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

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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 undoubted 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 have 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.

How to Open a Gym Franchise

If you are wondering what drives the gym industry’s growth, and how did many gym franchises become success stories, the answer is simple: preparation. Many business owners, investors, and franchisors prepare for every decision they make and for every process that their gym businesses would go through. 

So if you want to own a gym franchise and turn it to be another success story in the industry, you need to make excellent preparations. Before getting into the hype and opening a gym franchise, you must familiarize yourself with how gym franchises operate. Here are the other important things that you need to do:

Be ready to invest 

Like most investments, gym franchises take sufficient money and huge amounts of patience from the investor. Make sure that you can commit your time and financial resources to your franchise for many years to come before you start searching for gym franchises to start with.

Draft your business strategy

Once that you have decided that you are ready to devote your resources and attention to owning a gym franchise, it is time to plan out how your gym franchise would operate. You should also set a blueprint of how you, as the franchisor, can attract and maintain franchisees, and how your franchisees can make their franchises profitable.

Your strategy should be easy to follow and safe to replicate because your franchisees would rely on your business strategy during their early stages.  

Buffer up against risks 

Businesses and investments always come along with risks, most of which are immediately felt during the early business stages. You should take these risks into account, assess how much risk would cause your franchise to fall over, and start taking precautions or drafting contingencies.

By preparing against events that can bring down your gym franchise, you are taking care of the investment you spent for your franchise, and you are making your franchise to be versatile as it can adapt from multiple situations, and to be resilient as it can bounce back from various setbacks.


Complete necessary legal processes 

Another thing to consider is that all businesses must be legal and must be recognized by authorities to be relevant. If you want your franchise to succeed and not be blown out of the industry due to expenses incurred battling lawsuits and other legal predicaments, make sure that your franchise is operating within the boundaries of the law. 

You must also draft the legal contract between you, as the franchisor, and your potential franchisees. Include roles and responsibilities in the legal contract to ensure a smooth collection of returns on your investment. Clarity in the agreement benefits both parties involved in the franchise venture.

Gather promising prospect franchisees

Obviously, your franchise would not be complete if you have no franchisees. Before launching your franchise, reach out to individuals or organizations with potential contributions to your growth. Establishing connections beforehand can pave the way for support and collaboration.

Ensure your prospects possess a solid business background and have a clean legal history. Screening for business acumen and legal compliance is crucial in selecting trustworthy partners for your franchise. You have to find out all the information about prospect franchisees before you grant them a franchise. 

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.

Selecting the right gym requires thorough research, but ensuring synergy between management and guests is paramount. Harmonizing these aspects contributes to the success and positive atmosphere of your gym franchise. 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 closely located, guests find it easier to recommend them to friends and family. This proximity also increases their influence on membership choices. It contributes to a successful network of interconnected franchises.

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 a 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.

Consider exploring financial options, such as a bank loan, which may be helpful during this process if it wasn’t already planned. Assessing additional funding sources can enhance your financial strategy for acquiring the gym franchise.

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. When shopping for a new gym membership, people often rely on friends’ recommendations, online reviews, and even personal visits. These methods help in making informed decisions about the best-suited gym for their needs.

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.

How to Buy a Gym Franchise

Now that you know the different factors to consider in choosing a gym franchise, it is time to discuss how you can actually buy one. With insights into location, startup costs, and customer experience, take the necessary steps to secure the gym franchise of your dreams. This involves researching opportunities, aligning your financial plan, and making informed decisions for a successful venture.

Submit franchise application

After you have chosen the gym franchise to apply for based on your research, you have to submit your complete franchise application. Make sure to provide detailed information and all the requirements for easier and faster processing. 

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Prepare a work plan 

Once your application is approved or pre-approved, you can start preparing a business plan. The work plan should include your short-term and long-term for the gym franchise. It must also state your expected costs and projections, location, and even the number of people you plan to hire. Having a business plan is beneficial; it serves as proof of your intent to succeed as a franchisee. This document communicates your commitment to the company.

Study the contract 

Like any other business, it is critical to fully understand the contract first before signing it. The terms and franchise agreement are stated here. You cannot retract it anymore after signing the contract, which means you have to comply with the terms whether you agree to it or not.

As soon as your franchise application is processed, you should also receive the government-mandated Federal Disclosure Document (FDD). You need to read this thoroughly to understand more about the company and its background. This will also disclose the fees and other payments you need to fulfill.

Secure your finances

The most important step is to settle your finances, especially the down payment. As a franchisee, you should be aware of the fee you need to fulfill as stated in the contract. A smart franchisee must already anticipate and prepare for the financial aspect. If you need assistance, franchises like Special Strong offer loans and credit lines through third-party arrangements. Explore these options for financial support in your venture.

Owning a gym franchise is definitely worth the investment since the fees already cover most of the startup costs and equipment. 

Complete the training 

Buying a gym franchise is an initial step into the fitness industry that carries with it the promise of turning passion into profit. However, the journey from purchase to operation encompasses more than just financial investment. Completing the training and accreditation mandated by the franchise is a critical next step. This phase aims to equip franchise owners with the knowledge and skills they need to run their gym effectively, ensuring they meet the high standards the franchise sets. The franchisor facilitates the training process, despite its seemingly daunting nature, by offering hands-on assistance and resources. This approach ensures franchisees become well-versed in the operational, administrative, and customer service standards necessary for success. Owning a gym franchise, therefore, means committing to continuous learning and improvement, starting with this comprehensive training.

Apply for a permit

Securing a permit is another pivotal step in the journey of owning a gym franchise. This legal prerequisite is integral for ensuring the gym’s operations are recognized and sanctioned by local authorities, enabling the facility to welcome clients and start its operations. The process involves obtaining various permits, often including building permits for construction or renovation and sanitary permits to guarantee the health and safety of both clients and staff. Proactively managing this process is essential, as delays in permit approval can postpone the opening of the gym. Some gym franchises even stipulate the acquisition of these permits before allowing the installation of gym equipment or the commencement of operations. Therefore, understanding and navigating the intricacies of the permitting process is vital for anyone looking to embark on buying a gym franchise, ensuring a smooth transition to becoming fully operational.

Promote your gym

Promotion is the lifeline of any business, more so for a newly established gym under a franchise. After buying a gym franchise and navigating through the training and permit processes, the focus shifts to attracting and retaining clients. This entails implementing a robust marketing strategy that not only reaches but also resonates with your target audience. Utilizing both traditional and digital marketing tools, from local community events to social media advertising, is crucial in creating awareness and driving memberships. The promotional efforts, however, must be in sync with the overarching brand image and guidelines provided by the franchise. This alignment ensures a consistent message that strengthens the brand while catering to the local market’s needs. Thus, owning a gym franchise necessitates not only the ability to deliver quality fitness services but also the skill to effectively promote these services to sustain and grow the business.

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 within your budget necessitates a well-structured plan with multiple components. Careful consideration of financial aspects and strategic planning are crucial elements in the successful acquisition of a gym franchise. 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. This ensures the development of the best possible business model for your gym franchise. Good luck!

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.