How to Open A Gym - Part 1

Step 1 to opening a gym - getting your paperwork and legal aspects correct.

 min. read
March 29, 2022
software for strength coaches

Welcome to my who knows how many part series on how to open a gym. In this I will discuss all aspects of going from trainer to business owner, and everything you can do along the way to help the transition succeed - it takes a massive time and financial investment, and any time you can put yourself in position to do 1% better, you should. Here is a small overview of everything we will talk about:

  1. Business background stuff
  2. Locations / Leases
  3. Operations
  4. Products and Services
  5. Sales & Marketing
  6. Fulfillment
  7. Some other stuff I am sure I forgot along the way.

Lets start with some business stuff, shall we?

So heres the first thing you need to know.  In reading the first 4-5 chapters of this, however long the boring part lasts, you are going to see I don’t talk about training types, or methodology, or what apps you use, essentially nothing FUN or fancy.

The boring shit comes first. 

So I want to set the stage here and let you know that the boring shit for this is to remember that this is a business first, and it doesn’t matter how good of a trainer or coach you are, if your business practices and model sucks, you will not be able to pay your bills and you will not stay open, and thus will not be able to give your amazing training to the public.

Ok, now, back to the boring shit.  The first steps to open a gym is you need to do the paperwork and background steps to becoming a legal entity, and you need to be able to set the stage to get your gym open. I am going to write this post under the assumption that you are like me –you don’t have access to funding, you don’t have someone who will pay your bills, you are just a dude who is tired of working for other people and know that in this shit industry, the only way forward is to open and succeed with your own place.

First, you need to open an LLC with your state – I say LLC because you can convert this later to an S Corp or whatever you want based on your accountants advice, but an LLC can get you going.  This can be done on your secretary of state website – DO NOT PAY AN OUTSIDE SERVICE. It is a waste of money.  Second, your LLC Does NOT need to be the name of your gym – especially if you don’t know what the name will be right now (that is an extensive job that requires searches of domains, social media and more). You can just make it something simple like “Steves Training LLC” and later set your main company up as a DBA of that LLC – doing business as.  T

Second, you need to get an EIN from the IRS, and this can be done after you file for the LLC.  You can do this right online – google “get EIN from the IRS” and sir google will give you all your answers.  Again, do not pay an outside service for this, it is literally the same amount of work to do it yourself.

Next, now that we have an EIN and LLC, you need to open a business bank account – YES YOU NEED TO DO THIS BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE! Before shopping for a location, or equipment, or anything.  You need to have some money in your business bank account in order to order equipment from a lease company, and to pay your down payment to your new landlord who will take all the money from you and your loved ones for all time – ask any gym owner and they will confirm.

Here is my recommendation, and you can do what you want –but I recommend getting some training clients and getting some business revenueNOW, so that you can fund the opening of your gym later.  I will discuss this more in a future chapter,but plan on needing $10,000-$20,000 liquid cash to get your doors open.  For 2 or 3x rent, equipment lease initial payment, build out costs, some initial marketing costs and more – you need some moneyNOW, and you need to start your business with some traction and clients, no to pen door to crickets.

So you have an LLC, an EIN, a business bank account, some revenue and some cash flowing.

Now, its time to open your gym.

Next time, lets talk about finding a location.

PS:  I go over opening and running a gym in detail in my book "The Slightly Above Average Gym Owners Guide" on Amazon. Check it out if you want all of this info and 10x more.