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Are You Thinking Of Opening Your Own Fitness Centre?

By Author: Lisa Kowen
Total Articles: 13

It is every personal trainers dream; to own their own private studio which caters to your clients every need - the thought is so appealing; who wouldn't want a perfect environment to nurture your client’s fitness needs and see them climb the ladder of excellence?

There certainly are many benefits to owning your own gym, but there are also fundamental drawbacks which need to be seriously assessed before you take the plunge and move from personal trainer to gym owner.

The thought process about being in total control of your career (which leads one to think they need their own gym) comes at the point in time when as a trainer, you have either been a tenant in a large chain; paying a fixed monthly rental (the trainer believes there is no value) or you have been working on a commission basis inside a smaller facility for a period of time. Either way; the personal trainer has a lifespan and needs to be shown he/she is progressing in their career - a stagnant trainer, good or bad will look to move on at some point in time - be it the right or wrong career decision.

Below are 10 key factors you need to recognize when considering to go it on your own!

As a business owner you instantly have responsibilities not only to yourself and your landlord but to staff under your employment and constant expenses that you can’t run from! Basically, whatever your expenses look like on a spreadsheet double them!

Decide on what type of facility you would like to build and make sure you meet the equipment and space requirements that your clients would expect. I believe that in this industry, your location is of the utmost importance, position yourself in an area close to your client base and potential clients who have the disposable income to use your services. Ensure there is sufficient parking and that your clients training experience exceeds their expectations each and every time they work-out!

Understand your break-even point; rental and equipment repayment will be your largest expenses. Make your facility expenses fit into your monthly budget not the other way around!

You need to be above board and follow suit with the requirements of SARS (South African Revenue Services).

Success never comes without hard work! You have no set working hours and will need to have 100 % commitment in order to reap the rewards - it’s a tough and competitive market, survival of the fittest! At least 50% of your time should be spent working on how you are going to make yourself different to your competitor and how you are going to generate additional revenue streams from your existing client base. (No more beach day when its 37 degrees on a Friday afternoon!)

Keep the relationship with your clients personal but more importantly professional. There is no space for ego or burning bridges in this unique industry. It is vital your clients understand your policies and procedures and that although the business of personal training is a “fun” industry to be in, there are still very real monthly costs to keep your treadmills running.

To nurture your client base keep up with the latest fitness trends; employ quality staff, be an excellent mentor and promote continuing education.

As your business grows; you will spend less time personal training and more time crunching numbers and sitting in meetings. You need to have business skills in every administrative component of your business from how to generate an invoice to how to process your bank account. From a cash flow perspective - how much money is outstanding, who your late payers are what needs to be paid and when! Without a sound knowledge of your admin structure you have no business no matter how busy and how good you are! The more money you make, the bigger the losses each month if mismanaged. Have a clear understanding of your profit margins and never take your eye off the ball in this department.

Personal training is without a doubt seasonal; you will have great months and you will have bad months. School holidays play a significant role as do summer and winter.you can work on productive months being: February – May and September – Mid-December. Plan ahead for the less busy months not only financially but furthermore your staff morale. This point is specifically relevant to a no fixed annuity business model, in other words you are reliant on your clients booked sessions.

Do not compete with the large scale gym chains; these guys offer incredible value for money to their members – make your business model and service offering different!

Although after reading the above key pointers, opening up your own facility may seem near impossible, it’s not! There are plenty successful private gyms in South Africa that run profits and perform in the competitive market and they are having fun doing it. If you feel you have the business acumen, determination and commitment to succeed – JUST DO IT! Fight hard to be the best BUT even more importantly remain humble when success knocks on your door.

Lisa Kowen has 20 years experience in the fitness industry in South Africa She is director at The F.I.T. Principles Academy, American Council on Exercise (ACE) representative in South Africa, co-owner and developer of http://fitnessconnect.co.za/

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