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Thread: Starting a "private" gym without the goal of profit in mind

  1. #11
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    • phoenix arizona seminar date
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    The strongman group I was in did something like this. We were lucky enough to be able to use someone's hanger that they rented to store their salt/grit for winter in. Equipment(stones/kegs) were donated here and there. The two originators of the idea owned most of the equipment. We would get the combo to the gate to get in so we could train when we wanted. They only asked for like $3 a month just to cover the cost of the Johnny on the spot and something else. It was an honor system, just slip some bucks into the locker at some point during the month when you are there. Unfortunately even for $3 people were not helping out by paying.
    That wasn't the end of the gym, the nice guy letting us squat there lost the renewal contract.

    So just be careful so you are not left high and dry. At the start everyone is gun-ho for an idea until they get bored or decide they shouldn't have to pay for x reason.

  2. #12
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    May 2015
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    Portland, OR
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    Unfortunately even for $3 people were not helping out by paying.
    $3 says that money isn't important so no one pays. Asking for "what you think it's worth" results in more total money than a low $ amount per month. (same principle as church offerings)

  3. #13
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    Feb 2016
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    Missouri
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post
    $3 says that money isn't important so no one pays. Asking for "what you think it's worth" results in more total money than a low $ amount per month. (same principle as church offerings)
    Yeah, I understand. Cost gives the appearance of value. Like you would assume an instructor for $50hr would be better than one for $15. They key thing here is it was a close 'family' of sorts (in comparison to welcoming outsiders at anytime, you usually started training becasue you knew someone who trained and strongman isnt appealing to the masses so it was a tighter group so to speak). So although it was basically pennies everyone assumed everyone else would "do good" by it.

    But I know what you are saying and its just nature I guess.

  4. #14
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    Mar 2016
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    Cheyenne, Wy
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    Andy ... Any advice on finding that market in a small town? I'm trying to focus on 40 plussers. I already have a small studio with buddies working out but I am hunting for paying clients and having very little success.

  5. #15
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    Nov 2015
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    Ohio
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    I work out in a 300 square foot "private" gym. Seven of us all split the rent, but I have purchased most of the equipment, not a big deal as it was my idea to start it. It is 5 minutes from my house and it works great for all of us. All in all, it is a great way to train, just make sure that you have the right group of people, and the smaller the group the better.

    As far as opening a gym, I was thinking of this today. I don't know how some of the folks on this forum do it, and make any money doing it. Rip, you said on one of your podcasts that every SS coach was busy, but how many of them do you know that are making a decent income owning a gym? When you figure overhead, equipment, legal and insurance expenses and all of the other hard cost of business items, are there gym owners making more than $50k a year net? I am sure everyone who gets on here thinks it would be all fun and games to own a gym, but t some point you gotta make an income.

  6. #16
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    Feb 2010
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    My initial target market wasn't really a target, per se. I just wanted to put together a good group of weightlifters/powerlifters to train with. I could have 4 platforms, each with a squat stand and 190kg, change plates, 4 bars, and a power rack (and a beer fridge) for less than $10k. Not quite the same model as a starting strength style gym but it could be fun if the rent wasnt $2k a month or something.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Lansing, MI
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Leonard View Post
    I work out in a 300 square foot "private" gym. Seven of us all split the rent, but I have purchased most of the equipment, not a big deal as it was my idea to start it. It is 5 minutes from my house and it works great for all of us. All in all, it is a great way to train, just make sure that you have the right group of people, and the smaller the group the better.

    As far as opening a gym, I was thinking of this today. I don't know how some of the folks on this forum do it, and make any money doing it. Rip, you said on one of your podcasts that every SS coach was busy, but how many of them do you know that are making a decent income owning a gym? When you figure overhead, equipment, legal and insurance expenses and all of the other hard cost of business items, are there gym owners making more than $50k a year net? I am sure everyone who gets on here thinks it would be all fun and games to own a gym, but t some point you gotta make an income.
    There are several that are doing quite well. It has taken me time to grow, but that is how I chose to do it. I am not really one to talk numbers on the internet, but it is really easy to see how a gym that offers private and semi-private coaching could be profitable. Just multiply 200 members x average membership of around $150 to see what monthly revenue could be. The equipment investment is really not that expensive compared to commercial gyms that must spend 10 grand per treadmill and 5 grand a month in cable television bills. In comparison, bars, racks, and plates are pretty cheap and last quite a while.

    This business is really not all that much different than any other business. In order to succeed a person must have brains, coaching skills, and an ability to influence people. The last one may be the most important. People buy personalities as much as they buy products, so if you have an aptitude to work well with people and offer a product that produces consistent results every single time than it is pretty hard to fail. Unfortunately, most people do not have the required skills or the desire to endure the time it takes to build a successful business, so the development of gyms based on this model is slow.

  8. #18
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    Nov 2015
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    Ohio
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Kurisko View Post
    There are several that are doing quite well. It has taken me time to grow, but that is how I chose to do it. I am not really one to talk numbers on the internet, but it is really easy to see how a gym that offers private and semi-private coaching could be profitable. Just multiply 200 members x average membership of around $150 to see what monthly revenue could be. The equipment investment is really not that expensive compared to commercial gyms that must spend 10 grand per treadmill and 5 grand a month in cable television bills. In comparison, bars, racks, and plates are pretty cheap and last quite a while.

    This business is really not all that much different than any other business. In order to succeed a person must have brains, coaching skills, and an ability to influence people. The last one may be the most important. People buy personalities as much as they buy products, so if you have an aptitude to work well with people and offer a product that produces consistent results every single time than it is pretty hard to fail. Unfortunately, most people do not have the required skills or the desire to endure the time it takes to build a successful business, so the development of gyms based on this model is slow.
    Chris, I've been to your gym and can see the loyal following you have built at BlackIron, and I get the slow growth model. I guess my question would be how many gyms have 200 members, or even 100? Not being a contrarian, just curious. Also, the SS model with the limited amount of equipment necessary to operate would absolutely be more feasible it seems compared to a "fitness" gym. There is a new place about 10 miles to the north of where I am at. A town of about 6500 and they built a nice size place full of machines and ellipticals. I just can't think that type of place would have much of a ROI for the owners.

  9. #19
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    Aug 2013
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    Lansing, MI
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    I don't know for sure, but there are definitely a few and the number is growing. How many members a place has depends on the model. Some run larger, open training/class models and some just do exclusively private/very-semi-private training for much more per session. Both can work depending on the coach and the market.

    The market is a huge part of the deal because you need a population base to draw from. Unfortunately, a small town is not likely going to be able to support a 'black iron' style gym. It could happen, but the circumstances would have to be just right. The business opportunity for a gym based on our style of training to work is without a doubt dependent on a mid-to-large sized market and solid demographics.

    I agree completely, the cost of a small, fitness club or even decent size one in a population base like that is definitely a major issue. It takes a lot of $20 memberships a month to pay for a new elliptical and if everyone shows up you have a real big problem with space.

  10. #20
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    Jan 2008
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    Kingwood TX
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deepsky3539 View Post
    Andy ... Any advice on finding that market in a small town? I'm trying to focus on 40 plussers. I already have a small studio with buddies working out but I am hunting for paying clients and having very little success.
    Do you have a gym or are you working for someone else at the moment? If so, what type of gym? Marketing all comes down to 3 things: Market, Media, and Messaging. All 3 have to be in alignment for the strategy to work. It's not easy at all.

    So you must put the right message in front of the right person using the right media. What are you currently doing and saying???

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