Why Start A Gymnastics Gym In 2023?
Starting a gymnastics gym can be an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience. It can give you the opportunities and the freedom to run your gym and your life the way that you want. You will be able to create a great program and culture that inspires generations of coaches and athletes alike.
Starting a gym is not an easy task, but with the right determination, hard work, and persistence you can create the gym of your dreams. In this guide, we will break down this monumental task into actionable steps that can lead you through the entire process of opening a gym.
The Risks Of Launching A Gymnastics Gym
It is no secret that owning a business of any type is full of risk and chances. As a good gym owner, you can do everything in your power to minimize these risks but they will always be present.
You will most notably be risking your financial health, security, and mental well-being. Understanding these risks is crucial to know if you are the type of person who can stick it out and create a successful business despite the odds being against you. There is a reason that so few actually go into business for themselves, however, if you can get through the startup and to the other side there is no limit to the success that you can create for yourself and your gym.
So if you are ready to risk sleepless nights, stressful meetings, overbearing parents and frantic coaches then keep reading. You are in the right place.
Decisions To Make When Starting A Gymnastics Gym
First and foremost we need to discuss the biggest questions about your business. Including how it will be managed and what will be required for your success.
Start a partnership or become a sole proprietor?
One of the first things to consider is if you would like to go into business by yourself or if you would like to partner with someone else. Partnering is a big decision that cannot be taken lightly as it is essentially a financial marriage. An important question to ask yourself is how well you work with others. If the answer is not so well it might be best to start your gym by yourself. Another important factor to consider is how much experience you have in the field and in business. If needed it is best to find a partner that can handle what you struggle with, this way you can offset each other’s weaknesses.
Should You Start A New Practice? Or Buy An Existing One?
When considering opening up your gym you should also think if it is best to buy an existing one or if it would be better to start a gym from scratch. Both come with their benefits and drawbacks.
Buying a gym is convenient because much of the groundwork is already laid out, equipment bought, systems created and client base established. This method is probably one of the fastest ways to get into business and own your own gym.
Buying does have some drawbacks, however. Since you are inheriting an existing gym you will not have as much control over the way that it functions and its layout. You can change things over time but it might take longer to get the gym “just right” than it would be starting from scratch. You also might be inheriting the problems of your predecessor that you will need to work to discover and solve. Additionally, you will have very little control over the location, in most situations, you will need to go where the opportunities are, potentially requiring you to uproot your life in the process.
The next thing to consider is the budgeting requirements. Buying a gymnastics gym outright might be a more expensive option than starting up one on your own. When opening your own gym you can work to upgrade your space over time, potentially even just starting out with basic classes and scaling up as the business grows.
What Equipment Will You Need?
The list of gymnastics equipment required can be very long and can include a wide variety of apparatuses. In order to include each item needed for your gym we have created an exhaustive list of gymnastics equipment required for various classes in your gym and their average pricing for basic budget planning.
How Much Space Will You Need?
The space needed for a successful gym depends heavily on what classes you will be offering as well as how many customers you plan to serve at any given time. For example, a gym that only offers preschool classes will be able to operate in a much smaller space than a gym with full competitive girls and boys’ gymnastics and rec programs. Different sizes of gyms have a variety of benefits and drawbacks, such as:
Benefits of a small gym:
- Require a smaller investment to start up and are less risky
- Does not need as many active customers so it is easier to reach the maximum capacity
- Can be expanded at a later time with increased demand
Cons of a small gym:
- Can fill up very quickly requiring you to need to expand
- Greatly limit your potential classes to offer depending on what size you can afford
- Requires much more efficiency with equipment storage and physical space planning
Benefits of a larger gym:
- Allows a great number of possibilities
- Does not require you to move as soon if your programs are successful
- Gives you more freedom to experiment with different class offerings and equipment
Cons of a larger gym:
- It is more expensive and will be riskier to start
- The time required to fill up your classes will be longer so you might be in the red for an increased amount of time
Should You Rent Gymnastics Space Or Buy A Building?
Choosing to rent or buy your location can be a difficult decision, this section will help you make the best decision for your gym.
To Rent or Buy A Space For Gymnastics
Renting can be a great option for many gym owners. It can financially be much easier to start renting than it would be to buy a location. Also being a renter means that a good amount of risk is placed on the landlord to make repairs and replacements. This can help to save you from unexpected bills. Lastly finding a place to rent will almost always be an easier process since there are more places to rent than to buy available.
Renting does come with some unfortunate downsides, namely that the rent you pay each month will be gone forever. If you own the building you can be generating equity, allowing your business to pay rent and receive the tax benefits associated. Renting also limits your control of what you can do in your space, such as making major modifications like an in-ground pit. Finally, renters are all subject to rent increases which can be substantial over time.
If it’s possible buying your space can help to save you greatly in the long run. This can be a difficult and expensive process so in many situations, it might be required to start renting and look to buy a space later once you have more to invest and your business has proven itself.
How Much Money Do You Need?
Pricing is very difficult to estimate given the number of variables. To best find how much your gym will cost you we recommend planning out what programs you will open and what equipment you will need. Then estimate the cost of everything added together and add it to your building costs and also estimated payroll costs. This will give you a basic idea but later in this guide, you will be able to refine your estimate further.
How To Fund Your Startup Gymnastics Center?
When it comes to funding your gymnastics gym there are many options out there. The major 3 methods include:
- Funding it yourself – This option requires a large nest egg that you have saved. For many, this might be your life savings or a large portion of it. Funding your gym from your pocket is an intimidating option, but it will save you greatly from paying expensive interest rates on any loans you might take out.
- Small Business Loan – A small business loan is probably one of the most commonly used resources for any startup. They can help to boost your business to its tipping point much faster than saving ever could. The drawback is that all the money you borrow will need to be paid back with interest.
- Personal Connections – Looking for funding from personal connections can be used to supplement your startup capital if the situation is correct. Individuals with deep pockets can be a great asset to your new startup.
What Staff Do You Need For Your New Gymnastics Gym?
You will need to know what staff members are essential at the start of your gym. Will you need team coaches, rec coaches, or office staff? At the most basic level of your gym, what is required for your business operations?
Once you have found what positions will be required you will also need to decide how much you will pay them, how many hours they will need to work, and what benefits you will provide to them.
How Will You Attract Parents and Students?
Attracting parents and students into your gym will be one of your biggest hurdles to success. Finding the best way to do this can countless hours and wasted money to get correct. We recommend hiring a company specialized in marketing for gymnastics centers to help you cut through the hassle and earn money quickly.
If you are going to handle this part by yourself then we suggest taking a look at some of our complete gymnastics marketing course. This resource covers everything that you need to know about digital marketing for your gymnastics center in one convenient place.
Step-by-Step Guide To Starting A Gymnastics Center In 2023
Now that we have laid the groundwork we will next get into the step-by-step process to start your gymnastics center.
Research and Planning – Creating the Foundation of Success
Researching and planning every aspect of your gym is one of the most important things that you can do for your gym’s success. However, be careful to not overstay during this step. Many potential business owners spend years or decades perfecting their future business only to never make it into a reality. Finding the balance to be prepared, but still take action is key.
Step 1: Market Research
Knowing your market is crucial for evaluating your chances of success. By knowing who you are serving and how you can serve them you can begin to piece together the most crucial building blocks of your business. Being a local business you will need to know your area like the back of your hand, the more you know the better equipped you are to make important decisions.
Knowing your local demographics can be another way to measure the amount of total potential customers in your area. Find the answers to these questions and it will be a good start:
- How many people live in my area?
- How many of them have kids that fit my customer profile?
- How many of those families can afford my services?
- What is the general amount of kids I can expect to be interested in gymnastics in my area?
These questions and many more will help to jumpstart your research journey into the customer demographics of your local area. The best way to find this information is by looking through resources like the united states census Bureau to discover specific demographics in your area.
When it comes to real estate it is all about location, location, location, and this is just as true for local businesses. Many customers will not want to drive 30+ minutes to go to your gym, some might not even want to drive 15. Knowing what distance the average customer is willing to drive to your gym is crucial for choosing a location as you will need to have enough customers within that radius.
No matter what your particular situation might be you will need to know your competition. Even if you do not have anyone directly competing for gymnastics in your area there will always be other services that are looking to take your customers. This might be other sports, hobbies, or other factors. What matters most is not that they are there, but that you are the better option. Do everything that you can to make it a “no-brainer” that customers would come to your business rather than anywhere else.
Knowing why your customers might choose your competition is essential as well. What do they provide and what do they not provide? What do they do best? Answering these questions can help you decide what services you should provide. Understanding your competition and the role they play is one of the best ways to future-proof your gym and create a business that will thrive for many many years to come.
Step 2: Create A Business Plan
Creating a business plan can be another daunting task that is required to receive funding for your business. However, even if you are not looking for specific funding I would still highly recommend building a business plan for your gymnastics center. This plan forms the backbone of your business and will help you answer all of the important questions. Seeing everything laid out in one place also helps to bring your vision to life.
The first section of your business plan will be your executive summary. This part will include your main objectives, goals, unique selling proposition, and a high-level financial overview. A good trick for this section, in particular, is to write it after you have completed the rest of your business plan. Since the executive summary condenses the rest of your business plan into just a small section knowing where you are going with the rest will help greatly.
The company description will be where you lay out much of the nuts and bolts of your actual operation. This section will be where you can answer crucial questions such as who you serve, what will you offer, who will be on your team if you have anyone already, and what is your mission statement. This section should answer the question, what is your business?
In the market analysis, you can go into depth on potential opportunities you see in your area. This is where you can showcase where your gym can be most useful and how you can beat your competition. If there is a missed corner of the market here you can detail how you will capitalize on it. Lay out each potential customer you can provide your services for and take your time to understand them fully.
You can also use this section regularly after starting your business to keep an eye on the ever-changing market. Once again the more you understand it the better your chances are for success.
Management Team & Organizational Structure
The next step will be to set up the structure of your management team and what type of business you are going to open. Will you be opening an LLC, an S-Corp, or a Sole Proprietorship? Each of these business types has its own advantages and disadvantages so we suggest following up with an attorney to decide the best form for your business as this will vary widely depending on your situation.
This will also be where you detail your position in the company as well as your partners (if applicable). Having a strong idea of who needs to do what will help keep everybody honest and accountable.
This will be where you can clarify the services that will be available at your gym. Detail exactly what classes will be open, what ages they will be open to, how much it will cost, etc. You can also include how your services compare to your competitors and how you will be providing something they are missing. This section can also be used to detail exactly how you can systemize your programs to ensure their quality even at scale.
Marketing And Sales
In this section of your business plan, you can detail exactly how you will market your business. What methods will you use and how much money will you spend on finding new leads and sales? Here is where you can detail how you will find new customers, including both online and offline in your local area.
Let’s say you go to the bank and after talking with them for a long time they finally say that they will fund your gymnastics center. Great news, but how much are you asking for and what is your plan to pay it back? These are important questions that any lender will need to know in order to hand over a loan. They will need to know how their money will benefit your business and how it will provide you the chance to pay them back.
Consider all options in your funding plan, what if you cannot get as much as you needed, or if you get more than you thought? Having a plan in place for any contingency will be what separates an air-tight funding plan from a haphazard one.
The financial projection can be one of the most difficult parts of a business plan as there are so many variables. What if nobody comes to my gym? How will you adapt if a new gym opens up one week after mine? What if I run through my loan too quickly? The list goes on and on. Creating financial projections to the best of your abilities will help to answer some of those “what ifs” you could run into.
It is can be a good idea to make three major plans in your financial projections:
- What to do if you get explosive success, how will you deal with it and manage growing so quickly?
- What will you do if everything goes perfectly according to plan? (it does not happen often but it might and it is best to be prepared)
- What will you do if your business is losing money faster than you thought it would?
Having a plan in every situation will help you to improve your response time to many different scenarios and also improve your chances of success
Business plans should be a large part of opening any business. Especially with a gymnastics center where there are so many moving pieces. In all of the hustle and bustle of opening a new gym the business plan forces you to slow down and think about the things that matter most in your business.
Step 3: Systemizing Your Business For Success
A system is a recorded and repeatable process to generate consistent results. The importance of a system cannot be understated as they allow the business to operate without you rather than hinging on your every breath.
Imagine if every McDonald’s around the world used a different system to make a Big Mac, they would go out of business in a week. Now imagine if the CEO of McDonald’s had to tell every employee how to make a Big Mac every time that they made one, they would also go out of business in a week because the owner could only help a very small amount of the overall business. This is where the power of systems comes into play.
When customers pay money to a business they expect something in return in your case it is gymnastics fun and skills for their kids. If you do not have a system in place to deliver that service then your gym will not last long. Customers will be getting different levels of service from different coaches. Maybe one coach is amazing and kids have a great time while learning skills, that is perfect. But if there is another class with a coach who is struggling to get anything done the parents in those classes will want to switch or leave your gym. Before you know it you have empty classes and upset parents.
Creating a system will help to allow the good coach to keep doing what they do best while elevating the struggling coach to be able to perform at the same level. Systems help all members of a gym, particularly the weak links who need some mentoring and help to become an asset for your gym.
Just as creating coaching systems are essential it is equally important for tasks performed in the office, sales processes, marketing processes, etc. Additionally, choosing the best gymnastics class management software can help greatly reduce the technical load on your business. The more you can systemize your business the better that it can function without you and that is a wonderful thing. Of course, it is always good to feel needed and help your gym, but if you cannot leave or even step foot outside of your gym without complete chaos then it is time to rethink some things.
A great book on this is Built To Sell by John Warrillow I highly recommend it if you want an in-depth guide on systemizing your business.
Marketing systems include how you will market your gym on a daily basis, nurture leads and keep your customers loyal. You will need to have a plan in place for every step of this process. Let’s say you get a new lead from a Facebook message asking your gym a question, but you do not check this message and see it three weeks later. You just lost that customer. Having a marketing system in place will guarantee that you never miss a message again or make other common errors.
We recommend taking some time to decipher what marketing methods will work best for your gym and what combination you would like to use for your outreach. For more information on this topic take a look at this guide which details some of the best marketing methods for gymnastics centers.
What will be the workflow to accept new customers into your gym? It is important to make this process as painless as possible. Any friction here could cause you to lose valuable trials. How does a customer sign up? What should they bring? What class should they join and how much will it cost? These and many more are questions to consider when creating your systems for customer intake. Once you have decided on these the next step will be to teach staff and implement them in your gym.
Payments are the lifeblood of any business so you will want to have this system in place. It needs to answer the following questions: How will customers pay? When will they pay? How will you deal with late payments? What will you do about negligent customers? How will the team be priced, how will recreational gymnastics? Knowing these questions prior to opening can save you many headaches down the road.
Progression is one of the most important things in gymnastics, especially with hypercompetitive parents and kids. Having a way for kids to move up through your classes is not only very rewarding but also makes your program safer. If kids advance when the coach “feels like it” it will be hard to tell when kids are ready to move up and if they are ready for more challenging skills. Especially in a dangerous sport like gymnastics having regular progression that can be understood between all coaches is a fundamental part of safety. This system is usually best captured by skill sheets and evaluations for moving between classes.
Safety systems are one of those things that nobody thinks about until it is the most important thing in the world. Having a system in place in case of any situation will help protect your customers, staff, and business. What do you do if there is a fire? What about if a kid is injured, or if there is an earthquake? Each location comes with its own sets of dangers but having a plan of attack can help to save lives and is something that should never be forgotten or neglected.
Regular communication is key to keeping parents happy. Having a clear way to relay information to them is essential for your team and rec programs. This can be done through many different methods but is most commonly managed through email marketing and SMS messaging. Whether you choose one of these two methods or a different option like a specialized app know that the better you can communicate the more your gym will thrive.
COVID created a world that is very aware of your cleanliness. Especially in a gym which is traditionally viewed as dirty and sweaty, having a cleaning system in place is very important. You will need to create a process to keep your mats and floors clean. Will this be done by your coaches, or by a janitorial crew? However you have your gym cleaned, see to it that you use the correct products to protect both athletes and equipment and you keep it on a regular schedule for the best results
Gymnastics is an industry with an unfortunately large turnover rate, this is a byproduct of the average age of rec coaches and the difficulty of the job. If you do not want to be spending countless wasted hours hiring and firing coaches it will be imperative to have systems in place to onboard and train coaches. The better that you train and vet your potential employees the less work you will have down the road.
Step 4: Preparing To Launch Your Gymnastics Gym
So you have worked your way through everything on this list and you are ready to launch your gymnastics gym. Congratulations! You are one of the brave few who are willing to take a chance and go out on their own. There are just a couple more final steps before you can spread your wings and fly.
Assemble An All-Star Business Development Team
Put together a team of experts that you trust for advice and assistance. This should include a CPA, an attorney, and a broker/real estate agent. Between these members, you should always have someone to ask if you need help or assistance with many specialized tasks that cannot be easily learned or handled by yourself.
Start Your Location Search
Now is the time to start looking for the right location for your business. You know all about your area from the demographic research that you have done, and you know just how far our customers are willing to drive. You also know how many customers you will need to sign up for your program to reach your goals. Now just connect all the dots and find the place that will work best for your gymnastics center.
Secure Your Funding
You will need to also secure your funding from whatever source you are gathering it from. That might be the bank or money from your own account. Wherever you are getting it from ensure that you have access to it and prepare to use it for your investments.
Finalize Your Lease Or Purchase
Once you have found the ideal spot and you have the money you will need to start final negotiations for purchasing or renting the space. This is where having a trusted broker in your corner can help to get the best deal for you. Confirm with your team that it is a good place for your business, and then finalize and start to prep the location.
Set Up Your Business Structure
You will also need to set up the legal identity of your gym including what type of business it will be. This part will vary from region to region so make sure to check your local laws to see what is needed for your specific area, and ask your attorney for any assistance if needed. Additionally, you will need to register with USAG to become a member.
Getting insurance is the next major step, we recommend picking an insurance company that understands gymnastics inside and out in order to have the best results. There are several great companies out there that can guide you through selecting the correct insurance coverage for your gym. Check out our guide to see the top 10 insurance companies for gymnastics centers.
Nail The Details
Lastly, it is time to take care of the final smaller pieces of your gym. This can include setting up your:
- Business sign
- Phone number
- Business card
- And other misc business information needed
Step 5: Opening The Doors To Your Gymnastics Gym!
Finally, it is time to really get underway and hire your first employees. Set your grand opening date and do your first wave of marketing to let the area know about your new business. This is where all of your hard work and determination finally gets to see the light and become a real business. Congratulations on all you have done to get here and all that you will accomplish from this point on in your gym.