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How to Run a Fitness Center

Are you fit to run a fitness center?

This time of year everybody is running. Running on the treadmill, nurturing a runny nose, running up credit card debt, running from last year. Whether you’re running toward a goal, or running from the past, locomotion is a defining characteristic of the new year sensibility.  

If you’re running toward owning a gym, you’ve got the right idea. “New Year, New Me” mentality offers a guaranteed, annual gym resurgence, which means you have picked the right time to make a run at gym ownership.  


It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Establishing and maintaining a profitable gym — cultivating relevancy amid the vast industry competition — will be a never-ending pursuit. The treadmill of success never stops, so rehydrate with these helpful, health center tips and discover what it takes to go the distance as a gym owner and finding the right business is just the beginning.

Walk Before You Run

Distance runners know that a successful race depends on an effective warm-up. Rushing into a run is a surefire way to pull a muscle. Running a business is no different — you need to prepare, well in advance, to ensure your gym is quick off the line.  


Some considerations to keep in mind about running your gym include:  

  • Location — This is an important factor, not only in your initial location selection, but it also factors into the day-to-day operations of running a gym. As population and popularity wax and wane in different areas, the costs of running your gym can follow suit. Or, if your lease amount increases, you may need to adjust membership or other fees accordingly to remain profitable. Pay careful attention to the location of the business you buy.
  • Marketing — If you’re running a franchise, you likely already have a competitive marketing edge: brand recognition. Franchises such as 24 Hour Fitness, Planet Fitness, and Orangetheory are immediately recognizable to prospective clients, which makes marketing simpler. Franchises like these also typically include a built-in marketing plan as part of the package. If you’re running a private gym, however, marketing your business will be up to you. This is an area that can easily get passed over as you deal with daily demands that may seem more pressing. But, not making marketing a part of your operational routine is a mistake. It’s important to dedicate time and resources to marketing your fitness center so you can remain visible in your community and drive new business.
  • Staffing — A friendly, knowledgeable staff can help quell client trepidation and encourage ongoing patronage. But, staffing doesn’t stop at the front desk. Ensure you have the right training, management, and maintenance staff to help make your visitors feel at home and get the most out of each visit. The right staff could mean the difference between a good client base and a great client base.

Maintaining a Competitive Pace

You’re off to the races — you have opened your gym, and now it’s time to keep pace with the competition. The key to maintaining a competitive edge is this: align gym offerings with your target demographic.

This means catering gym offerings to your client population. Do you expect to primarily serve families? If so, consider offering afternoon yoga classes and built-in childcare. What about the after-work crowd? Maybe you want to offer evening spin or HIIT classes. Make your gym appealing to specific subsets of the population. This will give your business niche relevancy and ensure you stand out among the competition.


Consider the 4 Ws of fitness center success to help uncover which classes and amenities you should offer:

  • Who do you expect to visit your gym? What do they value, and what do they expect to gain from their membership?
  • What amenities should you offer? Consider some industry trends such as HIIT, cycle, yoga, and other modern gym necessities.
  • When do you expect to be busiest? Be sure to offer classes during rush hours and staff your facility accordingly.
  • Why should people care about your gym? This is the ultimate question — what sets your gym apart from all the alternatives? Identify what makes your facility special and capitalize on it. The answer to this question should inform all business decisions.

When all is said and done, and you look back at the finish line, will you feel pride in the distance you’ve traveled? Work out your business plan by following the above tips so you can enjoy lasting success and maybe even prep for a profitable sale down the line. 

Bruce Hakutizwi

About the author

USA and International Manager for, a global online marketplace for buying and selling small medium size businesses. The website has over 60,000 business listings and attracts over 1.5 million buyers to the site every month.


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