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By Benetrends • June 13, 2019

How to Open Your Own Fitness Business

According to the recent post, Have Entrepreneurial Dreams? Watch These 11 Industries in 2019, health and wellness services, products, and experiences are among the most compelling options for potential business owners.

Like many small businesses, owning a fitness studio or gym has many advantages, including being your own boss, setting your own hours, hiring the employees you want to work with, with the added perk of having free access to workout facilities and classes. 

The fitness industry is a lucrative one, with the U.S. market alone estimated at $30 billion annually. Here’s a closer look at how to open your own fitness business.

Pre-Qualify for Funding

Before figuring out the type of business, it's imperative to understand how much you have to invest into a business. By pre-qualifying for funding, you are also letting lenders (or franchisors, if you decide on a franchise concept) that you are serious.

Decide on Your Concept

There is no hard and fast rule about the kind of fitness business you need to start. Doing market research (as part of creating your business plan) and surveying potential customers about their interests are good places to start. These insights can define the types of classes, leagues, equipment, and services you want to offer. It will also help you define the market segment you want to target.

You will want to consider business models, too. You can choose to build your own location that conforms to your preferences, or you might consider investing in a fitness franchise. Franchises offer many advantages, including brand recognition, proven operational standards, and built-in marketing and advertising. 

Get Certified and Licensed

As with many businesses, owning a fitness facility requires some documentation. While it is not a requirement, it can be a boost to your credibility in marketing and with potential investors to be a certified fitness instructor. Becoming certified also lets you work in the industry, which may be necessary as the business builds.

You will also need to submit for the licenses and permits required for your state and community. Some states, for example, require staff CPR training, physician-written emergency plans, and automated external defibrillators.

Person lifting dumbbells.

Secure Insurance

Business owners need to protect themselves, their employees, and their companies by having the right insurance. In some states and municipalities, having liability insurance may be a requirement to secure operating permits. Some insurers provide gym liability insurance policies. You may also want to have insurance to cover your equipment. 

Think About Location

You will want a location that is close to where your target customers live or work. Do not take the first place you see. While an old industrial building may be cheaper to lease, you want a location where people feel comfortable and safe. It should be somewhat familiar to them, have adequate parking and lighting, and be close to other conveniences, such as pharmacies, grocery stores, or coffee shops.

Choose Equipment Wisely

As a new fitness business owner, you will be bombarded with pitches from salespeople touting the benefits and popularity of their company’s products. Do not spend a lot of time worrying about equipment. You are also unlikely to reach capacity in your first year, which means you do not need to buy all your treadmills, exercise cycles, and free weights all at once.

Focus on Operations

One key to operating any business is to focus on the processes. Spend time learning about the best approaches to hiring, training, and scheduling employees; sales and marketing approaches; customer retention; finances (including billing and collections); and administration.  You can also opt to utilize professional resources for many of these tasks.

Consider Funding Options

As an entrepreneur, you have several options. One consideration for small business funding is to use Benetrends. For decades, we have helped entrepreneurs with our innovative Rollover as Business Start-Ups (ROBs) strategy, which leverages existing 401(k) funds to finance startups and expansion.  a ROBS plan can also be used as the cash injection for an SBA loan. To learn more about Benetrends’ funding strategies and business services,  download The Definitive Guide To 401(k)/ROBS Business Funding.