How to start a gym or fitness center successfully

December, 23 2020

To start or open a gym, the main requirements are to have investment capital, choose the right location, hire the right staff, a business plan and other factors that we detail below.

In this guide you will find all the steps to open a gym successfully

How to start a gym or fitness center successfully

Before opening any business it’s important to know the facts and figures of the sector.

The fitness or gym sector has evolved over the years. In the past, only the typical traditional gyms full of machines and weights were common, today these gyms have incorporated other activities such as functional training, Pilates or yoga and new boutique gyms specialized in these fitness activities have also been opened.

Discover how to open your own fitness center

In 2019, Spain had 4,743 gyms in operation and 5.5 million registered members. In total, there was an income of 2,352 million euros.

In that same year, more than half of the gyms that opened in Spain were boutique centers. With 14% and 13% of openings in the country, the close/24-hour gyms and low-cost centers ranked second and third, respectively.

Why set up a boutique center? The new model

As we mentioned before, in 2019 more than 50% of gyms that opened in Spain were boutique-style mainly due to 3 important factors:

  1. The initial investment and the price difference of traditional gyms vs. the boutique gyms is abysmal. The average investment of a traditional gym with a suitable location, purchase of machines and personnel can cost around 500,000 euros, while opening a gym or boutique fitness center the investment is around 50,000 euros.
  2. The location is another important factor. To open a traditional gym you need a large room of at least 300 square meters so that users can train comfortably. In today's cities it’s very difficult to find a place of that size and if there are, the prices are exorbitant. The size of the premises to open a boutique gym can be around 60 square meters.
  3. Recurrence of boutique gyms is much higher than traditional gyms. The dropout rate for boutique fitness centers is 2% while for traditional gyms it’s 5%.

If you want to further reduce the risk of your investment, you can consider the possibility of opening a gym franchise.

What requirements do I need to start a gym or fitness center?

  1. First of all, you need to inform yourself about the sector and the industry. It’s important to know all the data, the operation of the business and the services that you are going to offer to make the correct decisions and not make serious mistakes that could cost you dearly or even the closure of the gym.
  2. Know the regulations of the country where you are going to open the gym. This includes documentation, legal issues, permits, taxes, regulation and approval of the premises by the respective authorities, insurance, etc.
  3. Understand the culture of the country very well, this is more important than it seems. This implies traditions, customs, behavior, knowing how to talk to or address your potential customer and your suppliers.   
  4. Having a business plan with all the necessary steps to open the gym, detailed and supported budgets and with clear entrepreneurial objectives. 



Steps to open a gym or fitness center

Before making the decision to set up your own gym, you should study the different aspects to take into account. Regardless of the country, city or town where you want to start it, there are generic topics that apply to any site, the results vary according to culture, laws, policies and demographics. 

In case you choose to open a gym franchise, the franchisors provide you with all the necessary information, prepare and train you to run the business successfully, so you should not worry about these steps. In addition, they are months of work, effort and money that you save.

But if you want to set up a gym on your own, we leave you a list of steps that we consider useful:

Download business plan for a fitness center

1. Market study

In the market study you must do an analysis of the sector. You must investigate what your target audience is looking for, what they ask for, what they like and in the same way see existing companies, make an analysis of the competition, what they are offering and what they need; the space where you can enter and achieve a differentiation that responds to a preference of your business.

2. Business plan

At this point, you should start to compare more specific business issues such as the plans, objectives and tools necessary to undertake in any sector. This section is a guide for the proper functioning of your company and can show you how it will be viable. You can include methodologies such as the SWOT analysis that analyzes the situation of the company internally and externally and from there, you can generate strategies that allow you to see the different scenarios and the application of solutions.

3. Documentation and legal issues

This is an essential point for the constitution of the company. It’s a step that, due to the process and time involved becomes tedious, but impossible to avoid. The necessary requirements vary depending on the country you are in.


4. Choice of gym location

At this point you must define what type of gym you want to open, if it is a traditional gym or a boutique gym. As we already told you above, for a traditional gym you need a room of at least 300 square meters and for a boutique gym a room of about 60 square meters. We recommend taking into account some factors such as: a moderate or high traffic of people in the street where the gym will be located, that the place is visible and preferably door to street, parking near the establishment, businesses around but that are not competition; you can also take into account the purchasing power of the area.


5. Budget

In this case it also depends on the type of gym you want to open. If it’s a traditional gym, the investment will be higher than for a boutique gym. In the budget you have, you must include different factors that can increase or decrease the investment, depending on the type of services, customer and the location, the amount will vary significantly.



6. Observe the details

At this point, we recommend listening to your customers. What do they want and if they are satisfied with the services you provide. Ask them directly, they give you their opinion, people like to be heard. You can also do surveys to improve certain points.


What services does a gym offer?

Gyms have evolved so now you can find fitness centers with multiple services, some even with pools. This will depend on the budget you have and how spacious the place is.

For example, Fit Jeff gyms offer only 4 specialty classes: HIIT, functional training, Pilates and yoga. 


How much does it cost to open a gym?

The investment to open a traditional gym can be around 500,000 euros and if to open a boutique gym around 50,000 euros.

These prices are only approximate, they can vary and depend on many factors. In the first place, the country, the city, the area and the type of premises where you want to open the laundry. Each one has a different price.  

Then operating permits, everywhere, even in different cities within the same country, more or fewer permits can be requested, which also influences the final budget.

If it is a traditional gym, we must take into account the investment of machines and weights. How many do you want to buy, which make and model and the fixed and variable costs of the first months of operation.

Open a gym on your own or a gym franchise?

At this point it’s up to you. But there are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Do I know the sector and the industry? 
  • Do I know how the business and processes work?
  • What tools and software can I use to keep good business accounting? 
  • Do I have trusted suppliers that offer quality products?
  • Do I know what type of premises and which area is best for me and which one will be more attractive to customers?
  • Do I know how to carry out marketing campaigns, digital tools management, advertising through emailing, Facebook, Instagram and Google?  How should I address my customers?

If the answer to these questions is negative, it would be better for you to lean towards buying a gym franchise. In this case, the franchises give you all the know-how, everything that this article contains is given to you by the franchisor but in great detail. It advises you in each of the processes of the opening of the gym, from the choice of location, purchase of machinery, budgets, profitability and financial analysis of each year, market studies, etc. It also prepares and trains you in all the computer tools that should be included in the business, attracting new customers, etc.   

For example, if you would like to open a Fit Jeff boutique gym, we will train you in:

  • All the processes to manage your business successfully, including marketing campaigns to increase your income.
  • Essential steps; the choice of location, hiring of staff and management of technology Jeff.
  • How to analyze and act on the key metrics of your business.
  • Technical training on each of the classes
  • You will receive Fit Jeff routines so that they can be taught in the centers


Why open a Fit Jeff gym franchise?

Jeff is one of the companies that has grown the most in recent years. It has more than 2,000 franchises in 40 countries and on 4 continents. It is a globally recognized brand. 

Franchises are one of the most profitable businesses of the moment and this is confirmed by the Spanish Association of Franchisors in its report Franchises in Spain 2019:

The Spanish franchise adds its 5th year of growth in all its variables: number of networks, establishments, jobs generated and turnover. - Spanish Association of franchises

According to the report, the franchises in Spain as a whole obtained in 2018 a turnover of 27,707.2 million euros in total, increasing by 0.4% the figure reached in 2017 of 27,592 million euros. It also employed 293,872 people, 14,921 more than in 2017, which represents an increase of 5.3%.

➡️ Diego Moya, Head of Fit Jeff will tell you about this gym model


Discover how to open your own fitness center


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