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Starting a Gym Business With No Money – A Complete Guide

Are you interested in starting a gym? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a gym business with NO money and no experience.

Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample gym business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample gym marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for gym houses. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a gym or fitness center. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.

Table of Content

What is a Gym?

A gym is a sort of athletic facility equipped for sports or physical training, the training is geared towards the development of and care for the human body; stresses athletics; including hygiene. Fitness is booming and with the ever increasing number of corporate wellness programs and health insurance incentives, opening a gym appears to be full of opportunity. However, with all of the different options (trends, facility type, commercial gym equipment, programming, etc.); taking that first step in opening up a gym can be quite daunting.

Why Start a Gym Business?

If you very much agree with the saying that goes ‘ health is wealth’, then you may also very well agree that one of the ways of staying healthy is by keeping fit and having a good BMI. It is very important to not be complacent when the issue of staying fit comes to fore. This is one of the reasons why there has been the craze for fitness lately all over the globe. Those who are particular about staying fit know that it is a part of life

Statistics from the United States of America for instance; avails the rate at which folks get obese which as continued to be an alarming thing. This is no thanks to the junk type of diet that these folks subject themselves to. However, truth is that one can curb being obese and even totally eradicate those unwanted fats in the body by simply enrolling in a gym and eating healthy. This is one of the sole aims which those who are in the gym business try to pass across.

Although a gym business provides limitless rewards in the long term, starting the business requires slightly higher startup costs than many other small businesses. But the huge startup costs notwithstanding, the business is very profitable because most people value their health and fitness more than they value luxury items. This explains why the gym business will continue thriving even in a tight economy in which other businesses are tanking.

Starting a Gym Business With No Money – A Complete Guide

  • Industry Overview

Government statistics indicated strong business growth opportunities for starting your own gym business. The U.S. Department of Labor expects industry growth faster than average when compared to other occupations. U.S. Census Bureau statistics indicate that the 21,283 fitness businesses throughout the U.S. net more than $10.2 billion annually according to a 1997 record.

  • Interesting Statistics About Fitness Industry

Gym business is gaining more grounds in recent times as it was in the 20th century. People are now more aware of the immeasurable benefits they stand to gain when they enroll in a gym. It is now obvious to a myriad of people that they can stay healthy, improve their lifestyle and live longer if they exercised regularly.

Statistics has it that there is a steady increase in the number of people that enroll in gyms and the fact that gym facilities is now closer to residential areas make this possible. In order words, with the increase in the number of people that enroll in gyms, comes the increase in the revenue generated by gyms.

Some people enroll in gyms not because they don’t have the money to purchase some of the basic gym equipment, but because exercising regularly requires discipline and that is part of what they stand to get when they enroll in a gym with an instructor at hand.

Starting a gym business in the United States of America is less stressful; it requires enough cash to equip the gym facility to meet the standard expected by gym users. As a matter of fact, building a swimming pool around the gym facility is one of the factors that could attract clients to enroll in gyms.

The gym industry is not going to go out of fashion anytime soon, but rather the number of people that enroll in gyms will continue to be on the increase and that of course will translate to more monies for gym owners.

Starting a Gym Business With No Money – Market Feasibility Research

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The target market for gyms cuts across people of different walks of life. The fact that people register in gyms and fitness clubs for various reasons makes marketing the business interesting. The target market for gym and fitness centers can be categorized into three various groups.

The first group is the people who are looking towards shedding some weight through proper exercising and under the guidance of a qualified instructor. The other group of people are those who are interested in building their biceps (body building), and the last group of people are those who just want to enroll for cardio sessions under the watchful eyes of a qualified trainer. These sessions are a combination of light weights, treadmills and bikes.

These are the category of people that need gym and fitness services;

  1. Corporate Executives
  2. Business People
  3. Household
  4. Sportsmen and Sportswomen
  5. Schools
  6. Young Couples

List of Niche ideas in the Gym and Fitness Industry

Here are a number of niches you can venture into;

  1. Swimming lessons
  2. Martial arts classes
  3. Cycling groups
  4. Sports camps
  5. Yoga
  6. Pilates
  7. Zumba (or other rhythmic, dance-based exercise opportunities)
  8. Women’s training
  9. Body Firming
  10. Weight loss
  11. Body Building

The Level of Competition in the Gym and Fitness Industry

Competition in the fitness industry is fierce with large, all-inclusive clubs vying against smaller independent gyms. There is also competition coming from other recreational activities and home fitness programs, such as the popular P90X.

According to Byrnes, competition is good. “It means more people are working out and that motivates us to serve them the best way we can,” he says. Byrnes’ X Shadyside operation was expanded last year to include more space, more equipment, and a Planet Smoothie franchise. “In this business, you have to stay up to date,” he adds. “We also know that along with exercise, people want to eat healthy so we opened a Planet Smoothie.”

To stay strong in a competitive industry, health club operators must focus on what makes their club stand out from the crowd. The gyms and centers that do best are the ones that know who they are and do not try to be all things to all people.

They reinvest in their physical plant, equipment, and their staff; they do not compete on price alone; and most importantly, they truly focus on customer service and making sure they deliver an environment and services that will help their members meet their wellness goals.

List of Well Known Brands in the Gym and Fitness Industry

  1. Cross fit
  2. Nike Training club
  3. Equinox
  4. Soul Cycle
  5. 24 Hour Fitness
  6. Anytime fitness
  7. Gold’s Gym
  8. Crunch Fitness
  9. Health Magazine
  10. Julian Michaels
  11. Spartan Race
  12. The Green Microgym
  13. DeFranco’s
  14. Athletic Republic
  15. Westside Barbells
  16. Peak Performance
  17. Green Fitness Studio
  18. Cressey Performance
  19. Crunch
  20. Gym Jones
  21. Curves

ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

According to the 2014 Fitness Industry Analysis, there are 41 million Americans that are members of a health club, and half of those are members at a commercial, for profit facility. The other half is split between nonprofit centers like a YMCA. So that means there are 20+ million Americans that are paying monthly member dues at a for profit gym or health facility.

So are you ready to jump in and start your own gym? Before you invest your life savings, make sure you understand your financial projections and what it will take to breakeven. For many startup gyms the journey to breakeven does not happen overnight.

Is a Gym Business Worth Starting from Scratch or is Buying a Franchise Better?

The rise of health and fitness chains during the past decade is proof that people are willing to dedicate a lot of time and money to get in shape, especially as obesity rates hit record levels. Most gyms tend to operate within a franchise framework with an independent gym offering something a bit more personal, but it is a highly competitive sector that doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon.

Depending upon your experience, you may feel quite confident in starting the business from the ground up with little to no outside support. This is an exciting approach as you’ll have the freedom and flexibility to offer whatever you’d like inside of your gym and own the rights to your business. However, creating a strong brand and minimizing start up costs may become a challenge.

But whatever option you may later decide on, consider the following key points;   independently owned facilities can offer more freedom / flexibility but may lack brand recognition. Franchises offer a great deal of support but there is a cost associated with this infrastructure. Lastly and most importantly, do what’s best for your specific needs.

Possible Threats and Challenges of Starting a Gym

Some of the threats that are likely going to confront us as a gym club are;

  1. Pricing wars are fierce and cutthroat
  2. Facilities operated by universities, municipalities, and even some medical centers also frequently have a big budget, a captive audience (universities) and in some cases, doctor recommendations (medical facilities)!
  3. Personal trainers can offer private sessions in a client home.
  4. Online options are expanding. People can watch videos or even live classes and join virtual communities to share their experiences.
  5. Wearable technology with biometric data – people can get real-time information about their workouts – making a professional trainer or even a group class less necessary.
  6. Unfavorable government policies.
  7. Demographic / social factors.
  8. Downturn in the economy which is likely going to affect consumers spending.
  9. The emergence of new competitors within the same location.

Writing a Business Plan for your Gym

Having gained enough insight into the business from the previous steps, you should develop a detailed business plan for your gym business. This plan should not only outline how you plan to sustain the gym from an economic standpoint, but should also discuss your marketing and promotional plans, unique selling points, target market, and competition.

Your business plan should also include the estimated costs of maintenance and repair of the gym’s equipment, hiring fitness instructors (if necessary), and projected yearly revenue. Not only will a good business plan ease the process of starting your business, but it will also help you keep focused as you strive to grow your business with time. And it will come in handy when you need funding from investors or lenders.

The key to any business plan is to make a list of those things you will be spending money on and how much you will be getting in. You might wonder why you need to have a business plan. You already know what kind of services you could offer. If you need to do some marketing, you might say “I will think about it along the way”.

However, one of the most important management functions is planning. Without planning, you don’t know which way your business is going and you cannot measure your progress. A lot of small businesses fail because of poor planning.

Here is a list of items in your business plan to consider:

  1. Summary of Business Plan
  2. Management and Operating Plan
  3. Competitive Analysis
  4. Market Analysis and Marketing Plan
  5. Financial Plan
  6. Summary of Business Plan

Choosing the Best Location for your Gym Business

The trend in the gym and fitness industry is such that if a gym is well positioned in a residential area or a place where people can easily access without much stress, there is the likelihood that the gym will enjoy high patronage.

Just like in other business venture, the owner of gyms and fitness clubs are always looking for ways to increase their market share; they go as far as signing deals with high schools and also offer home services. What they do is that they offer pro bono services for a period of time, and then thereafter introduce a fee gradually and before too long they would have successfully converted some of the people that benefited from their pro bono services to loyal members.

If you have chosen a location before deciding on your target market, then your target market will be dictated by the dominant group of people in that location. However, if you decided on your target market without a location in mind, then you will need to find a location where your target market lies.

For example, if you have already planned to set up your gym for the elderly, you will need to find a location in communities with large groups of retirees. Similarly, a gym designed for busy people with full-time jobs should be placed in areas where these people dominate.

You must choose a location that people can assess easily without any restrictions. For example, a location without parking space around is bad for a gym business, as some people customers come from longer distances.

Starting a Gym Business With No Money – Technical and Manpower Details

Your manpower need as a fitness firm depends on the scale at which you plan to operate, if you choose to operate on a small scale, you will only be the one running the business solely but if you choose to expand and go medium then you will need at least 4 more workers, anything above 4 employees means you are operating on a large scale.

Whichever scale you wish to operate will determine your manpower need and it is important for you to know that the business is not physical but very technical, it need creative and efficient people.

Equipment or Tools Needed to Run your Gym

These are the types of exercise equipment that are needed in a gym and fitness center;

  1. Resistance bands
  2. Weight machines
  3. Flexion machines
  4. Pull-up bars
  5. Wall bars
  6. Weight training
  7. Elliptical trainer
  8. Street Strider (elliptical cross trainer on wheels)
  9. Exercise machine
  10. Dumbbell
  11. Kettle bell
  12. Treadmills
  13. Hojoundō
  14. Pull-up bar
  15. Medicine balls
  16. Boxing Gear
  17. Gym flooring
  18. Barbells
  19. Cable Attachments
  20. Weight plates
  21. Benches
  22. Wearable items as proper footgear, gloves, and hydration packs.
  23. Filing Cabinets
  24. Notice board
  25. Employee Uniform

Starting a Gym Business With No Money – The Marketing Plan

  • Marketing ideas and strategies for a gym

As a new gym and fitness start-up, consider the following strategies for marketing your club

  1. Free or Reduced Rate Trial Period
  2. Offer a Referral Program
  3. Implement a Loyalty Program
  4. Make it Fun
  5. Get a Cool Web Site

Possible Competitive Strategies for Winning Competitors in the Fitness Industry

Read your competition’s bio. If this particular gym club has 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies, and you focus on micro-business content for consumer magazines, move on. You already know their client list isn’t going to suit your needs. You need to find someone who is in your niche, or in a niche you want to occupy.

You should also check your competition’s portfolio and skim through their roster of clients periodically. This is a great way not only to find new clients, but also to figure out how big your market is. You might want to train tennis players, but may realize that all your competition works for cyclists and athletes. With so few markets to choose from, it’s time branch out into other sports or industries.

You can also get enough ideas from competitors by reading through a few of your competitor’s clips to get an idea of what the client looks for. Many ideas can be gleaned from competition not just about new publications and ideas, but also about new markets. This is like getting into your competitors head as a clairvoyant to know what they are thinking.

Possible Ways to Increase Client Retention for your Gym

There are plenty of possibilities in both print media and online media. The difficulty will always be the competition, so you’ll need to keep your style sharp and interesting, your list of contacts detailed, and your motivation stoked. Keep improving your writing skills by reading widely, attending relevant talks and seminars, and staying up-to-date in the areas you’re writing about.

This is especially important if you’re writing in areas that change rapidly, such as technology and fashion. Update your portfolio every time you have an article published. Learn from your editor’s comments. Fix your grammar quirks, mend your heavy prose, and celebrate the fact that someone is giving you golden advice on how to improve your writing skills.

Strategies to Boost your Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate identity for your Gym

Provide areas and equipment for playing sports. The best gyms offer a wide variety of exercise opportunities to their clientele. These exercise opportunities should cater to the naturally varying interests of the people who use the gym. One fun, relatively easy-to-provide type of exercise is sports. Many popular types of sports can be relatively cheap to offer and maintain.

For instance, all that’s needed for basketball is several regulation-size hoops, which can be placed indoors, outdoors, or both. Below are several types of sports you may want to offer at your gym (and the space and equipment required for each). Note that many gyms offer only a few of these sports or none at all:

  • -Basketball: Regulation-sized hoops and court (can be indoor or outdoor; usually includes regulation floor markings)
  • -Soccer: Goals, regulation-sized field with regulation markings.
  • -Running: Track; usually includes starting marks and/or distance markers
  • -Baseball: Diamond/field or batting cages.
  • -Boxing/sparring: Indoor ring or gym, punching bags, gloves, and masks.
  • -Swimming: Indoor or outdoor pool. Olympic-sized is ideal but other sizes common.

Tips for Running a Gym Business Successfully

When you specialize in a particular industry or service, you are much more in control of your time, since you already know the ropes. It allows you to focus on being the best in your niche and provide high-quality services efficiently and profitably. It’s a win-win scenario. In reality, your business will naturally grow and change. You can always experiment with new service offerings. It’s perfectly acceptable to change your services (and clients) as you grow.

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