Fitness Isn’t a Destination, It’s a Way of Life: 5 Steps to Starting Your Own Fitness Center
Getting healthy is perpetually at the top of New Year’s resolution lists. The thing is that people need somewhere to follow-through on this resolution. While there’s always the option to work out in the living room or go for a jog down the street, most people don’t. Working out all by your lonesome is, simply put, disheartening. That’s why people like fitness centers. The idea of getting dressed to go hit the Stairmaster with other people who are also getting fit is a big motivator. Meanwhile, the monthly payment for membership is an incentive for folks to get their heart rates up and the sweat pouring to get the most bang for their buck.
This is why in 2015 the number of fitness centers in the United States jumped by 6.4%, with the industry raking in $24 billion. Much of this spending was done by the baby boomer generation, which is at that age where health is the most valuable investment, with interest expected to grow even more as the years pass. So, are you interested in starting a health club? Thought so. The U.S. Small Business Association wants you to be successful in your endeavor and has some tips for making sure your gym works out for the best.
1) Who, What, Where: To start a small business, you need a business plan. You should have a clear idea of where you’re going to set up shop and what consumer group you’re targeting. Love running? Then turn that passion into a health club devoted to joggers – that is, if there’s a big runner base in the area where you’ll be headquartered. If not, then recalibrate accordingly. And find an easily accessible location with reasonable rent where people don’t have to walk a mile to get inside. They’re there to get fit on your business premises, not on the way to them.
2) People Make it Happen: You can try to run the entire gym by yourself, but you’re literally going to end up running a marathon each day and you’re sure not going to win any blue ribbons for customer satisfaction. Instead, you need a team of trainers, class instructors, membership personnel, and maintenance staff to keep the health center working like a well-oiled cycling machine. Use these guides to decide where independent contractors, seasonal employees, etc., fit in to your staffing regimen.
3) Stuff for People to Work Out On: What’s a fitness center without fitness equipment? We don’t really know and we don’t recommend that you find out. Instead, you should decide whether you want to lease gym machines or buy your own. Leasing will probably end up costing you more in the long-run. However, on the flipside, leasing is good if you don’t have the credit to buy the latest and greatest ab machine on the market. It also lets you switch out equipment as technology changes. Plus, if one piece of equipment is getting neglected, you can more easily replace it with something that’s going to keep customers coming back.
4) Get Money to Get Started: Speaking of credit, don’t ditch your fitness center dreams just because you don’t have enough money. You can take a traditional financing route or you might want to consider a government-backed loan. For example, rather than lending money to you directly, the SBA can provide a guaranty to a bank that will in turn lend money to you for your gym. Some loans, such as the SBA express loan, have a turnaround time of 36 hours and a limit of $350,000, so you can get into the game and make a winning with no hassle.
5) Safety Net: If you’re putting all of this time and effort into creating a healthy, money-making hub, you need some peace of mind that all won’t be lost if something goes wrong. That’s where small business insurance comes in. And even if you have complete confidence that nothing will happen, you still need to meet your state’s insurance requirements for injuries and accidents.
These five steps are just a warm-up to get you motivated about pursuing your fitness center dream. For example, you have to do things like register your business name, obtain licenses and permits, and much more. However, it’s all very doable, especially with the dedicated SBA coaching you step-by-step.
Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805