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  1. #1
    Registered User bloodmachine34's Avatar
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    How hard is it to start a gym?

    I was wondering how hard it would be to start a business - a gym (fitness center).
    How much cash would it take to buy equipment?
    How much space would I need?
    How should I advertise?
    What costs would be associated with the gym (electricity, insurance, etc.)?
    What would make people terminate contracts with Bally, Gold's, etc. and sign up to my gym? (longer open hours, specific equipment, additional activities such as boxing)
    What else?

    *It's only an idea. The reason why I'm even thinking about it is that I hate college, and know a few people who successfully run business.

    Thanks
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  2. #2
    If you have it, Flaunt It mikeymontana's Avatar
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    And you want me to magically answer all of these questions?

    I dont know..

    Probably alot?
    crunch time.
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    Registered User bloodmachine34's Avatar
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    Well you can always estimate. What do you consider a gym? 7 treadmills, 2 flat 1 incline 1 adjustable benches, 1000lbs total free weights + 1000lbs "round" weights, and a few machines?
    The topic's broad, so talk about whatever you want, whether it benefits me or not.

    If you're not exactly a business major/interest, please feel free to talk about what you hate about your gym...
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    Banned 2pounds's Avatar
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    most gyms lease all of the equipment
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    Registered User Ross PK's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Trained TBagger
    And you want me to magically answer all of these questions?

    I dont know..

    Probably alot?
    I don't think he specifically ment you, dude.

    He obviously thought that some people on here might know, or have an idea.
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  6. #6
    Registered User SHOOTFIGHTER's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Trained TBagger
    And you want me to magically answer all of these questions?

    I dont know..

    Probably alot?
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Who would advertise their name as a Trained TBagger??? I really hope you DON'T know what a T-Bagger is!! LMFO!!


    As for the question, Hey Bro, it's according to what kind of gym (women's or men's or all), what size town/city, what size of building, rent,own, buy, lease.
    You have alot of homework.

    Ex: I wanted to try to own my own Gold's Franchise. Well for starters, you MUST buy the name , as of a few years ago, it was $20,000 right off the bat. Then they sent someone to look at your place and see if there were other Gold's Gyms in a certain mile district. You MUST buy their equipment. You MUST have a building by their specs. All in All , it was going to cost me and I Quote " in Excess of 1.2 Million DOLLARS." Then you MUST attend a 3 Day class in California to learn ALL The Details Of A Gold's Gym on YOUR DIME.

    Good Luck Bro!!
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    Registered User linfieldfc's Avatar
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    if you go to the bank to borrow money and tell them its to set up a business make sure you have a proper business plan laid out and youll hav more chance of sucess
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    Registered User bloodmachine34's Avatar
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    Thanks for the help guys. To tell you the truth I haven't done a lot of homework on opening up the gym, however, I helped my friend set up his internet cafe and have an idea of how much it is to rent a building.
    It's in a different city, therefore I cannot compare it to the city I live in (more population).

    I've looked around town and noticed that there is only one real gym in the area, and its a jewish community center (where I go btw). Their membership is $300/year up to 21 yrs old, and $560/yr for people over 21. Then there's Bally which charges $25+, Gold's, etc. The problem is that to stay in business I would need at least $5000 profit a month, which means I need roughly 170 members ($30 monthly fee).
    Now why would YOU sign up to my gym when you can have the same thing + organized classes for the same money?

    Some of my ideas include:
    1. Combine gym with boxing equipment since there isn't any boxing places around and there is interst.
    2. Offer 1 month memberships at a higher rate, or yearly for a discounted rate.
    3. Stay open from 6AM-11PM Mon-Sat, and 8AM-7PM on Sunday.
    4. Advertise in local stores, police department (know a few cops from the gym), and local newspapers.
    5. Locate the facility near a high school.
    6. Give out promo shirts(?)

    This is as far as I've got. I'm also afraid that I'll need to research a lot on the health and insurance securities to help prevent law suits or potential robbery (who would want to steal weight?).
    Being OSHAA certified I know cases in which business' closed down due to trivial cases such as too many bugs in a restaurant...

    Now from the accounting point of view I believe it wouldn't be hard. I mean what is there to keep a track of besides membership fees, other fees, insurance, and equipment depreciation?

    It's crucial that I gain an edge on the big fitness centers, so c'mon what do you hate about your gym (besides skinny kids in tank tops).
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  9. #9
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    u can add a "hardcore area" where u can slam the weights and theres free chalk u can use and theres like buncha squat racks and all the manly stuff.
    wait wut
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  10. #10
    Registered User SHOOTFIGHTER's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=bloodmachine34]Thanks for the help guys. To tell you the truth I haven't done a lot of homework on opening up the gym
    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yeah Bro, You need to do some homework. Did you say Bally's and Gold's were in your area?? A small town gym can't compete with the big guys. It's sad too. But they have ALL the money and that's where MOST of the people want to "Be Seen". As for me, I'd rather the small gym.
    The small guy has to offer the things that no one else offers, which is very hard. You just have to pray for a dedicated following in your place.
    Make you a list of ALL the things you need and have to do and a $$$ total and then weigh your options on doing or not doing it.
    Go to the bank and just talk to the guy and tell him your predicament. He'll let you know what he thinks!!

    Good Luck!! Keep us informed!
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  11. #11
    Thanks for the board Ryan Estopell's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by bloodmachine34
    I was wondering how hard it would be to start a business - a gym (fitness center).
    How much cash would it take to buy equipment?
    How much space would I need?
    How should I advertise?
    What costs would be associated with the gym (electricity, insurance, etc.)?
    What would make people terminate contracts with Bally, Gold's, etc. and sign up to my gym? (longer open hours, specific equipment, additional activities such as boxing)
    What else?

    *It's only an idea. The reason why I'm even thinking about it is that I hate college, and know a few people who successfully run business.

    Thanks
    Stay in college and then open a gym.
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  12. #12
    If you have it, Flaunt It mikeymontana's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SHOOTFIGHTER
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Who would advertise their name as a Trained TBagger??? I really hope you DON'T know what a T-Bagger is!! LMFO!!


    As for the question, Hey Bro, it's according to what kind of gym (women's or men's or all), what size town/city, what size of building, rent,own, buy, lease.
    You have alot of homework.

    Ex: I wanted to try to own my own Gold's Franchise. Well for starters, you MUST buy the name , as of a few years ago, it was $20,000 right off the bat. Then they sent someone to look at your place and see if there were other Gold's Gyms in a certain mile district. You MUST buy their equipment. You MUST have a building by their specs. All in All , it was going to cost me and I Quote " in Excess of 1.2 Million DOLLARS." Then you MUST attend a 3 Day class in California to learn ALL The Details Of A Gold's Gym on YOUR DIME.

    Good Luck Bro!!
    Advertise ? What the hell are you talking about?

    SHOOTFIGHTER
    crunch time.
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  13. #13
    Registered User MusclesFlyers's Avatar
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    There's a TON of work that needs to be done in order to run your own business. You need to look at it from all different angles too. Think about the following...

    How will you compete against other gyms?
    How will you generate a profit?
    How will you fund the whole project?
    How and where will you advertise?
    Is "another" gym necessary?
    What are the local demographics?

    And so on...As you can see, it's very difficult to commence your own business. Just because you love lifting and working out doesn't mean that you'll be successful in running your own gym. You'll be a very very very tiny fish in a huge pond.

    By the way, whats your current major?
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  14. #14
    Registered User Thudd's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by bloodmachine34
    I was wondering how hard it would be to start a business - a gym (fitness center).
    1. How much cash would it take to buy equipment?
    2. How much space would I need?
    3. How should I advertise?
    4. What costs would be associated with the gym (electricity, insurance, etc.)?
    5. What would make people terminate contracts with Bally, Gold's, etc. and sign up to my gym? (longer open hours, specific equipment, additional activities such as boxing)
    1. ****loads. Even if you lease, you're still looking at big dollars. You need to decide what you're going to target the gym towards. A cardio gym? Weights? Mostly women? Hardcore? Unfit people? Then you can decide what kind of gear you want. Weights can be picked up second hand by scouring the local classifieds and 2nd hand/pawn (not porn!) shops. You'll end up with a whole swag of mismatched weights but it's all iron so who cares. Unless you want to run a flashy trendy type gym. Know someone handy with a grinder and welder? Then you might be able to get some bits of gear (dip & chinning bars, squat racks, lat pulldown, assorted benches) made for you at mates rates. Are you going to run circuits? You'll need gear for that so that other people can still work out while the circuit class is on. Lots of pin machines or fancy hydraulic stuff?

    2. Depends if you're going to run aerobics classes, because obviously you'll need floor space for that. A free weights area takes up a lot of space whereas machines can be packed in fairly tightly. Figure 200 sq.m minimum and go from there.

    3. Everywhere you can afford, because if they don't know they won't come. Radio ads (to get the daytime office workers). Local paper, including small community papers. Mailouts. Flyers on cars. Posters in as many shops as you can get them into. Shopping centre notice boards. Your own car.

    4. You'll have to research that for yourself.

    5. The only way is seriously good opening specials or honeymoon deals. You run the risk of course of them taking up an offer then just going back to their original gym when it expires, but that's life in business. People will rarely swap unless there's significant advantage for them, simply because the cost and hassle of breaking contracts (if they're on yearly or similar m/ships) isn't worth it. So don't plan on stealing much custom from existing gyms, you'll need to build your own unique customer base otherwise you're just spreading the available pool over a wider area and that benefits nobody.
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  15. #15
    Registered User Thudd's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by bloodmachine34
    Thanks for the help guys. To tell you the truth I haven't done a lot of homework on opening up the gym
    Nobody needs to tell you that this is a bad idea if you're serious...

    Originally Posted by bloodmachine34
    Some of my ideas include:
    1. Combine gym with boxing equipment since there isn't any boxing places around and there is interst.
    2. Offer 1 month memberships at a higher rate, or yearly for a discounted rate.
    3. Stay open from 6AM-11PM Mon-Sat, and 8AM-7PM on Sunday.
    4. Advertise in local stores, police department (know a few cops from the gym), and local newspapers.
    5. Locate the facility near a high school.
    6. Give out promo shirts(?)
    1. Be aware that not many people like using boxing gear. Sure, they'll use it if it's there but they wouldn't join up just because of it.

    2. That would instantly make me walk out the door. I refuse to sign yearly contracts and if you try to financially penalise me for it then I'll be out of there. I would rather see a plan where you can sign up for an extended period with a monthly debit system (ie no huge up-front fee) but with no penalties for breaking it early. That way I get the security of paying by the month but without the hassle of re-signing every month.
    Also, don't charge a "joining fee." I will also refuse to pay any so-called "joining", "administration", "initial" or "new membership" fee. It's just asking money for nothing when you're already getting a significant financial investment from me.

    3. You realise that it'll be YOU working those hours? Until - if - you get established you won't be able to afford much in staff costs so you'll have to do almost all of it yourself. Do you really want to work 17 hours a day, every day, with no break? And working in a gym is not exciting, at best it's the same stupid questions or demonstrations over and over again.

    4. Covered above.

    5. Kids don't have money, and their parents will expect schoolchildren rates. So not only won't you be making any money out of them, you'll have screaming ****ty kids running around requiring constant supervision and annoying other patrons.

    6. That, of course, is a given.
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    Registered User Thudd's Avatar
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    Scared yet? Here's more to think about.

    You're a bodybuilder, right? That's why you're on bb.com? Do you want bodybuilders at your gym then? If so, don't count on many other customers. Average Joe/Jane does not like huge guys crashing weights around, grunting and flexing, looking like they own the place. Do you want yuppies? Then you'd better have a flashy modern place with all sorts of extra facilities and somehow I can't see you getting the backing for that. Begin to see the problems you'll be facing?

    It's not glamorous, but there's a huge untapped market out there for unfit housewives and guys with beer guts. People who ordinarily wouldn't dream of stepping foot inside a gym filled with beautiful people. People who might never have gone to a gym before in their life, and may not have done any physical activity at all. Stick your gym in the suburbs where there's a good supply of schools, so mum can come to the gym during the day when the family is at work/school. Have a 'no leotards' rule. Employ sympathetic trainers (you're 19 - do you think a 40yo unfit housewife is going to want some 19yo pushing her around the gym?) with good empathy skills (because half the battle is getting the customer comfortable and that's got nothing to do with fitness). Convince them they won't be embarrassed or humiliated in your gym and you're in with a shot. Then you don't have to compete with any other 'regular' gyms, nor do you have to run a gleaming chrome health resort type place.

    I could go on, but I'll stop there, I've probably shattered your dream already
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  17. #17
    Registered User bloodmachine34's Avatar
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    Thanks for the help...

    To answer some of the question:

    1. I'm into business administration major with concentration in accounting.
    2. I was thinking about renting a space and dividing it into gym and space to box.
    3. My idea is to make a gym for everyone to enjoy, from kids - adults

    I've spoken with a friend of mine who's a personal trainer at the gym I go to, and if everything works out he'd be in. The problem is I don't know anyone over 30 who would be willing to get into business yet.

    As for renting, I found a nice building with a lot of space for decent amount of cash ($5000/month). It's almost as big as a mid-size retail store, so I wouldn't have to worry about space. The problem is that it's not located by the high school, instead it's located on the border of 2 cities, by middle school, elementary school, and about 1 mile away from apartment complex.
    There's also a few stores around, but the only negative is parking... there's only about 100 spots in the parking lot between the place and a store.

    Someone proposed buying second hand weights, I'll take a look at that over the next week or so, and see how that would work.
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    Starting up a gym has very little to do with fitness. It is a business. Take business courses and talk to people who have opened up gyms of their own.

    Most new gyms fail because people forget that this is a business.
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    Insurance

    I think one of the big costs involved in a gym is the insurance required to run one. I have no ideas as to how muchit is though.
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    To turn $5000 a month profit, you're going to need WAAAAY more than 170 members. You probably won't turn any profit the first year or so.

    Alright, Rule #1 of any business:

    You have to spend money to make money.

    Most businesses fail because the owner was too cheap to invest enough capital (ie cash) into starting the business.

    To open a decent sized gym, you're going to need probably almost $500,000 - $1 million depending on your area.

    Your best bet is to aim for an all-around crowd. Put in free weight stations and nice weight machines. Put in a decent number of cardio pieces (this is the stuff that will REALLY bite your wallet). Think about tv's for the cardio area. Think about plumbing and space for a shower area (one for each sex). Think about an extra space (somehow separate from the main "gym") for aerobics classes.

    You also have to get software to manage the members.

    You're overhead is going to be pretty steep too. Running lights for the amount of time you're talking about isn't cheap.

    There are plenty of other "hidden" costs that might come to mind later.
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    Exclamation

    Originally Posted by Trained TBagger
    And you want me to magically answer all of these questions?

    I dont know..

    Probably alot?
    If u dont know then why the **** would u waste your time to tell him that???
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    I'm not sure that gym ownership profits are significant at any level. Decent profits for a few select gyms at the top. As a business major you'll understand that there are significant barriers to enty ie. high fixed upfront costs, which increases your risk profile. You'll need a lot more info first, to take that kind of chance.

    To get the best idea of what this is going to be like, you should work for one of the gyms in your area, one that impresses you and does well; even consider working for more than one of the top gyms over a period of time. Getting experience in the biz you want to be in is key. Take the initiative to try to talk to one of the owners, but slowly so that it doesn't look forced.

    As you do this while continuing to research the possibilities, your perspectives will change and you'll be in a better position to see what might work. For example, you might see that personal training's a lucrative area that would be easier to get in to, or nutrition, etc. After you're familiar with the market from the inside, analyze the market and consider where there are areas that haven't yet been tapped in to or are underserved by existing gyms.

    Also contact Gold's and World Gym or any other gyms that are prominent in your area, and get their info on franchising, see what their hurdles are. Starting your own gym won't likely be as expensive but their guidelines will be helpful to anyone.

    If after this you want to proceed, find a book on writing a business plan. Then contact the small business administration and ask about setting up a meeting that will outline the process of applying for a loan based on a business plan, your credit, etc.
    http://www.sba.gov/
    Last edited by pumpster; 02-03-2005 at 07:36 AM.
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  23. #23
    Registered User Bird4Three's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by pumpster
    Also contact Gold's and World Gym or any other gyms that are prominent in your area, and get their info on franchising, see what their hurdles are
    If you are serious, franchising is really your only chance. They can help you with location, advertising, insurance, etc.

    The upfront cost is the major hurdle to opening a gym, and no way a bank gives you a loan unless you have the backing/business/experience that comes with a franchise.

    If you can't meet Gold's, World's, etc minumum requirements right now, then at least you have a goal to aspire to in the future.
    A winner is someone who recognizes his God given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals. - Larry Bird
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  24. #24
    ♦ ɴɣϲ ϲrew ♦ Mr.Suppish's Avatar
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    Im thinking the same as bloodmachine34...to start a gym
    im goin to college right now and im not sure wat to major in ...so i thought it would be cool to open up a gym but now it seems like a lot of work and money DAMN
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  25. #25
    Registered User momsgym's Avatar
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    Business Planner??

    I am in the process of opening a women's full fitness center (VERY much UNlike a curves). I was a little intimidated by all the research involved, however, I decided to hire a business planner and it's been amazing. He really keeps me in check and makes sure that I don't miss anything or get too far ahead of myself. He's working on my business plan, but informed me yesterday that he already has a banker that is willing to loan me money at 7%. So...I wouldn't totally throw in the towel if this is actually your passion. Don't get me wrong, my planner only does about 10% of the work. Just trying to get everything that I need - researching equipment, nutrition, classes, etc is really a full time job and then some, but it's definately my passion and I have some amazing women that are involved in the process (that currently work at another gym - they will be coming with me! ). Your planner will have some resources that you probably would never think about or have access to. You should call around and see if it would be worth it to you. They aren't cheap, but if things are done probably, it will be worth it. I hope this helped you!

    By the way - I am looking at doing hardwood flooring for the aerobics floor - can someone tell me what goes under it - is it the same rubber matting as is in the free weights area???

    Thanks a million!
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  26. #26
    back with half the reps SDFlip's Avatar
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    didnt read all the posts but a good idea would be to cater to elderly people and housewives.

    thats where you'll get your money.

    have personal trainers that specialize in training old folks.

    and have aerobic classes - trendy ****- like tae-bo, pilates, spinning
    a childcare area for the MILFs to take their kids to


    tons of ab machines ,too
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  27. #27
    Registered User midgetfighter90's Avatar
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    ...and this may sound off-tone, but the gyms in this area seem to last longer if the desk girls are a 7 or higher. It's a sad fact, but it may get you a couple extra members a month.
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  28. #28
    Registered User fuzzyfozzie's Avatar
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    I don't know but my uncle bought the Ultimate Warrior's gym in Scottsdale, AZ and renovated it into the Ranch Valley Fitness Center (I think that's the name, it was six or seven years ago) and then sold it to 24hr fitness after a year and made a killing.
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  29. #29
    UNBLOCKABLE DLiNeMen's Avatar
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    Your gym should target hardcore “bodybuilders”. People who hate 24hr fitness or bally. Somewhere you can do power cleans and slam the bar without getting a warning. You should have ring where people can box…and lease out your ring to boxing leagues, better yet start you own boxing league…boxer would workout there. And have a fitness test where you would have to lift certain amount of weight for your bodyweight for example everyone has to bench 225 etc. people would want to have membership at your gym because they meet standers every one would want to meet the standers and want to join your gym. If some one doesn’t meet standers give them membership and give them 6 months or so to get there lifts up. (you don’t care if they ever get them up ) Go to local high schools and give members of sports teams discounts. Have no entry fee. Get Experienced business partners so you have money finically to start a business. Make them a silent partner, someone who just gets profit and but does no work. Than you would know how to start a business and you would have money to start one you can open a location without a partner.
    Work hard, or go home .
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  30. #30
    Registered User fatass PLer's Avatar
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    Don't do that

    It loses money as fast as blood runs out from your cut opened arteria.
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