Before you open a gym, listen to this gym executive who oversees the operations of a 15,000+ square-foot flagship gym, and ask these 10 brutally honest questions if you want to run a successful fitness business.
Opening a gym or training facility is a nice blue-sky dream for many personal trainers. Starting a gym is a noble next step, but it’s not always a good or logical idea, especially if the intentions are motivated by the wrong reasons.
As it turns out, there are plenty of irrational justifications for opening your own space. Do these sound familiar?
* “I’m sick of giving this commercial gym so much of my hard-earned money.”
* “I want complete control of my schedule.”
* “I need more autonomy on the training floor.”
* “I’m tired of people telling me what gym clothes I need to wear to work.”
* “I want to spend less time working “floor hours” and more focusing on what I do best, coaching.”
These all qualify as motivation to open your own gym, sure, but let’s be frank here: they’re just not good ones. “Because your boss sucks” is simply a crappy reason to open your own gym.
If you think that opening your own shop is the solution that will allow you to suddenly free up the time and resources necessary for you to embrace the great aspects of coaching that got you into this industry in the first place, I have a few questions for you:
1. Where are you going to find the time to learn about lease negotiation?
That 10-year lease with rapidly and unexpectedly increasing CAM charges seems a little dicey.
2. How comfortable are you reviewing a proposed business insurance policy?
Did you catch that terrorism coverage they tried to sneak in there despite the fact that your gym is going to be located in Nebraska?
3. Looking forward to learning the ins and outs of payroll taxes?
How about educating yourself on the difference between employees who should be 1099’d and those who should be issued a W-2?
4. Are you ready to paint the walls, pay to keep the lights on, and assemble all of the equipment?
Actually, are you ready to pay for all of the equipment?
5. Did you realize that every time you break an exercise band or see a client mistakenly drop a 45-lb plate on a muscle clamp that comes out of somebody’s paycheck?
Lucky you. That’s your paycheck now.
6. Did you set aside a few hundred dollars to pay for your employees to renew their CPR certification?
I’m pretty sure they’re not looking to pay for it if you decided certification was mandatory.
7. Did you realize that if your gym performs reasonably well, and you choose to accept credit cards for payment, you will end up giving thousands of dollars to Visa, American Express, and any other credit providers you choose to accept?
Speaking of which, did you realize you’re going to need to open another bank account for that?
8. Remember the last time you walked in to your commercial gym locker room and had to work through three different bathroom stalls before you could find one without urine on the seat or toilet paper plugging up the bowl?
Well, when you start “living the dream” and open your own gym you don’t get to walk past those first two stalls anymore. Time to bust out the rubber gloves, my friend.
9. How much thought have you put into the language of your company sexual harassment policy?
Yeah, you’d better think about that.
10. Is there already money set aside to have a decent website designed?
How about the $250 fee you’ll need to pay if you want to trademark your gym name and logo? Trust me when I tell you this: you’re going to want to do that.
I could go all day long with these questions. These questions simply bring to light the reality and real-life questions you have to face when starting and running your own gym. My point isn’t to tell the world that running a gym is an awful experience. Instead, I’m hoping to help push you to make an informed decision before simply chasing a dream.
Real talk: Opening a fitness facility because you’re a personal trainer who doesn’t want to answer to anyone but his (or her) self is kind of like buying a house without the benefit of a proper inspection, or down payment set aside. Sure, it looks great when looking at it from the curb, but there are a whole bunch of headaches awaiting you under that roof–and worse yet, they aren’t going to fix themselves for free.
I often tell Cressey Sports Performance interns that I aspire to operate a business that runs so smoothly and efficiently that they can’t help but want to open their own gym at the end of their time with us. At the same time, I also want to talk nearly all of them out of doing so.
Roughly 80 percent of all small businesses fail inside of their first three years of operation. Most of the gyms that find themselves in that unfortunate position are in it because their decision to open was an emotional one, as opposed to an informed one. Basically, do your due diligence first. Then you can decide if opening a gym is a gamble you want to take.
This blog post originally appeared on petedupuis.com. It has been reposted here on The PTDC with permission.
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