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Four people running on the treadmill at the gym.

How to Open a Gym

By Ma-Keba Frye

June 27, 2024

If you're passionate about health and wellness and love fitness, you may dream of opening a gym. Turning your passion into a business is exciting but requires hard work, planning, and execution. Whether you want to open a boutique gym or a larger one, we're here to help. Keep reading as we share the fundamental steps to guide you through how to open a gym, including details on how to: 

  • Find your niche   
  • Do your research   
  • Price your services  
  • Develop a solid business plan   
  • Find the perfect location   
  • Build your brand   
  • Get the appropriate licenses and insurance  
  • Secure funding/financing   
  • Equip your space   
  • Build a strong team   
  • Find the right gym management software   
  • Create a marketing plan 

Find your niche

Gyms cater to a variety of interests and demographics. It's important to identify your niche to create a personalized experience for your target audience. Defining your niche involves considering your passion and how to differentiate your business from the competition.  

Decide whether you want to cater to a small group of fitness enthusiasts or operate a larger business with a more extensive list of clientele and offerings. These are important factors to keep in mind during the planning stages. Some valuable tips to help you find your fitness niche include:  

  • Conduct a self-assessment to determine which fitness activities you are passionate about and have experience in. Consider whether you are enthusiastic about activities like rock climbing or boot camps. Think about which type of fitness excites you the most and motivates you to share it with others. 
  • Research the availability of different types of fitness facilities in the area. If there is a lack of 24-hour or CrossFit gyms, you might have an opportunity to offer these to the community. 
  • Gather local feedback from friends, colleagues, and community members to gain more perspectives on what best suits people's needs and preferences.  

Do your research

Once you've identified your niche, market research is important to understand your target demographic, assess your competition, and identify potential opportunities in your local market. This process includes conducting surveys and interviews and analyzing industry trends to gain insights into consumer needs, preferences, and market demand. 

Capturing these insights will help you make well-informed decisions about your business's operating hours, amenities, marketing strategies, pricing, initial expenses, and ongoing costs such as rent, staffing, insurance, maintenance, equipment, and utilities. This information will offer transparency into your expenses and empower you to plan effectively. 

Name your price

Pricing is essential when starting a gym, so you must identify the best pricing structure for your services. Here are some factors to consider when pricing your services: 

  • What pricing suits your target market 
  • Industry standards  
  • The market rates within your area  
  • Operating costs, such as rent, equipment, insurance, utilities, and staff wages  
  • Your level of expertise and experience. For instance, if you have specialized knowledge and offer unique value to your clients, it's reasonable to factor that into your pricing strategy 
  • Offering various pricing tiers, such as single sessions, weekly or monthly packages, or discounted rates for annual contracts  

As you set your prices, don't underestimate the impact of a well-crafted introductory offer. This can help attract new clients and increase the likelihood that they'll remain a client. There are various options for intro offers, including some that should be avoided. 

Develop a solid business plan

When opening a gym, carefully outline your business plan. This should include your business goals, target market, pricing structure, intended legal structure, marketing strategies, and financial projections. Creating a comprehensive plan will help you make informed decisions and secure funding if necessary. A good business plan should consist of:  

  • An executive summary that provides an overview of your business  
  • A company description and market analysis that details what problems you plan to solve, your ideal clientele, and your competitive advantage   
  • An overview of your organization and management, including the legal structure of your business and staffing plans   
  • A detailed description of your services   
  • An overview of your marketing and sales strategy to attract and retain clients   
  • An outline of how you plan to fund your business and financial projections over the next five years  

Find the perfect location

Location, location, location. Where you choose to open your gym can make or break your business. The location of your fitness business can significantly impact its success. Look for a space that:  

  • Is easily accessible to your target demographic  
  • Offers ample parking or public transportation options 
  • Has good visibility to the public 
  • Receives a significant amount of foot traffic 

Build your brand

It's time to unleash your creativity. Choosing a name for your gym and creating your brand are important steps in setting your business apart from the competition and attracting customers. It allows you to showcase its personality. Consider what you want to name your gym, how you'll interact with your customers online and in person, and the overall image you want to project. 

One essential part of your overall brand is your visual brand identity. These elements will appear online, on marketing materials, inside your physical space, and on branded swag:   

  • Logo   
  • Color palette  
  • Typography  
  • Photography   

Use our guide to help you figure out how to create a brand.  

Obtain licenses, permits, insurance, and certifications

Like any business, you'll need the appropriate licenses and permits to operate your gym legally. Depending on your business type, location, and local regulations, these may vary. You may require the following:  

  • A business license  
  • A zoning and building permit for the commercial space   
  • General liability, commercial property, and worker's compensation insurance   
  • Equipment breakdown coverage  
  • Fitness instruction and AED/CPR certifications  

Secure funding/financing

Navigating small business financing can take time and effort. It's important to explore various financing options, such as grants, small business loans, crowdfunding, or investments from private investors. Throughout the funding process, you'll present your business plan and financial projections to lenders or investors to demonstrate the viability of your venture and its potential return on investment. 

Some business owners choose to self-finance their gyms or take personal loans from friends and family to get their businesses up and running. Others may turn to small business loans. Whatever you decide, having a clear financial plan will help you manage your resources effectively. 

Equip your space

A great gym should have an inviting space, atmosphere, high-quality workout equipment, and accessories. These items and amenities are specific to your niche, such as fitness equipment, flooring, mirrors, sound systems, and other essentials you may purchase or lease. The aim is to build a functional and welcoming environment that aligns with your brand and offers a positive experience for your clients. 

Consider investing in durable, high-quality equipment within your budget to ensure longevity and client satisfaction. This may include treadmills, bikes, weight benches, exercise bands, and any other equipment specific to your gym. Additionally, stock your gym with cleaning supplies to maintain a sanitary workout space for members. 

Build a strong team

Your staff will play an important role in the success of your gym. Focus on hiring qualified individuals who share your business values, have the necessary expertise, and know how to interact with clients. Finding and retaining talent can be a challenge, so as you begin the hiring process, be sure to: 

  • Define each role, its requirements, and qualifications 
  • Create detailed job descriptions for each opening 
  • Conduct thorough interviews 
  • Hire qualified individuals 
  • Provide good and detailed training 
  • Create a clear onboarding plan for new hires 

For more helpful tips, download a copy of The Complete Guide to Staffing

Find the right gym management software

The right management software can significantly impact your business operations. It saves time on repetitive tasks and enhances the booking process for your clients, providing support in every aspect of your business. When searching for software, look for a platform that: 

  • Is user-friendly for you and your clients  
  • Improves routine tasks related to performance metrics and client management  
  • Includes features such as class check-ins, employee scheduling, and client booking  

Mindbody's platform simplifies and optimizes class check-ins, employee scheduling, client booking, retention marketing, and payroll tracking tasks. 

Create a marketing plan

Your marketing efforts directly impact attracting new clients and retaining existing ones. Develop a marketing plan that incorporates online and offline strategies, such as building a branded website for your business, establishing a social media presence, targeted advertising, and community outreach. Use promotions and events to increase brand awareness and encourage customer engagement. 

Digital marketing

  • Build a website to help potential customers learn more about your business, showcase your brand, and streamline the booking process. 
  • Use search engine optimization (SEO) to increase your online visibility. The better your SEO strategy, the higher your website will appear in relevant search results and expand your reach. 
  • This social media guide outlines how platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook can help you market your gym organically and with paid ads. Running promotions, such as grand opening discount services or referral codes—will attract attention and expand the reach of your new business. Our How to Win and Wow with Social Media webinar outlines leveraging social media platforms to build a better business.  
  • Our step-by-step guides on Facebook marketing and Instagram marketing are an excellent introduction to social media marketing. Check out our post on harnessing the power of TikTok as a fitness business, too.   
  • You'll want to incorporate email campaigns targeting existing clients and new prospects. Our guide to email marketing covers the basics.   

Local advertising

  • In the age of social media, flyers are still a great way to advertise your gym. 
  • Local ads are an effective way to reach potential clients in your area. This could include sponsorship of local events, ads in local publications, or placement in local online directories.   
  • Collaboration with complementary businesses expands your reach, attracts new clients, and creates mutually beneficial relationships.


Hosting events such as pop-ups or open houses is an excellent way to promote your business to the broader community. These events allow for in-person interactions with your community and create an opportunity to attract new clients, showcase your expertise, and foster a sense of camaraderie. 

Download our guide on how to create a marketing plan and the accompanying marketing plan and budget template to flesh out your marketing strategy and expected costs.  

The road to gym ownership

Following the steps provided is a good starting point for creating a successful business, but achieving success takes time and requires continuous improvement. Be prepared to adapt and refine your offerings and operations as your business grows and evolves. Find ways to stay ahead of your competition and ask your members for feedback on enhancing your space, equipment, services, and client experience. 

Ready to start your journey to gym ownership?

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About the author:

A headshot photo of Ma-Keba Frye

Ma-Keba Frye

Senior Content Marketing Specialist


Ma-Keba is a fitness enthusiast and content marketer at Mindbody. Her passion for health and wellness, combined with her experience as a content writer in this field, allows her to create informative and engaging content that empowers individuals in the health and wellness industry.

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