How to start your fitness business in 10 steps

5 min read

Starting a new fitness business from scratch is no mean feat. It calls for dedication, resourcefulness and perseverance. Whether you dream of opening a specialist personal training business or the next big fitness franchise, you still need to get the foundations right.

Navigating your way around insurance, recruitment, administration, bookkeeping, budgets and marketing can be overwhelming. But don't lose sight of your goal. Being your own boss can be a highly rewarding experience and can pay off in the long-term too.

While there is no magic formula for success, there are certainly some tried-and-tested initiatives you can use to give your business the best chance.

Consider these ten steps when starting your fitness business.

Begin with a plan


1. Begin with a plan

The purpose of a plan is to set out the short, mid and long-term activities that you believe you'll need to achieve in order to reach your goal. Think of it less as a rigid set of words on a page and more as a blueprint. Use it to commercialise your ideas, help you stay on track and evaluate opportunities when they present themselves. Remember, it's your business and your plan so it needs to work for you.
Here are some ideas to kickstart planning.
Build your business on what you know and bring in subject matter experts, if required.
Give some thought to who your customers are and what's important to them.
Don't get lost in the detail. Often the best plans are the simplest. 

Fitness is an industry that changes rapidly. Arm yourself with the latest trends and use them to help develop the direction of your plan. Always review, adapt and learn. Be agile in your approach and fail fast. 

You can find a sample fitness business plan here:

2. Find trusted advisors and subject matter experts

Good advice can come from anywhere, but in order for it to work for you, it needs to be relevant, timely and aligned to your vision and plan.

Find experts who you can trust. Reach out to other gym or studio owners you may know. Ask about the challenges they might have encountered when starting their own business.
In some cases, this advice can be sourced without too much hassle. Take the case of Accountants, Insurance, Legal advisors or even payment providers. These are all examples of industries which are required to operate within a legislated framework and offer a set professional standard. 

Don’t neglect other areas of business. Accounting, advertising, management and payments – all play a role in the success of your business. When do you get expert advice in these areas, ensure you are not being upsold for their other services. For instance, do you have enough insurance to cover you for indemnity?  

However, if you're looking to for marketing, advertising, bookkeeping or staffing support, there are all shades of grey that you need to consider in making sure that their offering is right for you (and not just for them).

When it comes to business advice, it goes without saying, trust in your partners and advisors is paramount. Trust your gut and speak to or seek out other businesses they've worked with in making sure the fit is right for you. 

3. Registering your business. 

Once you've come up with a name for your business, check to see if it’s available and not  that the name hasn't been protected or registered oras a trademarked by someone else. Check You can do this for free at 

After that, yYou can then begin with the business registration., iIn Australia, there are two main types of businesses you can register your business as, either an Australian Business or an Australian Company. , eEach has its own benefits and regulatory requirements. 

Thomson Reuters provides low-cost options for registration of both entity types via  or you couldOr, speak towith  your aAccountant or lLawyers to get advice tailored to you. , once dDon't forget you'll need to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN) and in most cases, state-based registration may is also be required. See what taxes your business needs to comply with, for example Goods and Services Tax (GST), payroll, etc. 

Registering your business
4. Prioritise your spending

Some form of start-up or working capital can help put your mind at ease. Debt should be the last resort and only used as far as possible on revenue-generating assets – your equipment, for example – not on day-to-day expenses.
As a new business, it is quite easy to get carried away, the best way is to start small and , scale up gradually. Whatever you do, always and stick to your budget. Think hard and factor in things like rent, air conditioning, heating, the internet and phone connection, a computer, equipment for your facility, fit out costs, marketing, plus a contingency for those unknowns which are sure to come up. 

5. Location matters, but not too much

While many businesses depend on getting the most foot traffic through the door, the fitness industry offers some flexibility with recent trends showing an abundance of community or shared premises- type activities locations such as boots camps or specialist guidance in a shared environment. While a visible, central location is great for your business, don’t blow your budget on it.

Work with a commercial realtor, if you can, to help you find a location one that fits your budget. Stay firm and negotiate hard. After all, it’s your money and they want and need your business. 

Location matters, but not too much 

6. Recruit with care

Hire people who fit your business culture and who are prepared to put the hard yards in. Learn what value they can bring to the business. In the early days, your employees must be prepared to multi-task and learn on the go.
Set realistic goals for them. It’s your business and your vision,visible  sSo ensure you communicate that to them clearly. Start your hunt for people through word of mouth and social media and check references thoroughly.


7. Developing your client base.

Define your target market. How will customers will see you and your business?, Wwhat's the experience they'll have when they interact with your brand?  and wWhat kind of value is your business offering?the value exchange will be. This is mandatory and will dictate the direction you take to price, advertise and structure your programs and classes.  and iImportantly this will define theis experience you’ll create that will have your clients them coming back.  
See what your competition is offering. How could you add more value to top that? How can you disrupt the status quo?, CouldDdo you tailor your offering to an emerging market such as new mums, put your own slant on boot camps for corporates, tap into rapid fat loss programs - ,  the sky's the limit and you're driving the plane. Once you get your clients, you need to keep them. For more ideas, see here and here. 


8. Spread the word

Grow your web presence using social media and let your customers share the positive experience they've had. Create a Facebook Fan Page, Twitter account and, Google Place page.
Post helpful and useful content (like this!) that helps your clients succeed in whatever it is they want to succeed in. Share testimonials and case studies to prove what you do works. Here are some more ways to make your gym or studio stand out. 

9. Enlist family and friends

As we said before, in the early days, you’ll need all the help you can get. The majority of new startups fail early on and having your family and friends on side can provide both the support and motivation required to succeed. 
While personal support is crucial, you'll be surprised who else will come out of the woodword work to give you a hand, online, at the front desk, or other odd jobs you might need. Be sure to ask for help. Could someone man the front desk for a few hours, while you’re busy coaching your clients? Are any of your friends active on social media? Ask them to give you a hand with promotions.


10. Arm your business with the right tools

We are a tech-orientated business here at Ezidebit. We use technology because it allows us to do our business in a better, faster and smarter way. Technology that automates your non-core business tasks can save you valuable time and money. When choosing a software, pick one that suits the nature and scale of your business. 
Consider a gym or centre management software to keep track of your cash -flow, schedules, classes and any subscription customers. These cCloud-based applications can help you manage your business from anywhere. 

Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business and using a payments software can save you time on admin but also grow your cash flow. If you do decide on a management software, integrating your chosen payment technology can deliver even more time back in a day to help you focus on your business even more.

All steps may not equally apply so. C consider this a guide and pick the bits that apply best for your journey. Ezidebit is Australia's leading payments solutions provider, and we work with over 10,000 fitness businesses across in Australia.  and canWe provide a range of payments solutions for all business sizes. - Learn more about our payments solutions here or call us on 1300 763 256 to find out more.

Forecast your cash flow better with an Ezidebit direct debit solution. To learn how our payment solution can become part of your business strategy, simply call 1300 763 256.