What makes the perfect gym?
To try and answer this question, let’s take a quick look at how the fitness industry has evolved over the last number of years. In the 1970s and 1980s, big gym chains like Golds Gym and 24 Hour Fitness established themselves in the industry. Dominating their gym floors were two polar opposite fitness trends. One one hand the weights room was full to the brim with Schwarzenegger inspired bodybuilders. On the other, the studio area teemed with aerobics enthusiasts aspiring to be the next Jane Fonda.
Fast forward to the 1990s, and gyms focused on aggressive selling of memberships with little retention effort. The model relied on the hope that members who signed up in January would go for a few months and then give up without canceling their fixed contract membership. Then in the early 2000s, the boutique fitness model began to emerge. Studios like Barry’s Bootcamp and SoulCycle were the early frontrunners in this regard. They brought the class-based community-focused model to the table with a big focus on brand and building a “tribe” out of their members.
While boutiques may be popular at the moment, big box gyms are still around and are still popular. Therefore the answer to what makes the perfect gym may not be so clear cut. Add into the mix the growing popularity of digital only services and the quest to find an answer becomes more difficult.
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A Brief Overview of Gyms
Gyms worldwide have come a long way from being large spaces equipped with weights—the first private gym was founded in 1799. However, the most significant breakthrough for the fitness industry was in the 20th century. Joseph Pilates opened the first fitness studio in 1926 in New York, and in 1947, the Tanny brothers opened the first chain of modern health clubs offering fitness classes for both men and women.
One of the greatest events happened in 1965 when Joe Gold opened his first Gold’s Gym. They later sold the brand, and its new owners started selling the license to the brand Gold’s Gym worldwide. Today it’s an iconic brand with over 700 fitness clubs in 29 countries.
A lot of these events led to the gym industry we know today.
The creation of corporate gym chains led to big-box gyms that are an excellent option when looking for a little bit of everything. Usually, big-box gyms have a vast area with cardio equipment and another one with weights. Then boutique studios came along, offering highly specialized fitness classes and a feeling of community and personal attention from the instructor.
Shifting to Digital
Nowadays, most gyms are making a transfer to either digital or hybrid models. The reason is simple enough: more and more people like to have the option to workout whenever and wherever. During the pandemic, this perfect multi-gym option proved to be very efficient for both the gym owners and those in need of personal training at home.
Every gym owner should know how fitness centers evolved so that they could understand the importance of progress. Gyms have been following world trends since the very beginning, and that way, they’ve always met the customers’ needs and expectations. Pulling away from progress and not accepting technological innovations can only harm your business in the future.
The State of Play for Gyms Right Now
Today, we have a range of different options when it comes to choosing the perfect gym.
So it begs the question: “Which type of gym is the most successful one?”
What all gyms have in common is that every one of them strives towards a unique member experience. The only difference is in how they achieve that experience.
So, before you begin your journey into the fitness business world, you should first be familiar with the different types of gyms and what makes them unique.
1. Boutique Studios
One of the most popular types of gyms that most new fitness center owners usually opt for is boutique studios. Even though it seemed unlikely that any other type of gym could beat the almighty big-box model, boutique studios proved everyone wrong.
According to the latest findings, boutique gyms control 35% of the entire fitness industry market. Their key to success is being highly specialized and providing the user with the ultimate experience.
Boutique studios can specialize in:
- Circuit training
It’s important to point out that boutique studios are known to be a bit pricey. But with specialized workouts tailored to you and the sense of community they provide, gym-goers are more than willing to pay.
One of the latest trends in the world of fitness is the hybrid gym model. A hybrid gym includes special offers that combine live and online fitness classes. These fitness businesses have physical fitness studios and gym software to provide online training.
A hybrid gym is a combination of digital fitness offers, online coaching, and in-studio workout sessions.
Most businesses are adopting this model, as it allows them to grow their virtual members while providing enough attention to the ones present in the studio. Gym owners benefit from people who like visiting the gym and those who prefer to have their workout sessions at home.
Even though hybrid gyms cover several different gym-goers, some gym enthusiasts wish to keep their fitness business in the virtual world entirely. They dedicate all their initial budget to building user-friendly gym software, usually in a mobile app for Android or iPhone.
They dedicate a lot of hard work to developing different add-ons to polish their gym software and make a perfect fitness platform.
The digital fitness model is best suited for personal training specialists who want to promote their program without investing too much money upfront. With no physical location, you save costs and time. These training platforms must stay fresh with new content and software updates.
The Customer Engagement Playbook for Your Fitness Business
4. Big Box Gyms
Big box gyms are ideal for gym goers that don’t need any special attention from a fitness trainer and want to work out alone. These gyms open 24/7, meaning their members have unlimited access to gym equipment at all hours.
Big box gyms are usually equipped with cardio equipment, weights, and other standard gym equipment like a pull-up bar, abdominal bench, leg press machine, and more.
Like opening a boutique gym, this one requires a hefty initial investment in studio space and equipment. If you’re starting your gym business and you want to open a big box gym, we recommend you start by renting the space and equipment. Second-hand gym equipment is also an option to save money.
5. Personal Training Gyms
Personal training gyms are usually smaller in size, but they have pretty much everything you need to reach your fitness goals. Members specifically sign up to personal gyms to take advantage of one-on-one workout sessions with fewer people around.
Personal training gyms are among the best gym solutions for people who need help on their fitness journey. However, this tends to be the most expensive gym option out there, so make sure to carefully examine the demographics of your private gym’s location before opening one.
6. CrossFit Gyms
CrossFit gyms include specialized level 1 trainers (CF-L1), high-intensity training sessions, and equipment like dumbbells, medicine balls, pull-up bar, jump ropes, and more. The trainer has to be familiar with movements for various disciplines that are a part of the CrossFit regimen.
Unlike personal gyms, CrossFit studios support a group environment. The size of your studio depends on the number of members you plan to have per group. Therefore, you can start small and expand your business later as your training sessions’ demand begins to grow.
What Makes the Perfect Gym?
Now comes the big question – what can you do to make a perfect gym in 2021? An ideal gym accepts and embraces novel gym solutions. It’s also a gym that wants to attract new members without forgetting about their existing members. If you’re ready to commit to opening and running a perfect gym, below, you will find the necessary steps to achieve that goal.
1. Location of the Gym
The first thing you have to do to ensure that your business will grow is demographic research of the area you plan to open your gym. Location is crucial, and you have to be positive the people living in the area are likely to use your services.
Remember, most people who will go to your gym will likely live or work in the area where your gym is located.
2. An Impressionable and Effective Layout
Don’t try to copy the layout of other gyms. Make your gym unique by coloring your walls in your brand colors or have a graffiti artist create a unique art piece representing your studio.
When your business starts growing, don’t start looking for a new location. Optimize the space you already have!
A gym without proper equipment is an empty room. However, as we have already mentioned, there are various types of gyms. And your gym equipment will depend on the kind of fitness studio you wish to run.
If you wish to save some money initially, consider buying second-hand gym equipment or even renting them. Either way, you’ll get all the equipment you need, and afterward, you can make a budget-friendly plan to buy new equipment in the future.
4. Gym Staff
No gym is perfect without the best staff. The first thing new members will remember about your gym is their interaction with you or your employees. Hiring the right people is integral to building a positive relationship with your gym-goers. You should find knowledgeable and friendly workers to help you build trust.
The key to finding the right staff is understanding what you value the most in gym staff. Think about your own experiences. What are the pros and cons of other gyms?
Write down what you value most and ensure to find these values in the people you hire. A clear message about what you expect and what the position offers will bring high-quality people to your doorstep.
5. Gym Management Software
Even though it might seem unnecessary initially, gym management software is fundamental for running your fitness business smoothly and successfully. From the first day, you need to track memberships, payment deadlines, and even each member’s progress. That can take up a lot of your time. To avoid future struggles, ensure you start with proper gym management software.
Things like inventory management, managing leads, and financial reporting will become easy and stress-free tasks with the right software solution.
6. Mobile App
Embracing novelties in the fitness market can only bring more customers and more interest to your business. A mobile app can be a great addition to your offer and an ideal way to promote your perfect gym.
They are a tool to engage your members, keeping them updated with news and promotions at your gym. Mobile apps will increase your members’ loyalty and serve as a client portal through which the user can contact you directly.
With an app made especially to promote your gym and training session, you will stand out from the crowd and add more value to your business.
Opening and running a perfect gym isn’t impossible, as long as you have the right plan in place.
Decide what type of gym you want, and let this guide your decisions. Pick the ideal location, layout, staff members, and gym software to put you on the right track.
Most importantly, this journey depends on you, your motivation and drive to create the perfect gym and have a lasting impact in the industry.