You’ve made the decision to become a gym operator – congratulations! This is a huge step, and we’re here to help as you start the process of making your dream a reality.
One of the most important decisions you can make when starting your plans is deciding where your facility will be located. The process is much more complicated than just finding an empty building and transforming it into a gym. This one decision will help determine the success (or failure) of your gym.
Here are five factors to keep in mind as you start to plan your gym.
Unless you’re independently wealthy, or have a wealthy benefactor, you’re going to have to start with a budget. This figure will have a significant impact on where you’ll be able to set up your facility.
Your budget will help you answer a lot of questions – will you be purchasing an empty lot and building your facility from the ground up? Will you be leasing an existing property? If so, how much do you need for renovations? If you have to secure loans, how much do you request? These are all questions you should consider before looking at where your gym will be.
Location, Location, Location
Finding a location for your gym isn’t just about the building, but it’s also about the facility’s accessibility. If it’s located in the city centre, is there easy access to parking? If it’s off the motorway, is there a ramp close by? Will people walk, bike or drive to your facility? Is there ample parking, footpaths or bike storage?
Determining the accessibility required for your facility before you break ground will help save you – and your members – some headaches in the future.
Who’s in the Neighbourhood?
Assessing the neighbourhood demographics prior to securing a location is of utmost importance. If you build your facility in a posh neighbourhood, but you’re offering a deeply discounted membership, your gym may not appeal to that demographic. It’s important to put your facility in an area that matches whom you’re trying to serve.
Narrowing down who your target market (city dwellers, middle-aged parents, retirees, etc) not only by age, but income and lifestyle, will help you determine the best place to build your facility.
Assessing the Competition
Prior to even considering a neighbourhood, you need to assess your competition within it. Is the market overrun with already-established gyms? If so, what will set you apart from your competitors? Doing thorough research on the other fitness facilities in the area will help you determine whether a neighbourhood is the right fit for your gym.
It’s important to dive a little deeper than just the competition’s location. Assess their demographics as well. If the competitor is focused on the middle-aged parent who’s looking for child minding and kids’ programmes, and you’re hoping to appeal to the single, young millennial crowd, you may still be able to coexist within the same area.
Use the Resources Available
Realise you’re not alone in this process. There is loads of information available if you know where to look for it. If you’re hoping to become a franchise, your franchisor will have information and resources available to get you started. If you’re going to be independent, seek out the help from an experienced businessperson, ideally, one who has operated a gym (or two) in their lifetime.
The internet is also teeming with information. There are forums and FAQ sites that specifically help gym managers shed some light on the issues that may arise in the process. Precor also offers some valuable information in our ‘Commercial Fitness’ section on our website to help your successfully run your gym.
Keep in mind that opening a gym is a long, and sometimes arduous endeavour, but being prepared will help you find your gym’s perfect location and ensure you have a successful facility.