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Start a gym checklist

Dru Hill
Dru Hill
Published on Mon, Sep 26, 2022
Gym Instruments

So opening up a gym is a dream you’re now ready to turn into reality. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds, right? Every gym owner knows that putting up and running a club isn’t a walk in the park. It doesn’t come without a risk, but with the right mindset and attitude, this dream is not at all impossible.

Just the thought of where you should be starting can be overwhelming. You have to think about finances, hiring the right people, marketing strategies, and many other things tied up with running a gym. But that’s why we are here—to help you start on the right foot.

To help get you started, here’s a complete checklist of all the things you need to know before opening up your own club.

Start a gym checklist: things you don’t want to forget

Craft a business plan

The first step to starting up any business is to create a business plan. As the term implies, this is the ‘planning’ stage. This is where you begin painting a picture of how you want your gym to look and feel like, and then put these details together in a blueprint called the business plan.

Moreover, unless you can shoulder all the expenses on your own, any potential financer or investor will ask for your business plan. And even if you plan to self-fund, this document will serve as a roadmap on how you plan to bring the enterprise to a profitable success.

An effective business plan is one that’s well-researched and well-written. It should showcase detailed information on how you plan to build, operate, and expand your potential business. A business plan should include the following (at the very least):

  • Executive summary
  • Business or company description
  • Market strategies
  • Competitor analysis
  • Strategy and implementation
  • Organization and management plan
  • Financial plan and projections


Opening up a gym requires a huge sum of money, and there are two main methods to finance your club.


Financing a gym is not cheap, but that doesn’t mean you’re left with no choice but to look for people or organizations who can invest in your business. It’s definitely possible to secure funding on your own or just within your circle, especially if we’re talking about opening up a small gym.

The incredible thing about self-funding is that just in case things don’t go as well as you’ve planned, you don’t have a mortgage running after you for the years to come. If you have the patience and luxury to wait, saving money for now can do you a huge deal of help later.

Commercial financing

Now, if you’re gearing towards mid to large-sized clubs, there are various lenders who are open to helping out entrepreneurs. These investors generally find gym businesses less risky compared to other more innovative start-ups, so looking for funding should be relatively easier.

Once you’re certain that this is the route you’re going to take, there’s one thing that would be extremely beneficial for you: your business plan. Every bank and potential investor you’d reach out to will ask for your business plan so make sure that you craft a bulletproof one.

Search for a location

The next thing to do is find the right venue for your gym. Look for an open space that can comfortably house all the equipment your desired club needs. You also have to consider accessibility and parking. No one wants to go to a gym that’s difficult to get to.

You also have to do market research when choosing your location. You’d definitely want to choose an area with high foot traffic. The more people frequent the place, the higher the chance you get more members.

Ideally, you can get a bigger bang for your buck if the venue allows you to offer both indoor and outdoor workouts since this can attract more customers than you think. A good number of people enjoy the luxury of having both options at their disposal.

Comply with necessary business licenses and permits

Just like any other business, starting up a club requires several licenses and legal documents such as business name registration, business permits, and tax documentation. More often than not, you will also have to secure a sanitation permit as well. Depending on your local authorities, there can be a lot more, so make sure that you check with your local government.

Depending on where you plan to open up your gym, some of the business requirements you have to comply with are as follows:

  • Local licensing
  • State licensing
  • Business name registration
  • Legal structure or business ownership structure
  • Tax requirements
  • Insurances

To ensure that you start on the right foot, it is best to check with the clerk’s office of your town, city, or county to have a full list of all the requirements you need to satisfy before starting your business.

Source the necessary equipment

The equipment your gym offers can make or break your business. One of most people’s biggest considerations when choosing a club are the fitness equipment available for members. When deciding on which ones to get, ensure that you source equipment for aerobics, cardio, and weightlifting to appeal to the greater majority.

Here are some of the most important equipment any fitness studio should have:

  • Training benches
  • Treadmills
  • Stationary bicycles
  • Pull-up frame and bar
  • Dumbbell sets
  • Barbell sets
  • Kettlebell sets
  • Rowing machine
  • Fitness balls
  • Accessories such as rollout wheels, bands, and tubes

Now, if you have more funds to spend and if you’re targeting to run a larger gym, you can also add more expensive equipment such as Smith machines, lever machines, and cable machines. While these are not absolutely necessary to run a gym, they are great assets you can use to attract more members since not all clubs offer them.

Additionally, with the gym equipment comes the club layout. Strategically choose equipment based on the amount of space you have, keeping in mind the necessary space for your members to be able to move around safely and comfortably around the equipment and machines.

Member experience

One of the main things that set apart successful gyms from average ones is member experience. Happy and satisfied members stay and renew memberships—that’s just how the fitness industry works. Therefore, you should carefully plan out the type of experience you want to give your future clients.

To help set you up for success, outline your desired customer journey, and create a service blueprint to outline all activities you and your staff should do to achieve your objectives. You should have all sorts of communication processes and templates in place to welcome new members, prompt member participation in classes, and implement lead nurturing sequences.

You should also prepare scripts and conversation points for your sales team to follow. This includes when, where, and in what manner they should reach out to leads. Being proactive and preparing all these even before opening your gym can help you tremendously later as a new gym owner.

Pick the right gym management software

If you sign up with a flexible gym system, you’ll be running your gym the way you want it to instead of compromising to the constraints of the basic resources you have. An ideal gym management system should offer flexibility, ease of use, and profound support as you run your gym.

Having a gym management software can make it easy for you to hold membership pre-selling even before you officially open up your gym through the marketing tools it offers.


Starting your own gym can be an exciting but daunting task. With all the things you have to do to ensure a smooth launch, it can be easy to overlook details that might improve success and make every aspect of running your club a lot easier.

When the time comes for you to finally open your facility, picking the right gym management system provider can make a world of difference. Sign up for one with great customer support and one that has dealt with thousands of people in the same shoes as you are so they can help show you the ropes of starting up your club.