T Nation

Any Gym Owners?


QUICK BACKGROUND - A buddy and I plan on opening up a small strength facility within the next 2 years. Combined, we have saved up enough cash (nearly 15,000) to outright purchase all the basics (flooring, racks, weights, DBs 5-150, platforms, yolk bars, barbells, hex bars, thick bars) and plan on building our own plyo boxes, already have kegs, and will be making our own Atlas Stones and Farmer Walk handles.

In my personal finances, I have been aggresively paying off student loans and car payments, and will be completely out of debt within 10 months (other than mortgage payments). This is so I don't have to stress over paying personal bills with the inevitable drop in wages from quitting my job to pursue owning a gym and with the costs of start up. The only reason we are estimating 2 years till we open is to make sure we both have all of our debts paid off, and have enough in savings to cover all of our personal expenses outside the business for 1 year in the event of very limited profit in our initial startup.


After 8 years into our 10 year plan of getting this place up and running, I am scared to death of the economy, and quitting my job to start a business right now. With the economy the way it is, should I hold off until everything has completely bottomed out and it has started to recover? Also, any advices along the lines of "I wish I knew then what I know now," would be GREATLY appreciated.


Also, if anybody has any "If a gym had this, I would deffinitely train there" type of suggestions, it would be greatly appreciated as well.


I did the same thing back in 2008. Quit my job, had a nice chunk of change to get my place open. Found a great office/warehouse space. Had all the bumpers, platforms, kettlebells, sleds, ........... all the good shit. I had a great place and I'm a pretty respected trainer in the area I was operating in. I had a great clientele of mainly fighters, athletes, military, firefighters, and SWAT guys. It really was a dream place. Except that I was a shitty business man. I isolated my focus to one type of client and only wanted to work with these types of people. I didn't realize that the people that were going to keep my place open were the soccer moms that wanted to drop 10 lbs. I basically built the place that I wanted to train in and that all my friends wanted to train at, which is great until the bills aren't getting paid. My advice would be have double the money you THINK you are going to need to start up. Make your place somewhat attainable to those who are not as into hardcore training as you and your buddies are. If you just want to have a badass gym and do things your way, make sure you don't have to worry about money for a while. If you want to make it into a business that can sustain you and your partner, you may have to broaden your horizons and compromise a bit to welcome clients that normally wouldn't come train at a hardcore place. I ended up having to shut down because once I got to about 30-40 clients I was tapped out on the market in my area of guys that wanted to train that way. I was paying the overhead with no problem, but I wasn't making a living. Know your market and make sure there is a big enough one to fund you kind of place. Be open and accessible to many types of clienteles, and remember that running a gym as a business and loving to train are two different things. I would do it again in a second, but I would do it a lot different. I would also try to hang on to your current job as long as you can until you get a steady flow of income from the gym. It's gonna suck and be long ass hours, but in the long run hopefully you can walk away from your job to run a successful gym and once your have a successful operation you can kind of start compromising a little less. Honestly if I o it again I will probably get into something like Anytime Fitness, that has the name and the "set up to succeed" type of structure, but also have the equipment and an area that would satisfy hardcore training as well. Just my 2 cents. Good Luck. Hope that helps.