How To Open A Gym In The Post Pandemic World Of 2021?

Being a successful gym owner requires more than just some equipment and a nice location. But how do you make your dream happen?
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fter months of thinking hard, now is the time when you’ve finally made up your mind - you want to open your own gym. Certainly, it’s your dream and you want to achieve it, but do you know enough about what it takes to open a gym in 2021?

Before we list out everything you need, there’s something that better be discussed before -> COVID-19.

The entire fitness industry was seeing a stable 7% growth from 2017 to 2018, however, things took a sharp turn with the advent of COVID that caused fitness businesses to suffer extreme losses and consequently shut down.

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has made it difficult for everyone to start a gym and then maintain its success. But that doesn’t mean you should let this obstacle overtake you. In fact, many fitness entrepreneurs are finding excellent solutions to the challenges of opening a gym in 2021. Innovators are mixing up tech and fitness to completely reshape how fitness will look in the years to come. 

You of course have the chance to become one of them. To start off let’s take a look at this checklist below which will cover the bases for your fitness studio when you’re in the pre-launch stage.

01. A Business Plan

Before you start a gym, it’s very important to have a clear business plan in mind. That would include your gym’s mission statement and the steps you would take to achieve that mission.

Differentiating your business begins here. If you’re unable to visualize what will set you apart then undertake some research on the latest fitness trends and realize what kind of gyms are going to be successful in 2021.

There are tons of websites online that offer you business plan blueprints. Use them to write down on paper all the essential steps you’ll take for starting your gym, including the ones that you find relevant from this guide.

02. Your Ideal Location

In a post-COVID world, you can run two different types of gym business. One would be offline and another would be online. If you’re thinking of starting your online gym, then check out this article for complete know-how on how to do that.

But if you’re still inclined towards an offline facility and feel that it would be essential to your vision, then it’s really important to find an ideal location.

A place that sees a lot of foot traffic becomes an asset for you as you get noticed by more people. But again these places cost more and are also tough to get. Plus crowded places are usually the first ones to shut down in case the restrictions ever set in again.

That’s why your ideal location depends on your fitness offering and the size of the gym. If a busy mall doesn’t fit your budget, keep in mind that in light of COVID-19, people may be more comfortable working in outdoor spaces. 

A location that makes the best possible use of both indoor and outdoor workouts can also be an ideal space for your gym. Remember that rent, water, heating, and electricity will always put a dent in your cash flow, so you have to choose wisely.

Different gyms need different layouts and equipment. You have to keep your vision in mind while deciding what facility you want.

03. Important Licenses and Insurances

Before you set up your business, you have to attain several licenses and legal documents, for instance, a business license, employment agreement, certificate of incorporation, and so on (check out the complete list here). The best way to ensure you are legally compliant is to hire a legal consultant who can help you with all this.

Another area you would need to cover is insurance. Gyms deal with many people every day which brings the risk of on-site injury. Gym business insurance is necessary to cover several unforeseen situations like theft, property-casualty insurance, worker’s compensation, general liability, and so on.

Again, if any of this is not your area of expertise then it’s best to take the help of a legal expert who can guide you through this.

04. Renting or Leasing Gym Equipment

A gym needs its equipment. Before opening up, you’ll have to undertake extensive research on what all equipment you need and how well they fit your budget.

Equipment will not only occupy your gym space, but they will also occupy a good part of your fixed budget. Which one’s do you need to start a gym?

For complete information on this, check out this blog post on the ten essential gym equipment pieces that you would need to start a gym. 

05. Opting for the Best Gym Management Software

You cannot run a gym with pen and paper or simply an excel sheet. A gym management software acts like the nervous system for your gym and takes care of tens of things that you otherwise would’ve to do manually.

  • Membership Management
  • Payment Tracking
  • Class Scheduling
  • Mobile Apps
  • Online Bookings
  • Data Insights
  • Staff Payroll
  • Inventory

And much more! A great gym management software not only adds to your client’s experience by enabling them to book and schedule classes on their own, but it also automates all the admin work for you. That way you can focus on things that matter more to you like your classes, your students, and your trainers.

The best strategy for opening a gym is by learning from the experience of others and avoiding the mistakes that they made. Here are some lessons listed below that can help you open a gym that doesn’t fail and comes out to be a profitable success in the long run.

Every Penny Matters

As we had mentioned before, the costs of starting a gym can vary a lot depending on the facility, equipment, size, location, and trainers your gym has. The starting up costs can be anywhere between $10,000 to $50,000 on average. What matters the most is to get your numbers right and figure out your cash flow and monthly costs.

When running a fitness business, the money that’s coming in and going out will be crucial to your survival in the first few months.

To get a complete insight on the pricing strategy you should follow for your business, check out our ebook here.

Leads Will Run Your Gym

For you, your gym could be the greatest thing in the world, but for another passerby on the road, it’s just another gym. Just starting a gym and expecting people is not advisable. Instead, you should focus on generating more and more leads. Fitness marketing is difficult at the start but very crucial to your business growth.

You can either hire an agency or take up a course in fitness marketing that gives you a complete overview on how to run ads, create landing pages and reach out to more and more people via mail. Instead of guessing strategies, spend more time gaining expertise on what can work the best for you before implementation.

Your Niche Will Make You Popular

People these days are running after unique experiences. A gym that appeals to everyone might not spike the curiosity of anyone. It’s going to be just another health club in your neighborhood. Better yet try and differentiate your fitness offering that hits a specific target market by appealing to what they desire the most, be it a hyper-intense CrossFit box, or a fat-burning spin-cycle studio. What matters is not to be the jack of all trades, but to be so good at something that you completely own it.

Draw Up Your Retention Strategy From Day One

Getting a new customer is 8-9 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. More leads are always beneficial for business but retaining them is as important else your churn rate will bring down your revenues. That’s the reason why your retention strategy is so important. 

Check out our retention ebook (coming soon!) for a complete strategy overview on things you can do to improve customer retention.

Get Creative With Your Marketing 

The marketing strategy that you pursue shouldn’t be limited to just paid ads on social media. It’s important to get creative with your marketing and generate more leads. There are tons of different strategies be it incentivizing your clients with referrals or perhaps paying influencers to promote your brand.

You don’t need to get influencers who have a huge following. Even your clients with a small-sized following can have a great impact if all of them promote your brand in some way. Of course, for that, you have to ensure that they are having a great experience, so much so that the only thing that’s on their mind when they return home is the great workout they just had at your gym.

Sell Before You Start Selling

The initial few months of starting your gym mean a lot of expenses and limited income. Pre-sales is something that can help balance that. What this means is that even before your gym opens up you start getting your name out in your community. That way you’re not waiting before the facility is active to start building a brand, you’re doing it much before day one.

If your brand is relatively new but you have trained people before, then your old clientele can act as a good channel for selling your services. Owning a gym is challenging with sales being one of the rather difficult parts of this journey. But it always helps to improve upon your sales skills by reassuring people that you’re going to take good care of them and the experience that they’re going to have is worth it.

At the end of the day, it’s all about helping your client rather than selling to them.

Write Down Everything You Learn

As your gym business grows, you need to keep proper documentation of how you’re reaching certain levels. Whether it’s 10 clients or 100, it’s important to write down how you got to that level

The same thing applies to all other functions of your business, be it marketing or on-boarding. Instead of hiring new staff members and training them yourself, a proper playbook can ensure that your other staff members can take care of this process. That way you can spend your time and resources on other important things like member experience and retention.

Planning Will Define Your Long Term Success

Avoid guessing how things are going to happen along the way. It’s best to write down what, when, why of everything that you’re going to do in the coming few months.

Starting a gym business means taking up so many things all at once, and the challenges you face might bring you down. But if you have a plan written and ready to reconcile with, then it’s gonna keep reminding you of the next step that you have to take.

That’s how you’re going to move ahead of all the challenges you face, by constantly reminding yourself that you have a plan. However, it’s also important to not trap yourself in excessive planning and little implementation.

Summing It Up

Opening a gym is perhaps the toughest and most rewarding experience you’re going to have in your fitness career. The first year will be a steep learning curve as you face multiple challenges along the way that would urge you to quit. Then again, it’s all about how you put in the lessons you’ve learned to handle such challenges and help your business survive for its initial phase.

At the end of the day, opening your gym would be worth every single effort you undertake!

Own a gym and want to get more leads from your website? Switch to a gym management software that sweats hard to see you grow.


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