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The Pros and Cons of Owning a Gym

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Owning a gym has its pros and cons, and it’s important that you fully understand both. That's exactly what we’ll explore in this article, discussing everything you need to know before you take the plunge and open your own gym.

Before we start, one of the best ways to attract clients and class members to your gym is to boost your expertise by investing in our Level 4 Sports Nutrition CourseFind out more about all of our courses by downloading our free course prospectus!

The Pros of Owning a Gym

#1 The Benefits of Owning a Gym Include Being Your Own Boss

boss owning a gym pros and cons

One of the biggest attractions to owning a gym is that you’ll be totally in charge. This can be extremely liberating and empowering, particularly if you’ve worked as a personal trainer or gym instructor previously!

For instance, you can set working hours that fit around your other commitments and life outside of the gym.

Not everyone works best on a 9 to 5 schedule, so if you prefer early mornings, or come up with your best ideas at night, you can work whenever best suits you.

You’ll also be able to take holidays whenever you like once your gym is up and running, without having to go through the process of getting days off approved. 

As an owner, you can choose exactly which roles and responsibilities to take on and what you want to delegate to others. For example, you might want to be hands on in a gym manager role or you might be more interested in teaching classes and working with PT clients.

If you’re more interested in the instructing side, you can delegate many of the administrative tasks to specially-qualified members of staff.

Not only can you play to your strengths and choose the roles that you love, but this also means that you’re in control of putting together a great team, who have the gym’s best business interests at heart.

The trust that you’ll develop with your team will therefore make it much easier for you to take those well-deserved holidays whenever you need!

#2 The Benefits of Owning a Gym Include Being Able to Keep Fit 

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When weighing up the pros and cons of owning a gym it can be easy to forget the benefit to your own health and activity levels!

When you start out you may have to run some classes yourself before you hire more employees. This will keep you healthy and active, allowing you to start getting clients off the gym floor so you can train members in your own facility.

You can also fit in workouts throughout the day as you please - no more having to compromise your ideal fitness schedule around a rigid work routine. 

Being an entrepreneur can be stressful, but owning a gym has its pros and cons! As you’ll already know the biggest destresser can be exercise, so having it woven into your work life and being able to up your teaching or training load, you can manage the stresses of other parts of the role!

Despite some of the pros and cons of owning a gym being that you’ll have a lot of different roles to juggle, you’ll always still be able to train and teach if that’s important to you.

#3 Another Benefit of Owning a Gym Is That It Is an Easily Scalable Business

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If you’re interested in owning a gym, there’s pros and cons in terms of setting up the business and growing it over time.

Despite there being some large initial costs, in terms of sourcing the right equipment, it’s a business model that’s easy to scale. To ‘scale’ a business means to increase its output or size to such an extent that you continue to increase its profitability.

Here are some examples of how you could do this:

  • Increase the range of classes you offer: Scaling by offering a wider range of classes will mean that you can cater to a wider variety of customers, increasing your memberships and improving your profitability. 
  • Invest in new or different equipment: Though an added cost, this will mean that you can offer new styles of training. For example, investing in boxing equipment would mean you could cater to a new demographic, resulting in more customers and an improved member experience. 
  • Offer bigger membership packages: After you scale your classes and equipment, you’ll be able to scale your membership packages accordingly. For example, you can add a higher value package that includes unlimited, advanced classes for a higher price range. 

However, you need to make sure you don’t scale your gym business too early. In fact, a report by Startup Genome found that out of 3,200 businesses, 70% failed because of premature scaling!

On the other hand if you do this right, once your initial model is stable and successful, one of the benefits of owning a gym is that you can reinvest your profits easily to scale and even open multiple locations eventually!

#4 One of the Benefits of Owning a Gym is That it is a Sociable Job Role

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Although as a gym owner you’re likely to be spending a lot of time at your desk, you can decide exactly how you split your time between the office and the gym floor.

With a constant stream of employees and members around, working within a gym environment therefore has the ability to be a very sociable role!

Depending on how you enjoy social interaction, this could be seen as both one of the pros and cons of owning a gym. 

This can definitely be a huge advantage as an owner, because the constant opportunities for face-to-face interaction allows you to evaluate the operation of your business.

For instance, you could choose to spend some time each day on the gym floor, interacting with members and employees to find out what they like about the gym, and what they think could be improved.

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Making sure you stay in touch with what’s happening in the gym on the floor, and getting in person feedback from clients and members, will help you to constantly improve the environment and success of your business!

On top of that, this one-to-one level of socialisation makes your members and employees feel valued, meaning that they’re more likely to be satisfied either with the service or within their job role.

You’re also likely to be working closely with other fitness professionals, trainers, and brands within the industry. 

This gives you the opportunity to learn from expert industry insiders, allowing you to discover new strategies that you could implement to provide the best service possible to your members.

Therefore, the sociable nature of owning a gym is definitely one of the biggest benefits to keep in mind.

Check our article on 'How to Be a Good Gym Manager' to see what other skills and qualities are required to become the ultimate gym owner.

 

Advance Your Career As A Personal Trainer

Continue to expand your qualifications with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course.

#5 The High Demand for Fitness Services in the UK is One of the Benefits of Owning a Gym

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According to research, the fitness industry is estimated to be worth a huge £3.9 billion by 2022, making it one of the most valuable industries in the country.

Following covid, Government research found that 80% of adults made the conscious decision in 2021 to make healthier lifestyle choices.

Part of this meant that 41% of people didn’t just want to improve their diet but felt more motivated to increase the amount of exercise that they do.

This means that opening your own may have its pros and cons, but this is a very lucrative time to start your own gym business.

With the industry growing at a rapid rate you’ll be catering to the estimated 7 million people who have a gym membership in the UK in 2022!

Combining the increasing value of the market with the growing number of people wanting to become healthier means that there’s currently a high demand for fitness services.

It’s therefore the perfect time to be a gym owner, and generate a significant revenue whilst helping those people to transform their lives!

#6 Being Able to Earn an Uncapped Amount of Money is One of the Pros of Owning a Gym

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There’s a lot of pros and cons of owning a gym but ultimately owning your own business comes down to how much money you can make!

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a gym owner is £44,816:

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However, this is just a base amount. As you can see, based on 425 reported salaries, the salary for a gym owner can go up to a whopping £104K. 

This of course depends on how much you invest in your business, and how you choose to add value to increase gym revenue.

As we’ve discussed, one of the benefits of owning a gym is that it is an easy business to scale, and there are many opportunities for expansion.

This means that as an owner, you can generate an uncapped amount of revenue, if you choose to invest in strategies such as:

  • Opening franchises
  • Offering nutrition services
  • Expanding your class timetable
  • Conducting thorough market research to keep up to date with the latest trends

Also, one of the benefits of owning a gym is that you won’t be tied into a contract with a specific salary, like as a manager or employee.

This means that the money you take home will only be related to how successfully you implement revenue generating strategies and what your outgoings are!

Aside from being a gym manager, find out how you can make money in other roles with our guide 'How to Make Money as a Personal Trainer'.

#7 No Two Days Will Be the Same When Owning a Gym

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Depending on how you delegate to managers and other employees, a gym owner has a range of duties that they can choose to complete. These include:

  • Keeping staff members motivated and up to date with the latest training
  • Coming up with new marketing strategies like fitness email marketing to increase membership and retain current members
  • Ensuring that all safety standards are met 
  • Conducting market research on the competition, new pieces of equipment, and finding out what members want
  • Keeping up with the latest fitness trends and implementing them to keep your gym up to date
  • Looking for ways to generate more revenue, such as selling new product lines or introducing more classes to your timetable

This means that no two days in your job role will ever be the same.

For instance, one day could be spent working at a desk, and the next you may be out and about networking with others within the fitness industry.

You’ll therefore encounter people from all walks of life, with different experiences, interests, and goals that could inspire you. 

As a result, you’ll never be bored when working in such a fulfilling role!

#8 Owning a Gym Allows You to Pursue a Career in Something That You Truly Love

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When considering the pros and cons of owning a gym, one of the most important things to consider is your passion for health and fitness.

One of the biggest benefits of owning a gym is that it allows you to put all of your energies and focus into something that you’re truly passionate about.

This will mean you’re more likely to devote as much time as possible to the project and will be more dedicated to growing your business and making it successful!

This passion will also inform your creative freedom, meaning that you can take your gym in any direction that you wish and have a clear idea of where you want the business to go. 

This means that you can align the identity, brand, and philosophy of the gym with your own goals and interests, which could involve developing:

  • Branding like logos, colour schemes, and a mission statement
  • Gym marketing ideas
  • Special programmes and events within your gym
  • A USP
  • Your gym’s goals and values

You could build a lot of this from your niche as a personal trainer if you’ve established a certain style of training or working with clients.

This will allow you to corner a particular market and develop your passion and share it in the community setting of the gym!

In terms of having the freedom to align your branding with your own interests and passions, a great example of the benefits of owning a gym is No Limits Strength and Conditioning Gym in Liverpool.

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As an independent gym, they were able to set their own USP of creating a ‘no nonsense setting’ whilst specialising in their niche of boxing training. 

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Looking to attract more people to your gym? Check out these articles below:

 

Advance Your Career As A Personal Trainer

Continue to expand your qualifications with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course.

#9 Having an Incredibly Rewarding Job Role is Another of the Benefits of Owning a Gym

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Another thing to remember if you’re weighing up owning a gym and its pros and cons is that, because your job is based around your passion, it will be incredibly rewarding. 

As well as meaning you can shape the business how you want to, based on your interests, this is one of the benefits of owning a gym further down the line and will give you a huge amount of job satisfaction. 

This gives you the chance to transform the lives of numerous people, and it can be a great feeling to see the results of your hard work due to decisions that you have personally made.

As a gym owner, not only are you helping people with physical goals, you’ll be helping them with their mental wellbeing too and creating a sense of community in the gym.

Alongside members, happy employees are also part of the community that you’ve created, and the pride that you’ll feel as a result.

This is because you have the ability to make them feel part of a family, who are working towards the same goal of offering excellent service to members.

This is also one of the best ways to have a successful gym by fostering a good relationship with staff and creating a positive atmosphere.

Although owning a gym has pros and cons, the great sense of pride and satisfaction you can feel from starting, owning, and maintaining a project is a definite advantage!

The Cons of Owning a Gym

As we’ve discussed, owning a gym has pros and cons, and it’s important to look at both elements if you’re considering ownership yourself.

So, let’s explore some of the downsides of being a gym owner.

#1 One of the Cons of Owning a Gym is That You’ll Need to Make Yourself Available Around the Clock

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When considering the pros and cons of owning a gym you need to consider that your role encompasses a lot of different responsibilities.

As a gym owner, your role encompasses those of an accountant, administrator and marketer, at the same time as being the head of the business.

Although you can delegate these roles and hire a gym manager to help run the gym on a day-to-day basis, ultimately the responsibilities are all on your shoulders.

This can be one of the pros and the cons of owning a gym, as it gives you the freedom to make your own creative decisions, but can also take over your personal life too.

It’s nearly impossible as an owner to cover all of your duties in a typical 8-hour working day, meaning that your day doesn’t end when the last member or employee leaves.

As most gyms have long opening hours, covering early mornings, lunch breaks, and the after-work period, issues can spring up at any time. 

You’ll therefore have to be prepared to solve problems at any time of the day, making your schedule as a gym owner pretty unpredictable.

Particularly in the early stages of opening your own gym, it’s necessary to dedicate a lot of your time to attracting and retaining customers who will help to cover the initial costs of the gym.

It’s therefore likely that you’ll have to work long hours, and give up a lot of your free time during this period, so you may struggle to maintain a good work-life balance.

You can however, once you’ve built up your business, gather a good team around you that will help to reduce your personal workload and give you more time to focus on growth and expansion.

#2 When Considering the Pros and Cons of Owning a Gym, It’s Important to Know That The Industry is Competitive

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According to statistics from Statista, in 2011 there were 1,540 gyms in the UK. This has increased to over 3,700 in 2022, indicating that more and more gyms are continuing to pop up nationwide.

When it comes to opening a health and fitness space, competition is high and the market is therefore already very crowded.

This is particularly true of big chain gyms, whose buying power and marketing budgets are very high, meaning that it’s difficult to stand out against those already established, popular businesses.

If your strategy for running a gym includes implementing services that try to cater for everybody, then you may be unsuccessful, as most big gym chains already target this market.

You therefore need to find a unique selling point (USP), by seeking out a gap in the market, or seeing if there’s a demand for a particular niche in your local area.

This is why this can be one of the pros and the cons of owning a gym because these huge numbers show that there’s a demand for fitness facilities and it’s a popular industry to become involved in.

However, if you’re unable to tap into an unsaturated corner of the market then you may struggle to get your business off the ground. 

For example, in 2019 Jubilee Hall Gym in London was in need of something to help them compete in the London fitness market.

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With 60 gyms in a one-mile radius, the mid-market club was being pushed out by boutique and budget gyms.

The owners therefore decided to go ahead with a bold transformation plan, making technology and group fitness two central pillars of their plan to develop a new USP (unique selling point). This included:

  • Creating an app, which enhanced member experience by making it easier for them to book classes
  • Opening a cycle studio, making them the first club in central London to install Les Mills’ immersive fitness cycling programme, The TRIP

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This allowed them to double the size of their timetable, whilst expanding in other ways to include a wellness centre and offer clients and members a unique, all-round health experience.

99% of member reviews gave the classes a 5-star rating, which highlights how valuable it can be to find out what your niche is and use it to corner a market!

Establishing these changes can come at a huge cost, though, and finding a USP in the market can be difficult depending on where you’re located.

This is why you have to keep a constant eye on the competition and do plenty of personal training market research before opening if you can.

Even then, you need to be aware when weighing up the pros and cons of owning a gym that it can be too difficult to break into the market in this way with your own facility.

#3 Although Being the Key Decision Maker When Owning a Gym Has Pros and Cons, It Can Be Overwhelming

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Whilst looking at the pros and cons of owning a gym, we’ve already mentioned the benefits of being your own boss and having complete control over the running of your gym.

However, this can also be a downside as a result of the pressure that comes along with being the key decision maker and in charge of everything. 

Owning a gym isn’t just about filling a room with workout equipment- you are responsible for the premises and the people who use your facilities.

Therefore, if something goes wrong, your employees will turn to you for guidance, and it’s your responsibility to put it right.

As well as overseeing marketing, finance, and the everyday operations, you’re also responsible for the legalities of running a gym.

This includes health and safety, keeping on top of equipment maintenance, and ensuring that all of the facilities remain clean. 

You’re also responsible for obtaining the right insurance, to ensure that your gym is covered in case of an accident. 

This protects you but you’ll still have to deal with any legal issues should they arise and even if you’re not found to be liable for any issues this can still be incredibly stressful and time consuming.

This is why it’s important to consider when you’re weighing up owning a gym and the pros and cons related to being in charge!

Find out more about the key skills needed for running a successful gym with our guide - 7 Key Skills A Gym Manager Needs.

#4 Another of the Cons of Owning a Gym is the High Economic Risk You Are Taking

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Not only will you need to dedicate a large amount of time, but owning a gym requires a significant financial commitment too.

To begin with, you’ll need to have a lot of startup capital for investing in a space as well as all of the equipment.

This is why one of the most important things to consider when weighing up the pros and cons of owning a gym is that you’ll probably have to get a business loan to cover the high initial costs.

These include paying for:

  • Buying or renting a large enough space
  • Doing any remodelling or decorating needed to create the space
  • Investing in high quality equipment
  • Building changing facilities with lockers and showers if they’re not already there
  • Administrative equipment such as computers and other office supplies
  • Website and marketing fees
  • Cost of any software needed for promotion as well as booking and tracking memberships

There’s ways you can make these initial costs cheaper, such as doing the marketing yourself to begin with or sourcing free gym management software options.

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But, ultimately, there’s no getting away from the fact that these initial fees are always going to be expensive and so, when thinking about the pros and cons of owning a gym, you need to consider if you can afford the upfront costs.

If you’re opening a franchised gym, these costs would also include initial fees, licensing costs, or royalties, as laid out within the franchise agreement.

You’ll also need to hire highly qualified, skilled, and motivated employees, to ensure that you can offer the best experience to your members.

This may involve choosing staff based on which CPD fitness courses or advanced personal trainer courses they’ve completed to develop a specialism.

To keep motivation high and keep your staff motivated you should also offer:

  • Competitive pay
  • Employee benefits 
  • A positive work environment 

All of these things can be essential for creating a good place to work and creating a good environment for gym members but all of this can cost a lot of money.

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Once your gym is established, monthly running costs can also be high, and include:

  • Electricity bills for the running of the space, especially equipment 
  • Insurance
  • Maintenance 
  • Marketing

To reap the benefits of owning a gym, you need to make sure that you’re managing these expenses against your income.

This is particularly crucial during times when revenues tend to spike and dip. 

For example, although many people tend to sign up for a gym membership in January, membership levels tend to be lower around Christmas time and during the summer months.

If you fail to manage these costs, you’re likely to encounter significant cash flow problems, which can contribute to business failure!

Before You Go!

Hopefully now you can see that owning a gym has its pros and cons that need to be considered fully before you start your own venture!

Don’t forget that one of the best ways to ensure success is to develop your own skill set with specialist PT courses, starting with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course.

You can find out more about this and all of our other courses by downloading our free course prospectus here!

Sources

  • Practical Ecommerce, ‘Gym Owner Turns Passion into Profit’, May 2015 
  • Statista Research Department, ‘Number of Gyms in the United Kingdom (UK) 2011-2022), statista.com, May 2022
  • Sally, ‘These Gym Statistics Might Shape the Industry in 2022’, strengthambassadors.com, December 2021
  • Public Health England, ‘Seven in 10 Adults Are Motivated to Get Healthier in 2021 Due to COVID-19', gov.uk, January 2021
  • Glassdoor, ‘Gym Owner Salaries in United Kingdom’, April 2022

Written by Rebecca Felton

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a first-class degree in English, Rebecca’s combined passions for fitness and writing are what brought her to OriGym. Rebecca is a keen gym-goer and specifically enjoys lifting weights. Outside of fitness and writing, Rebecca enjoys cooking, reading, and watching the football.

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