Is There Such a Thing as the Perfect Gym?

Eamonn Curley
12 June 19
11 min read
Is There Such Thing as the Perfect Gym?

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 Barrys 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. And is it boutique that seems to be driving the fitness industry at the moment. This is especially true when we see big-box titan Golds Gym pivot towards the studio model.  The key factor driving this change is technology.

So is the answer to the question of the perfect gym boutique studios? Maybe, but considering that the other types of gyms we mentioned are also still popular, the answer may not be so clear cut. So in this article, we will discuss what makes the perfect gym in the current fitness industry and what you would need to create one. Firstly, we will talk about the key features you need to make your gym a success. In the second part, we will go through the different types of gyms and show real-world examples of each.

What Features Make a Gym Successful?

Plenty of factors need to be thought of before you open your first gym or fitness studio. Before launching, take time to consider the following features on your quest to create the perfect gym.

Gym Management Software

For a gym to run efficiently and successfully, gym management software is crucial. Day-to-day management of your fitness business can take up a considerable chunk of your time. This ranges from tracking memberships to meeting payment deadlines. By implementing the right management software, you can streamline your business and grow in the process.  

With software solutions, you can manage leads and keep track of existing member registration and data. Other features to consider is billing, point of sale, inventory management, financial reporting, and analysis tools. By analyzing current and new members, you can stop member churn before it happens. If there’s a drop in referrals, you can spot the issue and solve it before it turns into a problem. Overall, gym management software aims to make a gym run more efficiently.  

To learn more about how the best fitness businesses become successful, scale, and grow, listen to Glofox’s newly relaunched Fitness Founders Podcast. Listen to Robert Gerrish, author of “Flying Solo – How to Go It Alone in Business” for his insights into keeping your fitness studio fresh and customer focused.  

Mobile App

Are you still thinking about whether to create a mobile app for your business? Mobile apps are considered to be a potent tool for contacting and engaging with your target audience. They can boost customer loyalty, brand awareness, create a client portal, and offer members a more personalized experience.

Americans spent an average of 3 hours, 35 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2018. As well as that apps account for over 90% of internet time on mobile phones. With an app, you can connect with your audience wherever they are bringing their attention through push notifications, messaging, and special offers. An app creates a self-service option for clients allowing them to schedule fitness classes, pay for a membership, and drive bookings.

A user-friendly and custom branded app gives you an edge and makes you stand out from the competition. It allows you to add value to your business, whether that’s through training videos or nutrition tips that can be accessed through the app. Creating a feeling of community, making members feel valued and offering a more tailored experience are just some of the benefits that come from using a mobile app for your business.


When you’re starting your own gym, location is crucial. You need to do your research and make sure that you are offering a service that is likely to attract the people in your area. The majority of your members will either work or live nearby to your fitness studio. Once you’ve decided on the location, it’s essential to utilize the space effectively.

If your membership base begins to expand, you need to have the ability to grow with it. Consider how the layout will affect potential new clients when they walk through the door. Make sure members have the best experience possible. If you have free weights near the front of the gym, this may be intimidating to new members.

The design and layout of your gym are critical to your gym’s success. Creating the perfect gym can be a challenge; here are a few tips to think about:

Keep it simple

  • Consider new colors
  • Know your audience
  • Create a social environment with a juice bar, coffee shop or health store


Your staff will reflect the face and value of your entire business. Hiring the right people means more people will be confident about your service, therefore, more likely to return and refer friends. The first steps in finding the best staff for your gym is nailing the job description. A clear description includes the tasks that need to be carried out as well as information about the gym and what would be expected of them.

Look for potential staff members that are passionate and dedicated to fitness, possess excellent communication skills, as well as industry knowledge and, are eager to learn. Once you know what you’re looking for and the ideal traits, you can start the interview process. Whether you’re looking for certified staff or offering on the job training is down to you.

Several positions need filling in a gym from sales manager and marketing manager to group fitness instructor and personal trainer. Find out everything you need to know about hiring the right people and creating the best working environment in our guide.


Another essential element to creating the perfect gym is getting the right equipment. When you’re first starting out, you need gym equipment. Of course, different fitness centers have varying equipment needs. Obtaining gym equipment can be one of the most significant overheads in the beginning.  

If buying brand new equipment isn’t a possibility; leasing or buying used gym equipment is an option. The advantage of buying used gym equipment is that you pay a one-off cost. Once the initial payment has been processed, there are no ongoing costs. Leasing equipment means you can start out with much newer equipment for a smaller initial investment. But, there are ongoing costs to keep the equipment which could add up over time. Take a look at our recent article on where to buy gym equipment for your fitness business to help you get started. 

What Are the Different Types of Gym and Why Are the Successful?

The secret to opening the perfect gym is creating a unique experience. This means valuing members just as much as profits. When launching a career into fitness, there are several different types of gyms you can focus on. In this section, we will discuss the different types of gyms available and why they are successful.

Boutique Studios

Row of people doing battle ropes

Boutique fitness studios have risen significantly in popularity over the last decade. According to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association, membership at regular gyms grew by 5% whereas boutique studio membership grew by 70% between 2012-2015. Boutique studios are usually small but specialized and have been popping up all over the county. Whether it’s spinning, HIIT, circuit training, Pilates or barre, you name it, there’s a boutique studio for it.

Having a brand or business that creates a sense of community, tribe, or cult is essential in today’s world. A community of people deeply bonded by a shared sense of belief helps build a strong following and loyal customer base. Fitness brands that have crushed this include:

  • F45
  • Orangetheory
  • SoulCycle
  • Shred415

Pilates and Yoga

yoga class on a rooftop during the day

Pilates and yoga can technically be classed as a type of boutique studio. However, there’s a much stronger connection to wellness and spirituality that goes beyond fitness. Industry experts believe that the number of people practicing yoga and pilates will jump to 55 million by 2020. Revenue in the United States is expected to reach $11.6 billion.

The yoga industry is booming, and as the population becomes more health-conscious, wellness is fast becoming an essential part of life. Wellness now affects decision-making and is driving growth within the fitness industry. Some excellent examples of pilates and yoga studios include Club Pilates, CorePower Yoga, and Yoga Barre.

Boutique studios can provide specialist classes at a level of quality that justifies its price. Wellness isn’t just a trend; yoga and pilates are here to stay and proving to be highly successful.

Big Box Gyms

empty gym with purple machines

Source: detroitfreepress.com

Big box gyms include cheaper, very affordable gyms usually with 24-hour access for members. They mainly include weights and gym equipment and are focused at members who like to work out alone and need a level of flexibility and convenience that they might not be able to get somewhere else.

When opening this type of gym, you would naturally need a bigger budget for your initial investment as well as ongoing monthly costs. You need to buy or lease equipment, find the right location big enough to house everything you need and bring on the right staff.

As well as offering around the clock access, some gyms are offering classes to compete with boutiques who focus on a more niche market. The best big box gyms in America include:

  • Gold’s Gym
  • 24 Hour Fitness
  • Anytime Fitness
  • Equinox    

Personal Training

personal trainer helping client

People are more interested than ever in taking control of their health. This has caused the demand for personal trainers to grow steadily. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of personal training jobs is estimated to grow about 10% until 2026.

Personal training allows you to have the flexibility and freedom outside of a traditional 9 to 5 job. Do what you love while helping others achieve their goals. Disadvantages can include an unsteady income and paying fees that come alongside owning your own business, such as taxes and liability insurance.

However, the job satisfaction and personal fulfillment you receive from helping clients can be gratifying. Personal training allows you to focus solely on one client or even small groups. The advantage is you can provide a completely tailor-made workout experience as well as offer help with nutrition and other lifestyle elements.

For top insights and industry advice, listen to the FitPro Masterclass Podcast. The personal trainer podcast offers practical strategies for building and growing a successful fitness business.  

Boot Camps

bootcamp class in the park

The majority of boot camps combine a series of calisthenics, like pushups or squats, with running and other high-intensity aerobic movements. They offer functional training and can take place outdoors or in a studio. Military-inspired boot camps have been around for decades, but now they come in all shapes and sizes from bridal boot camps to post-natal boot camps for new parents.

One of the main advantages of setting up a boot camp is that all you need is a stretch of green space and a group of people ready to sweat. Boot camps also cater to the weekend warrior demographic, individuals who prefer to exercise mainly at the weekend.

Outdoor, military-style fitness is in demand. While offering short bursts of high-intensity exercise, boot camps also provide a sense of community that you can’t get from just working out alone. If you’re considering launching your own boot camp business, make sure to check location permits and costs, insurance and invest in the equipment you need to get started.

In Summary

When it comes to stepping into the fitness industry and launching your own business, is there such a thing as the perfect gym? With so many different niches and audience to cater for, you need to find what works for you and your target clientele. By including these must-have elements, when researching and creating your new business, you can help build a successful gym with the potential to grow.