How To Have A Successful Gym: 13 Crucial Tips

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From hiring the best staff to defining what makes you stand out, many people wonder how to have a successful gym. We’ve broken down our top tips to help you keep your gym running as smoothly and successfully as possible.

But before we start, you should know how important qualifications are for increasing industry knowledge to ensure you have a successful gym business. 

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13 Key Tips On How To Make A Gym Successful

While many want to know how to run a successful gym business, it’s important to understand each one is different. However, there are certain things the best gyms have in common, and by adapting our tips, we’ll set you up for success!

#1 - Having A Clearly Defined USP Is How To Make A Gym Successful

how to have a successful gym money

There’s competition in every industry, and the world of fitness is no different. When looking at how to start a gym, it’s crucial you set yourself apart from the competition by having a clearly defined unique selling point (USP).

The USP of your gym should be something you can offer the public that is lacking in your area. Not only is this a great way to set yourself apart from the crowd, it can also help attract the right people to your gym.

While features like offering group classes are great, they aren’t unique enough to set you apart from other businesses. You’ll find the majority of gyms, including ones in your area, all offer these features too.

However, you can use certain classes you offer as a USP. While offering classes such as kickboxing or jazzercise may not seem unique, if you're the only gym in your area to offer these classes then this is certainly something to highlight.

Another thing to keep in mind is how you should pride yourself on the qualifications and experience you and your team have. This can make for a great USP, such as in this example from MASDA Liverpool:

how to have a successful gym masda

The coaches at this gym include their combined experience as a way to assure potential members how they are more than qualified to teach people about Muay Thai, Boxing, and MMA.

It’s all about focusing on what classes, facilities, and knowledge you can offer people in your area they otherwise would have to travel further away to find.

Take Golden Gloves as a great example. This gym offers a unique blend of boxing, yoga and fitness, and has a few full-size boxing rings.

successful gym boxing ring

They offer classes for both children and adults, meaning they appeal to a range of demographics in the area, and therefore expand their potential customer base.

However, while not every gym can offer these facilities, there are other ways you can better determine your USP.

For instance, instead of focusing on classes, you may decide to target a specific demographic as a way to attract members. A great example of a simple yet effective USP comes from 24/7 Fitness in Liverpool which has a female-only gym:

successful gym business plan 247

This is a great way to target a particular demographic, especially if you’re the only business in your area to offer this. 

#2 - Diversify Your Gym Membership Packages To Bring In More Customers

gym success rate money

Part of what makes a gym successful is its ability to attract a range of different members by offering packages or programmes that fit what they’re looking for.

It’s important for gyms to have a range of membership options to better suit customers depending on their: 

  • Budget
  • Goals
  • Schedule

Different memberships such as these ones from PureGym provide users with various options largely depending on how much gym access they require and whether they want to train with others:

successful gym business models puregym

As you can see, they have an ‘off-peak’ option from £9.99 a month. 

Options such as the Core and Plus are better suited for people who engage in intense training or are looking to lose a lot of weight. By having these different options, you appeal to varying fitness levels and budgets. 

Pure Gym also offers day passes - a great idea to increase your gym success rate. This pass from 1 to 30 days allows customers to try out the gym without being tied to a contract.

successful gym business models day pass

However, you don’t need to be a large, chain gym to offer these day passes. ARC Gym, a smaller gym in Wokingham, allows customers to take out day passes for only £9, without having to be tied into a contract: 

successful gyms arc gym

Alternatively, you could provide members with the choice of a more simple membership, or one that provides significant additional value.

The Lab in Liverpool, for instance, has options for either an open membership or a mentored membership. As you can see, the “Mentored Membership'' is more costly, but comes with full support from an on-site PT, as well as a training and nutrition plan.

gym success mentored membership

gym success open membership

The open membership is for those who simply want access to the gym and workout in their own way. This is a great way to appeal to all kinds of different fitness levels, as some people simply want to work out alone, while others require more intense training to hit their goals.

By adding plenty of additional value as The Lab has here, you’re more likely to convert those who were unsure of which membership they wanted. Those who require more assistance or membership would benefit from features such as exclusive app access and monthly check-ins.

You could also tailor your gym membership packages to suit specific customers, too. LA Gym in Bristol offers discounts for students and females, two demographics often underrepresented in gyms: 

how to make a gym successful la gyms

This is a great way to increase business as it capitalises on Bristol being a big hub for students and is affordable, meaning it can be renewed for the academic year. 


#3 - Part Of Being A Successful Gym Is Getting To Know Your Members

gym members success

Another key factor in what makes a gym successful is its ability to keep customers coming back. To reduce cancellation rates and have people return, it’s important to make them feel like part of a community they don’t want to leave.

By engaging with customers and building relationships, you’ll establish loyalty - one of the keys to a successful gym business and having members recommend you to others. It will also make your customers feel better in general by talking to someone who is taking a genuine interest in them.

Remembering small details about people’s lives or plans they’ve made is a simple yet very effective way to establish relationships with members. It shows them you value them as people, not just paying customers.

how to make a gym successful by getting to know members

Smaller, independent gyms benefit greatly over larger gyms when it comes to getting to know members. Being in a more intimate setting means it’s easier for staff to familiarise themselves with the same faces by creating a sense of community and bonding.

A way to help your team get to know members and develop more of a community could be through various activities such as:

  • Charity events
  • Community fundraisers
  • Socials 

For example, take a look at this Instagram post from a small branch of The Gym Group in Liverpool:

successful gym community events

Encouraging members to join fitness activities like these are a great way to bond with members. By advertising these events, it’s also a great way to help them keep pushing towards their goals while making friends with people they may not see regularly.

A challenging activity such as this is also great for helping both your team and members bond as they will need to be supportive of one another to keep motivated.

Another idea to make customers feel valued and a way to build a community can be with events such as coffee mornings, as shown by Your Gym:

successful gym business social events

This gives customers the opportunity to chat with fellow members as well as managers, allowing them to suggest any changes or voice concerns they may not otherwise be able to do.

#4 - Supercharge Your Gym’s Success With Social Media Advertising

successful gym business models using advertising

Social media has become an effective tool for running a successful gym business, especially through the use of social media ads on Facebook and Instagram.

This is an exceptionally effective way to promote your services as these ads are targeted to users based on:

  • Demographic
  • Profile information
  • Location
  • Interests

As you can target exactly who sees these ads, you can be assured they are cost effective as they’re tailored to those who are more likely to be interested. 

This means while it’s highly unlikely everyone who sees the ad will check out your gym, there’s more of a chance the right people will see it which could lead to them at least taking a look at your page or website.

For example, Gym & Tonic in Stafford utilise effective Facebook fitness ads to appeal to those who would be more interested or likely to sign up. This advertisement is directly targeted towards female gym goers in Stafford:

successful gym business plan social media advertising

As Gym & Tonic has a ladies centre, this ad is targeted to generate interest in their female classes. If they head over to their website, they would also see the female only area which may make them more likely to join if they feel intimidated by traditional gyms.

Contrary to what you may think, your gym doesn’t need to be well-established to get effective ads out there. For example, Dragonzlair Gym has only recently opened, yet has plenty of ads on Facebook such as this one below advertised its opening: 

gym success rate dragonzlair

This highlights how effective these social media advertisements are for generating interest. It shows how, even with a little bit of capital, you’re able to get many more enquiries than you would otherwise receive. 

For more information on this, check out our video on advertising strategies below:

#5 - Earn & Follow Up On Leads To Ensure Your Gym’s Continuing Success 

how to make a gym successful with leads

When looking at how to make a gym successful, it’s important to understand how vital lead generation is to the growth of a business. Potential leads for gyms can be earned through: 

  • Your website
  • A landing page
  • Social media pages

Generating leads is absolutely crucial for gyms, regardless of their size. These leads ultimately become sales, resulting in more members and money for your business.

As mentioned earlier, using social media ads is important too as it’s yet another way to generate interest which can turn into leads and potentially new members.

For instance, check out this Facebook ad from Welcome Gym. The ad is celebrating ‘National Fitness Day’ by offering free gym joining fees for a limited time. This is a great way to generate interest, and they provide a link to their landing page to sign up beneath the ad: 

how to open a successful gym using leads

Similar to a personal trainer landing page, a gym landing page is an online page focused on making visitors take targeted, specific action.

Here’s an example from One XPS Fitness of what a gym landing page should look like:  

how to run a successful gym business landing page

Most people won’t just fill in their details or show interest for no reason, which is why you need to follow up on every lead you receive. This is a great way to demonstrate to the person who left their details how you are committed to them and want to offer them something.

It’s important you view each lead as a potential sale and regard it as such. By pursuing each of these leads that come through, you’re giving your gym the greatest chance of success. 

#6 - A Strong Onboarding Programme Is Part Of How To Have A Successful Gym

how to run a gym successfully using onboarding

As it only takes people an average of 7 seconds to form an impression, a successful gym business must leave members feeling welcome as soon as they enter and meet the team.

A strong onboarding programme will enhance the experience of members as well as maximise membership retention. The first few weeks of a new membership are the most important, and their experience during this time will greatly impact their decision of whether to renew it.

Each gym will have a different onboarding process but a typical one may look like this:

  • Welcome new members to the gym
  • Give them a tour of the facility
  • Answer any questions members may have and inform them of your services
  • Introduce them to staff or other members

From the beginning of a member's journey with your gym, you should be attentive and ensure their experience is great each time. 

how to make a gym successful by welcoming members

The worst thing to do is provide them with a great welcome talk only to leave them feeling forgotten about each time afterwards as this means they’ll be less likely to renew their membership.

Some things you can do to have a high gym success rate and ensure members have a great experience include:

  • Beginning their education from the start - You should encourage staff members to teach customers things they may not know such as nutrition, dynamic stretching, or how to use machines. Offering them useful information is more important in the long run when it comes to their fitness journeys.
  • Welcoming them as part of the community - As mentioned above, you should give them the opportunity to meet new members and become part of the community. Encourage staff members to have new gym goers introduce themselves to one another before and after a class. Customers are more likely to remain somewhere they feel part of a group.
  • Engage with members - To ensure your gym is successful, you should engage with gym goers both on the gym floor and when they’re away, especially if they’ve recently joined. By speaking to members, learning their names, and asking them how their training is going is a great way to let them know you care. Depending on the size of your gym, you should encourage staff members to send messages to those who haven’t been seen for a while and may need some motivation.

#7 - Successful Gym Owners Make The Most Of Software 

gym success rate using software

If you’re looking to run a gym successfully, it’s important to understand all areas of your business runs smoothly. By not using software to track payments and memberships, you’ll have to hire people to do this instead.

Investing in a good piece of software means you can keep your business running smoothly in terms of automation and streamlining your processes. By not having this, you’ll be sacrificing time that could be better spent training staff or dealing with customers.

Fitness software that can help your gym run smoothly include:

All of these software options offer a huge range of features, with some of the most helpful and convenient being:

  • Attendance tracking
  • Class scheduling
  • Managing memberships
  • Automating payments

Most softwares will also have a really simple UI (User Interface). For example, this is how PushPress looks, keeping everything in one easy place to maximise efficiency:

gym success rate software

Using software means you can keep track of memberships close to expiring as well as what responsibilities or tasks need your attention. 

Ultimately, this ensures you’ve got more time to interact with members, and create an environment that keeps your customers returning. 

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Are you wondering how to advance your career beyond running a gym? Check out these articles below:

#8 - Understand How Your Location Can Impact Your Gym’s Success

successful gym business location

The location of a gym is an important part of any successful gym business plan as it directly affects the type and amount of customers you receive.

For example, inner city gyms are more likely to attract working professionals who workout around their schedule, such as in the early mornings or later in the evening.  

Suburban gyms or those on the outskirts are likely to attract those working different hours, or that have more time during the day. 

Your location should directly influence decisions you make for the gym as this will affect the amount of money and members you’ll receive. 

For instance, if your gym is in the middle of a busy city centre with lots of offices, it’s likely many of these people will work a typical 9 to 5. This means you should hold classes predominantly during the week between 5am and 8am to appeal to people before they go to work. 

successful gym business offices

For example, if we take a look at the class schedule of Barry’s Liverpool branch, you can see how they hold classes all throughout the early morning during the week. However, on weekends, these classes begin much later at 8:45am and aren’t as frequent:

successful gym business models weekday timetable

successful gym business models weekend timetable

If your gym is outside of the city in a quieter area, you should hold more classes after work between 3pm and 6pm, as well as focus more on holding activities at the weekend.

You can also structure these classes around transport links. If your gym is right next to a train station or bus stop, it’s less likely people will have an issue with attending them. 

However, if you’re a smaller gym with less direct transport links, you’ll have to consider investing in a car park area or finding one close by that you can recommend to customers as an option.

#9 - Listening To Member Feedback Is The Key To Gym Success

how to run a gym successfully by listening to feedback

A key quality for successful gym owners is their ability to listen and respond to feedback. With the rise of online reviews, it’s never been easier to learn about what customers both enjoy and dislike about your gym.

However, this also means others can see how you deal with criticism. Nobody really likes to receive negative feedback but one thing to keep in mind is most people aren’t leaving negative reviews for the sake of it.

No matter how much you may disagree with a particular review, how you choose to respond is crucial!

Take a look at this review left by a customer for a gym in London regarding a lack of cleanliness:

how to make a gym review by listening to reviews

Whether this review is accurate or not is irrelevant. It’s how you respond that’s key to ensuring you keep customers coming back and recommending your service.

Check out how the manager of the gym responded:

how to make a gym successful by responding to reviews

As you can see, the gym owner isn’t dismissive of the complaint and apologises to the customer. They also state how they will check the rotas and investigate the matter further, highlighting how they’ve taken what the customer has said seriously and are looking to rectify it.

This is how you should respond if you’re wondering what makes a gym successful. It’s a polite and professional response that seeks to fix the issues, showing how they take onboard each gym review and personal trainer testimonial.

However, you should also make sure to respond to positive reviews as well to show much you value this feedback. For example, take a look at this review and interaction for Crew42 in Liverpool:

gym success rate positive review

As you can see, the response is a simple thanks that makes the person who left the review still feel valued and appreciated as a customer.


#10 - Hiring The Best Staff Can Help Streamline Your Gym’s Success 

how to run a successful gym by hiring staff

What makes a gym successful in the long run is largely down to the staff you hire. It’s crucial you hire the best people for the job with both the right qualifications and experience to back it up.

For those working in a gym, the minimum qualification they should possess is a Level 2 Fitness Instructor. However, any higher qualifications such as a Level 3 Personal Trainer are also desirable as they can work as both a PT, and as a general gym instructor.

how to run a successful gym by hiring qualifiedstaff

Staff members are a reflection on you as they become the face of your business. This means it’s crucial to employ those with the right attitude and work ethic as these will be people working directly with customers.

While this is likely to be more costly, it’ll mean your staff will provide a much more comprehensive service for customers by providing them with a great experience, making them more likely to return.

how to open a successful gym with good staff

This means having the right people working for you is directly linked to client retention and your gym’s success rate. Having qualified staff also presents the opportunities for further classes, meaning you can broaden your range of customers by offering more. 

You also shouldn’t completely dismiss those who show promise but may need extra qualifications. For those who need more, you can invest in them to gain more qualifications and experience if you think they would be a great fit for your team. 

Ultimately, while this may be an investment, it’s one that’s crucial to the success of your gym and one that will eventually pay off if certain people can help retain members due to their service.

#11 - Investing In High Quality Equipment Is An Easy Way To Make A Gym Successful 

how to open a sucessful gym with good equipment

The phrase ‘you’ve got to spend money to make money’ applies here if you want your gym to be a success. Now, we understand investing in expensive gym equipment may seem like a hard task, especially if you’re just starting out.

However, it’s crucial for a gym’s success rate to think long term about what is likely to make members return. Purchasing expensive equipment is more reliable, meaning you won’t need to spend more in the long run if you had to keep replacing machines. 

how to open a sucessful gym with second hand equipment

Brand new gym machines can cost thousands which may be out of your reach if you’re completely starting out. There are a few ways you can still purchase high-quality gym equipment without inflating costs.

If you’re on a budget or just starting out, buying second hand equipment is a great way to get started. Websites such as Best Gym Equipment and UK Gym Equipment offer refurbished and second hand machines without the hefty price tag of brand new gym equipment. 

successful gyms with second hand equipment

gym success rate with second hand equipment

This is simply preowned equipment refurbished for resale and can often be around 30 to 40 percent cheaper than brand new machines.

Another way to purchase equipment for cheaper is to find out if any gyms both online and in-person are closing down. You can approach the gym to purchase their machines at a discounted rate. 

By completing a quick search of ‘gyms for sale’, you can find gyms in your area that are closing down: 

opening a successful gym using second hand equipment

For example, by taking a look at Businesses For Sale, we’re presented with different health and fitness businesses in the UK that are closing down: 

opening a successful gym using old equipment

If there’s a gym advertised in your local area, you can contact the seller about purchasing their equipment. However, ensure the gym is actually closing down before doing this rather than one just looking to be taken over. 

When investing in new equipment, you should also purchase enough of it to avoid queues. This is likely to put gym goers off if they have to constantly wait to use machines as it will disrupt their workouts. 

Another reason to buy second hand equipment when starting out is to see how popular each area of the gym is. The last thing you want is to have a long row of cardio machines, only to find most people are interested in using the one squat rack you purchased.  

successful gym business model using old equipment

To understand what machines and equipment to invest in, you should travel to multiple gyms at both peak and quiet times to see what gym goers use the most. Keep a record of the most popular equipment so you can plan accordingly. 

It’s also a good idea to have a dedicated member of staff responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of your gym equipment. Although this may be costly, it’s important for looking after your most important assets - your customers and equipment.

#12 - Incentivising Long-Term Members Is A Key Part Of How To Run A Gym Successfully

how to manage a successful gym using incentives

One of the most important things for what makes a gym successful is its ability to retain members. Offering long-term members incentives means they’re more likely to keep coming back and will spread the word about your gym.

Gold's Gym is a great example of how you can do this effectively, offering a "point" system to encourage frequent attendance and going to classes, as well as bringing in new members.

how to make a successful gym with incentives

It’s also a good idea to reward members with discounts or free sessions as this is more likely to increase loyalty. As a lack of motivation is a major reason for people cancelling gym memberships, you can also do this in a clever way by boosting their motivation.

You could incorporate game elements as a way to make workouts engaging and keep members returning. For example, this could be a long-distance running or treadmill challenge where gym goers are rewarded for hitting goals or setting themselves new records.

how to make a successful gym with incentives

This doesn’t need to be anything too extravagant - the reward could be as simple as a discounted class. It just needs to be something enticing enough that keeps clients motivated and wanting to complete the challenge.

Another way to better incentivise your existing members is through a referral programme. This is where both the gym member and their friend receive something. 

This can be anything from a free class to a gift card, such as in this example from Village Gym:

successful gym business model rewards

This is mutually beneficial for everyone involved - the customer gets a free £20 gift card, and you get an exceptionally valuable lead.

Another option to incentivise members is to introduce community challenges. Once again, this is a great way to reward clients while also increasing their motivation. These can be ongoing challenges or one-off challenges held monthly.

This gives members the chance to compete against each other in friendly competition while also working out with friends. Building this community is important for member retention as people are less likely to leave somewhere they feel part of a group.

For example, Gym72 in Manchester posted this on their Facebook page, encouraging members to post their attempts. The prize for the winner of the challenge was a free PT session:

successful gym business model using challenges

These could be other challenges such as:

  • 10k run challenge
  • 30 day ab challenge 
  • Plank challenge

Whoever completes these challenges can be rewarded with offers such as discounted classes, gift cards, or a free PT session at the gym depending on how difficult they are to complete.

#13 - A Successful Gym Business Takes Advantage Of Seasonal Surges

how to run a successful gym using seasonal surges

Successful gym owners will take notice of seasonal surges and patterns throughout the year. January and February are popular months for gyms as most people begin their fitness regimes in the new year.

With this in mind, it’s a good idea to start advertising sales and discounts for the beginning of the next year. This is crucial for attracting people who may be undecided about joining a gym as you can entice them by lowering prices, meaning they’ll be more likely to make a change.

For example, take a look at this Christmas gym membership offer from 24/7 Fitness:

how to make a successful gym using seasonal surges

Although it’s less likely people will become members of a gym in December, this is a good time to attract people with lower gym membership offers. As you can see, the discount is £120 for a whole year.

This means people can join the gym for cheaper during this time and pay the same price for the whole year. Having people join the gym before Christmas is also great for motivation as they will be more inclined to train as the membership has already been taken out.

Late spring and early summer are a good time to advertise these same deals and discounts as people are more likely to be looking to get in shape for a summer holiday, such as this discount from Oriam:

gym success rate using season ads

This fitness centre offers 3 months membership for £80, taking advantage of people’s summer goals to create a lucrative campaign.


Before You Go!

It’s time to stop wondering how to have a successful gym and put our tips into action to continue improving your business!

Expand your skills and knowledge as a successful gym owner even with our Level 4 Nutrition Course.

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Written by James Brady

Fitness Writer & Enthusiast

James graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. His desire to find a place where he could combine his passion for writing and love of fitness is what brought him to OriGym. He believes his passion for daily exercise, especially running, is imperative in keeping him motivated and productive. As a result, he has a particular interest in the psychology of health and fitness and the relationship between physical and mental health. Outside of work, James enjoys reading, swimming, writing short stories, watching classic movies and has a keen interest in journalism and filmmaking.

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