How Much Does It Cost to Start a Gym Franchise?

How much does it cost to start a gym franchise? Investment is key here: from the start-up costs, to the equipment, and to the employees and clients that will visit your gym franchise every day. Starting a gym franchise is a big step in running your own business – but if you are passionate about fitness and health, it can be a great venture for you. Gym franchises provide business models, which means you will not have to start your company from the ground up. However, you will still need to do your research and invest in everything that makes the franchise you own unique.


Which Franchise Is Right for You?

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Before moving too far forward, you should do research on the franchise(s) you are considering. This initial research is one of the most important parts of the journey.


To find the best fit, make sure you are on par with the brand you choose and its values. Some gyms may prioritize certain things like a fun and inclusive brand culture, while others may highlight endurance and high-intensity workouts.


Since gym franchises can be a large investment, it’s important to make sure your values are reflected in your business. Refer to the table below for several notable gym franchises, including some of the most popular companies, and their brand values:


Franchise Values
Planet Fitness Non-intimidating
Anytime Fitness Community, healthiness
Gold’s Gym Transforming lives through physical strength
Orangetheory Fitness Independent goal-driven
Crunch Fitness No judgment
Special Strong Inclusivity and empowerment


The Base Costs of Starting a Gym Franchise


Investment costs will vary depending on the company you choose. Franchises like Jazzercise have an initial fee as low as $1250. This number seems incredibly low because you don’t need an actual gym or equipment to start this particular franchise, as it relies primarily on the instructor qualifications.


If Jazzercise is not for you, however, you will likely be looking at higher costs, which can range from $30,000 to $300,000. Remember that initial startup costs are just part of the equation. You will need to budget for more costs, including marketing and contingency fees. Some additional costs you might see can include:


  • Royalty fees: For using the franchise name on merchandise, marketing, business cards, etc.
  • Advertising and marketing fees: Any out of pocket expenses for local advertising
  • Rent: Location is a big factor for return on investment. Rent can get expensive very fast, so make sure you are getting in the foot traffic you need to support your payments.
  • Insurance: Enough said.
  • Training fees: Personal training, employee training and more.
  • Uniforms: Wear your name proud and keep it current with updated styles!
  • Special equipment or equipment that needs to be replaced.
  • Cleanliness measures: Day-to-day items such as locker room upkeep, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, etc., as well as more in-depth cleaning and sanitizing (especially cleaning floors, deep cleaning equipment, etc.) that should be taken care of less often.
  • WiFi and cable: Make sure your clients always have an option for entertainment while they are exercising!

Additional Amenities


In addition to what is already provided for your clientele, some extra amenities are truly worth the investment. This can be as common as upgrading gym equipment and machines, or as unique as setting up massage chairs (this is often seen at Planet Fitness franchises). 


You may also consider special programming, such as classes like Zumba and pilates, including a kids club and making personal training available to anyone. These types of services are all great ways to make sure you are meeting expectations of clients and going above and beyond to satisfy their wants and needs.


Who Should You Hire for Your Gym Franchise?


Customer service is one of the most important parts of any business – especially for businesses like gyms, which require face-to-face conversations and support. That being said, who you include on your team is critical in running a successful franchise, and a crucial part of where you spend your money as a business owner.


Not only should your employees be friendly; they should also be skilled, knowledgeable and supportive of the clientele. Gyms can be a vulnerable place for people, so kindness and encouragement goes a long way. 


The Importance of Specialized Trainers


Hiring the right employees – specifically the right personal trainers – can be tricky, as there are several styles of motivation that people respond to. One thing to consider is partnering with trainers who are certified in special needs training by including programs in your franchise such as Special Strong


Partnerships with Special Strong certified trainers makes for a great addition to many franchises, because they know how to work with adults and children who have autism, Down Syndrome and other special needs, are able to adapt exercises especially for them, all while appropriately motivating and encouraging them. A partnership with Special Strong provides inclusivity and adds a special edge to your franchise, which makes it all the more valuable.


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Starting a Special Strong Franchise


A Special Strong franchise can be less expensive than many other gyms, because you do not necessarily have to buy a gym location or as much equipment. Average startup costs for gym franchises range from $250,000 to $500,000, while Special Strong startup costs range from just $25,000 to $50,000. 


There are a few key requirements to start a Special Strong franchise, including:


  • Financial requirements: Initial first-year investment, royalty and advertising fees and a credit score of 620 or higher.
  • Educational requirements: Managing a Special Strong requires a high school diploma or equivalent and relevant experience. Training clients requires personal trainers to be NCAA accredited and have relevant experience and education.
  • Proof of insurance: All franchisees are required to attain and submit proof of insurance, including Special Strong.


Special Strong trainers can operate the franchise model within smaller or privately owned gyms, in exchange for rental agreements. You can learn more about the Special Strong certification here.


Investing in your business and clients begins on day one and never ends. Make sure you are providing your team as well as your members with care, respect and motivation, and it is sure to leave a reflection on the success of your gym franchise.



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Special Strong provides adaptive fitness for children, adolescents, and adults with mental, physical and cognitive challenges. Start your own Special Strong gym franchise today and create a lasting impact on your community.