If you’re a personal trainer who’s had a lot of success, have a full client list, and have worked and trained long enough to become an expert at what you do, you may be asking yourself if there’s a way to take your personal trainer career to the next level—that is, whether it’s time to take the plunge and open your own fitness facility.
It’s a huge undertaking with a tremendous amount of risk and a seemingly endless list of tasks and responsibilities that need to be taken care of—every day. And that’s what it is: a business. It needs to turn a profit, it needs to serve its clients, and it needs to be run professionally. Running any small business is a challenge, but owning your own gym adds layers of complexity to an already arduous task. There’s a lot to think about when you’re considering starting any small business, but in this case, the most important question you need to answer is about heart.
Passion: Do You Have a Burning Desire to Help Other People Be Their Absolute Best?
Is fitness your passion? More to the point, do you derive personal satisfaction and fulfillment from helping others attain their health and wellness goals? Personal trainers burn out all the time, usually because they don’t really have the drive to do what it takes to persist through the various challenges involved in the profession.
Opening your own gym is like taking all those little problems personal trainers run into and magnifying them. There’s so much to think about, so much to handle, so many little things that need to be done, that without a really centred, values-based, driven love for fitness and bringing its benefits to other people, you’re not likely to enjoy owning your own gym.
Drive and Dedication
And there’s nothing wrong with that—plenty of personal trainers make a great living and lead fulfilling lives—working out of health and wellness facilities owned by other people, or in partnership with established gyms. There’s more freedom and flexibility in that lifestyle, and you do have more free time.
But if you’re really driven to own your own gym, if it’s the culmination of a long-held dream, if it’s something you feel you could bring something special and unique to, and if you think you would absolutely love waking up every morning knowing you’ve got a gym of your own that you’ve built with countless hours of effort, then it might be time to consider taking the plunge.
And on the surface, there’s a lot to love. You’ll own your own gym; that’s massively exciting. You’ll be your own boss, be able to set gym policies, have the opportunity to watch your business flourish and grow. But if you’re thinking you’ll be able to work when you want, and it sounds like an easy way to make a load of cash, you might be in for a nasty surprise.
Long Hours, Low Pay
Anyone who owns their own small business knows that the phrase “be your own boss” actually translates into meaning something a lot more like “be your own slave.” You’ll end up doing tasks and taking on jobs you would have never imagined or considered—from accountant to custodian—and maybe you’d just rather be out on the gym floor doing what you do best. The rewards can be worth it, but don’t underestimate the amount of work involved.
If you want to open your own gym, don’t make money your primary goal. It could be lean in the beginning, and many businesses don’t turn a profit until a year after they open. If it’s the passion of helping others that’s driving you to pursue this, that’s the proper way to start. Do what you love, do it well, and the money will find you.
There are a ton of things we don’t have space to go into here about running and operating a gym—securing funding, setting hours, scoping out the competition, hiring employees, proper accounting procedures, really just a million and one things that you’ll need to research and determine the answers to before you commit to renting space and filling it with equipment. What we are mainly interested in helping you determine here is when you should consider making that huge leap.
Do your research, run the numbers, come up with a business plan, and ideally consult with a lawyer and someone who’s already done what you’re considering, to get advice and the benefit of someone else’s experience. But the real question you must answer here is if your love for fitness and for being a personal trainer is enough to sustain you through the intense and arduous process of opening your own gym. If you absolutely love what you do, are good at it, and have a passion for helping others, you’re halfway there.
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