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How to Start Your Own Gym, Fitness Center or Personal Training Business

Getting fit, losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle is a priority for many of us. From new diets to innovative exercise regimes, we all want to find interesting ways to be active.

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    What Type of Fitness-Based Business Should You Start?

    There are lots of different options for the type of fitness business you can start. We’ve provided several suggestions below.

    General Gym and Fitness Center

    This would be your standard type of gym. You will likely have standard fitness equipment like cross trainers, stationary bikes, rowing machines, treadmills, resistance trainers and weights. You’ll also probably provide fitness classes in special rooms and event spaces.

    Specialized Gym

    This type of gym might focus on specific types of training. For example, you might have a gym dedicated to weight training or endurance training, with equipment designed to achieve focused results.

    Low-Cost Gym

    Many gyms have very expensive monthly membership fees. You might choose to go another direction with more basic equipment and a lower fee. Rather than having monthly memberships, you might even go with a “pay-as-you-go” approach.

    Low-Impact Fitness

    This type of business may focus on fitness-related activities that help maintain health and well-being rather than a relentless focus on getting fit. This could include activities like yoga, Pilates, dance and similar approaches.

    Personal Training

    If you don’t want the considerable expense of opening a gym, you might decide to go down the personal trainer route. You have several good options:

    • Provide one-on-one training with individual clients to help them meet fitness goals
    • Instruct specialized classes like aerobics, Zumba, Pilates or spinning
    • Get the blood pumping with circuit training or high-intensity interval training

    You’ll need the right skills and experience — and if you don’t want to go it alone, there are plenty of franchise opportunities available to personal trainers.

    Validating Your Fitness Business Idea

    Remember, the ideas above are just a starting point. You can define and tweak exactly what type of gym, fitness or personal training business you want to run through conducting your own research.

    Every fitness-based business will have many competitors, and you need to stand out - you should deliver superior fitness classes and excel in your chosen area. Here's how:

    Identify your gym or personal training business’ unique selling points (USPs)

    Once you know what type of fitness business you want to run, list the key benefits it will provide to members and what makes it unique compared to your competitors.

    Look at who your competitors are in the space

    You will have plenty of competitors. Get a good idea of all the fitness services they provide, and see if you can compete effectively — or if you need to find a slightly different fitness niche.

    Understand your market

    One of the best ways to get started is to find out exactly what type of people will want to use your fitness services. Work out what part of the community you’re going to serve, and start building personal training and gym services around that.

    Talk to possible members

    Talk to the types of people who might want to use your fitness services. See what their needs are and how your gym or training can help to meet them. Tweak the classes you offer so they’re of most benefit to your members.

    Not every idea you have will make it through to becoming a gym, fitness or personal training business.

    There are all sorts of reasons to say “yes” or “no” to specific businesses, so think about what your strengths and weaknesses are so you can choose a business you’d be great at.

    Your Gym Needs a Business Plan

    Gyms and other fitness businesses have lots of moving parts and administrative needs. If you want your business to be a success, you need a solid business plan.

    You will need to define how you’re going to run your gym, fitness or personal training business, market yourself, sign up members, collect fees, provide services, buy equipment, make a profit and grow. This can only come about through creating a watertight business plan. It will help you get your thinking in order and show your commitment to your fitness or personal training business.

    You will also need to look carefully at financial projections for your fitness business.

    What are your expected member counts, dues, sales and revenues? What is your profitability? How much money will you keep in the business to grow it? How much will you pay yourself and others?

    Business plans do vary slightly, but they should all cover the following areas:


    An executive summary with the most important points from your business plan


    Your goals and what you hope to achieve with your gym or personal training business


    A description of your fitness business, background information, and context


    A market analysis and likely demand


    An overview of how your gym, fitness or personal training business is structured


    Your business model


    How you will market and sell your offerings


    Financial projections, revenue, and profitability



    We’ve got the perfect guide to writing your business plan.

    Right Business Structure

    Setting up Business Operations

    Once you've legally created your gym, fitness or personal training business, you’ll need to get some other things in place.

    Location of Your Gym

    If you’re running a gym, the location will be vital. You’ll need somewhere that’s easily accessible, with enough space for all the equipment you’ll need and classes you want to run. These types of spaces can be hard to find, so engage a commercial real estate agent who can provide options for renting and leasing space. Remember to take into account specialized needs like flooring for classes, reinforced areas for weights and multiple power points for fitness equipment.

    Equipment for Your Gym

    One of your main expenses for your gym will be fitness equipment. You’ll need special training devices for cardiovascular workouts like treadmills, rowing machines and cross trainers. You’ll also need other equipment like weights, balance balls, resistance machines and much more. Don’t forget to budget for all your fixtures and fittings, together with computer equipment and entertainment systems to keep members happy while they work out.


    If you’re a personal trainer, you probably won't need to hire anyone else. If you’re running a gym, it’s likely you’ll need to take on some staff to help you with administration, providing fitness classes and other tasks.

    Software and Process

    The right software and processes will make running your gym, fitness or personal training business much easier. See our list of the best apps and software at the end of this guide.

    Location of Your Personal Training Business

    If you’re running a personal training business, you’ll have more flexibility. You may be able to rent a hall or event space when you need it for classes or work with a local gym owner to provide services at their location. Some personal trainers may choose to provide classes in the great outdoors but beware of weather changes.

    Marketing Your Gym, Fitness or Personal Training Business

    Marketing will be a huge part of your gym, fitness or personal training business. Naturally, you will need an awesome website, but you'll also need to get branding, newsletters, digital ads, social media accounts and other channels in place.

    Finances and Taxes

    You will need a separate business bank account for your gym or personal training business. You might also want to consider a business credit card. Additionally, you will need to keep careful bookkeeping records and file business and personal taxes. Here at Bizee we can even help you file your taxes.

    Equipment for Your Personal Training Business

    As a personal trainer, you’ll need far less equipment. Your exact needs will vary depending on the type of training you offer, but you will at least need some good sets of gym clothes and shoes, a mobile device to track signups and schedules and a reliable mode of transportation.

    The Complete "Start Your Business" Checklist

    A Clear and Comprehensive Guide to Starting Your Business the Right Way

    Rules, Regulations and Taxes for Your Fitness Business

    All businesses will need to adhere to licenses, permits and regulations. You will need to explore local, state and federal licenses and permits, and we can also help out with researching your business licensing needs. You may also want to look into relevant qualifications for personal trainers and others providing fitness services.


    Taxes are a fact of life if you’re in business, and there are various ways you will need to file and pay them. This can include self-employment tax, state income tax and federal income tax. Depending on where and how you’re selling products and services, you may also be liable for sales and use tax. As a rule of thumb, we recommend holding back around a third of your earnings to pay your taxes. We can also prepare and file your tax returns for you.

    Insurance for Your Gym, Fitness or Personal Training Business

    Most fitness businesses should have comprehensive business insurance. There are various types.

    Workers Compensation Insurance for Your Gym or Personal Training Business

    Workers’ compensation insurance provides coverage for job-related illnesses, disabilities or injuries that affect employees. Regulations for this insurance vary from state to state. It typically covers areas like medical costs, loss of earnings, compensation and retraining. Although you may not need this as a personal trainer, if you’re employing others as a gym owner, it’s likely a necessity.

    General Liability Insurance for Your Fitness-Based Business

    This insurance protects your gym or personal training business from claims due to being sued. This may include injury to members of the public, property damage, personal liabilities, legal defense and more. It can help protect your business from financial penalties and bankruptcy. This type of insurance is especially important to gyms and personal trainers — since you’ll be putting clients and members through physical training, you will need to make sure your insurance covers potential injuries.

    Home and Auto Insurance for Your Gym, Fitness or Personal Training Business

    If you are working from home on the administration of your gym, fitness or personal training business or driving a vehicle for work, check whether your existing home and auto policies cover you for work use of your home or car. If not, you should either expand your policy so you’re covered or get dedicated business insurance.

    Maintaining Your Gym, Fitness or Personal Training Business

    There are certain forms and legalities you need to follow to keep your fitness-based business in good standing.

    File an Annual Report

    Most states require all businesses to file a report once a year. This report has details of any major changes to who owns a business and other major impacts on a business’ legal status. We can file your Annual Report on your behalf.

    Pay estimated taxes

    You will be expected to pay estimated taxes on what you plan to earn in the current business year. Typically, you will need to pay estimated taxes in April, June, September and January (of the following year).

    Renew Business Permits and Licenses

    Your business will probably have several licenses, permits and other regulations. These typically need to be renewed every year.

    Prepare Your Taxes

    You will need to work with your accountant to prepare all the taxes you need to pay.

    File your taxes

    You will need to file your taxes once a year.

    Pay payroll and sales taxes

    If applicable, you will need to make payroll and sales tax payments on a regular basis.

    Groups and Forums for Fitness Business Owners

    Here are some useful places where you can connect with other gym, fitness or personal training entrepreneurs.

    Useful Online Tools for Your Gym, Fitness or Personal Training Business

    Here are some really great online tools for managing your gym, fitness or personal training business. They will reduce the time you spend on administration, help you to collaborate with others and free up your time to grow and manage your new venture.

    Project Management


    Marketing Automation

    Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

    Customer Support

    Human Resources

    Website Development

    Please note: This post contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links.


    Starting a franchise business is an amazing opportunity for many entrepreneurs. Provided you have the capital to back you up and you can meet the franchisor’s rules and regulations, you will see huge benefits from their branding, market reach and support. With a vast array of franchises available, you’re sure to find something that meets your vision for the future.