Many people with a background in fitness dream of starting a gym themselves one day. We at Gymleco have over 25 years of experience in helping prospective gym owners open gyms. Kai Räty, customer manager at Gymleco, was himself one of those who chose to start his own gym and during his career has run over dozens of gyms. We collected and compiled a concrete list that you can use when you have chosen to open a gym.
5 concrete lessons when starting a gym
1. Start with a business plan
What kind of focus should your gym have? Should it be focused on strength training, should you follow the trend and run a gym with padel, should it be focused on group training or should it be something completely different? Break down your unique selling points and decide what your profile is.
2. Do a market analysis
You have probably found a location or chosen the area you want to find something in. Do a thorough research on that area: population, income and competitor analysis. Visit all the gyms in the area and observe what works well for them and what their clients like. Don’t be afraid if there are many gyms in the area, usually it just means that the residents are willing to exercise.
3. Count on starting a gym
It is important that you make a budget analysis since gyms cost a lot, especially if you are in the start-up phase and do not belong to a chain. You need to count on starting a gym. Set up a plan where you include all recurring costs such as rent, salary, alarms, electricity, all start-up costs such as equipment, technology, marketing and all major expenses such as the renovation. Right now it’s a buyer’s/renter’s market so don’t be afraid to negotiate the best possible contract, maybe your property owner can cover the renovation?
4. Create a marketing plan
Sit down and make a clear plan for how to market your gym. Create membership pre-sales and try to get as many members as possible before opening, then you have a secure source of income right from the start. To make this possible, you need to invest in marketing. Plan how you will present the gym and create a lot of material that you can use. Hype the concept and sell it. Adapt your marketing depending on the area where you are going to open a gym. If you open in a mall, hand out flyers. If you open in an industrial area, put a bigger budget on the digital marketing.
5. Plan your gym equipment long-term
It’s easy to just see the cheapest price tag and choose that option along with all the other start-up costs, but think long-term instead. What will gym equipment look like in 5 or 10 years? Will you have to replace everything or add expensive costs to service? You will always be able to find cheap gym equipment when you decide to start your own gym, but that just means it will be a more expenses in the future. If you think sustainably, it will pay off. Gymleco is appreciated by many gym owners precisely because our gym equipment lasts. We have several gyms with gym machines from the 90s that are still in use. Consider the scenario that you lease the gym equipment for 5 years. After the 5 years, you have a set of gym equipment that will last for many years to come and you can take out a clean profit.
Consider the members when you open a gym
Remember that your members are your ambassadors. Their commitment is top notch. When you’re going to open a gym, you need to build a club feeling, a community that creates a buzz. Take care of your customers by organizing competitions, events and other valued activities. Make sure to pay attention to your members who are not seen and heard the most, it will be appreciated and you will get valuable feedback that you would not have received otherwise.
Extra tips for starting a gym
There have never before been so many girls doing strength training. Put a spotlight on this and market to women. Build a safe and valued place for your female members.
A case: Iron Cave
Iron Cave gym opened in January 2020, it was Tolga Mol’s first gym and he was helped by Jesper Karlsson, customer manager at Gymleco, throughout the process.
“Me and Tolga met for the first time in Helsingborg in 2012 and looked at a gym that was for sale. Tolga was an old weightlifter and thought there was a lack of a proper gym in his home district of Karlshamn, but he was waiting for the right location and the right premises. I supplied equipment to the gym he was training at at the time which was Nitro gym. One day several years later in 2018, he contacted me and said that now he had found the right premises. We met and looked at gyms together, visited the premises and rent negotiators with the property owner, I helped with the business plan, layout drawings and sought financing for his project,” says Jesper.
Tolga Mol talks about his experience with Gymleco:
“For us, it has meant a lot to have both Kai and Jesper as contact persons who have been involved in the entire process from the beginning, who have contributed with experience and tips. It has been very nice to be able to have the contact persons as a sounding board and especially fun that they were able to follow the entire process from a small seed to where we are today.”
When you are ready to start the gym
We at Gymleco are more than happy to help you from idea to opening. Contact us and Kai Räty or Jesper Karlsson will help you with all questions, thoughts and ideas so that your dream can come true.