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Owning a fitness studio is not only a dream come true for personal trainers, but also for enthusiasts in the field. It’s a well-known fact that the health industry in the U.S. is a booming business worth approximate $30bn.

The fitness craze has been growing steadily and persistently — at a 3 percent rate — per annum. The trend has been predicted to continue through at least one decade.

Stats show that the average American spend a lot of money on health and fitness.

With 87 percent of Americans attending gym and fitness classes regularly, the idea of running a fitness studio seems like a win-win solution.

As made obvious by the stats presented above, running a fitness studio may just be the only job pretty much anyone needs.

However, running a business shouldn’t be taken lightly. Planning ahead is a must, but rarely do people take into account an equally important factor – future costs.

In addition, at least $1000 should serve as an operating profit, but the definite sum depends on the scope of the business (see “recurring costs” below).

Costs of Opening a Fitness Studio

It is difficult to speculate about definite sums, but some estimates may certainly give us some approximates. A modest studio will be much cheaper than a large one, so the choice boils down to the amount of money every individual is willing to spend. There are two types of costs: initial and recurring.

Initial Costs of Setting Up a Fitness Studio 

Initial costs include anything and everything to start a studio from scratch. The first two factors to determine are the size and location of the prospective studio. Larger businesses need more personnel, so think in terms of the number of employees (salaries, uniforms, etc.).

Smaller studios may be ideal for personal trainers, as the costs are significantly lower, but each to their own.

After deciding the size and the location, decide whether you would like to lease or buy a studio. Leases are a more popular choice, but for those intending to go big and invest serious money to become big competitors, buying a building may be a better option. I.e., if you wish your studio to offer multiple fitness classes, feature exclusive amenities and sell supplements and similar, the studio should be larger and easily accessible.

Next comes the gym equipment. This, also, is difficult to calculate, as the price range averages from $10,000 to $50,000 for a fully-equipped fitness studio. No matter the size of the studio of your choice, keep in mind that buying equipment in sets is the best option, as such deals come with discounts.

A fitness studio being a business just like any other, there is paperwork to consider (and its costs thereby). Costs of licenses, permits, certifications and insurance may vary greatly depending on the area and the size of the studio.

Some common papers a fitness studio needs include a surety bond, general liability and employees’ compensation. The estimated costs for the latter may reach up to $12,000 in premiums, depending on numerous factors (e.g., the size of the studio and the number of employees).

To get all the paperwork right (which is an absolute prerequisite for any business), legal assistance is crucial. An average price of legal services amounts to ca. $200 per hour.

The final calculation, again, depends on the number of legal documents (the bigger the studio, the more documents needed), with some average estimates standing at $9,000.

For medium-sized and larger studios that require more employees, there is also the cost of certification to consider. Some rough estimates of the cost are from $500 to $800 per certification. When it comes to choosing among certificates, there is a seamlessly endless streak of choices.

Some common certificates include the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), American Council on Exercise (ACE) and International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA).

In the hectic world of today, internet connectivity is an absolute must. Couple it with the POS system, as to attract more clients. The costs incurred greatly depend on the provider and the hardware chosen, with some estimates ranging from $550 and $2,300.

Recurring Costs 

Recurring costs include operating profit (at least $1000), fees and renewal permits, equipment repairs and maintenance, insurance, HVAC maintenance, taxes, monthly bills, employee wages, processing and credit card fees (up to 3.25 percent ) and PCI compliance fees (usually start at $5 per month and miscellaneous fees.


Advertisements fall under both initial and recurring costs. Even well-established businesses invest considerable sums into maintaining their reputation.

Contrary to popular belief, however, the internet is not necessarily the first step to doing things the right way. For those planning to run a small business, local advertisements are a good start, and there are many ways to go creative (for example, giving away accessories and T-shirts to locals and existing customers is always a good idea). Handing out business cards and printed pamphlets is also a cheap option.

Still, it is always recommended (if indeed not a must) to have a responsive website. It also needs to be well optimized, in order for interested parties to be able to find it in the first place.  

Finally, word of mouth is an unbeatable strategy. Make certain to think up special offers for loyal clients, and rewards will inevitably follow. There are numerous ways to do this, with some examples including lower costs for advance payments, free sessions for a friend and similar.

Next, don’t forget the competition. Seriously, it is hardly likely that only one person will have performed the calculation and concluded that running a fitness studio is a lucrative business.

Always stay on top of things by familiarizing yourself with competitors’ offers.The easiest way to do this is by subscribing to receive their newsletter and following them on social media channels.

Finally, maintain your online presence. Send updates to clients and announce special offers on a regular basis (but not too often as to avoid them unsubscribing). Newsletters sent on a monthly basis are a good example. You may also wish to create special monthly offers to attract new clientele.

Don’t be lazy with social media. Whatever the offer is, it will reach larger audiences if you announce it on your business’ social media profiles. You may also share quality content related to the field (i.e., healthy diet, exercise tips…).

Personal Trainers Going Solo

 Many personal trainers decide to open their own studio when they have a steady base of clients and a fitness plan they know is successful. They do not need a large space to rent or full gym equipment or additional employees. Merely these three factors considerably decrease the costs of running a fitness studio.

A typical day of a personal trainer involves a lot of travel and driving. Mostly, they commute to their clients’ places for in-home sessions or to their preferred location. A studio is mostly reserved for group programs and a gym, both of which are great ways to increase earnings.

Normally, personal trainers charge per session, but those who own a studio may benefit greatly from special offers and extras. I.e., benefits such as lower prices for advance payments (monthly, bi-monthly, and so on) have proven to be highly successful in both keeping existing clients happy and gaining new ones. Another strategy is to offer extras to clients who bring new people to the studio.

Whichever option you choose, success is almost guaranteed, as long as you follow all restrictions and market well. Larger fitness studios attract more people, call for more employees and are costly to get running, but they also bring in larger profits in the long run.

Smaller businesses are a good option for personal trainers who don’t want to employ too many people, and for those who like to scale things up little by little.

Written By
Emily Woodman is a long time digital marketer and a blogger for The Atwood Group, an international health club consulting firm. She writes on all sorts of topics, such as business tips, email management and marketing campaigns.

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