Getting Started In The Fitness Center Business
To first get started in the fitness business, you must ask yourself what area of fitness you would like to start in. Are you an exercise buff? Do you have a head for business? Do you want to help others? The fitness business has a variety of jumping off points. You can open a gym or an exercise studio. You can become a certified instructor, and teach aerobics or cycling or even Yoga. You might wish to become a personal trainer, and whip others into shape, or you might even want to sell fitness equipment.
If you have a head for business and are fitness minded, then opening a fitness center is for you. Once you have determined this, there are many steps you need to take to become a successful fitness center manager. You will need startup funding, about 200,000 to 250,000 dollars, and you will need to understand that you may not see a return on your investment for quite a while. There are many expenditures when you are just starting out.
First, you will need to factor in the amount of money you will need to purchase gym-worthy equipment. Remember, the equipment in a gym is not the same as the gym equipment you buy for your home. The equipment you buy for a home gym is intended for use by one or two people. For this reason, it is less durable. For a gym, where dozens or even hundreds of people will be using the machines daily, you need a much higher quality of equipment. These higher quality, more durable machines are much more expensive.
Another expenditure that has to be taken into consideration is rent. You will have to rent space for your gym. The space will be big, and you should think about the future when you choose the space. Is there additional room on either side that might afford you opportunity for expansion, or will you be pigeon-holed, unable to add on. If you lease a small space and your gym takes off (as you hope it will!) you may have the money to add on extra areas, for things like new or additional classes, or an area for personal trainers to train clients, or just room for new equipment.
In addition, one expenditure that you might not think of off the bat is insurance. A fitness center must be well insured. If a client gets hurt on one of the machines, it may be something they did incorrectly, but if they are on your property, they may try and sue you, as the owner of the gym. You must protect yourself with insurance. This can run you up to 20,000 dollars a year, depending upon your coverage.
In your gym, you must remember all the ?extras? that go into a fitness center business. There must be locker rooms, and the locker rooms must contain showers. Your fitness floor will need water fountains. So, you are looking at a lot of plumbing. This is a costly add-on. You need mirrors in your weight room and your fitness room (for group exercise classes). You need equipment in your group exercise room?mats, balls, weights, and perhaps cycling bikes for cycling classes. This room will also need specialized flooring, as will the rest of your gym. The workout floor should have rubberized flooring to deaden sound and to lesson impact. Extensive lighting throughout the gym is a necessity and an excellent air conditioning system is a must.
You might think of including a juice bar and a space to sell nutritionals and accessories, like weight lifting gloves, straps, belts and t-shirts. Or, this may be something you will add later. It is an inexpensive way to add money to your day to day profits. What about daycare? Will you add a room for children, where parents can leave their little ones while they workout? If so, there are even more expenses here: You will need toys, games and additional attendants for the kid?s room. These employees will need additional training, or you will need to make sure they are extremely well qualified to deal with children. The members will be trusting you with their children, so keep that in mind.
You will also need business lawyers to advise you on your business dealings. You need to factor in those costs, as well, and you need to make sure that you find a business attorney who has experience in this field. They will also be advising you on leasing property and equipment, so you need to choose a firm who knows something about what you are doing. An accountant may be another person you need, unless you have a very good head for figures. Keeping track of taxes and taxes breaks is essential. There are also the costs of your initial marketing. You need to do a lot of advertising to start out. Working with local condos or apartment complexes is a good idea. You can offer their new renters/owners a free week pass or a waiving of start-up fees. Flyers around the neighborhoods and posters in area coffee shops or juice bars are a great idea. Definitely a banner outside of your new gym is a necessity. Advertising in local newspapers prior to opening, and for weeks after opening, will also boost interest in your new fitness center.
You must also consider hiring staff for your new fitness center. Advertising costs money, as does turnover. You must hire people with the right qualifications, because these are the faces of your business, especially at the onset. When people come into the gym they are going to see these faces and ask these people questions. Your fitness instructors need to be engaging and experienced. You want any members who are on a free pass to find reasons to leave their current gym for you. You need to have something that others do not, whether it be the juice bar, specific classes, the newest equipment or even tanning booths.
Now that we have talked about the many, many start-up costs for a new fitness center, there are some other questions you need to ask yourself. First of all, where are you going to locate this new fitness center? You need to find a spot where there is not another gym close by. If there is, it most likely already has a very strong client base, and once people have a habit, they are not wont to break it. You need to find a market where there are no businesses like yours. Perhaps an up and coming new neighborhood or even an area of the city where a gym may have previously gone out of business. Just because they went under, does not mean you will. It may be that that area has had resurgence. Maybe new people have moved into the neighborhood. Maybe it went out of business when the economy went bad. Do your research and see what businesses have just opened and what the population growth has been.
Look around the area. Are there other businesses that would work well with your fitness center? Are their trendy coffee shops, juice bars? Find places that are busy during the day and that your clientele would visit. This makes it an area your clientele will visit already, so a gym would make sense for them there. Also, make sure there is either ample parking, or you are in an area where your clients will be walking from their homes or offices.
Next, you will be working with the city to establish permits for building, permits for the type of business you will be starting, permits if you are selling food, etc. Make sure you have a good working relationship with the city; you do not want to start off on the wrong foot. Inspectors will be visiting while you are under construction, and you want to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Once you have picked a location, settle on a name. Maybe you want to franchise. Maybe you want to go it alone. Franchising can be easier, and it can also be harder. Franchises have many rules and regulations that one must abide by. It is your gym, but it is also ?their? gym, and it was their gym first. So, if you are not someone who wants to be held to particular rules, you should go out on your own. The name of your gym is important. You cannot infringe on anyone else?s copyrighted names, but you want to find a name that sticks in people?s minds. You need a name that lets people know you are a gym, and not a spa or a daycare.
These steps are just the beginning. Once all these things are done, you are ready to start. As you begin construction and watch your fitness center business come together, new costs may arise. Some things may end up costing more than you anticipated, or you may find new and different equipment that you feel is a must have. Don?t get discouraged, it will come together! At the end of the day, know you are moving towards your goal, and soon you will be a fitness center owner! Good luck!
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