Here’s some more economics stuff, but it’s golden, so if you’re an aspiring fitness entrepreneur, stick with me here. If there were perfect competition, no one would make a profit. The fact is there are hidden opportunities that arise because the gym industry has quirks that make it possible for an enterprising gym enthusiast-slash-professional to make a splash.

Getting In The Mix While Standing Apart

Even if the biggest McBigBox franchise were to open right across from your studio or club, the fact that it’s there might be a sign that you are in the right place and you can pick up some of the traffic. In a competitive industry like fitness, it’s easy to think that the present option and dominant form in the market is the best; that’s called a status quo bias.

Just because a market is relatively free and open, it doesn’t mean there are no hidden opportunities. You can often find a niche by specializing in one fitness area or focus on providing premium service. Another alternative if you know your market and customers, is to appeal to the attitudes that people have about corporate brands.

Finding The Hidden Specialization

The secret here is that the market is not as efficient as you might think. Otherwise, every business would be a commodity-based service that races the competition to the bottom as all the profits get squeezed out in the process.

You can come up with a business idea that is revolutionary and obvious in hindsight (hindsight bias) because there are often hidden opportunities to bring in something new. Knowing your market as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your business model allows you to find the angle to get an advantage and build a business model.

Trade Outstanding Service For Premium Memberships

Your competition may not have everything in their favor. Medium and large sized fitness companies and franchises can’t always give the same level of service as a small gym where the owner is close at hand.

The fitness corporations that run the big box gyms set policies, and corporate culture means that staff on site is reluctant to step outside of the lines. Just by being in the right place, with your signboard out on the sidewalk a few doors down you have a chance to pick up customers who have disappointing experiences.

Knowing Local Attitudes And Running With Them

You know how some people love a big coffee chain and others despise the same? McBigBox could be perfect, and a good-sized fraction of the population will still avoid them, which is good news for you. A general consumer business example comes from the coffee house business. Some of the biggest brands have spread throughout the world and focus on keeping up standards.

No matter how good they may be in the eyes of most consumers, there is always someone who refuses to set foot in one of their stores. These contrarian customers keep local coffee shops in business. The same principle applies to fitness. If you can develop insights into attitudes and learn where the boundaries lie, you can locate your niche right in the center of the niche that best suits your business model.

The Fitness Gathering Points

If it’s the right location for a gym, there’s probably room for more. In any case, you need to do your market research, if a zone is suitable for a fitness center, there’s likely to be at least one competitor interested also. If it’s right in principle, based on your market research, then it is the right place regardless.

Planet Fitness takes the attitude that their competitors aren’t even other gyms. This company has made a niche for itself as the casual fitness center franchise. This company wisely looks at the big picture and sees that all is not how it looks. The result is the confidence to enter markets knowing that they have a proposition that’s unique to the brand.

If one of these big box gyms opens down the street, don’t worry. Just refine your business model away from the pizza and donuts approach of Planet Fitness, or whatever the threat happens to be. There is no denying that fitness is a tough business, and while I acknowledge the truth that Forbes posted here, I also know that smart, original thinking will help you find the niche that works best.

Bibliography

Allen, Kelly. You Must Be Insane To Want To Be In The Fitness Business. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyallan/2015/05/19/you-must-be-insane-to-want-to-be-in-the-fitness-business/.

Fagan, Lawrence. Embracing the Cluster and Responding to Competition. February 11, 2014. https://blog.gyminsight.com/2433-embracing-the-cluster-and-responding-to-competition/ (accessed May 2, 2017).

Kufahl, Pamela. Get Into The Niche. December 1, 2002. http://www.clubindustry.com/mag/get-niche (accessed May 2, 2017).

Nauseda, Susanne. Club Solutions Magazine. April 29, 2011. (accessed May 2, 2017).

Schlossberg, Malory. Planet Fitness’s main competitors are Chili’s and Uno’s, CEO says. August 17, 2016. http://www.businessinsider.com/planet-fitness-ceo-says-competition-isnt-gyms-2016-8 (accessed May 2, 2017).

2 Comments

Chels Cajka May 8, 2017 / Reply

I am an aspiring entrepreneur in the fitness industry. Thank you for your experience and insight. This was a great article for motivation!


Lawrence Fagan May 8, 2017 / Reply

Great to hear the article was helpful. We wish you success in you business!


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