T Nation

Opening a Gym


Hey fellas,

I'm thinking about opening a gym. I live in NJ and with industrial real estate prices so low, I'm thinking of opening a gym that I like. I want a gym with no fancy equipment just what ever is necessary for strength, bodybuilding and combat sports. I'm going to try to find used equipment first and it is going to be basic. Its going to have a big parking lot so people can work outside if they wish.

There is going to be a flat fee per month, no contracts, no deals just one fee thats it. If you like the place you stay if not get the **** out. What do you guys think of this idea? What equipment do you think I will need? Whatever pops into your head is fine, just let me know. Thanks guys!


Get your basics such as bars, and a shitload of plates, benches, some form of rack, cage, some sort of dip/pullup station(can be built on the cheap) and thats pretty much all you need to start off.
You could throw in some cool shit like farmers walk handles(not sure how cheap but they can easily be made with by a skilled welder), sleds, heavy stones outside...

Good luck with it - it's a dream of mine to build some form of proper weight training gym sometime, be it for my own personal use or for commercial purposes...

While things are bad economically now is the time to open an "undergound" type gym, as ppl who jus go to the gym for the sake of it and are attracted to the more commercial ones will cut their fitness expenses first in times of bad income flow.
Ppl who are very into their liftin will most likely go to the type of gym u are gona set up, and will be glad to get out of the shiny lookin gyms...


O and DBS(heavy ones), and mats, bags and stuff for combat sports aswell...


Yeah, it's a personal goal of mine to open a solid functional gym. Pretty much how you described is what I'm looking at joey, but without the outside part of it. It's not hot enough here in England!

I'm also going to be doing classes for chicks and fat fucks.


I don't want to assume you don't know about the greatest gym in the world since it's right there in jersey, but Joe DeFranco's place is everything you describe above. Check it out: http://www.defrancostraining.com/index.php

They've got a decent little documentary called Strong: The Movie.


A friend of mine is doing just what you want to do. This is his baby, a monorack.


yeah...but this one is much more high class. I mean I don't have the means to open something like this. Mine will be much more bare bones.


A friend of mine opened owns and runs a gym that was like this and he made fuck all money. So he got some weight machines and held a few classes and now he runs one of the biggest gyms in the western suburbs but he lost a lot of the hard core lifters he charges $4 aus for gym useage and $8 a class and it's open 24/7


Disaster waiting to happen lol. Did you ever own a business before?


i like the idea. im sure that a lot of us do as well.

me and some friends have thrown this idea around, but it isn't that great as far as a way to make money.

it would be cool if a group of people that owned some equipment could rent a space to put it all for less then their current gym fees, and then maybe go in on buying larger things(racks, benches)

but there is a lot of overhead involved with running/owning a gym. as well as insurance fees to pay in case people hurt themselves while there.

but hey, if you find a way around that stuff...share it with us for sure!

having cardio classes will really attract a large group of people. it's not the "most hardcore" thing to do...but that's (sadly) where a lot of money comes into commercial gyms.


hahahahaha....no. Like the answer and honesty!


I can tell you it is going to be hard to reach your terget market. It will take you a couple years to build a solid base. You have to decide if you have the resources to sacrifice untiil you get a solid base of customers. Also, I am assuming you don't have a job right now as you will need to devote every week to this project.

I tried it a year ago working another job 40 - 50 hours a week. There just wasn't enoughht time and I couldn't pay for a staff.

I may do it in the future but I would have to drop the day job and won't do it without big capital or an investor. Luckily I have managed a gym(s) for the past 4+ years.

There sure have been a lot of threads lately about people wanting to start their own gym....GL


I wish there was a place around here like that. Especially open 24/7. Right now I'm stuck going to the campus rec or the aparment rec. The apartments rec center has shit for equipment, the campus rec is full of douchebags and retards displaying typical terrible gym etiquette. The apartment one isn't that bad for this if I go early enough.
Either way I hope it works out for you. Good luck!


I'm originally from Hungary. There was no staff in the gym there. Everyone had a key! Can you imagine? Based on the honor system. I also worked out in a gym in Austria for a year, it was the gym for the Graz Giants (LOL) football team and they had the same honor system. Maybe if I installed cameras. I'm formulating this thing as I go I guess.


LOL, thanks for not getting insulted. I own a gym with a few members. I'll tell you that Gyms, Restaurants and hair salons are the best businesses that go out of business most often, lol.

Seriously though. It's a numbers game. Depending on the amount of space you want and your NJ location location location will immediately determine the biggest nuts you'll have to crack in terms of overhead.

In a good location rent with maintenance is about 20-25 dollars per square foot. A small gym will be about 5000 Sq ft.

So on the low end you;re looking at 5K sq ft X $20 = $100,000K

then divide the 100K by 12 months = $8,333 monthly for rent.

Utilities = 1K on average
Payroll = 2-6K
Advertising = 1k
Misc = 500.

Right away your operating costs will be about 13K on the very low end of the spectrum. Expect about 15-20K monthly overhead.

If you can get 1K members @ 40 per month you'll make 40K monthly. How do you build that to stay in business? Contracts! Be advised it's a very difficult business and most gyms go under. So don't romanticize it. Best bet is to buy an existing gym.

You wanted to do without contracts you said. Retention will be next to impossible. Seriously. I just gave you a snapshot of how it works from an insider.

Then are you ready to work there, market it, do sales, maintain it, clean it, do customer service from opening to closing? Your first 1 to 2 years will be the hardest most stressful of your life.

Be advised most business own a business as their job and lifestyle. It's a personality thing. Some just can't handle working for another person who will decide where and how much i get.It's for a different breed of individual. It really is. Make sure you're the type and know what you're getting into.

Good Luck.


This advice is priceless. Gregus should be charging you for this insight!


Yup, some of the advice above is very sound.

I think the biggest thing will be keeping regular goers.
So for this reason getting as much "commercial" activities in there while still retaining the integrity of a hardcore gym I think is important.

Have a room padded up, and hold martial arts classes in there, or something to this effect.

Are you doing this to supplement your income, to just have a gym that you love training in, or a combination of the above?
If the former - commercial, and approachable will be quite important, not so much for the latter. If you are geared more towards the latter, gettin a few like-minded individuals to jump in on equipment costs and sharing a space for yer own individual use might be a better and cheaper option.

Good luck with it again...hope it works out for ya


Great post Gregus!


How much do you pay for insurance?


Fantastic advice!

I've been batting around the same idea and have a location in mind where I live.

To gather capital, I've bounced around the idea of $1000 lifetime memberships to the first 50 people. I'm assuming you already know at least 20-30 people who'd be interested in this type of facility.