initial need for a gym manager by shouldering the managerial responsibilities.
~ Look out for trainers and dietitians who have certifications and experience in the field of fitness.
~ Do not forget to employ cleaning and maintenance staff who will help in keeping your gym spic and span.
Health, Safety, and Hygiene
~ Have a focused health and safety, and emergency policy.
~ It is preferred that the trainers know Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), or the gym has a defibrillator for people with cardiac problems.
~ Ensure that the gym equipment are not rusted, and there is no oil and grease leakage. All cables and connections must be safely installed and laid to prevent people from stumbling over them.
~ Put up safety and warning signboards wherever required.
~ Spray disinfectants on a regular basis to avoid spreading of fungal and bacterial infections.
~ Keep a consolidated list of contact numbers of doctors and hospitals easily accessible to your staff.
~ Always keep a first aid box ready with basic medical supplies.
~ Conduct repair and restoration activities at regular intervals to keep the machines in running order.
Advertising and Special Offers
~ Advertise your business to withstand competition.
~ Design a logo, and add a catchy slogan.
~ To make your gym visible to the world you can design and host a website on the Internet.
~ Advertise through the local newspapers, radio, television, billboards, and also by posting banners.
~ You may also advertise in coupon magazines.
~ Give special offers and discounts to attract customers initially.
~ You can even utilize sign up sheets or lead boxes to promote your gym.
~ Offer free trials before giving memberships.
~ Having a small event and inviting the press will give your gym the much sought-after mileage.
Tips to Run Your Business Successfully
~ If possible, get hands-on experience before starting a gym.
~ As an owner, it is an added advantage if you get certifications in various fitness trainings.
~ Get an insurance cover for your business.
~ Keep yourself updated about the latest trends in the fitness market.
~ Having a health food bar or drink corner will be appreciated.
~ Plan entertainment and recreation events for customers.
~ Consider the convenience of customers while deciding on the gym timings.
~ Enrich your customer experience with the help of latest technology by integrating several fitness applications in iPhones.
~ You can opt for carbon free green gyms which run with the help of solar energy.
Thus, it needs a lot of planning and an excellent strategy to start a gym business. Like any other business, this too will take some time to gain momentum. Always strive to ensure that your gym has a competitive edge over the others. After raising considerable funds, think about opening branches of your gym in other areas as well. You can even add a diverse line of gym wear and accessories to your business. Keep on innovating and expanding your business.