Whether you are starting a studio, or already run one, a well-crafted fitness studio business plan is essential for building a profitable fitness business. A solid gym business plan helps you stay on track by identifying key market dynamics, illuminating opportunities for competitive advantage, and giving you key performance metrics to focus on.
Your fitness studio business plan may drive such critical decisions as where to locate your gym, how large a space to buy or lease, how many staff members you hire, what their pay rates should be, how many fitness classes and what type of classes and training programs you’ll offer, and the most effective ways to promote your fitness business.
If you own and operate an already established fitness business, revising your business plan – or creating one if you never have – can make a huge difference in boosting your bottom line and helping you to grow, especially if your gym’s growth has plateaued. A business plan is a constantly evolving blueprint that should reflect where your fitness business is in the moment, and let stakeholders know where you’re going and how you plan to get there.
In this post, we’ll review the elements of a solid small gym fitness plan, give you some gym business plan examples and links to gym business plan templates.
In this section of your gym’s business plan get down on paper your “why.” What is the purpose of your fitness business plan? What elements will you include in your gym’s business plan and why? How will this business plan demonstrate the viability of your fitness studio over time? What are your long term goals and how will you define success? Consider this section your “elevator pitch.”
Starting a fitness business is no small feat. Doing your homework up front will not only give you confidence to weather the ups and downs of running your own business, but show potential investors that you’re prepared. Imagine being an investor who is reading your business plan, and whom you want to assure that you’ve got a solid vision backed up by well researched facts and figures. Add a few lines about your fitness business’s “why” that inspire and demonstrate your passion and commitment as a small gym or fitness business entrepreneur.
This is the place to give all the details about who, what, where, when and why your fitness business exists. Include your mission and vision plus a detailed description of the type of services your fitness business offers and to whom. How is your gym or fitness studio structured? Is it independently owned by one or more people? Is it a franchise? Is there more than one location? What is the ownership structure? Are there shares? How are important business decisions made and by whom?
This is the place to give clear, concise information about the products and services you offer, why you started your fitness business and what differentiates you in your local market.
Taking time to research your market, understand trends and map the competitive landscape can make or break a fitness business, whether you’re in start-up mode, or an established player.
What is your population size? How far are the people living in your area willing to travel to work out? What is your target demographic in terms of age, gender, income and other lifestyle factors? Pinpoint your major competitors. Get to know their pricing and promotions. Is there an unmet need in your area that your fitness business can tap into? You may want to consider using a SWOT format, outlining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for competing gyms and your fitness studio.
Also, make sure you’re on top of the latest national and global fitness industry trends like online workouts and gym-goers' preference for small boutique fitness experiences versus big box gyms. What innovative programs and services are top companies offering? Why?
Many small fitness business plans rely solely on word of mouth to promote their gym. While getting great recommendations through your community is an essential step in building a thriving fitness community, long-term, your fitness studio needs to have a solid, multi-channel marketing strategy to maximize your brand’s exposure to potential new customers.
In today’s competitive fitness industry landscape, it’s essential to understand how to efficiently use digital marketing platforms like social media, local search and email. To effectively run promotional programs, having a fitness business software platform that tracks your customer’s engagement and includes email, web and social media integrations is essential.
List all the key members of your fitness studio’s leadership team and include professional, biographical information that highlights their skills and experience. Your gym’s leadership team could include owners, board members, investors, lead instructors, sales and customer service representative and any business advisors you may have brought on board.
Describe how each person on the team will guide your fitness business to success. Consider including compensation structures and information about performance bonuses. Plan ahead for an eventual sale of your fitness business and formalize how owners and/or investors will be paid.
This is the section where many new business owners are overly optimistic. Base your financial projections on fact and always over-estimate expenses and under-estimate revenues. This includes being realistic about membership sales, seasonal fluctuations, attendance and staff turn-over. Calculate your gym’s monthly expenses and then figure out what your revenue per class or training session needs to be to cover your expenses plus owners’ compensation. From here you can determine how many class passes and/or monthly membership’s your fitness business will need to be profitable.
There can be a high turn-over rate in the gym business, so you’ll need a steady stream of potential new students coming through your doors each month, and know at what rate they will convert into long-term customers. Know your fitness niche’s average new student conversion rate.
Build out at least five years of financial profit and loss estimates. Be sure to take into account any rent increases in your lease, taxes, increases in instructor pay and get granular with your expenses, from phone and internet to Facebook ads to the toilet paper in the bathroom, and don’t forget all those new cleaning products you’ll need to operate safely and courteously in a post-pandemic world.
BusinessPlanTemplate.com This site offers a free outline of all the core content you’ll need to include in a fitness studio business plan. You can purchase a step-by-step business plan builder, including access to customer service and expert advise for $97. Business Plan Template.com is rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau and has strong, positive ratings from satisfied customers.
Bplans If you need a bit of inspiration check out or Bplans DIY gym sample plans for fitness centers, corporate fitness, gyms, health clubs, as well as martial arts studios, gymnastics schools, and a number of other athletics businesses.
For those who want a higher level of support in creating a full fleged, modern business plan, Bplans offers a paid option called LivePlan. It contains the same templates and information you can access for free on the company’s website, plus additional guidance to help you develop a complete plan. Pricing starts at $12/mo. for a year subscription or $18/mo for a 6 mo. plan.
Institute of Personal Trainers This well-respected trade organization offers personal trainers a free business plan that includes step-by-step instructions. You can download the guide using the link on the association’s website. The institute understand that during the process of writing a business plan you will be presented with questions, ideas or challenges that you might not have thought of before. According to the organization, this alone makes it worth doing.
Remember, it’s better to start the process of creating a gym business plan, even if you feel intimidated, than to procrastinate until you feel you’ll get it perfectly right. There is a wealth of knowledge to be gained simply by going through the process. Writing out your fitness studio business plan may open your eyes to blind spots in your business strategy or long-term performance goals and shift your business into a whole new realm of growth opportunity in the coming year.