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How to Start Your Own Fitness Business: Everything You Need to Know to Gear Up for Success

You’ve always dreamed of becoming a self-made success and starting your own fitness business seemed like a great way to achieve your goals. You’re just a bit stuck when it comes to running your own business. 

To start your own fitness business, here’s what you have to do:

  • Select your area of fitness expertise
  •  Become educated and certified
  •  Make a business plan
  •  Legally name your business and get an EIN
  •  Obtain insurance and permits
  •  Procure funding
  •  Market your business
  •  Open for business

There’s a lot more to it than merely that, of course. This definitive guide to starting your own fitness business will tell you everything you need to know, including detailed steps and actionable plans so you can get your fitness business goals underway!

How Do I Start a Fitness Business from Scratch?

Let’s dive right into how to start your own fitness business.

Select Your Area of Fitness Expertise

The first step to becoming a future fitness business operator is determining what kind of fitness business you want to run.

There are countless disciplines to select from, including yoga, powerlifting, pilates, spinning, Zumba, tai chi, and much more.

You’ll want to start with at least one fitness discipline, preferably one that you enjoy and are knowledgeable about.

Become Educated and Certified

While a degree to open a fitness business is optional, we’d strongly caution against foregoing higher education on the road to owning your own business.

Some fitness programs such as those offered at Bryan University, design curriculums that encompass both fitness and business concepts.

You’ll become masterful in areas such as nutrition for specialty populations, sports nutrition, corrective exercise, exercise programming for specialty populations, exercise motivation and psychology, and advanced anatomy.

Your coursework will also teach you business fundamentals such as leadership, management, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

Plus, having a college degree is something you can put on your website as you begin advertising in your local area.

Your education proves that you’re dedicated to providing a safe, healthful experience for all those who choose your services and showcases your breadth of knowledge as well.

Once you have your college degree, you should look into earning at least one certification, but ideally several throughout your career as a fitness business owner.

Just as having a degree bolsters your credibility and inspires more trust in your clients, holding a certificate will too.

You might consider the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist or CSCS certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association or NSCA.

The CSCS certification eligibility requirements are that exam takers must be either a college senior with an AED or CPR certification or hold a bachelor’s degree.

The CSCS exam includes two sections, Practical/Applied and Scientific Foundations. The Practical/Applied portion of the exam includes 15 non-scored questions and 110 scored questions. All are multiple-choice.

The Scientific Foundations portion of the exam includes another 15 non-scored questions as well as 80 scored questions, again all multiple choice. 

Make a Business Plan

With your degree and certification in hand, your dream of owning a fitness business is becoming more realistic.

Now it’s time to sit down and create your business plan. A business plan includes many components, so let’s go over them now.

  • Executive summary: The executive summary includes your business concept, vision and goals, services you’ll offer, target market, and the state of your current finances at.
  •  Company description: What is your fitness company all about? What is your business structure? How about your business model? You should include your mission, objectives, and who’s part of your team (if anyone).
  •  Market analysis: A market analysis determines who your target audience is. If you don’t have any current customers, then you’d focus on the demographics of your ideal customers.
  •  Create an organization and management list: Since your business is going to be a small, self-run fitness business, you won’t have a huge organizational structure. Even still, you want to list it here.
  •  Services overview: What fitness services do you plan to offer that will set you apart from the competition? Write about them in this section.
  •  Marketing plan: How will you tell the world about your business? The marketing plan will detail your promotions scheme and marketing campaigns to get the word out about your business.
  •  Operations plan: An operations plan documents product logistics, which is less applicable to your fitness business. Even still, you want to think about what your business operations will look like in the day-to-day.
  •  Financial plan: Your financial plan will include an income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.

Legally Name Your Business and Get an EIN

Next, you have to think about what you’ll call your fitness business. This is an important decision, so give it the time it needs.

Your fitness business name should be marketable and memorable but not something that someone is already using.

If your business is a nonprofit corporation, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or LLC, then you’ll have to register your business with your state. You’ll also need a registered agent.

Don’t forget while you’re filling out all this paperwork that you also must have an employer identification number, or EIN, which you can obtain through the IRS.

Obtain Insurance and Permits

Whether your business will need to have permits and insurance varies by state. Even different localities have varying rules about whether you need insurance.

Our recommendation is this. Contact your local county clerk’s office and ask about the regulations in your city or town.

You don’t want to find out that you need a permit and don’t have one once you’ve already opened for business!

Procure Funding (If You Don’t Have It)

We’ll talk more in the next section about how much it costs to run a fitness business, but it’s not exactly cheap.

To make purchasing your facility and equipment more affordable, you may have to look into funding.

Personal loans are one option. By taking out a personal loan, you’re 100 percent responsible for paying back the entirety of the loan.

Keep in mind that the loan can accrue interest, so the price of the loan today might not be the same in a year or two.

Failing to pay back the loan could lead to you defaulting on the loan. The loan could be transferred to a debt collector, and you’d be indebted to them.

The second option for funding your fitness business is a business line of credit. You’re limited on the amount of money you can take out with a business line of credit, but you owe interest only on what you borrowed.

You could also consider a small business loan or SBA loan.

Market Your Fitness Business

As we alluded to earlier, you must promote your fitness business if you want to attract new clients and keep your current customers. That will include a combination of marketing and advertising.

While you can promote your new gym for free, most marketing and advertising options cost a significant amount of money. You’ll have a better idea of how much cash you’ll need for this area thanks to your business plan.

Open Up for Business!

Everything is finally ready and the day that you’ve long since dreamed about can come to fruition. It’s time to open for business and invite clients!

Is a Fitness Business Profitable?

If you’re going to invest in your business, you’ll hope to earn back most of the money ideally within the first year. This way, you can begin paying off your loans so you can keep your finances in order.

Here’s how you can boost your income.

Increase Membership Fees

You don’t want to start with sky-high membership rates right out of the gate, but you can gradually increase them as your fitness business continues.

Sell Products

From merch with your fitness business name on it to your own line of exercise gear or equipment, additional revenue streams will pad your bottom line.

Offer Paid Classes

You can also expand the range of services you offer, introducing paid classes on a limited basis.

How Viable Is the Fitness Market?

Before you put the time, money, and effort into becoming a certified, degree-holding fitness business pro, is opening your own fitness facility even worth it? Will the demand be there several years from now?

Yes, indeed. According to the BLS (link in the last section), between 2020 and 2030, there will be 309,800 fitness instructor and trainer jobs in the US. That’s a growth rate of 39 percent, which is much faster than the average.

People will always want to get in shape and stay fit, and you can help them!

Ready to Become Educated to Start Your Own Fitness Business?

Are you looking for a college to enroll in as you plan your fitness business aspirations? Bryan University’s Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, Fitness, and Nutrition Management program could be the program for you.

To keep program tuition costs manageable, your courseware and book costs are added to your tuition fees.

You’ll obtain a collection of skills and knowledge in health and fitness, including business skills, exercise psychology, health screenings, physiology, and anatomy.

As a student in the program, you’re qualified to sit in on the NSCA CSCS exam. You’ll also receive preparation for the Certified Nutrition Coach or CNC certification as issued by the National Academy of Sports Medicine or NASM.

Learn more about BU’s Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, Fitness, and Nutrition Management program today!

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