Gym Business Plan – A Step-by-Step Guide for Your Club

By Neesha Kanaga

Published 10 March 2021

So, you’ve decided to start your own gym – in which case, congratulations on kickstarting your dream! Or perhaps, you’re simply giving your gym a refresh to increase your revenue and growth potential. Either way, you’ve clicked your way to the right spot as we’re here to show you exactly how to create a gym business plan.

Writing a framework for your gym’s operations is one of the few instances where you don’t want to hit the ground running. Take your time to consider the pros and cons of starting a gym; view your goal of starting a gym from a creative perspective and a practical scope. Long-term success requires setting a good foundation; that’s where your fitness facility’s business plan comes into play.

Now, let’s jump into the nitty-gritty: setting up your gym business plan. We’ve created a step-by-step guide to ensure a foolproof process from start to finish. From financing to digitization and scalability, we’ve got your gym business model covered.

Step 1: Write Your Executive Summary

An executive summary is an advanced version of an elevator pitch, where you lay bare all the broader details of your gym’s business plan. Your executive summary is the first thing potential investors will read, so keep it brisk and to the point.

Save the numbers, data, charts, mission statements, and other minute details for later – your executive summary should be just a few paragraphs and readable at a glance.

Here’s what it should entail:

  • What is your business? (i.e., yoga studio, CrossFit box, bouldering gym, etc.)
  • A summary of your business model
  • Why you’re starting this business
  • What market demand will your fitness business fulfill?
  • Your unique value proposition
  • How you plan to achieve success (in regards to profit and losses) for the short term
  • Your long-term vision
  • What sort of funding are you looking for (if applicable)

Sounds like a fair bit to fit into one page, but your executive summary can (and should) be reworked after you’ve written your entire gym business model.

Step 2: Describe Your Company Profile

Here’s where you get to personalize things by placing your passion at the forefront of your gym’s business plan. Your company profile should give readers an overview of your business – its purpose, people, and aspirations.

The main components of your company profile when it comes to a fitness facility business plan are:

  • Your mission statement (a catchy description about your gym business’ goals and objectives)
  • About the team behind the organization
  • Your history/past experiences
  • Your target audience
  • The desired outcome for your business

Your creativity will be running wild as you talk about your main passion: the guiding tenets of your business. You might be wondering if you’re on the right track and what is the best business structure for a gym? There are no wrong answers here; write with equal parts excitement and brevity, and you’ll be fine!

Step 3: Establish a Hierarchy

Unless you’re writing a business model for personal trainers, you’ll probably work with a few people to run your club. Whether you’re going for a traditional top-down business structure or opting for a flat hierarchy, it’s essential to make peoples’ roles clear in your gym business plan.

Consider the positions you’ll need to fill and how these people will help your gym succeed. Create an organogram of your gym’s management structure and define employees and their titles.

Furthermore, it is advisable to create resume-style descriptions of your key staff members and elucidate their contributions to your business. It makes for a better case when it comes to Step 8: Investors. More on that below, but first, it’s time to skip leg-day and do some legwork instead.

Step 4: Do Market Research and Define Your Target Market

Understanding your market needs is imperative in starting a gym business plan. This will indicate your potential for success in a certain market and help inform your business decision, i.e., which age group, gender, or type of sport you’re aiming to cater to.

Segment your demographic – that is, the group you want to target to garner the maximum number of sales – into primary and secondary markets in the area in which you are operating. Segmenting your demographic will tell you more about your consumer profile, their income capabilities, and more.

Devour consumer reports; IHRSA has well-compiled industry reports on fitness consumers in the COVID-era and beyond. Gaining this knowledge will not only inform your messaging but also help your marketing efforts. It will set a clear path for everything from branding to the equipment you will invest in.

For example, if you’re opening your gym in a place with a lot of students, budget fitness options would be more welcome than a bespoke fitness club. Or, if you’re opening in an area where outdoor climbing is popular, think about how that same demographic could benefit from your gym – i.e., strength and endurance training to help them on the crag.

Your market research should yield the following results:

  • Consumer-type (young professionals, senior citizens, students, athletes, etc.)
  • The type of facility you will open
  • Your necessary equipment and staffing

This research can then help you align your unique selling propositions (USP) with your chosen market.

Step 5: Define your unique selling propositions / #notliketheothergyms

What makes you… well, you? Or rather, what makes your gym different from all the others? This may be anything from price-point to the range of equipment you offer and special location. When defining your USP in your gym business plan, think from an investor’s point of view: why should they believe in your venture?

The mistake that most people make when describing their USP is that they often elucidate their gym business’ goals and objectives for their consumers rather than for their investors.

Also, show your work – this is where your market research comes in. Your USP should explain:

  • How you plan to get customers
  • What makes you special?
  • Your star membership package or subscription option
  • Your special equipment (if applicable) and how it fits consumer demand

For more information on how to get members to join your gym, read our blog on Opening a Gym: How Do I Get Clients for My Gym?

Step 6: Describe Your Facility, Equipment, and Services

Here comes the fun part: you get to talk about your passion project and all it entails. You may (or may not) already have a location in mind – but regardless, you should have an idea about the size of your facility and the products and services you plan to fill it up with.

This part of your gym business model should include an overview of elements relating to your facility, equipment, and services.

Describe your facility:

  • The location and size of your physical facility (if applicable and in square footage)
  • Visibility to potential customers
  • Accessibility
  • Zones within the facility
  • Potential for expansion
  • Levels, restrooms, changing rooms, staff areas, etc.
  • Expected rent or lease
  • Connection to roads or walkways
  • On-premise parking options

List your equipment:

  • Your key workout equipment (limit this to just the stars of the show – you can list the rest in the appendix)
  • Lockers
  • Showers
  • Studio rooms
  • Virtual group workout rooms
  • Cafe/snack bar
  • Other amenities

Describe your services:

  • Physical therapy
  • Spa/sauna
  • Yoga/HIIT/etc.
  • Personal training
  • Outdoor boot camp
  • In-facility courses to upsell memberships
  • Digital training options

If you already have architectural drawings, maps, or 3D renders of your club, it would be helpful to mention here that you have included these in your appendix.

Step 7: Showcase Your Subscription Structure

Here’s where you define how your members will pay for their subscriptions. Today’s fitness market is saturated with hordes of payment infrastructure to help make your life – and your clients’ lives – easier.

An all-in-one gym management system can help alleviate the pain of doing arduous tasks such as billing, invoicing, and tracking payments according to membership-type.

So, once you’ve decided the type of memberships you want to offer (i.e., student discount, pay-as-you-go, xxx amount of entries a year, hybrid in-facility & online membership, etc.), you can then set your sights on gym management software.

Explaining how you plan to use fitness software in your gym business model will showcase your USP (no clunky manual systems). It also shows your penchant for future-focused solutions that in turn creates trust in your investors that you plan to grow your gym’s revenue.

Step 8: Define Where Your Investors Stand – If You Have Investors

Not every gym venture involves investors, and there is often very little reason to need an investor who has a big say in your operations. That said, you should always approach writing your gym business plan from a professional standpoint, as if you’re pitching for investment – either from a bank or to a partner, etc.

How to write a business plan for a fitness center that has an investor? Establish a ladder of hierarchy and define roles and limitations. Investors are concerned about how much money your business will raise from their initial investment.

Here’s where you set some boundaries, projections, and give yourself – and them – exit strategies if the whole thing goes belly up (we hope not, though).

Describe their return on investment (ROI) for the amount of money they will be investing and show how to break even. Explain how the organization will look like if they have shares in your fitness business – i.e. if you’re currently the founder and CEO, do they get to replace you with one of their own CEOs down the road?

It’s a lot to think about – and depending on the size of your business, you could benefit from consulting with a lawyer and an accountant who can help you wrap your head around these things. They can also help you choose the best financial strategy for your gym and predict financial projections. We guarantee that it will take a monumental chunk of stress out of writing your gym business plan.

Step 9: Appendix

In your gym business plan, the appendix is where you will share any supporting documentation for your business venture. As we mentioned above, any professional drawings of your gym may go here.

This section of your fitness facility business plan may include:

  • Resumes of the management team
  • An organizational chart of your entire business
  • Roadmap
  • Mock-ups of flyers and other marketing collateral to promote your facility
  • Maps of your location(s)
  • Architectural drawings, renderings, etc.
  • Layout/zones of your gym
  • A table of your full equipment/services listing and their corresponding pricing

We hope we have helped you understand how to write a gym business plan. There’s a wealth of resources out there to help get you started. If you’re opening a new gym, make sure to give our blog on How to Open a Gym a read.

Neesha Kanaga

Neesha is a copywriter and wanderer who currently finds herself bound to the weather-challenged Netherlands due to the unforeseen circumstances of 2020.

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