So you want to start a fitness business. You have a skill and a passion that you can apply to help others, and you’d like that passion to fuel an engine that earns you a living while empowering others to become more fit, more healthy, more resilient. Whether your health and fitness passion lies in personal training, competitive sport, teaching a skill such as yoga or Pilates, or providing a wellness service such as massage, these are the questions you must answer to start your business off on the right foot.
What Is the Best Value You Can Offer, and to Whom?
Everyone wants to be healthy, right? The problem is, “everyone” is not a target market and “healthy” is an end goal – something that might be achieved with or without your fitness business. The most successful fitness professionals focus on a specific population and a specific method, in which they know they can produce excellent results.
Teaching a specific skill? Consider focusing on just one population you are excited to serve (women, seniors, children, law enforcement officers,) and set up your training space, equipment, and marketing with these people in mind. Coaching your clients to adopt a healthier lifestyle, or to tweak their routines for high performance? Consider whether your clients will source their own food and supplements, or whether you want to partner with a meal service and custom supplement manufacturing as part of your brand.
What Certifications and Licenses Do You Need?
You do not necessarily need a certification to start up a fitness business. In many cases, the main purpose of accreditation is to establish credibility, both for yourself and for your profession. For example, if you plan to teach martial arts, it is generally expected that you have earned a black belt. It is also likely that your home dojo or association has set some standards on who should teach, as they would like to ensure a high quality of instruction is being offered in their name.
Certain professions, such as massage therapy, require a license to practice in many states. You may also need permits or to pay a business tax to operate a business in your city or county. If you sell products, you might need a business tax ID number (EIN) and the ability to collect and pay sales tax. Take the time to research the laws in your state, county, and city that may apply to the work you plan to do. If you need help, consult a business lawyer in your area.
What Kind of Space and Equipment Will You Provide?
Location was once (and often, still is) the most important decision for you to make as the owner of a fitness business. Recently, however, people of all ages have grown more accustomed to mobile services as well as online, in-home training. Instead of opening a gym, you might offer mobile personal training with nothing more than a van, some kettlebells, and your own line of private label sports supplements. Without rent or a mortgage to pay, you can keep overhead low and be profitable much sooner.
If you do open a physical location, be sure to consider which potential customers live and work nearby, and what will be the cost of renting (or owning) and operating your facility. Take into account insurance, utilities, and maintenance, so your business’s growth won’t be hamstrung by high overhead costs.
It is possible to operate some fitness businesses completely online. To do this, you will need to invest in some quality audiovisual equipment, high-speed internet, software for streaming and hosting video online, and a good system for finding, interviewing, signing up, and maintaining relationships with customers entirely online. You may also want to partner with vendors to provide your clients with the equipment they need to succeed in your program.