There’s never been a better time to open a fitness business.
1. Low Barrier to Entry
It’s no longer expensive to launch a fitness business.
When I started as a coach in 1996, it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to open a gym. You had to buy Hammer Strength equipment; you had to have a big budget just for mirrors; you had to have at least half a dozen treadmills.
When I opened Catalyst in 2005, I had $16,000 on a partner’s line of credit. I spent every cent. I bought machines that I rarely used, because they “looked professional.”All of the real equipment cost less than $3000 combined.
The market has pivoted. Newcomers to fitness now accept that they can get results in a warehouse with a barbell and a set of monkey bars. People expect to sweat now.
CrossFit has been a driving force behind this sea change. The low barrier to opening a CrossFit affiliate has meant nearly 30,000 first-time entrepreneurs have done so. And other studio businesses—for pilates, yoga, bootcamp, barre, personal training—all benefit from this movement toward the small-scale, personal coach. You can open in your garage after work now. Even a decade ago, this was much harder.
2. Working Business Models Make It Easier to Stay Open
It’s really, really easy to open a fitness business. But until right now—today—it’s been really hard to keep a fitness business going.
The wild and free fitness market meant that any first-time entrepreneur could go off solo and just start a business. But that meant that most small gyms were owned by first-time entrepreneurs, prone to novice mistakes (I was one!) We were all isolated little islands of trial and error. Some of us survived through luck, and a few survived by finding a mentor.
I had both.
Now it’s my mission to keep fitness businesses going for the long-term, because microgyms have more leverage to improve our world’s health than anything else. We have enough food. We have enough water. We don’t have enough filters. And fitness entrepreneurs are filters. We can stop humanity from spoiling itself.
But only if gyms stay open.
Of the 30,000 CrossFit startups I mentioned earlier, around 50% are still around. Sure, some deserved to fail. But most didn’t. I’m totally convinced that if we united all of those little islands of care; gave them business systems that worked; handed them real data and useful tools; and taught them to support each other, most would still be changing lives today. That’s why I built the Incubator and Growth programs. That’s why I wrote all the books. The knowledge is out there. We have data. We’ve stretched out our hand to those who want it.
3. Marketing That Works
Fitness is one of the hardest things to sell. Very few people pursue painful things. The concept of “fitness” is vague, and achieving it involves short-term pain for long-term progress. That’s the very recipe for procrastination. And no fitness marketing has ever really worked in a measurable way…until now.
Only now, after decades of trying to get people motivated, do we have measurable data. Data lets us build systems. Systems let us build consistency. And a consistent flow of new clients lets us build a great business.
If you took a time machine back to 2016, you’d find that most gym owners were only asking questions about marketing. Now we’ve answered those questions in the Incubator. And the conversation has evolved to wealth creation; long-term careers for others; and asset purchases. We’ve solved the marketing problem.
4. Better Tools
In 2006, MindBody was a revelation. It was a brand new technology that replaced our pen-and-calendar method for booking clients, and our awkward “uh, your package is up” conversation for billing them.
Today, there are dozens of tools for gym owners.
Gym management software, for booking and billing (here are the best).
Coaching software, for training your clients (here are the best).
CRMs for marketing and sales (here’s the best).
There’s even a new Two-Brain app for tracking your metrics…and your progress (whoops! That’s still secret).
Kolbe tests; video channels; Quickbooks; slow-motion video replays. It’s ALL out there, and none of them were around a decade ago.
The Time Is Now!
This really is the best time to open a fitness business. Here’s the step-by-step process Kaleda used to open a gym, and actually retire—with pay, and the freedom to travel as much as she wants—three years later.
If you already OWN a gym, don’t worry: tomorrow, I’ll tell you why it’s never been easier to IMPROVE a fitness business.