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The Best Locations to Open a Gym in 2024: Spaces, Places and Passers-by

Dru Hill
Dru Hill
Published on Wed, May 29, 2024

The Secret to a Busy Gym? Choosing the Perfect Location

Opening a gym is an exciting venture, but the success of your business heavily relies on one crucial factor: location. The success of any new gym hinges on its accessibility, visibility, and alignment with the target demographic’s preferences. A perfect location not only draws in a steady stream of new members but also plays a crucial role in retaining them. 

In this post, we’ll dive into the key considerations for selecting the ideal location for your gym, ensuring that your business has the best chance to thrive in the competitive fitness industry.

Understanding the Importance of Location

The location of your gym is more than just a physical space; it’s a strategic decision that can directly impact your bottom line. Here’s why:

  • Visibility: A gym located in a high-traffic area with good visibility is more likely to attract walk-in customers and generate buzz.
  • Accessibility: A convenient location near public transportation, major highways, or ample parking can make it easier for members to fit workouts into their busy schedules.
  • Demographics: The right location will put you in close proximity to your target audience, whether that’s young professionals, families, or seniors. The closer you are to them, the higher the chance they will check your gym out.
  • Competition: Understanding the local fitness landscape can help you differentiate your offerings and avoid oversaturated markets.

By carefully considering these factors, you can set your gym up for long-term success and growth.

Local Factors to Consider When Choosing a Gym Location

To find the perfect spot for your gym, you’ll need to carefully evaluate several key factors:


  • Analyze the age, income, and lifestyle of the local population
  • Consider the types of fitness services that would appeal to the community
  • Look for areas with a high concentration of your target audience


  • Research existing gyms and fitness studios in the area
  • Identify gaps in the market that your gym could fill
  • Consider how you can differentiate your offerings from competitors


  • Look for locations near public transportation hubs or major highways
  • Ensure there is sufficient parking available for members
  • Consider the ease of access for people with disabilities
  • Ensure proximity to your target market


  • Prioritize locations with high foot traffic and good visibility from the street
  • Look for opportunities to place signage or branding in prominent locations
  • Consider the potential for walk-in customers and natural discovery

Zoning and Regulations

  • Research local zoning laws and regulations for commercial properties
  • Ensure the space is approved for use as a fitness facility
  • Consider any necessary permits or licenses required to operate

By carefully evaluating each of these factors, you can narrow down your search and find a location that meets the unique needs of your gym and target audience.

The health and fitness industry is poised for growth in the coming years, and opening a gym can be a lucrative and rewarding venture. However, it’s not without its challenges. The rise of sophisticated consumer needs, technological advancements, and an ever-competitive landscape means that potential gym owners must approach the endeavor with careful planning and strategic thinking. As the fitness industry continues to evolve, it’s essential to consider future trends and changes when choosing a location for your gym.

Post-Pandemic Preferences

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered consumer behavior and preferences in the fitness industry. When choosing a gym location, consider any lasting changes, such as a heightened focus on cleanliness and sanitization, increased demand for touchless technology, and a preference for smaller class sizes or private training sessions. Ensure that your chosen location can accommodate these evolving needs and preferences to stay enticing to more customers.

Shifting Demographics

Analyze projected changes in population age, income, and lifestyle in potential locations. Consider how these shifts may impact the demand for certain types of fitness services and amenities. For example, an aging population may prioritize low-impact exercises and wellness programs, while a growing millennial population may seek out more technology-integrated and socially-focused fitness experiences.

Stay attuned to the latest fitness trends and consider how your gym can accommodate them in your chosen location. For instance, the increasing popularity of functional fitness and outdoor workouts may influence the type of space and equipment you need. Additionally, the rise of virtual and on-demand fitness classes may impact the size and layout of your gym’s physical space.

By staying informed about post-pandemic preferences, shifting demographics, and emerging fitness trends, you can choose a location that positions your gym for success in the changing fitness landscape.

Types of Gyms and The Best Places to Open Them

Different types of gyms may thrive in different locations, depending on their target audience and unique offerings. Understanding the characteristics of each gym type can help you make an informed decision when choosing a location.

Boutique Gyms

These specialized, smaller gyms often thrive in urban areas with a high concentration of young professionals. Boutique gyms typically offer a more intimate and personalized experience, focusing on specific fitness niches like yoga, Pilates, or cycling. When choosing a location for a boutique gym, consider areas with a high density of affluent, health-conscious individuals who value unique and curated experiences.

Premium Gyms

High-end gyms that offer luxury amenities may perform well in affluent neighborhoods or near upscale shopping centers. These gyms often feature state-of-the-art equipment, spa-like locker rooms, and personalized training services (hence, the price tag!). When selecting a location for a premium gym, look for areas with a high concentration of wealthy individuals who are willing to pay for a top-tier fitness experience.

Specialty Gyms

Gyms focused on specific niches should consider locations near enthusiasts of those particular fitness styles. These gyms often foster a strong sense of community and attract dedicated members who are passionate about their chosen discipline. When choosing a location for a specialty gym, research areas with a high interest in the specific fitness niche and consider proximity to complementary businesses like health food stores or outdoor recreation areas.

By understanding the unique characteristics and ideal locations for each gym type, you can make a more informed decision when selecting a location that aligns with your gym’s offerings and target audience.

Residential vs. Commercial Areas: Pros and Cons

When deciding on a location for your gym, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of residential and commercial areas. Each type of location comes with its own set of advantages and challenges that can impact the success of your gym.

Residential Areas

Opening a gym in a residential neighborhood can be an attractive option for several reasons:


  • Convenience for Local Residents: Gyms located in residential areas offer a convenient option for locals who want to prioritize their fitness without a long commute. This increases the chance for retention as a lot of people thrive on convenience. Members may appreciate the ability to walk or bike to the gym, making it easier to incorporate exercise into their daily routines.
  • Sense of Community: Residential gyms often foster a strong sense of community, as members are likely to be neighbors who share similar interests and lifestyles. This can lead to a more welcoming and supportive atmosphere, which can help with member retention and word-of-mouth referrals.
  • Lower Rent and Operating Costs: Compared to commercial districts, residential areas often have lower rent and operating costs. This can be especially advantageous for smaller, independent gyms or those just starting out, as it allows them to allocate more resources towards equipment, amenities, and staff.
  • Potential for Partnerships: Gyms in residential areas may have opportunities to partner with local schools, community centers, or sports teams to offer specialized programs or discounted memberships. These partnerships can help expand the gym’s reach and create a more diverse member base.


  • Zoning Restrictions: Residential areas may have stricter zoning laws and regulations that limit the type of businesses allowed to operate. Gyms may face additional hurdles in obtaining permits or may be subject to noise and parking restrictions that can impact their operations and limit profitability.
  • Limited Foot Traffic: Unlike commercial districts, residential areas typically have lower foot traffic, which can make it more challenging to attract new members. Gyms in these areas may need to rely more heavily on targeted marketing and community outreach to build their membership base.
  • Parking Challenges: In densely populated residential neighborhoods, parking can be a significant challenge for gym members as spaces may be smaller. Limited street parking or the need for parking permits can be a deterrent for potential members, especially during peak hours.
  • Reduced Visibility: Residential gyms may have less visibility compared to those in commercial areas, as they are often located in quieter streets or neighborhoods. This can make it more difficult to attract walk-in customers or generate buzz through natural discovery.

Commercial Areas

Opening a gym in a commercial district can offer several benefits, but also comes with its own set of challenges:


  • High Visibility: Gyms in commercial areas benefit from high visibility and foot traffic, which can help attract new members and generate walk-in business. Locations near busy streets, shopping centers, or office buildings can expose the gym to a wider audience and increase brand awareness.
  • Ample Parking: Commercial districts often have larger parking lots or garages, making it more convenient for members to access the gym. This can be a significant draw for potential members who prioritize ease of access and parking availability when choosing a gym. This is especially true for people who go to the gym during peak hours.
  • Access to Public Transportation: Many commercial areas are well-served by public transportation, making it easier for members to reach the gym without relying on a car. This can be especially appealing for gyms targeting a younger, urban demographic.
  • Complementary Businesses: Commercial districts often have a mix of businesses that can complement a gym, such as health food stores, sports equipment retailers, or physical therapy clinics. These nearby businesses can help drive traffic to the gym and create opportunities for cross-promotion and partnerships.


  • Higher Rent and Operating Costs: Commercial areas typically have higher rent and operating costs compared to residential neighborhoods. This can put a strain on a gym’s budget and may require higher membership fees to offset the increased expenses. 
  • Competition from Nearby Gyms: Commercial districts may have a higher concentration of gyms and fitness studios, leading to increased competition for members. Gyms in these areas may need to work harder to differentiate themselves and offer unique value propositions to stand out in a crowded market.
  • Reduced Sense of Community: Gyms in commercial areas may have a more transient member base, with a mix of office workers, shoppers, and tourists. This can make it more challenging to foster a strong sense of community and member loyalty compared to residential gyms.
  • Limited Space and Amenities: Due to higher rent costs and space constraints, gyms in commercial areas may have to compromise on the size and layout of their facilities. This can limit the range of equipment and amenities they can offer, which may be a drawback for some potential members.

When choosing between a residential or commercial location for your gym, it’s essential to carefully consider your target audience, budget, and long-term business goals. Conducting thorough market research and analyzing the local competition can help you make an informed decision that sets your gym up for success.

Setting Up Your Gym for Optimal Success

Once you’ve chosen the perfect location for your gym, it’s crucial to set up your space for optimal success. The right location is just the first step; how you design and equip your gym can have a significant impact on member satisfaction and retention.

Gym Layout and Design

Consider how your chosen location influences the layout and flow of your gym space. A well-thought-out design not only optimizes the available space for various activities but also enhances the overall user experience. An open, intuitive layout can enhance the member experience and make your gym feel more welcoming and accessible. 

Use natural light and strategic lighting to create an energizing atmosphere, and consider how your layout can accommodate different types of workouts and equipment. Effective gym layouts focus on creating clear and functional zones for cardio, strength training, group classes, and relaxation areas, facilitating smooth traffic flow and minimizing congestion.

Equipment and Amenities

Ensure your location can accommodate the necessary equipment and amenities to attract and retain members. This may include cardio machines, strength training equipment, free weights, group fitness studios, locker rooms, and reception areas. Consider the type of equipment and amenities that will appeal to your target audience and differentiate your gym from competitors. Securing the right mix of equipment and amenities is essential in positioning your gym as a formidable player in the fitness industry.

Parking and Accessibility

Evaluate the parking options and accessibility of your potential gym location for members' convenience. Ample parking can be a significant draw for members, particularly in areas with limited public transportation. Ensure that your gym is easily accessible for all members, including those with disabilities, and consider offering bike racks or partnerships with local ride-sharing services to provide alternative transportation options.

By focusing on these key aspects of gym setup, you can create a space that is both functional and inviting, setting the stage for long-term success in your chosen location.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Choosing a Gym Location

To set your gym up for success, be aware of these common pitfalls when choosing a location. By proactively addressing these potential issues, you can minimize risks and make a more informed decision.

Overestimating Demand

Conduct thorough market research to avoid opening a gym in an area with insufficient demand or excessive competition. Analyze the local population, including age, income, and fitness preferences, to ensure that there is a sufficient target market for your gym’s offerings.

Underestimating Costs

Carefully assess all costs associated with a potential location, including rent, utilities, renovations, and permits. Keep in mind that unexpected expenses can arise during the process of setting up your gym, so it’s essential to have a financial cushion and a realistic budget.

Neglecting Zoning Laws

Ensure your chosen location is properly zoned for use as a gym and complies with all local regulations and building codes. Zoning laws regulate the use of buildings and land for specific purposes, and areas are often designated for residential, commercial, or industrial use. If your gym does not comply with local zoning regulations, you might face fines, legal battles, or the necessity to relocate, which could incur significant financial losses and damage your business’s reputation. Work with local authorities and real estate professionals to navigate the zoning and permitting process.

By being aware of and proactively addressing these common pitfalls, you can make a more informed and strategic decision when choosing a location for your gym.


Choosing the right location is a critical step in launching and growing a successful gym business. By carefully considering factors like demographics, competition, accessibility, and visibility, you can position your gym for long-term success.

When opening a gym in 2024, it’s essential to stay attuned to shifting demographics, emerging fitness trends, and post-pandemic preferences to ensure that your chosen location can accommodate the evolving needs of your target market. Whether you opt for a residential or commercial area, focus on creating a welcoming, accessible, and well-equipped space that sets your gym apart from the competition.

By learning from the successes of thriving gyms in various locations, you can gain valuable insights into how to make the most of your chosen location. With a strategic approach and a commitment to providing exceptional service and value to your members, your gym can become a thriving fixture in your community.

Key Takeaways:

  • Location is a crucial factor in the success of a gym business
  • Consider demographics, competition, accessibility, visibility, and regulations when choosing a location
  • Different types of gyms, such as boutique, premium, and specialty gyms, may thrive in different locations
  • When opening a gym in 2024, consider shifting demographics, emerging fitness trends, and post-pandemic preferences
  • Residential and commercial areas both have pros and cons for gym locations
  • Set up your gym for success by optimizing layout, equipment, amenities, parking, and accessibility
  • Avoid common pitfalls like overestimating demand, underestimating costs, and neglecting zoning laws
  • Learn from successful gyms in various locations to inform your own location strategy

By following these guidelines and staying attuned to the unique needs of your target market and community, you can establish a gym that not only survives but thrives in the competitive fitness industry of 2024 and beyond. With the right location and a commitment to excellence, your gym can become a valued resource for health and wellness in your community, attracting and retaining members for years to come.

Starting a Gym? Here’s a list of helpful resources: