The cost of opening a gym can vary widely based on several factors, such as location, size, and the type of facility and business model you envision. Expect to pay a minimum of $50,000 to $100,000 to open up a small or medium-sized gym or yoga studio and up to $1 million or more for a huge gym with state-of-the-art amenities.
Perhaps you’re already in the fitness industry and now you’re thinking about opening a gym of your own. But you wonder: How much does it cost to open a gym, really? Becoming a gym owner is much more than just renting a place and getting a business license. And while it’s an expensive endeavor, it’s also an exciting opportunity and investment in your future.
Read on as we break down what you can expect in startup costs, including rental deposit or down payment, gym equipment, licenses, insurance, and legal fees, to name just a few. Then we’ll get into recurring costs such as paying for personal trainers and other employees, utilities, equipment maintenance, and other ongoing expenses. Finally, we’ll discuss financing for your new venture.
How much does it cost to open a gym?
As with any business, you first want to begin with clearly outlining your vision for your own gym. This might include coming up with a comprehensive business plan, which will be useful to you no matter what. However, this step is particularly important if you need to secure a business or personal loan to fund your new endeavor.
Questions you should ask yourself should include the size of the facility, the area you want to be located in, and exactly what kind of gym business you plan on running. Do you want your gym to be small and exclusive, huge with all the bells and whistles, or somewhere in between? You should decide on your target market before you choose the space.
You’ll also want to consider what type of gym owner you want to be. Are you a hands-on business owner who will run the day-to-day operations? Or do you want to hire people to manage it for you while you sit back and rake in the profits? All of these factors and more will determine how much of an initial investment you need to open a gym.
That being said, you can take a look at the business loan lenders below to get a better idea of what loan you may qualify for.
Startup costs involved in opening a gym
One of the first considerations is to start searching for the perfect setting for your new gym. Next, you can start looking into the nitty gritty of getting your fitness business up and running.
To rent or buy; that is the question. For a mid-size space, you can expect to pay around $6,000 a month in rent, give or take. To buy the same space is probably a minimum of $500,000 and up, depending on your location. Of course, prices will vary a lot depending on where your gym is located.
If you don’t have a sizable down payment — or the income and credit to gain approval for a large commercial loan — renting might be your most logical choice for the time being. In that case, if we assume you’re renting for $6,000 a month, figure on an initial investment of $12,000 for your first and last month’s rent, which is pretty standard.
Build out and remodel
Unless you’re lucky enough to rent (or purchase) a space that was previously used as a fitness center, you’ll likely want to make some changes, such as adding locker rooms or installing a sauna. Figure somewhere between $50 to $200 per square foot for renovations.
At the least, you will probably want to make some cosmetic changes, such as paint, new flooring, and maybe some updated fixtures. Remember, you can also save some improvements for down the road when you start to turn a profit.
Equipment costs aren’t cheap, but how much you need depends on the type of facility you want to operate. Still, figure between $10,000 to $50,000 in initial costs to purchase gym equipment for a small or medium-sized fitness center. For a larger, fully-equipped commercial gym, you’d be looking at $100,000 or more for your equipment costs.
Consider these types of gym equipment to get started (you can always add more later):
- Cardio machines such as treadmills, stationary bikes, ellipticals, and rowing machines
- Free weights with benches
- Power racks
- Isolation machines
- Stability balls and medicine balls
- Battle ropes
- Resistance bands
Hiring personal trainers and other employees
Employee salaries are more recurring expenses than startup costs, but it’s something to think about before realizing your gym ownership dream. Many gym owners have fitness professionals and business managers to handle certain aspects of the work.
In addition, you’ll need more entry-level employees to round out the staff and handle basic tasks. This includes running the front desk, responding to customer questions and concerns, and keeping the place clean and sanitized.
Commercial and legal fees
There are a lot of complexities involved in setting up a gym business, or any small business, and you probably want to enlist some professional help. From negotiating a lease to getting help with your business license to figuring out exactly what permits you need, a legal professional can be invaluable in helping to sort out the complexities.
Nationwide, average lawyer fees run anywhere from $100 to $400 an hour. Of course, that can depend on the state (and region within the state), the work you need done, the experience of the lawyer, and other variables. You might cut down on some legal costs by consulting colleagues or others who have been through the same or similar process.
In addition to lawyer expenses, expect to pay a few hundred dollars for business licenses and various permits needed to run a commercial gym.
Personal trainers’ certifications can run from $500 to $800, not including renewal fees, which could be a few hundred dollars more each year.
You can look into personal trainers certification through various organizations. These include the:
- International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
- American Council on Exercise (ACE)
- National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
- National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
- American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
When opening a gym, where there is the potential for injuries and other issues, you need to make sure you’re fully covered for any possibility. Insurance is also a legal necessity, so you can’t afford to skimp in this area.
At a minimum, you’ll need business insurance to cover general liability, workers’ compensation, and property casualty insurance and can expect to pay at least $3,000 to $6,000 a year in premiums for just even just a smaller facility.
Gym management software and point of sale system
To run your business effectively, don’t neglect your computer systems and point of sale system (POS). There are specific gym management software packages that you might want to consider rather than a more generic system.
These targeted programs can provide you with features such as gym membership management, attendance tracking, online booking, employee and inventory management, and many other useful tools. Ideally, your POS can also integrate with your other software for more streamlined operations. Expect to pay anywhere between $500 to $2,000 for your computer systems, possibly more.
How you choose to advertise and market your business idea is really up to you. If you believe you already have a solid client base to start, you may not feel you need to spend a ton of money on advertising. However, in order to grow your business, you should have at least some marketing presence.
You could spend a few thousand dollars on an advertising campaign, or you could do what many successful businesses are doing these days and harness the power of social media. Make sure your business name is visible on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms to reach as many people as possible. You can do this work yourself very inexpensively or hire a dedicated marketing person to manage it for you.
Don’t forget your website! Theoretically, if you’re even somewhat tech-savvy, you could build your own website for free. That being said, this probably isn’t an area where you want to skimp.
For $500 to $2,000, you can hire a professional to design your website and build in all the functionality a professional business like yours should have. This includes online booking, membership applications and renewals, and even merchandise sales.
Depending on your target market, you’ll most likely want to invest in a great sound system and televisions. You also might want to consider adding some tables, chairs, and charging stations to create some social areas or a place for clients to get a little work done in between workouts. Vending machines for snacks and cold drinks are also a nice touch if you can find room for it in your budget.
After you’ve got your business up and running, you’ll need to budget for your ongoing or recurring expenses. Some are annual, some are monthly, and others might only come up occasionally.
Rent or mortgage payments
If we’re going by our earlier example, expect to need around $6,000 a month for rent. If you’ve bought the building outright, then you’ll have to budget for your monthly mortgage payment.
Equipment maintenance and repairs
Whether you bought or leased your fitness equipment, it will need regular maintenance to stay in tip-top shape. And, of course, occasionally items will break and be in need of repair.
Renting equipment might be cheaper in the short term and might even include maintenance costs in the contract. However, keep in mind that new equipment comes with warranties, which could save you a ton of money in the event of manufacturer defects or other breakdowns.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal trainers make an average of +$40,000 a year. Since you’ll want at least one or two on staff when you are first opening a gym, try to budget between $80,000 and $100,000 for staff salaries. Of course, you may want to add more employees later as business picks up.
Plus, you’ll also need instructors to run fitness classes, and other employees to help with processing gym memberships, checking guests in and out, selling merchandise, and other details of day-to-day operations. Plan to set aside some of your business capital to cover salaries for the first couple of months as you get up to speed.
Utilities are a big part of your monthly operational costs, particularly if you plan on being open 24/7. Fitness centers use a ton of electricity between lights, heating, and air conditioning — and your water bill will likely be hefty as well. Either way, plan on spending at least a few thousand dollars a month in utilities — large commercial gyms could run you double that amount.
To keep your clients happy, you’ll probably also want to have cable and internet that will run you a few hundred dollars more per month.
The government must be paid! Be sure to budget for employee taxes, business taxes, and property taxes as well if you chose to buy your building location rather than lease it.
Miscellaneous gym supplies and merchandise
Don’t forget to budget for cleaning supplies, towels or laundry service, lightbulbs, printer paper, toner, and other gym and office supplies because they can really add up.
You might also want to set aside money so you can carry an inventory of merchandise for your guests to purchase. This could include items such as portable mugs, water bottles, tee shirts, and other workout gear with the company logo. It’s not exactly “free” advertising, but it can help to get your business name out there and earn you some extra bucks in the meantime.
Even if you think you’ve thought of everything in your budget, unexpected expenses will inevitably come up. Try and have an extra one or two thousand set aside for incidentals.
To earn money on your idle funds, try putting them in a high-yield savings account. This way you can earn interest on your savings simply by keeping that money in an account.
How to finance your gym opening
If you have any friends or family members with deep pockets who strongly believe in you and your business venture, now’s the time to ask them to invest in your business. Failing that, we have a few other ideas to help you secure financing for your dream of opening a gym.
Personal or small business loans
Business loans are often used to expand or grow existing businesses, so they can sometimes be tough to get if you’re just starting out. However, they may be an option if you can prove your experience and know-how in the fitness industry.
If you can’t qualify for a small business loan, another option is a personal loan. If you have a good or excellent credit history, you could end up with a loan with a competitive interest rate and favorable loan terms.
Harnessing your home’s equity
Another smart option that might help you finance your business plans is to leverage the equity you’ve built up in your home. If you’ve built a significant amount of home equity, then what better use could there be than to invest in yourself? You have three options to choose from:
1. Home equity loan
A home equity loan is pretty straightforward and easier to get than some types of lending because you’re using your home as collateral for the loan. Lenders will usually only lend you about 80% of your home’s equity, so keep that in mind when deciding how much you need to finance your new gym.
You’ll receive the money in a lump sum payment that you can use however you choose. For example, if you bought your house for $300,000 and you’ve built up $200,000 in equity, you could potentially borrow up to $160,000 from the bank. Depending on your specific plans, that could be more than enough to open up a fitness center. Any extra you should keep in reserve as an emergency fund.
2. Home equity line of credit
A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is similar to a home equity loan in that it allows you to borrow against the equity in your house. However, it’s extended as a line of credit, like a credit card, as opposed to being disbursed in one lump sum.
The advantage of this type of funding is that you can use as much or as little of it as you like up to its limit. Another benefit of a HELOC is that, other than interest, you don’t need to start paying the loan back until after the draw period is up, which is typically 10 years. This gives you some breathing room to start making a profit before you have to start paying the money back.
3. Shared equity agreement
A final option to finance your investment using your home’s equity is to get into a shared equity program. This can be an ideal choice for those who don’t qualify for more traditional home equity financing and/or want to tap into their home equity without getting into debt.
In a nutshell, a shared equity agreement allows you to get a one-time lump sum amount of money from an investor in exchange for a future portion of your equity. When the home is sold (or the contract ends), the investor gets a portion of the sale. If the house value goes up, the investor shares in the increase; if the value goes down, the investor also shares in the loss.
So, you’ve decided on your location, the type of gym you want, and how you’ll finance it. But before you start acting on your dream, there are a few final points to consider.
What are your qualifications?
Aspiring gym owners will be more successful business owners if they can walk the walk. So if you have sports medicine experience or have otherwise been involved in the fitness industry as a personal trainer or fitness instructor, you are better positioned to create a successful gym. This also includes keeping your certifications up to date.
Business education courses are also a good way for new small business owners to learn more about how to run a business in general. These courses can even help you gain credibility with investors and lenders alike. The more prepared you are, the more successful your business will be.
Do you have a client base?
If you’ve been a personal trainer, you, ideally, already have a client base that you can count on to purchase a gym membership. After all, gym memberships, personal training sessions, and fitness classes are going to be the bread and butter that pay your bills.
If you don’t have an existing client base who can spread the news through word of mouth, you’ll have to rely more on advertising and marketing efforts to grow your business. This isn’t a bad approach to growing your business, but it will add to your monthly costs.
- Costs to start up a gym business can run between $50,000 for a small boutique facility and up to $1 million for a fully equipped commercial gym.
- Expenses a gym owner can expect to get started include gym equipment, facility deposit or down payment, commercial and legal fees, business insurance, and gym management software.
- Ongoing and monthly costs associated with a fitness business encompass salaries, rent or mortgage payments, equipment maintenance, business licenses, permit and certification renewals, and utilities.
- Careful planning when seeking financing for your gym ownership dream is key. Get multiple quotes for a small business loan or consider leveraging your home’s equity to finance your business venture.
View Article Sources
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- Fitness Trainers and Instructors — U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- 2019 Fitness Industry Trends Shed Light on 2020 & Beyond — The Global Health & Fitness Association
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- Business Loans for New Businesses – Everything You Should Know — SuperMoney
- How to Get a Business Loan If You Have Bad Credit — SuperMoney
- Complete Guide to Small Business Loans — SuperMoney
- 8 Creative Business Loan Types You Should Know About — SuperMoney
- Best Personal Business Loans — SuperMoney