gym startup guide

How to Start a Gym: A Step-by-Step Guide to Launching Your Fitness Business

Kurt GraverBusiness Start-up Advice, Business Start-up Guides

Starting a gym can be rewarding and profitable but requires a clear vision, dedication, and strategic planning.

The UK gym industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, driven by increased health consciousness and various fitness trends. The diverse market encompasses budget, mid-range, and premium gyms and niche and boutique studios catering to specific interests. With over 7,000 gyms nationwide, the industry generates over £5 billion in annual revenue. The rise of budget chains, technology, and personalised services has expanded the industry. At the same time, challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a shift towards digital offerings and outdoor fitness options. Despite the competition, there remains ample opportunity for new and innovative gym concepts to enter the market and thrive.

This blog will walk you through the essential steps to successfully launching your fitness business.

Develop Your Gym Concept and Vision

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of starting a gym, take the time to develop your concept and vision. Consider what makes your gym unique and how it will stand out from competitors. Consider the type of fitness services you’ll offer, your target audience, and your overall mission and goals.

Research The Local Gym Market

Once you have a clear vision, it’s essential to research the market and analyse your competition. Assess the local fitness industry and identify potential gaps in the market. Understanding the needs and preferences of your target audience will help you tailor your services and create a successful gym.

Choose A Location

The location of your gym can make or break your business. Look for a site that’s easily accessible, has ample parking, and is situated in a high-traffic area. Ensure the space is large enough to accommodate your fitness equipment, classes, and future growth.

Secure Financing

Starting a gym requires a significant upfront investment, including equipment, renovation, and initial operational costs. 

The cost of opening a gym in the UK can vary significantly depending on location, size, equipment, and the range of services offered. Here is a rough breakdown of the costs involved in starting a gym in the UK:

Rent or purchase of premises: The cost of renting or purchasing a suitable space for your gym will depend on the location, size, and local property market. Rent can range from £5 to £25 per square foot per year while purchasing a property requires a larger upfront investment.

Equipment: Gym equipment is one of the most significant expenses when starting a gym. Depending on the type and quality of the equipment, expect to spend between £30,000 and £100,000 or more.

Renovations and setup: The cost of renovations and setting up your gym space can vary widely depending on the condition of the premises and your design requirements—budget anywhere from £10,000 to £50,000 or more for renovations and setup.

Permits and licences: You must obtain the necessary permits and licences to operate your gym, which can cost around £1,000 to £3,000, depending on your location and specific requirements.

Insurance: Gym insurance, including public liability and employer’s liability insurance, can cost between £500 and £1,500 per year or more, depending on the size of your gym and the coverage you require.

Marketing and promotion: Marketing your gym to attract members can cost anywhere from £1,000 to £10,000 or more, depending on your strategy and the channels you use.

Staffing: Depending on the size of your gym and the number of staff you require, you should budget for employee salaries, which can vary based on experience, qualifications, and location.

Operating expenses: Monthly expenses such as utilities, maintenance, and supplies will also add to the overall cost of starting a gym. These expenses will depend on the size and location of your gym and can range from £1,000 to £5,000 or more per month.

Considering all these factors, opening a gym in the UK can range from around £50,000 to £200,000 or more. Creating a detailed business plan and budget is essential to understand the specific costs of your gym project accurately.

To secure funding for a gym, consider options such as personal savings, loans from friends and family, bank loans, government grants and schemes, angel investors, venture capital, crowdfunding, partnering with a business partner, equipment leasing or financing, and franchise opportunities. Each option has its benefits and requirements, so it’s important to research and choose the most suitable method based on your specific circumstances and financial needs.

Before pursuing any funding option, develop a comprehensive business plan detailing your gym’s concept, target market, financial projections, and growth strategy. This plan will help you understand how much funding you need and will also be essential when presenting your proposal to potential investors or lenders.

Obtain Necessary Permits and Licences

Before opening your gym, you must obtain your council’s necessary permits and licences. This may include a business licence, zoning approval, and building permits. 

Additionally, ensure adequate insurance coverage to protect your business from liability issues.

Purchase Equipment and Set Up Your Gym

Once you’ve secured financing and the necessary permits, it’s time to purchase your fitness equipment and set up your space. Invest in high-quality equipment that caters to your target audience’s needs and preferences. Design your gym layout to maximise space and create a welcoming, functional environment.

Hire and Train Staff

Hiring knowledgeable, friendly, and professional staff is crucial to your gym’s success. Look for personal trainers, group fitness instructors, and front desk staff who share your vision and can provide exceptional customer service. Ensure your team is adequately trained and certified to deliver top-notch fitness services.

Develop Marketing and Promotion Strategies

Develop a comprehensive marketing plan to attract members and generate buzz about your gym. Utilise social media, local advertising, and targeted promotions to reach your target audience. Offer incentives such as discounts or free trials to encourage potential members to check out your gym.

Grand Opening and Ongoing Management

Once everything is in place, hosting a grand opening event to showcase your gym to the public is time. Monitor and adjust your business plan as needed and stay on top of industry trends. Focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences and maintaining a strong community presence to ensure your gym’s long-term success.


Starting and managing a successful gym requires a combination of passion, dedication, and strategic planning. By keeping up with the latest fitness trends, understanding your target market, and offering exceptional services, you can create a thriving fitness community that stands out in the competitive gym industry. Securing funding and exploring various financing options is crucial in ensuring that you have the necessary resources to bring your vision to life.

Remember that success in the fitness industry is about offering state-of-the-art equipment and facilities and building a supportive and inclusive environment that fosters a sense of belonging among your members. By focusing on your gym’s unique value proposition and staying committed to continuous improvement, you can impact the lives of your members and the wider community. Stay connected with your gym’s core values, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a sustainable and successful fitness business.

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