How to Open a Gym - Part 3

Business Info

Picking a location for your gym, as well as picking the ideal equipment.

 min. read
April 27, 2022
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Ok, so you have some semblance of the services you want to offer. And you know roughly HOW you want to fulfill them (and if you don't, I mean, I don't know why you want to open a gym).  Now, you need to get a lease, some equipment, and build out.

Lets start with the lease and location.

Take my advice here: you need to put your gym in something resembling a good location.

If you don't, you will literally pay the price for the next 3-5 years. And by good location I don't mean a lot of cars drive by, it has to be in a spot that is convenient to where your target population live or work.  Let me give you an example of how this can blow up and how it will affect you.  My gym, when I was picking the spot for it, is in a place that has 110,000 people living with 2 miles and an average household income of $91,000 (when you are sourcing places, your realtor or the realtor of the places will have this information). However, when I first opened my gym I thought we would end up predominantly serving an older population - however as my gym as progressed we largely serve 25-40.  The area I live in is mostly 45+. This creates a location issue - its harder to sign people up because the people who want our services most don't live close by, and the people who sign up usually drive farther, so they are more likely to quit due to commute issues.

Had my gym been 3 miles over, even if the numbers were lower, we would be in a better spot to serve our people.

Take this into account when searching for your place - where does your target population does.  Go on cityfeet and loopnet to find potential spaces.  A few things to know:

Commercial buildings are listed in $/sf/yr or the dollars per square foot per year. An example could be $14/sf/yr. To find your monthly rent, multiply the space by the dollar amount and divide by 12.  For example, in a 3000 sf place thats $14/sf/yr, your monthly rent would be 3000*14/12 = $3500/mo.

An example of a propery on loopnet

To get this place, you will need to negotiate. Things you can typically negotiate:

  • Free build out time.
  • Whether you pay First, last and security or just first and security.
  • The amount per square foot per year
  • The yearly rent increase

Of these, to me, the most important is free build out time - this is absolutely vital to not only get your gym up and running but get revenue in before your rent is due.  Aim for 6 months build out time, and aim to have your place built out in 30 days, leaving you 5 months to begin a marketing routine. You do not want rent hitting before money is coming in.

Yea buddy

Next, lets talk about equipment.

Potential gym owners, read this like 6 times: this gym is built for your clients, not for you. It is not your playground, it is a place of commerce.  Buy what your clients need and the stuff you need to optimally train your clients, not every toy you want for yourself.

At least to start.  Once you are going and if you have money coming in and doing good, buy whatever you want.

Initially, stay lean, buy the minimum to get open and grow.

Your clients USUALLY do not know the difference between $300 barbell and a $1200 barbell (unless you are an extreme specialty gym). However, footing the bill on that difference for you can be the difference between staying open and going out of business. Be smart, buy the minimum you need and get the rest later, cash.

Next time, we will talk about the actual build out, as well as financing equipment.

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