How much does opening a gym cost? There are actually two groups of costs to consider – initial costs, and ongoing costs. The latter can be far higher than you’d expect. Are you prepared for them? In this Fit Finances 101 guide, we make understanding the economics of opening a gym easy. There are even some handy tips on how to lower your expenses and plan for your financial fitness.
When you consider opening a new gym, your first question will, of course, be “How much does it cost to open a gym?” Starting costs can range from a little under $170,000 to over $350,000. Don’t expect to recoup all your expenses in a hurry. It takes the average gym 1 or 2 years to become truly profitable. But, why are these initial costs so high?
There’s a deposit or downpayment on the gym studio premises. Other fees associated with buying or leasing a gym studio include legal fees and business licensing. Most likely, you’ll also need to do some remodelling, buy gym equipment and furnishings, and install signage.
Cheaper Alternatives to Consider
The expense of running a gym franchise with everything already in place from facilities to equipment is significantly lower than starting an independent gym business. Other benefits include an established, recognized brand and franchisee support.
Running costs differ widely from one gym to the next. This depends on the size of the gym and the location, which can affect your rent payments (if that’s the route you’ve taken). If you bought the gym premises, you may be paying off a loan you took to buy it.
However, it goes beyond paying off the loan or paying rent. Business insurance and professional/ general liability insurance are essential, in case of damage to equipment and injury to gym users. Because a gym needs electricity and water, just like any other business, there are utility bills, too.
A gym’s hours extend past office hours, with bright lights kept on at all times. Is there an indoor pool? Even if you don’t offer this at your gym, every gym still needs locker rooms and shower facilities.
Ways to Reduce Utility Bills
There are many ways to reduce the costs of utilities. While they won’t have a dramatic impact at first, they will make a difference in the long term. Invest in low-energy LED bulbs, and try to incorporate as much natural light as possible. You can also fit water-saving shower heads to reduce the water bill.
Marketing is another cost that, while not very high in itself, is an ongoing expense. This is more the case if you are starting an independent gym, as you need to get your name out there and your business is known.
Gyms rely heavily on memberships to work and make a profit, and if your gym is unknown, it can take time to attract members. This is why you need to start marketing your gym before you open for business, and perhaps include a special introductory offer.
Less Expensive Marketing Solutions
Do your research, and find a gym influencer to partner with. Start a social media account (preferably more than one platform) and post regular content like images of your gym, short videos showing the classes you offer, etc,
Even a small gym will need staff. This includes personal trainers and gym instructors as well as cleaning staff, admin, and reception staff. No matter if you pay weekly wages or monthly salaries, it’s going to add up.
You need to pay your employees regardless of whether you’ve begun turning a profit or not.
As a gym owner, you’re also a business owner and employer. Therefore you’re required to pay unemployment taxes on behalf of your employees. The amount of tax is determined by your state and is based on the payroll and the number of staff that you have.
How to Cut Staffing Costs
With the help of good gym management software, you can do the admin yourself and save money. Hire freelance gym instructors and personal trainers instead of full-time employees, especially those who are qualified in multiple fitness disciplines. Outsource cleaning and equipment maintenance rather than hiring permanent staff for these roles.
Even with the most carefully thought out business plan, things can go awry. Situations that are outside of your control, may arise. This was evident during the pandemic and lockdowns of 2020. Businesses without alternative business models and emergency funds never recovered.
It doesn’t have to be such a grand-scale disaster, either. You may suffer a personal calamity, preventing you from running your business. Or you just might not make the profits you were hoping for. Always have a contingency plan!
How To Plan For The Unexpected
Consider a hybrid of at-home, online classes, and in-gym classes. Your online sideline will give you a secondary source of income for saving towards your business plan B. Should a disaster happen, you’ll have the safety net of your alternative income stream and funds to carry you through financial difficulty.