The cost to open a gym is just one piece of the equation. I can say after 15 years that there is nothing better than owning your own training facility; however, I’ll be completely honest: it is not for everyone! LOL 🤪
It is not easy, but I would say it is so worth it! There will be good times and tough times (even without random pandemics and forced closures). It’s very important that you sit down and work out a few things before you take the leap.
So, how much exactly does it cost to open a gym? The answer? It depends on your niche, your location, and your goals.
I’m going to outline down some costs—both upfront costs and ongoing costs—you should look into prior to opening and signing a lease on your own training facility. Many of these costs will vary depending on the success of your business! It could be chump change or could be a lot, so make sure you plan accordingly! I hope this prepares you and helps make sure you don’t get in over your head!
1. Lease or Mortgage Costs
If you are renting (or buying) a warehouse or commercial location you will need to pay a monthly lease or mortgage payment. Before signing a contract you should have a business plan in place that helps you understand how much money you will need to make each month to not only pay your commercial lease/mortgage, but also your own personal home rent/mortgage and bills.
How many memberships do you need to sell? How are you going to sell these memberships? You might also have extra fees, like paying a lawyer to look over a lease or a real estate agent you might have to pay fees to for helping you secure your location.
2. Facility Setup Costs
First off, the build out. Is the facility bare? Do you need to do renovations in order to make it a gym? How much will that cost? Does it have a bathroom and/or showers? Does it have the plumbing to make this happen? This is an upfront cost.
Second off, insurance. You will need to talk to an insurance agent to find out not only liability insurance for your facility but also insurance for all of your equipment and if you own, the facility itself. Add that into your monthly costs.
Utilities, like heat/air conditioning/water/wifi. Depending on your facility and where you are located you will need to think about heating and/or air conditioning your facility and how much will that cost a month. Your trainers will need wifi to connect their devices, and your admin team will need to be able to update your website and softwares. Another monthly cost!
Loan repayments. I chose to go without taking out the loan so I had zero debt to pay building my business, but this would just depend on your situation. If you are taking a loan you should also calculate the loan pay back into your monthly expenses too.
Equipment. Depending on the size and nature of your business, the cost for this could vary greatly. What kind of gym do you want to run? Are you doing a lot of powerlifting? Do you need lots of racks, rigs, and platforms? Or are you more of a membership gym that needs a lot of cardio machine and strength training machines? Here are some things to consider when buying equipment.
My facility is a small private training studio, so the only machines we actually have are a functional cable machine and a rowing machine! The rest is dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, battle ropes, TRX, medicine balls, and more like that.
I chose to start conservatively and buy more equipment over time. Each month, I set a monthly budget (based on sales!) to invest in new equipment until I had everything I needed. If you are taking out a loan and have more upfront cash, you can equip it in one go.
Additional consumables. Things like towels, hand soap, toilet paper need to be purchased on a monthly or quarterly basis. They seem small, but they do contribute to the cost to open a gym.
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3. Administrative Costs
Payroll. This is a significant factor in the overall cost to open a gym! Are you paying yourself? How many trainers and admins do you have on staff? Figure out the math there, too.
Software. What software are you going to use to schedule your classes, personal training sessions, process payments? This will also have a monthly fee around $150-250 (or maybe you use Trainerize!). You may need a few softwares, too, like MindBody in addition to Trainerize.
Business licence and permits. You will need to ensure you have a license to run your business, which will also be a yearly fee.
Financial support. You’ll need to pay someone to handle payroll, taxes, and general bookkeeping, unless you’re planning on doing this yourself. This is monthly, too.
Cleaning and maintenance. Things break down! Laundry needs to be done! Toilets break. Assume there’s going to be regular maintenance needed.
4. Brand Costs
Branding. At minimum, you need some colours, a logo, and a brand identity.
Photography. You’ll probably want photos for your website and social media too! Invest in a professional once every few years.
Website and domain name. You will need a purchase a domain name for your business (if you don’t already have one) and build a website so that people can find you and learn more about your business. Your website build is an upfront cost, but then also includes an annual hosting fee to keep it online.
Signage. Inside and outside the facility to let people know you are there. This should be a one-time cost to open a gym!
4. Marketing & Advertising Costs
Ok, so now we need to get clients into the gym! The costs for this would all depend on your situation and client base prior to opening your own facility.
I was very lucky to have a lot of loyal clients already training in my business who just followed me to my new facility when I opened it and continued to tell their friends to come too! If you are starting from scratch with no clients you will need a budget for marketing and of course, a marketing plan as to how you are going to get clients in the door. You can’t just hope that putting a sign outside or one Instagram post will bring clients in to your gym.
Are you hiring a marketing consultant? What about buying ads on social media or in local publications? Considering hiring a social media manager? Add these to the monthly costs!
One last thing when it comes to marketing, I hired an SEO expert (search engine optimization) meaning whenever someone searches for a gym or personal trainer in your area, your website will come up. It has been very helpful in bringing in new clients as well! I would highly recommend looking into the cost of this as well.
Set Your Gym Up For Success
So there you go, I’m not trying to push you away from opening your own facility! I just want to make sure you understand what it really entails and come up with a business plan that will be able to afford all these costs for your gym! Setting up a plan in advance is key—work it out in a spreadsheet first, and see where your profits are at!
⚡️ Pro Tip: Decide upfront if you want to bring on a partner, or if you want to do it solo.
If you’re going with a partner, make sure you choose your partner very wisely and get everything in contracts. Your lease agreement as well as your partner agreement in order to prevent any unnecessary drama should things goes south.
I personally have been solo since day 1 (I think I’m a low key control freak and can’t imagine having to make decisions with anyone else), but I have heard of many partnerships going south and causing a lot of problems in the business.
If you have plan of opening your own facility one day, start buying equipment now! In the years leading up to getting my own facility I was buying equipment a little bit a time and just putting it in storage. If you see things on Facebook Marketplace for cheap or you see something on sale at your local fitness store, grab it and put it in your garage or storage. This will help decrease the overhead cost when you actually open your facility. By the time I moved into my facility I already had so much equipment that I didn’t even have much to buy to get set up.
I hope this was helpful in establishing how much it costs to open a gym and I wish you best of luck in opening your own facility!