How to Buy a Gym Franchise in Your Budget

How to buy a gym franchise in your budget

In this day and age, buying into a gym franchise is a great business decision – and it is a great ethical decision as well, being that it supports the health and wellness of the general population.  There are several things to consider that can add up. Here’s how to buy a gym franchise in your budget and what to be aware of in your decision-making process.


About the Gym Industry


It’s no secret that the gym and fitness franchise business has exploded in the past several years – it has grown by over 6% to be exact, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. This is undoubtedly because of a rising health-conscious population, but more importantly, it is a health-conscious population that knows exactly what they are looking for in the way they choose to exercise.


We’ve seen improvements and enhancements in traditional health club models like Planet Fitness and Gold’s Gym, to newer or trendier models, like Orange Theory and SoulCycle. Improvements, meaning the extra effort to cater to their members and guests, and enhancements, meaning the addition of things like free massage chairs, personalized routines and even branded merchandise.


Choose the Right Gym Franchise for You


With so many companies to choose from, it is important to select one that is reflective of your beliefs, culture, and vice versa. For example, Planet Fitness is known for being free of intimidation and “gym meatheads” – so it wouldn’t make sense to have someone who is too serious in a management position. This principle also goes for gyms that focus only on bodybuilding; someone who is too casual for that kind of environment probably wouldn’t be the best fit.


Choosing the right gym to invest in will take some homework and research on your part, but making sure your management and guests flow together is very important. The satisfaction of your guests is the only way you will get a return on your investment, after all.




Most people choose gyms based on convenience for their lifestyle, and location has everything to do with convenience. Think about neighborhoods rather than the center of the city. Some people like to get up early to exercise, while others enjoy an after work or after school workout. Regardless of preference, most enjoy having a gym to go to on or down their block. Depending on the demographic you want to reach and serve, you will need to do some market research to decide on the best spot for your franchise.


Something else to consider about location? Find out where other franchises of your company are. Part of the convenience factor is the ease of being able to use multiple locations. This goes for you, your staff, and your guests. 


Let’s say you want to cross-train employees or management between two locations – or you want to get a better look into an existing franchise to see how it runs as you are starting up. This would be difficult to do if the closest location was 20 miles away!


When franchises of the same company are located closer together, it is also easier (and more successful) for guests to recommend them to their friends and family, and have an influence on their choices in membership, too.


Startup Costs


Buying into a gym franchise and having it be a huge or immediate success is not usually something that can be done overnight; you must be prepared to offer great customer experience, promising amenities, etc. to bring people in, and then keep them coming through the door.


Before opening any business, you must determine a couple of things:


Personal Finances


Do you have any big payments in your personal life coming up that could steer you away from your planned budget? Things to consider: holidays, vacations, bills, subscriptions, etc.


Total Expected Budget


This includes anything and everything in this business venture; interior design of your health club (offices, front desk, kids club or cafe if you have one), contingency for possible damages or the need for new equipment, and a basis to get things up and running. Don’t forget about marketing costs either, whether you choose to advertise with social media ads or printed flyers.


Looking into your financial options, such as a bank loan may be helpful to you during this process if this was not already in your plan.


Customer Experience


Gym franchise owners need to make sure they are providing comfort, cleanliness, safety and enjoyment to anyone who walks through the door of their fitness club. People who are shopping for a new gym membership are often doing it by surveying their friends who use gyms, reading online reviews, and sometimes by even scoping them out in person.


First impressions really do matter. When you take into account that exercising in public can make some people feel vulnerable or anxious, it is very important to make sure that you are offering an experience that they will want to return to.


Customer Experience for Special Needs


How can you go above and beyond to provide a great customer experience? Aside from a clean and welcoming environment, there’s something else to make sure you master: inclusiveness. 


When you are striving for great inclusivity, it is important to remember that those with special needs such as autism, or other disabilities, may not be able to go to any gym in town. Having certified personal trainers (CPTs) on your staff that also have a Special Strong certification is beneficial, because it offers help and essentially, happiness, to a larger audience. 


The Bottom Line for Smart Buying


With all of this being said, buying a gym franchise in your budget requires a plan that has several parts to it. Remember to be aware of important factors like location and customer experience – plus any add-ons for amenities, marketing or contingency. Apply them to an appropriate price range according to your financial plan (or business loan) for the best possible business model of your gym franchise. Good luck!

Special Strong provides adaptive fitness for children, adolescents, and adults with mental, physical and cognitive challenges. We also provide online adaptive fitness certification courses for trainers, service providers, and other professionals. Start your own Special Strong today with an affordable fitness franchise and create a lasting impact on your community.