T Nation

Starting a Training Center (Market Research)


So I've been wanting to start a performance training center for quite some time. I've been training elite level rowers; national team members, junior national team members, and a highly competitive high school program as a nutritionist/S&C coach, for quite some time. I've also served as a high school S&C coach for a few programs around the city as well as coached Club Lacrosse in college. I believe I have the credentials and business acumen to pull this off. Now, with that being said, and whether or not you all feel I have any credentials/could pull it off I'd like to gather some research as to what you'd see in a gym like this (starting out). I've read just about every article put out by DeFranco, Cressey, Tate, Puliceni who have started their own gyms as well as other people who have and am trying to get a general concensus of bare-bone starting costs to present to the bank to get started. This is the list I have compiled so far.

Target Trainee: High School lacrosse, football, basketball, and high school rowers + elite level rowers. This might be possibly open to powerlifters on a membership basis as well.

If you all would be kind enough to review/offer critique I'd greatly appreciate it:

Tires - 300/400/500/600 lbs - 1 each
Comp Benches - 1
Light Bands Short (Pairs) - 1
Light Bands Reg. (Pairs) - 1
Avg. Bands Short (Pairs) - 1
Avg. Bands Reg (Pairs) - 1
1/2/3/4/5 Boards - 1
Fat Bar - 1
Safety Squat Bar - 1
Texas Deadlift Bar - 1
Cable Station - 1
Dip Bars - 1
Deadlift Platforms - 1
Sleds - 1
Prowlers - 1
GHR - 1
45 degree back ext. - 1
Stretching Tables - 1
Flat Bench - 1
Ergs - 1
Fat Ropes - 1
Airdyne Bike - 1
Plyo Boxes - 1 (set)
Building - 1500 - 2500 sqft. - 1
Squat Rack - Non Comp - 2
Mini Bands Reg. (Pairs) - 2
Monster Bands Reg. (Pairs) - 2
Band Pegs for Sqt racks (pairs) - 2
Adj. Box Squat - 2
Fat Grips (Pairs) - 2
Adjustable benches - 3
TRX - 3
Mini Bands Short (Pairs) - 4
Monster Bands Short (Pairs) - 4
Gym Flooring Mats - enough to cover the floor (found for super cheap on overstock.com)
Texas Power Bar - 5
DB Oly Handles (sets) - 5
Collars (pairs) - 12
Weight - 3000 lbs

Approximate costs (this is a combination of used and new gear): $8,728.48 so round up to 10k for various things costing more than expected.

Again this is a NEED based list, not everything I want of course. So if you see anything other than dumbbells that would be a NEED let me know. I'm avoiding purchasing the dumbbells and going with olympic plate loading DB handles from EFS for cost purposes. I'd ideally pick up dumbbells at some point in time for convenience. Again thank you for any insight you all might have.


Based on my limited knowledge, all I can suggest is a dip/pull up belt, some kind of stereo or ipod speaker and possibly a foam roller.
Hope it all works out for you.


Can't really add much but just wanted to say good luck. There are a shortage of good training facilities in this country and it takes balls to do what you are doing at this time.

All the best.


I grew up in a wealthy suburb of Dallas known for football, and theres a similar kind of operation called FastTwitch that does very well. Their primary market is helping high school kids up their combine type numbers, bench, 40 time, vertical and what not.

I don't know how much it would cost or if your location would even support something like this, but an indoor football field, or half field, would probably be a really cool selling point.


Throw in a big chunk for advertisement, promotional events, and web page with browser optimization technical mumbo-jumbo. You could have the most decked out gym in the world and if no one knows who you are or where you are at, you are dead in the water.


What's a Texas deadlift bar?

You need a trap/hex bar and dumbbells. Other than that what SkyzykS said.


Chains. You'll need a couple hundred pounds of chains. And smelling salts, at least 1000 smelling salts.

Oh yeah, you also need medicine balls, a harness for towing shit and a couple heavy sledgehammers.


Check out the Rogue R3 racks. We got one and if you get an extra set of j hooks, you can have people going on each side of it. <$700 and it has built in band attachments, close hole spacing through the middle, and a fat bar and skinnier bar for pullups.

I also think if you order a bunch of stuff from them, they will give you free freight shipping. This right here can save you a shit ton of money if you are considering ordering a bunch of heavy equipment from different suppliers.


Thanks for all the input guys.

As far as advertising goes I'll be doing plenty of it. Website, mailbox inserts, and I'll be going to each individual high school in a 20 mile radius to talk with their coaches to let them know as well as offer free training sessions up to said coaches. I figure if I can get the coaches on board I'll be able to get them to start pushing their kids my way.

Texas deadlift bar is sold by EFS. I'll get a trap bar as well and was hoping to get a SSB bar and cambered bars as well but may hold off until I absolutely need it. I hope I can find medicine balls cheap, everywhere online has them quite expensive so hopefully I can find at a play-it-again sports.

I also plan on having a turf strip in the building (providing building is big enough to support having it).


Even finding some great deals on used stuff - I can't imagine you getting all that for $10,000. I'm thinking double. What's the approximate rent on the building? 2,500 sqft isn't as big as it sounds. I'm assuming this is a warehouse space and not retail space.


Warehouse - I've found a few locations as low as 950 as high as 2k a month.

This pricing was done based off of craigslist/ebay/efs. I see a lot of the things pretty regularly on craigslist here in Atlanta. Looking at this list though most of that is stuff bought from EFS so I used their pricing on it. The only big ticket item not used would be non-comp squat racks which I have one already and see them on craigslist all the time for 300-500 bucks. The bars, deadlift platform, competition bench/squat rack by far are the majority of the costs.


First, good luck. I'd have loved to have a real gym to go to when I was a kid (or an adult...or right now for that matter...haha!) So I hope you're successful!

I've got a random question though, how much does insurance on something like this run? I know your list is primarily for equipment and not for other business stuff, but I always thought that insurance would be a major chunk of the costs. Looking at the SRC threads and adding high school kids as the primary clients, makes me think it might be even higher.

Anyway, best of luck!


I've found an insurance policy that will cost me around 5000 a year covering me quite well.


To start out, I'd skip the GHR and back extension. You can always do manual GHR. I'd also question the cables. My friend started a gym with 2 good racks and a comp bench, various bands, TRX, a prowler, a set of oly plates and of course a bunch of good bars and regular plates. I think it's been 3 years and she's expanded with tires, atlas stones, chains and ropes etc.
Why the bike and not an Airdyne rower, since you train rowers?


Ah cables meant to be on the "luxury" list as in add them when I can. Airdyne rowers are garbage and I'd never purchase one. I already own a Concept2 Erg which is the industry standard. The bike is something I'd use more for rehab purposes for athletes who need to minimize pressure on their lower backs (this is what we do with our rowers who are needing a day off the daily strain of rowing).


A lot of good items on that list... I'd definitely add some kettlebells in there along with some foam rollers... GHR / GHD = same thing?

I got some good advice over at www.crossfitequipmentreviews.com (SFW) - saw them a few weeks ago, and bought a few things there. Made some of my decisions a bit easier, since I was adding a few tools to my home gym.


Oh I see, I'm not a rower so I really have no idea about that type of equipment. The bike makes sense then. Good luck to you!


Thanks again for all the input everyone. Again if you have any more advice in regards to equipment or just pitfalls I might face please feel free to share.


I dont know if you want to go down the route of some homemade equipment because imo TRX straps are quite expensive (over here anyway) so why not make your own?

Get your hands on some beer kegs and fill them with water.

Make your own 'Slosh Pipes' courtesy of Dan John

Homemade Bulgarian Bags are another option that would open up a whole new range of training possibilities.

This fella has some info that might interest you if you choose to do up 'some' homemade pieces

Abb Wheels - cheap n effective

Mirrors so people can check their form

Chilled water fountain or get some company to install their own drinks dispenser (they should stock and maintain it without any cost incurred by you (except electricity to power it of course))

Air Con OR portable fans (cheaper option)

Oh yeh' I second the Medi Ball suggestion


I definitely plan on making what I can. My hopeful opening date is Sept 1, 2011 so I've got some time to be able to wait for deals on equipment as well as make my own.