We all remember walking into the gym or a fitness class for the first time. Unsure of what you have gotten yourself in for, it can be a nerve-racking experience. Those around are more experienced and in better shape than you, and the feeling of self-consciousness can make you want to walk back out the door.
However, once you dive in, this self-consciousness melts away, and you are more concerned about why you decided to leave the safety of the couch and put yourself through this punishment in the first place!
So, after falling in love with squats, planks, burpees and box jumps, you are now on the verge of opening your own fitness business. And more than likely, you have that feeling of jumping into the unknown again. Of looking around at others who are more experienced and feeling self-conscious, thinking that you don’t know what to do or have what it takes.
Everyone experiences these feelings when they start something new, especially those opening a new business. Navigating this unknown path as a gym owner, however, is made easier by educating yourself. By reading books and articles and watching videos, you can give yourself the best opportunity to run a successful gym.
But where to begin?
Luckily we have gone down the rabbit hole for you and searched for the best resources that you need for opening your own gym in 2019. From general fitness business information, to social media expertise, to creating the perfect business plan, here is all you need to know to get started.
General Fitness Business
When you first sit down and stare at an empty Google screen or wander through corridors of books in your local library, it can feel a little overwhelming. An excellent place to start is with resources that can give you a general overview of what you need to know at allow you to branch off into more specialized areas.
The Empire Show is a podcast hosted by Fit Body Boot Camp founder/CEO Bedros Keullian and Craig Ballantyne, “The World’s Most Disciplined Man”. They speak with a range of fitness professionals, business experts and motivation gurus every week.
Bedros and Craig are on a mission to help you take your passion and turn it into a successful and sustainable business. Bedros provides some key insights into how to start up and grow new business and, as the founder of a successful fitness franchise, provides insights grounded in decades of experience.
Another critical resource is Two Brain Business by Chris Cooper. Chris the owner of Crossfit Catalyst and this indeed a fitness business bible. Chris lays down the ins and out of running a fitness business with his two brain strategy. The right brain focuses on the creative elements of running a business while the left brain focuses on the more practical decision-making aspects. Used by fitness and non-fitness entrepreneurs alike the world over, this is a really popular resource.
The Business of Fitness Podcast hosted by fitness professional Jason Khalipha is a fantastic podcast for fitness business inspiration and motivation. Every week Jason speaks to athletes, fitness entrepreneurs and fitness industry leaders about coaching, fitness techniques, and starting and growing a fitness business. The great thing about this podcast is the short, information-packed episodes that usually last less than half an hour.
Sales and Marketing
Getting a handle on how you are going to acquire members is a must for any first-time fitness business owner. It is the key to survival for any small business in the fitness industry. For a lot of owners starting out, sales and marketing may be utterly foreign. So we took a look at some general sales and marketing resources and experts that you can use to develop a strategy for your new business.
The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes is a basic primer on sales and sales strategy. He published this breakthrough bestseller in 2007 and has been on the list of top business books ever since. The Ultimate Sales Machine focuses on twelve eternal areas of sales and marketing that a business owner needs to practice doggedly. Here is a quote from the book on teaching something of value that will be of use to fitness business owners.
“You will attract way more buyers if you are offering to teach them something of value to them than you will ever attract by simply trying to sell them your product or service.”
Another essential resource for marketing (especially paid social media) is Miles Becker. Miles Becker runs a YouTube channel that covers all things digital marketing including the holy grail of paid advertising: Facebook and Instagram Ads.
Gary Vaynerchuck and Neil Patel both provide different, but essential, ways to hit your target market. They are also really experienced in growing successful businesses through content marketing. Neil Patel provides some great digital marketing advice through his blog and podcast, but to be honest, Gary dishes out the more relevant content for a fitness business person like yourself.
Coming up with a business plan for your fitness business is one of the first steps on the ladder. Hoping things will work out because you believe you have the next great fitness phenomenon isn’t enough. You will end up fumbling around in the dark and won’t reach the level of success you desire. Create a roadmap with a clear mission statement that lays out how you are going to grow from a small business to the next level, and you will be way more equipped to handle any setbacks along the way.
The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur, by Jim Horan, attempts to simplify the sometimes overly complicated process of creating a business plan. Jim’s book gives simple, practical advice and provides templates for a couple of different types of businesses. The book is divided into 5 different sections; namely Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies and Action Plans.
We really like its easy to follow format, especially for someone who is new to the world of running a business. It is also great for getting to the heart of why you created a fitness business. Once you have done that, we really advise on fleshing out your business plan and lucky for you we have a great resource on the elements you need to create an excellent fitness business plan.
The guys at Bplans have created a huge content hub, bursting with business plan knowledge. There is terrific all-around information for every aspect of starting a gym. This includes getting a business loan, pitching, business insurance and managing operating expenses. Back in 2016, they produced one season of a podcast packed full of tips, tricks and interviews that will both inspire and educate you.
Even though your wheelhouse is most definitely fitness, it is crucial that you stay on top of the latest trends. This is why we wrote about the key fitness trends of 2019. As well as that, you should be on top of the latest workout techniques and advice to keep your gym members engaged and interested.
Jeff Cavaliere AKA Athlean X puts science behind his workouts and is always looking to share the most cutting edge fitness and nutrition advice on his immensely popular Youtube channel. Jeff has worked as a Physical Therapist and strength coach for Major League Baseball teams and has acted as a personal trainer for several major sports stars and actors.
If you are in need of some inspiration for exercises to incorporate into your classes, Jeff is the guy to watch to make sure you are up to date with the hottest trends in fitness and nutrition. Jeff is an experienced Youtuber (on the platform since 2006), so the production quality is high and the information is delivered in a no-nonsense manner.
The Association of Fitness Studios (AFS) is the representative body for fitness studio owners globally and provides lots of best practice information. While you can sign up for membership, early stage gym owners are better to check out the AFS Blog. Among the case studies, general business information and marketing advice, there are some fantastic articles on what type of workouts you can implement into your new fitness business.