How To Open Your Own Commercial Gym

How To Plan Your Own Commercial Gym

31/07/2019 plan a gym commercial gyms

Whether you’ve been planning a studio gym for a while or you’re investigating how to open your own commercial gym for the first time, this is a chance to get it right the first time of asking.

At, we're well-versed in helping our clients get the commercial gym they've dreamed of. We don't charge for our consultancy or designs, but we do give you highly qualified advice and tips that ensure you get a great gym. We can also provide a very competitive quote from the 5,000+ pieces of equipment we have access to.

With so much experience in the team, from designing and advising on 2-piece multi-gyms through to large strength or cardio-centric commercial gyms, we've picked out the 5 key areas that are so easy to overlook in all the excitement. There's lots more practical advice that we can impart, but we wanted to give you some ideas to get started.


1. Location, Location, Location

Seriously, this is not just a catchphrase to help you remember that you want to be in a nice area (and we're definitely not going all Phil and Kirsty). This is a hugely important approach you need to adopt when planning your commercial gym and we think it has to one of the top two "most important" factors that too many commercial gym owners overlook (or pay "lip service" to).

Quite simply, if you don't choose the right location, then you won't have enough people that pass/find/or see your gym. You may also completely miss your target audience. You will then be well on the way to creating one of the most exclusive personal gyms out there (but it is great for us if you choose us to help you kit it out!).

All you have to do is some research and properly assess factors that include (but are not limited to) :

  • Your Target audience
  • The local population density
  • Age breakdown of the local population
  • Type and size of local businesses
  • Prominence of gym for passing traffic

Let's quickly break this down without getting too boring.

Your target audience is who you want in your gym - which in turn is about the type of gym you're hoping to create. Contemporary with high end gym gear and smoothie area would tend to point towards the more affluent 18-45 age range for example. A huge strength and free weights area would mean you're targetting male 18-55 bodybuilders more. A bigger stretching and functional floor space usually leans towards 18-45 females. Be clear about your target audience if you need to be, otherwise make sure the balance of equipment would suit as many groups of users as possible.

The local population density is all about how many people are within striking distance of your gym - the potential clients that you want through your door as paying clients. From large tenements or new housing developments, through to big family houses or terraced houses, find out using ONS population estimates or other online resources. It's all about the numbers game and as big and airy as an industrial estate warehouse is, getting customers through the door may prove very difficult.

Age breakdown of the local population. So we lied, slightly, it's not just about the population density as if everyone is over 75 then you may struggle to find clients for your new boxing and power lifting concept. Basically, you need to know the age range of people in your area (or that come in to your area) - giving you an idea of your maximum target audience.

Type and size of local businesses. As it sounds - what's in your neighbourhood from a business point of view. Are there lots of artisan shops along with nice restaurants and some larger chains. This will often define 'who' will be in your location during the day and during the evening. Along with the people that live in your area - another source of potential clients.

Ok so you've thought about all the factors above, now complete the set by considering the prominence of your new gym. Making yourself seen will help to bring in customers as well as raise your profile with local businesses, passing trade as well as local families.


2. Your Competition

So once you're convinced your backers (or just yourself!) that all the location factors are in your favour, you can move on to the next step. The next thing we think is crucially important is to check out the competition.

This means you need to take your USP, as a commercial gym, and test whether others have already managed to make it work in the area you want to be. If it's a strength gym with Olympic Racks and lots of free weights, but there's already an existing gym in your area doing a broadly similar thing, you've probably got your homework right, but someone has beaten you to it.

That said, every place where someone can "work out", "train" or "exercise" is a potential threat to your best laid plans. For instance have you checked out :

  • Gyms and Health Clubs
  • Spas & Wellbeing Clinics (May offer fitness classes)
  • Leisure Centres
  • Slimming clubs (Rosemary Conley or Slimming World)
  • CrossFit
  • Local Parks
  • Personal Trainers
  • Zumba Teachers

That's not an exclusive list by the way, as there Calisthenics, Pilates, Yoga etc.

What we're trying to say is you need to be very forensic with your research in order to really maximise the ideas you want to put in play.


3. People - Staff & Members

Every successful club will have ensured that not only do they have the right staff mix (and look after them constantly) but that they can listen to their members to ensure the club is working for the majority. This is th ebest way to try to retain members.

The Right Staff

Assuming you have the money set aside to recruit one, two or more staff, getting the right mix of people will be crucial towards building a successful business. It's not only the quality of the individual, it's the vibe between you all as staff and the image you all project to customers that determines whether users want to keep coming to your gym.

Entering a studio can be a daunting thing for many people to do. Your staff must endorse your brand and make people feel welcome and wanted. Be clear what you are looking for and what skill sets you need. Recruit carefully, check all qualifications and gather feedback from clients to ensure that staff are constantly  delivering or going over and above what is expected of them.

Look to see if you can create a "differentiator" for your gym. For example, could you always have on hand a 'free' personal trainer on the gym floor watching for technique, offering siggestions of just motivating your clients? Ensuring your staff are qualified and insured goes without saying, but how about you empower your staff to look for new courses or qualifications in new fitness techniques? Whatever you choose, just make make sure your staff keep educating themselves so you have all bases covered.

So now you have the right staff, you need to put then to good use in order to retain your members!

What About Members?

The Harvard Business Review concedes that "[SIC] getting a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one".

So with this in mind there are a number of things you can do to ensure you retain all your valuable clients. Firstly communication is vital whether that is through email marketing, leaflets, press advertising or increasongly social media. It is vital that you engage with your clients on all levels and make them feel listened to and valued. This often means you also need to consider proactive feedback that may help nip any issues in the bud.

Consider also creating a community where people feel they are part of something, this can be in a post work out relaxation area or a café. Also be responsive to space according to what your members use. If the strength equipment is under utilised but the cardio is popular and there are waiting times then react and change things around.

Harness technology to help members see how their efforts are developing. This can include apps, wearables, cloud platforms and club programs that keep members connected with their fitness data. People seem to really want this now with their fitness regime so consider how your studio can engage with this new technology.

Then there’s the issue of income. If your studio is going to be a budget offering then a location in an area of low income is fine but if you are targeting wealthy clients you need to locate yourself in a wealthier neighborhood. Also, can clients easily get to you? Are you near a station, bus stop or better still is there a car park? You must also ensure that you do the maths on price. This is true whether you are renting or buying a property Project forward to ensure that whatever path you take you will raise enough revenue to pay off rent or a mortgage. Finally, see what competition there is in the area. It isn’t true that you should never set up near another gym, you may be offering a different experience, but be clear what already exists in the area to see what they do and how your ideas can compete or complement.


4. Building Your Brand

This is more likely to be on your hit list of things you must do. Everyone wants to create their slice of noteriety/individualism/boldness by creating a name that gets remembered.

Branding is more than a buzzword. because it is really important. The brand you create will be your differentiator in the marketplace as it should reflect your personality, your fitness ethos and your 'modus operandi' (the latin for the way you want to operate).

they can expect from you and how to differentiate you from your competitors. In some ways it is the personality of your business. So will you be a traditional gym or something different? Will you offer high end gym equipment or more basic equipment? Establishing your brand at the very beginning is crual as it will drive all the decisions you then make from the look of your gym, the equipment you stock and the staff you hire.

With branding in mind also ensure that your logo, colours and any straplines are uniform throughout marketing materials, on and off line, social media and also on your website.


Are you allowed to put a board outside, have your own branded fascia or put in ultra modern opaque glass frontage. All of these things are about lifting your gym so people notice you. This is how you can then statr to build your clientele.



5. Buy The Right Equipment

Last but not least, and the bit where we come in, helping you to put the right amount and type of gym equipment in your gym. We can't express how important it is for you to have the right gear for your users is. But we also know it all comes at a cost - which is where we can help you.

For example, lots of companies offer different levels of commercial equipment. For simplicity, a bronze, silver and gold perhaps. The

We touched on this under branding but equipment is really important. It must support the brand you are trying to establish. So for example you may want to establish different zones for cardio and strength. On the other hand you may want a larger relaxation area. You may consider that your studio could offer more indoor cycling so you may want more of these bikes. Start with the brand then work on the equipment that will support that brand.