Opening an independent gym

October 12, 2015

The independent gym market is starting to take a chunk out of the main fitness industry players.  Which is a good thing.  It’s great that people with a genuine passion for the industry – and for helping people – are starting to come to the fore. It’s what the industry needs; a move away from big-box, commodity-driven fitness, to a more service-orientated model.

But it’s not without its pitfalls.

Not for the paying members – it’s pretty much all good news for those on that side of the fence – but rather for the gym owners, most of whom simply won’t make it into their third year.  Why?  Because being a good trainer or coach, does not mean that you can make successful business out of it.

And I think that most trainers know this.

Which is why there are an increasing number of groups and mentorship programmes popping up to help fitness professionals.  I’m in a few of these – mostly as a voyeur – some of which are better than others.

Some of them are actually run by people who run gyms, which helps.

Some of them are even run by people with gyms that are actually a proven success, which is better still.

I don’t pretend to have gotten it right.

But if you’re going to open your own gym and you’re going to model or take advice from others in the field, here’s ten ‘don’ts’…

  1. Don’t listen to anyone about running a gym, unless they actually run a gym themselves.
  1. Don’t listen blindly to a gym owner who has been open less than three years. Certainly two.
  1. Don’t listen to a gym owner whose gym is not profitable.
  1. Don’t listen to gym owners who train all of their members themselves, unless you plan to do the same.
  1. Don’t design and fit out your gym a certain way, just because everyone else does.
  1. Don’t change your training ethos to be like someone else, just because they tell you it’s the most profitable way.
  1. Don’t open a gym unless you know about, or have someone who knows about, managing budgets.
  1. Don’t open a gym, without a robust business plan and some working capital.
  1. Don’t try and be both the head trainer and business development person.
  1. Don’t listen to most other independent gym owners.