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How much does it cost to open a gym?

February 24, 2022
Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team
February 24, 2022 | Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team

If you’re a fitness entrepreneur with dreams of opening up your own successful gym, you probably know that you’ll need to do some heavy lifting. Between hiring trainers, establishing a client base, and securing a space, navigating how to start a gym can feel as daunting as it does exhilarating—just like stepping up to the squat rack.  

But how much does it cost to open a gym? To put it simply, it depends. 

Factors like size, location, and style, will play a determining role in setting the overall cost of opening your gym. That said, whether you have your heart set on a boutique yoga studio or a mid-size CrossFit center, you can probably count on investing at least five figures. 

To get an understanding of how much it will cost to start your gym business, keep reading. We’ll break down your likely start-up operating costs. Plus, we’ll share inspiring stories of passionate personal-trainers-turned-entrepreneurs who have already put the reps in.

The fitness industry—by the numbers

Is it a wise idea to invest in your vision? If you’re considering opening up a traditional gym and diving into the brass tacks work of budgeting, it might help to begin by taking a broad look at the fitness industry by the numbers.

  • Revenue - Americans spend $35 billion per year on fitness classes and gym memberships.

  • Market conditions -  While the COVID-19 pandemic posed unique challenges for health and fitness clubs, it seems that many Americans are ready to get back to a traditional gym. In fact, 94 percent of gym-goers plan to return to in-person workouts.

  • Global growth - Health and fitness clubs are expected to reach 230 million members worldwide by 2030

With scores of fitness enthusiasts willing to spend their money on gym memberships and projections that show that the industry is poised to bounce back from the pandemic, you might find monetary success by opening your own studio. 

That said, it’s likely to carry upfront costs. Let’s dive a little deeper to find out just how much. 

The costs of starting 

Ready to take the leap? Whether you’re looking to open a CrossFit gym or a Pilates studio, building your own fitness business will probably require a significant chunk of initial investment and capital. 

What will that number look like? It depends on where you intend to open up your standard gym. Some experts float $10,000 to $50,000 as a baseline range for a start-up fund while acknowledging that certain locations—major urban centers like New York City, for example—might require coffers with a little bit more padding. 

But no matter where you’re setting up shop, it might benefit you to keep these universal costs in mind when you’re first starting out: 

  • Licenses and certifications - The fees for business licenses and certifications vary depending on the state where you plan to run your business. You can expect them to run anywhere from $50 to $200 dollars, not including renewal fees.

  • Rent – To build your standard gym, you’ll need to nail down a physical location. The total cost of your rent will likely hinge on the size of your studio and its location. Convenience, natural light, and street visibility all may come at a premium, but they might be worth prioritizing based on your client’s needs and gym marketing plans

It’s fair to say that rental costs may be intimidating—nationwide the average monthly rent for a 2,000 square feet studio hovers around $6,000—but they may offer significant returns, especially if you find a space and location that ticks all of the boxes for your client, such as:

  • Street parking
  • Accessibility
  • Proximity to other retail spaces, restaurants, and office buildings
  • Fitness equipment – Decking a small studio with equipment can cost you $10,000. Stocking a larger commercial space might run you ten times that. 

Still, for many savvy fitness entrepreneurs, creating a vital, inspiring gym involves investing in some top-quality equipment. Just ask Matt Espuet, who owns Rhode Island’s Fit Body Bootcamp. While the $6,000 he put toward a medical-grade full-body scan machine was certainly no small spend, the exceptional piece of equipment has helped him woo new members—increasing his gym membership by 15 percent

Most gyms have a range of equipment to pull in new faces and aid workouts, even if the pieces are a bit more standard than a full body-scan rig. Some examples include:

  • Free weights
  • Cardio machines (rowing machines and treadmills)
  • Mats
  • Power racks
  • Kettlebells
  • Resistance bands
  • Ropes and tires
  • Benches
  • Isolation machines

Keep in mind that equipment can be expensive, and the costs stack up. For example, the median price of just one squat rack lands at around $1,000, while top-of-the-line treadmills can set you back $4,000

To keep costs down, focus on your specific client base and your offerings. If your gym is mostly class-based with an emphasis on calisthenics and toning, you might be able to hold off on expensive cardio equipment and isolation machines for now.  

  • Insurance – You probably envision your gym as a haven for health and wellness. But things can go wrong, and people can get hurt—especially with heavyweights and high-intensity cardio involved. This is where insurance comes into play.

    General liability insurance will likely set you back between $500 and $1,700 per year, while the combination of business, commercial property, worker’s compensation, and professional liability policies can run between $2160 and $9400 per year—the total cost depending on factors like location, the number of employees and members, and services offered. 

But how will I pay for it?

If you’re wondering how you’re going to meet all of the initial financial demands that come with opening a gym by yourself, consider support from investors and loans. 

To obtain financing, begin by drafting a clear gym business plan. You’ll need to submit one with your loan applications, but writing a plan can be useful in more ways than one. It can help you:

  • Organize your primary needs 
  • Articulate your vision 
  • Anticipate previously unforeseen costs

It might also be worth considering investing in professional certifications if you haven’t done so already. Experts say that establishing your fitness, personal training, and sports medicine experience builds credibility with loan officers—and members, down the line. 

How much does it cost to keep a gym running?

So you’ve signed the lease, purchased the equipment, and picked out the appropriate insurance policies, but there are more expenses to consider beyond that. You’ll likely run into additional costs that come with upkeep, marketing, software, and pay. Let’s break them down:

  • Marketing - Marketing is a compelling tactic for getting new faces in the door. Should you choose to engage in marketing and ads, you might expect monthly fees that run anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. However, the cost is worth it, as clever marketing tactics will help you land some of your most loyal customers.

    One way to defray these costs? Take a page out of Maddie Watkins’s book. When the 27-year-old personal trainer launched a 202Strong, CrossFit studio in Washington D.C. with her partner Rob Koepke, her gym already had a built-in gym membership base: her clients.

    By fostering her personal relationships, Watkins took a low-cost, no-frills approach to fill her gym and generate word-of-mouth buzz—no expensive advertisements necessary. 

  • Maintenance – Keeping your gym clean and looking fresh is important to keep your customers happy –– not to mention, it’s also just sanitary! Consider hiring a dedicated janitor or maintenance person to take one more thing off your hands. 

  • Wages - Retaining your current members and inducting new ones oftentimes comes down to the talent of your staff. In-house personal trainers are essential to the operation of your gym—motivating, instructing, and delivering results that will keep your clients renewing their memberships come year-end. The median salary for a personal trainer is $64,000, however, hiring one on will only benefit your gym in the long run. 

Watkins concurs. She feels that the success of her gym lies in the personal attention that her staff of trainers provides to her members—it’s what sets them apart from larger chains. 

“Clients who have been to other gyms really like the attention that they get from the coaches at 202Strong,” she says.

Need new members? Head to Nextdoor

If you’re a fitness professional with an entrepreneurial spirit, the idea of opening up your own gym can feel thrilling, empowering, and terrifying. As with taking on any small business venture, building your own gym or studio requires fortitude, endurance, and grit—not to mention dependable financial backing to support growth, ensure safety, and retain members.

Running a gym can be a costly endeavor—requiring buckets of time, sweat, and cash. But for many passionate fitness entrepreneurs, the experience of creating a healthy, positive space in their community is priceless. 

Looking to make your gym goals a reality? Head to Nextdoor, the hyperlocal platform that connects neighbors to everything nearby - like your gym.  

Claim your free Business Page on Nextdoor to establish a local presence, instantly reach potential new members and clients, and help you turn your start-up costs into small business gains.  

Claim your Business Page

Sources: 

Freshbooks. What Is the Cost of Opening a Gym in 2021. https://www.freshbooks.com/hub/startup/cost-to-start-a-gym

IHRSA. How Many Gyms Survived the Devastation that Was 2021? https://www.ihrsa.org/improve-your-club/industry-news/how-many-gyms-survived-the-devastation-that-was-2020/

IHRSA. Worldwide Health Club Membership Now 183M Strong. https://www.ihrsa.org/about/media-center/press-releases/ihrsa-report-worldwide-health-club-membership-now-183m-strong/

Small Business Trends. How to Start Your Own Gym. https://smallbiztrends.com/2016/08/how-to-start-your-own-gym.html

New York Times. For Gyms with Tight Spaces, Expansion of a Different Sort. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/07/business/small-gyms-boutique-covid-closure.html

Garage Gym DIY. How Much Does a Squat Rack Cost? https://garagegymdiy.com/how-much-does-a-squat-rack-cost-18-racks-compared/

Consumer Reports. Treadmill Buying Guide. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/treadmills/buying-guide/index.htm

Fit Small Business. Gym Insurance: Cost, Coverage, and Providers. https://fitsmallbusiness.com/gym-insurance/

Chron. How to Start My Own Gym Business. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/start-own-gym-business-4854.html

U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Becoming the Boss: How an Entrepreneur Went From Trainer to CrossFit Owner. https://www.uschamber.com/co/good-company/growth-studio/becoming-the-boss-how-an-entrepreneur-went-from-trainer-to-crossfit-owner

Salary.com. Personal Trainer Salary in the United States. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/personal-trainer-salary


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