Finding a location for a gym is a big factor when someone is deciding to join. Finding the right facility at the right price is critical to your success. If your customers can’t find you, park easily then you simply will not be able to cater to your chosen market. Given that rent is a major expense, plan on spending most of your planning hours getting it right – first time. The issue that typically happens is that the location that has excellent visibility and traffic is also quite expensive. Then there will be that location just a few blocks away for hundreds less. What’s a few blocks anyway? Depending on the type of gym you plan on opening a few blocks could mean the difference from making a profit and shutting your doors.
For a gym that focuses on the general population, a high visibility location is preferable as the building does your marketing for you. The people who are going to work every day will pass by and see the sign, which will help reduce your advertising budget. Choosing a location should center on who your target market is and will typically revolve around high income residents.
Your fitness center should have easy access but also not too close to other gyms. Unless there is a shortage of gyms or the other gyms are old and filthy, it’s hard to get people to change their current routine no matter how nice your facility is or how competitive the pricing. An area without a gym is best as it’s hard to compete with another gym, especially a commercial or franchised gym in which case it may be better to look for another area to start.
For a gym for the more dedicated person, location may not play as much as a role. Depending on how good your training is or the lack of competition for your niche, location may not play a significant factor when someone decides to join a gym. It’s not uncommon for athletes to drive over an hour to train at great facilities.
In this instance a commercial or warehouse location may be more suitable and the rent will be much lower. The possibility also exists if you can find a large enough facility to possibly generate extra revenue by leasing a portion to a trainer who can complement your facility. For example, if you are training athletes, you could sublease your space to a spinning, yoga, Pilates, etc instructor which will cut down on your rent and bring you more clientele with them being next door.
You may want to consider hiring a professional to do your gym layout. While it doesn’t seem like rocket science to set it up, it’s a good idea to get some feedback so your traffic flow works and your space is well utilized. They do this for a living and can also help you save significant money by choosing equipment that is best for your facility. One example of poor equipment placement that many gyms use is putting the treadmills in the front of the gym. This is intimidating for your female clients as they will be concerned that people are watching them as customers walk by.
If at all possible try to start small and move as your clientele grows. Your biggest cost is typically going to be equipment which can be moved. By starting small, you don’t have to bring in as many clients to make a profit, which is critical during your initial years while you learn to run the business.