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Starting Your Own Gym in 2020: How to Pull it Off Like a Boss

If you’re a personal trainer or a fitness enthusiast, you’ve probably thought about starting your own gym at some point. However, there is much more to opening a fitness studio than mere desire.

If starting a small business has ever crossed your mind before, you probably know that a good opportunity has the potential to be profitable for years to come, that it can be stable during economic turmoils, and that it doesn’t necessarily require large startup capital. How can you pull all that off in the fitness industry? 

Well, it’s 2020, and the number of gym memberships is increasing, with Millennials and Generation Z being the most willing to spend extra for exclusive services. Let’s keep that in mind and have a look at how you can pull off your gym opening like a boss.

Set up your budget


The first steps are always the hardest, especially because establishing the budget seems somewhat abstract at first. Before you start putting everything on paper, you should know exactly, or at least approximately, what you’ll need to make the kind of gym you want, because making everything work can cost between $10.000 and $50.000, and even more. Here are some costs you need to consider:

  • Facility costs

Nailing an attractive location is one of the most expensive parts of starting a business, particularly because street visibility plays a huge role here. The average monthly rent for a 2000 sq ft space is $6000. Count in the monthly utilities, which could cost just as much or even more, and you’ll get yourself a pretty hefty price. 

On the other hand, you can find more affordable alternatives like perhaps setting up a gym in a shipping container, which could cost between $2000 and $5000, plus the costs of adaptation – but you would only have to pay it once.

  • Gym equipment

The cost of the equipment can vary, from $1500 for a small space for personal training to $50 000 for a fully-equipped commercial workout space. 

  • Licenses and permits

The cost of training can be approximately $800 per qualification, but you can consider hiring already qualified trainers. You will also need to include a business license, legal fees, and business insurance.

  • Advertising and marketing

You will need a minimum of $300 for a proper website, and additional funds for a social media strategy, guerilla marketing, traditional media, and flyers.

  • Employee salaries

You will need to have a budget for salaries for a few months ahead, just in case.

Write a business plan


A comprehensive business plan will be your roadmap for sustainable functioning. A proper business plan should contain market research and analysis (along with fitness industry trends, competition, and target demographics), marketing and sales forecasts, products and services, facilities, equipment, staffing, ownership structure, and financial projections. All of these will help you assess the viability of your project and, if necessary, help you grab the attention of potential investors.

Choose your target audience

The audience you’re trying to attract will very much determine the type of gym you will start. A high-end fitness center will attract different types of customers from a place meant for bodybuilding. The latter won’t exactly attract moms from the neighborhood, while the former won’t be appropriate for professional weight lifting. Likewise, you’ll tailor the prices of personal training services in accordance with the kind of clientele you’re getting. 

To figure out who you want to target and how you’ll do it, it helps to have a close look at the competition. For example, if you’re thinking about opening a CrossFit studio, but there is already one or more similar joints in the neighborhood, you’ll need to direct your efforts at what you can offer that the other places don’t, or how you can target a different audience with a similar concept.

Accumulate clients

Putting the “open” sign on the door isn’t exactly enough to make the crowd go wild for your place. You should rely heavily on your marketing, but also on your personal and professional circle. If you’ve worked as a personal trainer, some of your ex-clients might want to follow you to your new place.


Ask your friends and family to join in or recommend you to people they know. Once you set up the space, work on gaining the trust of your target group by providing them with discounts, presentations, and similar.



Once all the basics are set up, the first and the most important thing you need to do is make a name for yourself. Branding is not that difficult when you have something to set you apart from your competitors. What are you willing to give to your clients that other businesses are not? When you figure that out, you’re halfway there.