by David Liu
A quick overview of the equipment, services, and policies a gym or professional health facility owner should consider when first starting out.
While you do not need to be a fitness guru to open a fitness center, you should probably polish up on your business knowledge before you venture into the gym industry. Opening up a gym can be a profitable venture, with many first-time owners posting profits in as early as seven months. Before you rush to sign a lease at the local neighborhood warehouse, however, you should look into what is involved to owning your own gym.
Starting and managing a fitness center means much more that simply collecting fees from your local health enthusiasts – it also means that you will be liable for anything that occurs in and around your new business (workout injuries, equipment maintenance, customer parking issues). Here are some things to keep in mind when you are planning your health club venture.
Location, Location, and Low Affordability
The easy part of picking a location for your club is that a fitness club does not need to be in a prime location to attract your members. Being in a low-rent area does not have to hurt your business, and many successful boxing gyms manage to stay in business because of the cheap facilities. Detroit, Michigan is a prime example of a city with popular and successful boxing clubs that have maintained years of business in less commercially successful neighborhoods.
This does not mean you should throw your money at the cheapest open warehouse though. You will need permits for both holding a commercially zoned business as well as for occupancy for a large business building. These permits can all be applied for through your city’s zoning commissions (depending on your city, you may need to apply for conditional use permits instead of one for business purposes if you offer classes).
Also take into account that your proximity to customers, as well as the ease of travel to your location, can play a huge part in how you are perceived by potential members. Many gyms survive in busy downtown areas because they can be reached easily by public transportation such as the subway or bus.
If you are in a relatively easy to reach neighborhood such as a shopping complex, keep in mind that you will need adequate parking to accommodate the full amount of customers at your gym. Not having enough parking can be just as big of a turn-off for customers as having run-down equipment or poorly designed facilities.
If you have enough capital to start a facility from the ground up, though, consider talking to steel buildings contractors for pricing options. While owning an entire building and the land that it is on can seem overwhelming for a start-up business, it can help you in the future with small business loans, attracting investors for franchise development, and also maintaining the overall value of your investment.
Rent or Buy: How to Equip Your Gym
Whether you plan on renting or buying your equipment, you should think about how long you plan on keeping the machines. Renting will cost more monthly, but can save you money in the long run because you can replace old and broken machines with newer rentals without worrying about the depreciation of your old purchases.
Since many gym owners report that workout equipment lasts for years, having repairs covered by rental companies for the duration of your lease can also save you a good amount monthly. If you want to save on equipment costs in the beginning, you could consider used gym machines. If you do purchase used equipments, do so from a reliable broker because any lapses in operation that occur will be considered your liability.
David Liu is a writer based in San Diego, California. He writes extensively for Resource Nation, an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing decisions and a comparison service for time and attendance and telemarketing companies.