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8 Tips for Opening a Health Club or Fitness Center

How Are Health Clubs Different than Gyms?

Gyms and fitness centers have always been a popular industry, but health clubs usually offer something a little more. Sure, a health club normally has a wide variety of exercise equipment and training services. But they also offer health and beauty treatments to those people who aren’t just concerned about fitness, but overall health as well.

Health clubs are businesses that require a little more thought and set-up than a traditional gym, as they appeal to a much larger customer base. If you’re thinking about opening a health club of your own or purchasing a franchise from a large national health club company, these suggestions can help get you started.

8 Tips on How to Start Your Own Gym Business

First, you must decide if you want to buy a franchise or start your own private business. Remember that even though franchises can be much more expensive, all, if not most, of the guesswork is taken out of the process and is already done for you. Then again, owning your own business puts all the power to make decisions in your hands.

Once you’ve decided, here are eight tips to help get you started:

  1. Create a Business Plan. Whether you’re on your own or with a franchise, you’re going to need a solid business plan to get anywhere. Develop a list of all projected expenses and short- and long-term goals you hope to accomplish. Include strategies to help you reach those goals.
  2. Get financed. Once you have your business plan, start speaking to loan officers at banks and financing companies. If you can’t get a loan on your first try, refine your business plan and keep trying. If you’re open to it, seek out individuals that might be interested in investing in your business venture.
  3. Select a location. Once you have your financing secured, start looking for a place of business. Make sure that you have plenty of room for gym equipment, beauty treatments, massage, tanning, acupuncture or anything else you wish to offer. A place to install showers is also a major plus.
  4. Licensing. Depending on your local and state laws, you may need more than a simple business license. Check with a city official or chamber of commerce to find out what more you might need.
  5. InsuranceIt is often wise to carry a highly inclusive insurance policy in case of accidents or injury occurring at your health club. There may also be government regulations that apply to insurance and health clubs.
  6. Equipment. Obviously, you will need a variety of exercise equipment such as treadmills and weights. Depending on what other services you wish to include, you might also need tanning booths, massage tables, towels and robes, and other items. For the more expensive equipment, look into auctions and used equipment sales.
  7. Décor. Decoration varies widely among health clubs and different treatment areas. Don’t be afraid to offer simplicity where it fits and luxury where it’s needed.
  8. Grand Opening. Offer incentives to bring in your first clients. For example, 30 percent off for your first 20 customers is an excellent way to get people lined up at your door before you even open them.

Determine the Most Effective Scheduling

Before you can open your health club, you must determine hours of operation, employee scheduling and the scheduling of fitness classes or room reservations. Scheduling more sales reps during the afternoon—when people are getting off work—is important to ensure there is enough staffing available. For booking training sessions, massages, rooms and other club services, consider adding health club scheduling software. Your clients will be able to book their own appointments or reservations online, without having to call them in. And your staff will spend less on the phone, allowing them to focus on more important tasks.