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How to create a business plan for your gym

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

Looking for tips on how to start a gym? Planning ahead is key to the world of business and workouts. Just like you wouldn’t hit the gym without a workout plan, a fitness business plan is a requisite for starting your own gym, wherever you are in your journey. If you’re looking to find investors for your new fitness center project or are interested in expanding on the gym business you already have, a business plan is essential.

This step-by-step guide shows you how to write an effective business plan for your gym.

Follow along to discover the practical knowledge you can use for crafting an unparalleled business plan. Remember, this is a flexible and personalized document that forms a cumulative road map for your business, so take your time and hone in on what separates your business from the competition.

#1 Executive summary

An executive summary is your grand opening. It should grab your reader’s attention, concisely layout your business, and effectively pitch your gym to prospective investors in just about one page. 

The best way to craft an expert executive summary is by asking yourself a few questions to discover precisely what to say. 

Some key questions that will help you formulate your executive summary include:

  • What is your mission statement? – Let your reader know who you are. Your mission statement should not only include your gym’s values and goals, it should explain why your gym should exist and what sets you apart from others.
  • What are your main offerings? - Are you a gym focused on after-school fitness programs for youth, like Montana’s Missoula Boxing Club? Or are you interested in encouraging seniors to get active like Jean Grimm of Tuscon, Arizona? Whatever your gym’s main offerings and fitness services are, include them briefly in your executive summary.
  • What are your gym’s major goals? – To run a successful gym, plenty of pre-planning is necessary. That said, it’s also necessary to describe your business’s short and long-term goals. Do you see franchises in your future or are you looking to gradually expand your offerings? Brainstorm where your business will be in 1, 5, and even 10 years.

If the executive summary is starting to feel daunting, here’s a tip: 

While an executive summary is a classic lead into your business summary, you may have more success writing it after you’ve completed the rest of your business plan. After taking the time to investigate each specific aspect of your business in detail, you’ll be in a better position to write an effective summary of everything you’ll be covering throughout your plan.

#2 Company overview

A company overview isn’t just your opportunity to expand on why you’re opening a gym, it’s a great place for outlining your general strategy when it comes to your business.

Consider touching on some points regarding:

  • Daily operations
  • Hours and location
  • Managerial processes

Also, be sure to add in all your relevant experience, and why you’re qualified to build your own gym.

Take the time to go in-depth about:

  • Business experience – Is this your first rodeo, or have you been an entrepreneur all your life? Even if you’ve never opened your own business, look to events in your life where your leadership and vision have led to a successful outcome.
    • Fitness background – Whether you’re a certified CrossFit trainer with a decade of experience or a passionate marathon runner, your background in physical fitness is highly relevant to your company overview.
    • Personal touches – The company overview presents an opportunity to showcase why this business venture is so important to your life’s journey. You can share a story about your first gym experience, your family’s history of gym ownership, or your lifelong dreams about running a fitness center—just be sure to remain professional and relevant to the task at hand.

Be sure to include your business model and legal structure, while expanding on the overall purpose of your business. After finishing your company overview, a reader should have a clear idea of your business, both in how it functions and what it might look like in practicality.

#3 Market research

It’s time to dive into your target market and explore where your business exists in the marketplace. It’s most helpful to immediately identify your target market, pinpointing your customer base by demographics including:

  • Age
  • Socio-economic placement
  • Background
  • Education level

By understanding more about your clientele, you can offer more specially catered fitness services.

You also need to understand key elements of your business, like:

  • Your location – Where are you planning on operating? Where your gym is located will determine the potential demographics of your customer base and contribute to your overall gym marketing strategy. Your location in terms of proximity to other gyms is also important to point out. Show that you know what (and where) you’re getting into. 
  • Your unique selling point - What do you offer your target audience that the competition doesn’t? Whether your gym has flexible hours, unmatched equipment, or classes that no one in the area has ever offered before, take the time to determine your unique selling points and find inspiration from other business owners. Some local gyms have gotten extremely creative when it comes to standing out from competitors. Take, for instance, Omaha’s The Exercise Coach, a small gym using unique tech to create user-specific exercise routines helping members reach their fitness goals in a curated, personalized way.

Research and statistics regarding gyms in your area can also be highly useful in backing up your business assertions. Feel free to add tables and graphs to further illustrate your ideas. Thorough research and relevant facts are excellent ways to showcase a level of professionalism to your business plan overall.

#4 Marketing strategies

Take your deep understanding of local market trends and your fitness industry expertise to craft marketing strategies that will bring members to your fitness center.

Consider the following marketing options and consider using multiple mediums and campaigns to create a winning strategy for your new gym:

  • Shake up social media – Create engaging content to attract more users to your social media. Entice your audience with inspirational posts, contests, special offers, and more. Plus, social media gives your audience a direct line to communicate with you, so you can start interfacing with your customers digitally as well as in the gym.
  • Connect locally - From your local paper to open bulletin boards, it’s usually simple and effective to find ways to engage with your local community. Print up some fliers, or take out an ad on a local radio station—whatever way you find to connect with your community. Today, it’s even easier to talk to your neighbors with a Nextdoor Business Page designed for local businesses and their communities.
  • Loyalty plans and special pricing – Create plans and pricing fitness programs that encourage more contract renewals, personal referrals, and rewards for your most loyal customers. You want to find any way you can to reward your customers for choosing you, so develop a strategy that can benefit both your business and your clientele.

From email lists to billboards, be open to trying new marketing methods and take note of the ones that work best for your business. Marketing your gym is an ever-evolving process, what works today may change in the future, so stay flexible.

#5 Services and products

The “opening a gym business plan” varies from business, and never more so than in the services and products section. While most gyms sell memberships by the month and year, with a variety of service levels, perks, and specialized options, there are plenty of other services gyms offer.Consider, for example, the wide range of fitness classes you have the option of offering, such as:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Spinning
  • Zumba 
  • Dance
  • Boxing
  • HIIT
  • Aerobics

The list goes on. Not only should your business plan outline every service you plan to offer—including personal training as well. It should also encompass any products your gym plans to sell online and in-store.

Track your plans for expansion and what more your business can offer to bolster profits and bring up your bottom line. These details will be highly relevant in the following section.

#6 Financial projections

Before you can finish your business plan, you’ll need to properly access your finances. While physical fitness may be your passion, if you’re hoping to turn that dream into a reality, you’ll need to display why your business is a sound investment.

Financial projects should include information regarding: 

  • Membership numbers – Estimate how many members you’ll have by the end of your first year, based on similar businesses. Additionally, you may want to include your total member cap, as this is a hard ceiling to potential earnings.
  • Cash flow – The money coming in and out of your business must be adequate to keep the lights on, the staff paid, and the business running. Show investors that your hard work and research have paid off with a solid cash flow report.
  • Costs – Between rent, upkeep, and equipment, starting out can be costly. Estimate your overall costs, as well as when your business will break even on this initial financial investment.

The financial portion of your business plan may require some expert advice or specialized knowledge. Consider hiring a professional financial expert or seeking the (often free) advice available to those seeking to start their own small business.

Grow your gym with Nextdoor

A well-written business plan can open doors for your business. After following these steps, you might find yourself with the connections and capital to finally realize your dreams. Before you start buying barbells, visit Nextdoor to get a headstart on connecting with your community.

By claiming your free Business Page, you’ll have the ability to engage with nearby, potential customers who are motivated to support local businesses like yours. Consider sharing your business plan with neighbors on Nextdoor to find out what your community is looking for out of a gym. 

Claim your Business Page


Missoulian. Missoula youth gym emphasizes 'books before boxing'. 

KGUN. 78-year-old woman wins award for encouraging elderly to workout. 

KETV. Local gym uses 'smart fitness' technology for workouts. 

Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting business, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook

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