The Top Reasons Gyms Succeed

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  • The Top Reasons Gyms Succeed

A while back I wrote an article about the ten reasons new gyms fail. It was well received by the readers of Gym Insight and the discussion was very gratifying for me. But as a believer in fitness and getting results in a positive way I feel compelled to balance it out with an article about the positive side of gym startups and success. I admit that there is likely plenty of overlap between this and the previous article. These things are worth saying over and over again and doing more reps never hurt anybody.

Arm Yourself With The Most Important Reasons Gyms SucceedNerd Businessman standing in front of a chalk board with Chalk Drawn Arm Muscles

Have A Great Business Plan
The power of business plans is that they work whether you follow them or not. The difference is not following the plan to the letter but making the plan in the first place. In the military leaders understand that once the battle starts the plan goes out the window. In business, as in war, it is the discipline of making the plan and putting preparations in place that sets you up for success.

Give Your Finances The Full Attention They Require
I’m talking about capital here; funds that you can use to buy the right fitness equipment, create marketing and branding materials of all description, the capital to invest in refurbishment and fitting out of your gym before the launch. It never hurts to try to be frugal and spend as little as possible, which leads to my next point, but you have to find the capital to do the things that must be done to make a professional and clean environment. Skimping on the things that you truly need is not the same as bootstrapping up from the absolute minimum.

Make Sure You Have Deep Pockets
Having adequate capital and what Dave Ramsey would term a three month emergency fund is a deal maker or a deal breaker. It makes the difference between making payroll (or any other expense that can shut you down if you miss it) and locking up and walking away. Maybe this should have been the first point… and the second… and the third.

Select The Right Location
It doesn’t matter if all of the other local gyms are in the same location as the one you think is the right place then so be it. All it means is that you came to the same conclusion as your rivals. I would rather have a gym in the crowd in the right place than being alone in the wrong place. The trick is to have a competitive offering and great service.

Grow At A Rate You Can Handle
Expanding too rapidly has killed many ambitious small business operations. The two keys to this are that you want to have the cash flow to cover all of your costs when you expand and you need to have the human resources to cover the business with experienced staff. Of course, there is always the chance that taking a big risk will bring a big reward. But in my experience you are much more likely to crash and burn.

Keep Your Eye On The Competition
Understand the other gym’s business model to judge whether they really are competitors or in a niche that could some sort of alliance.

Keep An Eye On Your Employees
Make sure that you provide adequate supervision for your staff. It is very true that some people can work better unsupervised than others. Supervise your staff according to their needs and abilities.

Develop A Kick-Ass Marketing Campaign
Assuming all other things are equal, great marketing materials and presentations can set you head and shoulders above your nearest competitors. The headphone company Beats by Dre has been in the news lately, having been sold to Apple for $3 billion (those tech sales numbers always amaze me). Get creative in marketing your gym and get the most value out of the least capital.

Change With The Times
Understand that the times are changing mighty quickly these days. Try to keep up with the trends. This could be fun if you can find the time to go to conventions and other networking events that feature innovation.

Go Beyond A Mere Web Presence
Web presence is another mandatory resource these days. You need to have a unified web and mobile presence as the biggest area of growth in Internet access is predicted to be through tablets and other mobile operating systems.

*Some Bonus Reasons Gyms Succeed*
I had some great suggestions in response to the previous article that are worth mentioning. It was suggested in the comments that customer care and retention has to be number one; be passionate about the business you’re in; hire the right staff members and trainers. Finally, pick the right partners or none at all; that probably means not linking up with friends or family. The only reason to get into a partnership is if all parties contribute equal, unique skills and knowledge.

Over to you…

What are other reasons gyms succeed?



Lawrence Fagan
July 1, 2014

Hi Rich,

I absolutely agree. Members’ lasting impressions are developed through relational experiences.
Thanks for adding to the list!


Rich Novelli
July 1, 2014

Thank you Lawrence for these great encapsulations. I would add (at the top of the list) recruiting, hiring, training, and developing great people. Gyms are highly commoditized and the only way to distinguish one’s self is through it’s people. Relationships, member experiences, loyalty are all the benefits of this practice.

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