5 Ways to Cut Startup Costs of a Gym or Fitness Studio Business

Starting a gym is not just a great business to do, but being surrounded by healthy, positive people during your workday also brings a great happiness in all other aspects of your life. Plenty of people say they’d like to own a gym, but gym startup costs sometimes make that a challenge.

The truth is, opening a gym can be difficult. According to Forbes, investing an already-established fitness franchise can cost as much as 350,000. It’ll cost less if you’re opening your own boutique studio, but that also comes with its own set of costs and needs.

The good news is there are ways to cut your startup costs in half. It takes planning, patience, and resourcefulness, but it’s totally doable.

None of the tips are out of the realm of possibility for a prospective gym owner; in fact, they’re all pretty simple. All it takes is sticking to your budget.

This article will discuss the five major ways in which you can cut costs when opening a small scale gym or a fitness studio.

1- Buy Used Equipment

Of all the tips on this list, buying used equipment is the thing any new gym owner can do successfully without a ton of planning. The truth is that so many people get rid of gym equipment (gym owners, home gym owners, fitness enthusiasts, to name a few), and there are always sales on used equipment that’s in perfectly good condition.

When it comes to buying used workout equipment, all the savings in the world won’t matter if the equipment isn’t in good condition. From both an aesthetic and financial standpoint, buying old equipment is not a good idea. It doesn’t look good in your facility, and if someone gets hurt using it you’ll have a whole host of new problems (that cost even more money) to deal with.

Scour websites like Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, and other online forums. Also, call around to boutique studios in the area and see if they know any gyms in the area that are closing or getting rid of equipment.

2- Start Small

A lot of gyms make the mistake of trying to be too many things for too many people. Sure, a lot of gyms offer a pool, aerobics classes, a full weight room, and a track; but you’re likely not going to be doing that from day one.

If you’re a business owner on a budget, you’ll save a ton of money by deciding on one type of fitness gym to start. Be a yoga studio, a CrossFit gym, a recreational facility. This way you can budget for only the equipment you need. 

Once your gym grows and starts bringing in consistent revenue, make it part of your growth plan to expand the types of fitness offerings your gym provides. Remember, members can’t miss something they haven’t ever had yet.

Don’t feel like you need to be “everything” all at once.

3- Hire an Expert (or Two)

Depending on where you open your gym and the nature of your opening (are you buying out an old gym, or opening a brand new facility) you will be subject to acquiring permits and paying the fees associated with them.

It might seem expensive to hire or consult an expert to help you get all this figured out; however, having someone to help you that’s done it before decreases your chance of messing it up.

Keep in mind that gyms need good insurance, too. In the event that something happens in your gym, this is an area you don’t want to skimp in.

Either way, you’re going to spend money here—better to do it the right way and not have to pay twice for not planning.

4- Hire Part-Time Staff

Depending on the size of your gym, it might also be good to start with a smaller staff than you expect to have down the road. Instead of bringing on several full-time coaches or trainers, it’ll save you a lot in startup costs to limit it to one or two full-timers and leaving the rest part-time.

Keep in mind you can always expand your staff. Since most coaches work at an hourly rate, it shouldn’t be too hard to fill out your staff and cover all the classes that need it. 

5- Facility Costs

Gyms aren’t just about equipment—they’re housed in large facilities, and usually, come with other things like bathrooms and saunas. Want to know how to start a gym business and save money? The budget for these facility costs right off the bat, so that you don’t overspend. 

In the same manner that people who buy expensive houses they can’t afford go “house poor” (they can afford their expensive house but have no real disposable income), many gym owners overdo it on their facilities, then need to carry an unreasonable amount of memberships to cover the monthly costs.

Also, consider asking the facility manager about leasing options. You may be able to save money by signing a longer lease or on startup costs. It never hurts to see where you can save a buck.

The Wrap Up

Owning a gym is an amazing thing, but the gym start up costs can make it difficult to achieve your dream. But with some savvy planning and willingness to be resourceful (and/or creative), you can totally make your dream a reality.

Simple tips like buying used equipment, consulting experts to see where you can save a buck, and setting a realistic plan for your facility and its associated costs) are things any prospective gym owner can do. 

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