Are You Ready to Open Your Own Gym

January 1, 2012

By: Jim Thomas
Jim Thomas’s Fitness Management & Consulting

You’re a General Manager, Sales Director, Personal Trainer or a fitness enthusiast and you decide it’s time to open your own gym? You can do it better than what’s being done right now, right? Now, thinking that you can do a better job than others in the gym business is not a strategy for success in the fitness industry. I receive frequent inquiries from potential gym owners asking… “What are some things they should consider before taking that next step to open a gym”…. well, here are some thoughts:

Write a Business Plan
It’s surprising how often this doesn’t happen. Your business plan should be your roadmap for success. Surround yourself with experts in the gym business. Don’t rely on trial and error to figure things out. The idea is to shorten the learning curve and improve bottom line profitability. Ask yourself – What’s the best that can happen? What’s the worst that can happen? I speak to many potential investors who want to become gym owners that only look at the best case scenario… be realistic. Oh, one more thing, don’t surround yourself with “yes” people.

Do You Really want to be a Gym Owner?
The idea of being a gym owner sure sounds like fun, but are you ready for everything that will be thrown your way each day? Yes, owning a gym can be a great experience, but are you prepared to manage a budget, hire, train, and manage a staff, deal with unhappy members and what if your opening person can’t make it?

Do You Have the Support of Family?

Don’t underestimate this. You need to have this conversation before you decide to open your gym. Be sure and have everyone on board with your plan of gym ownership. You will likely experience a significant change in your daily schedule and income (at least for the short-term.) You want everyone to be on the same page before you sign on the dotted line.

Are Your Finances in Good Shape?

Most landlords and/or financing groups will want to see your financial statement and last 2 years of tax returns. You will need a cash cushion to start your gym. Most gyms fail because they are under-capitalized. In my experience, you should have at least 12-24 months of cash on hand to pay all your personal expenses.

Are You Good at Networking?

You will need to be a promoter. Get started networking today and meeting people. Get in touch with old colleagues and friends. Attend local networking meetings and Chamber events. Start conversations with people you meet. Now is the time to get comfortable with this. Try this web site for a jump-start:

Can you maintain your current job while you start?
Opening your new gym while you’re still employed is a great way to get started and actually immerse yourself into being a gym owner without leaving the regular paycheck behind. Plus, depending on your financial circumstances, that regular income may be required by your new landlord in order to get a lease done.

Are you a good student?
Learn as much as you can about the gym business in advance of opening. As a business owner, regular education should be your constant companion. You want to be sure and shorten the learning curve as much as possible. Trial and error can be expensive.

Have fun and remember why you want to be a gym owner?
 No doubt about it – you should enjoy the journey. Your new gym business may flourish right away, or it might take longer. Don’t forget to have fun and have a sense of adventure on your way.

Now, go open your own gym!

Jim Thomas’s Fitness Management & Consulting