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6 Steps for Opening a Fitness Center

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6 Steps for Opening a Fitness Center

By mbramble, Contributor
Published: December 23, 2015 Updated: December 23, 2015

Getting fit and staying fit is a state of mind and an entrepreneurial opportunity. According to IHRSA, in the beginning of 2015 there were almost 35,500 U.S. Health clubs, which was up 6.4% over 2014. In 2014, this accounted for a total U.S. Industry Revenue of over $24 billion!

The success of the fitness center Industry has been fueled by many factors – not the least of which is the growing trend among the 80 million plus baby boomers who see staying fit and healthy as an absolute necessity and daily routine.  Also, attrition has gone down because members are 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 serving this large and ever growing market, below are some things to consider while starting your fitness business.

1. Do Your Homework

Before you get a loan and open your doors, do your market research. You will need this information for your business plan. SBA offers a guide to writing your business plan for help getting the foundation of your business built.

Two of the most important factors you will consider are:

Deciding on your Target Market

You will need to decide which group of people you will serve and how you will serve them. For instance, you may decide that your passion is in indoor cycling and your research shows that there is a need for indoor cycling studios in your target location. You can use free consumer demographic data available through for your research as you narrow down your target market.

Location, Location, Location

Having the right location for your fitness center can make or break your success. If you are difficult to get to or don’t have easy parking you may lose your members. Given that rent may be your biggest expense, finding the right place for the right price in critical. Read ‘Tips for Choosing Your Business Location’ to get more information and explore any additional information you may need.

2. Staffing Your Fitness Center

The next biggest expense after rent is staff costs. You may choose to hire your own fitness instructors, trainers, membership and maintenance staff. Each of these employee groups could be structured differently. Some as full-time employees, some as part-time employees and other as contractors. Choosing and managing this employee structure can be daunting as each has their own taxation and regulatory requirements.

Below are some resources to help you in this process:

3. To Hire or Buy Fitness Equipment?

With fitness technology evolving everyday, how do you balance expenses while still providing your members with the latest fitness equipment and technology. This will depend on your business goals and strategy. But to better understand the leasing process read “Leasing Business Equipment”.

4. Understand Your Financing Options

If traditional financing options aren’t for you, you may look to a government-backed loan. The Small Business Administration (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 other financial assistance.

5. The Critical Steps to Starting A Business

Just like any other business, there are a few steps that every entrepreneur needs to take when starting a business. Make sure to have all your boxes checked before opening your doors. Read “10 Steps to Starting A Business” to ensure that you have covered all your bases.

6. Business Insurance

One last thing to ensure that you have covered is your business. Look into the insurance requirements for your state and the available insurance to protect you against workplace injuries and accidents. To learn more about Small Business Insurance read:

Additional Resources

The International Health, Racquet & Sports club Association (IHRSA) offers a wealth of information for fitness center owners including:

About the Author:

Mariama Bramble



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There are so many aspects involved in opening a business like a fitness center that is very useful to have a partner or adviser who has done it before and who can guide you through any issues that might (and definitely will) come up. Going through a startup that's as complicated as a fitness center can be without having an experienced partner or mentor is almost certain to be difficult or impossible.
Thanks for sharing amazing information to start a fitness center. Funds, location, trainer, are very important to start Fitness center business.
Good resource, and easy to read. I'm just getting started with my startup and am reviewing tons of resources at SBA. There's great information all-around. Do you have any information/resources on buying a fitness center (established) rather than opening one (starting from the ground up)?
Where did you get the information that attrition has gone down? Thanks, good article!
fitness centre is very good idea for business , because modern world's one of the most hard problem is unwanted weight . but also, i think food business will be more popular , cause people loves more to eat than workout .
Valid points given to start a fitness center, as it not just requires a lot of expenditure, but expertise who can help in running the fitness center smoothly. As monetary assistance needs to be easy to pay back, else establishing any business requires lot of time to make it success.
I work for a gym. Please, when you are starting your business, don't forget the Maintenance and the Housekeeping.I have found that these areas are crucial for any business but, most forget. These areas must have an area within your facility to get the job done safely and efficiently in order for good productivity.


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