The fitness industry
continues to be a lucrative market opportunity for small businesses and
entrepreneurs. Despite a crippling recession, the *IHRSA
(the fitness industry's global association) forecasts that U.S. health club
memberships will reach 50 million by 2010 - a staggering 25% growth rate
over today's numbers.
Many factors play a part
in fueling the success of this largely recession-proof industry - not the least
of which is the growing trend among the 80 million plus baby boomers who are
willing to part with their money to stay fit and healthy. In addition, existing gym members remain
reluctant to give up their health club memberships choosing to save money
instead on big ticket items such as vacations - reaffirming the fact that
'buying' fitness is no longer perceived as a luxury item but a fundamental part
of our everyday lives.
If you are interested in
starting a fitness business and serving this growing market - Here are some
pointers that can help you take the first steps towards owning your own fitness
your Market Research
Before you talk to your
bank manager you will need the foundations of a business plan, and much of this
will come from the information you derive and conclude from your market
research. Factors to consider include:
Deciding on a Target Market -
There are many options to consider when determining your target market. For
example, you may decide to target a broad audience by offering a variety of
disciplines from weight training, to cardiac work-outs and group classes. Or
you may want to focus on a particular niche such as women-only gyms or
discipline-specific fitness centers such as a pilates or yoga-based facility. To
help you determine how you can capitalize on an underserved or potential
market, step back and look at what the competition is doing and take the time
to analyze local demographics. The
government offers free access to a variety of consumer demographic data through
the Business.gov Business
Data and Statistics portal.
Location, Location, Location -
Finding the right facility at the right price is critical to your success. If
your customers can't find you, park easily, or assemble en masse at your chosen
facility, then you simply will not be able to cater to your chosen market. Given
that rent is likely to be your biggest business expense plan on spending most
of your planning hours getting it right - first time.
for Choosing a Business Location' and make sure you are
aware of the ins
and outs of commercial leases, including how to
negotiate the best deal for your business.
your Fitness Center
After rent, staff costs
are the second largest expense involved in operating a fitness center. Many
larger established fitness center chains hire their own fitness instructors and
trainers, but for a start-up you can achieve greater flexibility and lower
costs if you hire instructors on an independent contractor basis. This can
reduce the regulatory and financial burdens that come with having employees on
the books - including payroll taxes, employee benefits and insurance
Do note that there are very
specific taxation and regulatory requirements involved with hiring independent
contractors. Read more about these in this Hiring
independent Contactors Guide from Business.gov.
Also read - '*Working
with Independent Contractors: Understanding Tax Requirements'.
Hire or Buy Fitness Equipment?
Fitness equipment is not
only expensive it is a continually evolving technology. So how do you balance
expenses while offering the latest and greatest equipment to your clients? Much
of it will depend on your current and future budget. To understand more about
the lease versus buy debate for commercial fitness equipment read '*Fitness
Equipment Leasing: Sorting out the Details'.
a Business Plan
Once you have a picture of
how you intend to formulate your start-up business strategy - write it down.
Writing a business plan
will not only keep your business on the right path it will stand you in good
stead should you need start-up financing. *Bplans.com
offers some useful industry-specific business plan templates for starting a
fitness center - you can view and download these *here.
your Financing Options
If you don't qualify for
traditional bank loans, you might want to look to a government-backed loan. The
(SBA) provides a guaranty to banks and lenders for money lent to small
businesses, rather than lending the businesses money directly.
There are many different
types of loans, including the SBA
Express Loan that offers small businesses the chance to
get an SBA-backed loan of up to $350,000 to start-up or expand. The 'express'
piece refers to the fact that your loan can be turned around in 36 hours.
Read more about SBA loans here
and even search for a business loan that fits your need using this Small Business Loans and
Care of the Critical Start-Up Steps
Don't forget the legal and
regulatory side of starting a business.
Steps to Starting a Business' to ensure you have
checked off everything from business incorporation to registering your business
Before you open your doors
for business, look into purchasing some form of business insurance to protect
yourself against workplace injuries and accidents. Read 'Small Business Insurance - Part 1: What Type of Insurance Do I Need?'
tips on making the right decision.
The International Health,
Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) offers a wealth of information for
fitness center owners including resources on *Health
and Fitness Management, *Sales
and Marketing, *Human
Resources, and more.
*Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government site.