Starting your own gym isn’t just about getting the right equipment. Knowing your target market, finding the right location and securing your funding are all essential parts of how to start a gym.

Starting a gym takes careful planning and decisive action, but with the right steps in place you can enjoy running your own gym and knowing that it’s primed for success.

Planning Your Gym

As you start planning your gym, it can be helpful to inform yourself with research into your industry. Staying updated on trends and developments in the fitness world can help you understand your market and will keep you ahead of the competition.

With a good picture of your market, it’s time to start writing your business plan. Writing your business plan won’t just help with your later decisions, it will also show banks and other financers why your gym is worth funding. Your business plan will help to direct your gym’s goals, build its identity and prepare it against any current or future risks.

Fitness, man balancing holding laptop & weights.jpgDeciding on a Franchise

A major decision to make when planning your gym is which franchise will best suit your needs. With many options to choose from, it’s important to think about what the franchise model offers. Some franchises will offer more support but will also come with their own set of fees and regulations.

The branding for your gym will also be impacted by this choice, as smaller franchises may lack the recognition of an established franchise. Your business’ branding and identity should be carefully considered, as it’s important that it appeals to your target demographic.

Finding the Right Premises

The location and premises of your gym are two strategic choices that can heavily impact on your success as a business. Correctly catering to the demographic of the area is very important when making these choices and will include considerations such as age, gender and average income.

Other factors to consider when placing your gym include:

  • Size of the property in relation to equipment needed
  • Visibility of the property
  • Proximity to shops and transport
  • Capacity of the gym and ability to handle expected growth
  • Rental cost of site and area
  • Competition from nearby gyms and potential for new competitors to pop up
  • Traffic to and from your area, especially during peak times

Choosing an existing building for your gym franchise is a safer option, but for those willing to do the hard work, building in a new area can give your more freedom and will let you take advantage of untapped markets.

Securing Your Funding

After deciding on your location, you will need to approach banks and other financial institutions to secure funding. Applying for loans can be a difficult process, but having a well thought out business plan and a good credit score will help to convince lenders of your credibility.

Separating your personal and business bank accounts is another positive sign for your loan provider, as well as being direct about the amount you want to borrow and what it will go towards.

Taking out a small business loan can help to fund your gym in a number of different ways, including equipment, marketing, and maintenance. However, the approval process for these loans can be very long and there are no guarantees that it’ll be successful. Purchasing or leasing equipment from your franchiser is another option for gym owners and can be a more convenient way to set up your gym’s equipment without delays.

What’s most important when considering funding is to choose a strategy that’s safe and is sustainable for continued growth. Reading the fine print of any agreement with your funding provider is the best way to ensure that you won’t be surprised by hidden fees or penalties.

Starting your own gym can be difficult, but with the right preparations in place you’ll be able to avoid the common mistakes and fast-track your business for success. What will your gym’s specialty be? Let us know in the comments below.


This article was written by Daniel Defendi, who writes for Orbit Fitness in Perth.