Starting a new business can be thrilling and challenging. It could be terrifying when you think about all the details and every resource you need to get up and running. If you’ve done your research right, it will be easier to know what you are getting into and exactly what you need to succeed.

Most people choose to start their own businesses because they are ready to share their ideas with the public. And want to do what they love in their own way.

Others want to create a work-life balance that works for them. Ultimately there can be great opportunity to make money if everything goes as planned. The risk is worth it, most of the time for people who are entrepreneurial.

According to The Guardian, consumer spending on UK gym membership soared by 44% in 2014, driven by the growth in popularity of new, budget gyms.

The demand for affordable, high quality, no-contract or flexible contracts fitness centres is continuing to grow. People are now interested in staying fit more than ever. The popularity of budget gyms, including Pure Gym, EasyGym, Anytime Fitness and DW Sports, are most likely driving the increase even further.

If you are thinking about going out on your own and starting a fitness business this year, this will help you get started.

Find your niche

1. Decide on your niche market right from the beginning 

Which market do you want to serve and why? This should be very clear to you. Do your research and find out a profitable niche that can scale. Weight loss is popular. There are other less popular ones like injury management and even endurance athletes. You could also choose powerlifting, crossfit, yoga, or whatever you prefer that works for you.

But remember, going after a popular niche means more competition. It should be a niche you are genuinely interested in. That way making it a business won’t be difficult.

The planning process

Launching a brick and mortar fitness business can be overwhelming but once you get your planning right, you will be off to a great start. Put everything on paper. It pays to keep records.

2. Cost

Consider your fix costs (business registration, legal fees, rent, premise renovations, utilities, hiring and educating trainers, wages, décor items and furniture, initial marketing) and monthly expenditures.

What will be your monthly protected costs? How will you fund the business before you attract paying customers? How many active clients will you need to break-even or generate your desired level of profit? Think of every little thing that you will need to spend money on to before your business opens and plan a contingency.

Getting started right

3. Purchase appropriate equipment

Make a list of all the equipment you’ll need to get started. Commercial gym equipment suppliers such as JLL Fitness provide fitness equipment from trusted manfacturers at trade prices. Things like dumbbell sets, bars, exercise mats, weight benches, treadmills etc. cannot be compromised. They are the most important things you need for a fitness business.

Think about how often your customers would use them and buy accordingly. Consider the warranty and the maintenance that every equipment will need, that will help you to prevent any problem in the future.

4. Make it insanely easy to register

Set up a a great and easy to use website to educate and inform prospective clients of your offering and packages. And most importantly give new users the opportunity to register and book fitness packages right at the comfort of their homes. Make it flexible. Your prices should be competitive.

Getting a website up and running is no longer a difficult or expensive. There are great DIY websites available, such as Wix and Squarespace. This is one of the first things you should do once you are ready to kickstart your fitness business.

5. On discounts and special offers

Attracting customers or users is one of the hardest part of starting a business. It’s no different for fitness businesses. Give people a reason to become members. Why should people choose you over your competitor next door?

Special deals and launch offers can be a great idea and really draw people in. You can offer a few days or even weeks for free and start charging once users establish fitness habits. When you are getting started, make it big, exciting and tempting. Set and stick to your urgent end date to get people signing up as soon as possible.

6. Focus on amazing service to leverage worth of mouth marketing.

The first few people who register for sessions at your fitness business can make or break your new startup. Give them the results they crave and make your sessions the best part of their week.

The aim is to get them talking about your fitness sessions to their friends. Word-of-mouth advertising is crucial for every service-based business, and in the case of a fitness business, it’s key.

Challenges and how to overcome them

There’s just no way around it: Running any business is tough work. There is so much to do to survive especially if competition is fierce. It’s rewarding but challenging. It’s no different for a new fitness business.

The likes of Pure Gym, Gym Group, 1Rebel, EasyGym, Virgin Active and other established fitness businesses currently dominate the market. They open new gyms in different locations every year to increase their market share.

You have to strategise and offer something more compelling to compete against them and still attract a sizeable percentage of the market.

To get past failure, your pricing, brand personality, marketing strategies, sales packages have to be different and unique. Your best bet is to personalise people’s requirements and make it insanely easy for people to sign on to your fitness packages.

Don’t try to do everything at once. Focus on a single package and offer services targeted at a single type of client. Be innovative. Your brand decorations, themes and gym practices should be unique.

Personalise peoples’ health and fitness regimes. Do what other big fitness companies cannot do. Establish a gym culture that can only be found at your company to win and retain customers.

If you are establishing in a business district, you may create packages under an ’employee benefit program’ where a certain number of employees from different companies can access your facilities at a discount for a period of time.

Final words

Building a successful business takes time, focus, persistence. Starting a fitness business is probably going to end up costing more than you thought. But that’s not a reason to give up or abandon your dream career.

Do everything in your power to sustain the business once you get started. You probably won’t see profits for months. Plan for setbacks.

Focus on attracting and retaining clients and your business will grow as planned. And build a team of trainers who share your same passion and want to see your business succeed.