What to consider when starting a gym?

What to consider when starting a gym?


In the past decades, fitness centre have not only proven to be popular and very much in demand by fitness conscious consumers, but they have also been proven to be very profitable as a business opportunity.

Opening a fitness centre requires careful planning and research, and the following are aspects of the business that should be considered:

1. Location.

Where will the fitness centre be located, how much square footage will be required, what are the leasehold improvements going to cost, is there good visibility, access, and parking, and is the business located in an area comprised mainly of the target market customers?

2. Operating format.

Will the fitness centre cater to all people, or will the focus of the business target one specific group of people? Will the fitness centre be full service, meaning optional aerobic classes and one-on-one personal training for clients?

3. Staff.

Is there access to trained fitness instructors and staff in the community where the fitness centre is being established, and if so what are the wage and benefit demands, as well as expectancy of staff in terms of career opportunities?

4. Marketing.

How will the fitness centre be marketed? Will it be by way of membership drive or a drop-in rate established? What enticements or services will be used as a marketing tool to draw members from competitors’ fitness clubs or facilities?

5. Competition.

How much local competition is there in the fitness industry, and is the competition in the form of a chain fitness centre, community-operated fitness centre, or independently-operated fitness centre? How much does the competition charge? Is there the possibility of a price war?

Can the proposed business gain enough clients to be profitable? What is the effect on the business from potential future competitors? There are many aspects to carefully consider prior to starting a fitness centre. However, with careful research and proper planning a fitness centre can be a fabulous business to start, operate, and own, not to mention that it also has the potential to be very profitable.

How do I start a gym like Virgin Active?

Of the larger fitness clubs in South Africa, Planet Fitness offers fully owned excellent fitness franchises, while Virgin Active does not. A franchise may be a good way in which to start a fitness gym.


The advantage of franchises is that you would start the business with an established name that offers recognition of a brand which attracts clients. If a small business is associated and linked with a big business, you will enjoy the firm backup and support of an established big business.

Running a small business under the franchisor’s name and organisation is very beneficial for people starting-up a new business. There are many other franchise options in the health and wellness area such as Run for Life and Curves both of which are established in South Africa.

Starting on your own

If you intend to start a gym from scratch, do thorough research and establish how many gyms are in the area? What services do they offer and how much to they charge and so on. After you have completed your research, it is necessary to write a comprehensive business plan.

How to write a business plan

For more information on how to write a comprehensive business plan, read Entrepreneur’s guide: How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide. For all the services and products offered. Try to develop a price list that is both workable and competitive.

Sample Business Plans

For more information on what should be included in your business plan. Refer to one of our sample plans for guidelines.
Funding. If you don’t have the funds to start your business, find out how to start it without the capital by clicking here.

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  • philani

    How can I start a gym? and where can I find a space for it in Johannesburg?

  • Eddie

    I am looking for a partner to start a gym business with?

    • Khayalethu Yeezy Mkhabela

      What is your location?