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The Business Plan Template You Need For a Fitness Club

Whether you’re looking to raise funding from private investors or to get a loan from a bank for your fitness club, you will need to prepare a solid business plan.

In this article we go through, step-by-step, all the different sections you need in your fitness club business plan to build a complete, clear and solid business plan that get you funded. Let’s dive in!

For more information on gyms & fitness clubs, make sure to read our guides below:
How Much Does It Cost To Open a Gym?
How to Open a Gym or Fitness Club in 10 Steps?
How To Build a Financial Model For a Gym?
8 Strategies To Increase Your Gym Revenues

1. Executive Summary

This is the first part and the most important section of your business plan. This is the first thing lenders and/or investors will have a look at.

Before we dive into the specifics, keep in mind the executive summary is a summary: keep it to 2 pages maximum.

Your executive summary should briefly sum up the key sections of your business plan as well as presenting the funding ask.

Why businesses prepare business plans?

The funding ask (or funding requirement), as explained below, is the reason why any business would have a business plan. Business plans are prepared for one of the 3 following objectives:

  • Obtain financing from a bank or any other lender (a SBA loan for example)
  • Obtain financing from private investors (business angels, investment funds, etc.)
  • Get approval for a private or public grant

What goes in an executive summary for a fitness club?

Gyms, fitness clubs and other health centers should include the following information:

  • Business overview: the name of your company, its legal structure, the business model (franchise vs. independent ; commercial vs. medical gym) and how you plan to generate revenue (subscriptions vs. memberships)
  • Market analysis: how big is the fitness industry in your area? how many competitors are there? what’s the average spend per customer per gym?
  • People: who is the management team? what is your/their experience in the fitness industry?
  • Financial plan: what is your expected revenue and profitability for the next 5 years? When do you expect to break-even? Simply include here a chart of your key financials (e.g. Revenue, Gross Profit, Net profit)
  • Funding ask: what loan/investment/grant are you seeking? How much do you need? How long will this last?
An example of a funding ask slide for your fitness club business plan (source)

2. Business Overview

The business overview (or “Company description”) is the 2nd section of your business plan. It should cover all the important aspects of your company: what services / products you sell, how you make money, who are your customers, how the company is structured, etc.

Let’s now see one by one the different pieces of information you should cover here:

History

As an introduction, briefly explain the genesis of the project: when, how and why you decided to start your own fitness club. What gave you the idea to start a new gym today?

Anything that shows investors or lenders passion and most importantly the background and rationale of you deciding to open a new fitness club today goes a long way.

For example, you might be a private trainer with managerial experience and you found out that there was strong demand for a CrossFit club in your area yet little/no competition yet.

Business Model

Here, explain what is the business model of your gym. There are a few things to mention:

  • Are you opening an independent or franchise gym?
  • Which type of gym? Are you specializing into a specific kind of fitness club (e.g. CrossFit, HIT, bike, etc.) or is this a medical health center for accident recoveries and/or athletes?
  • Is this a membership or a pay-per-class gym? A combination of both?
  • How do you plan to make money: by selling subscriptions, classes, merchandise, online classes, etc?

Target Audience

Another important part of the business overview section of your fitness club business plan is your target audience.

Who is your typical customer? What’s their first motivation to go to a fitness club (physics, aesthetics, competition)? How much do they spend in average per month in fitness-related products and services? What are they looking for (are they interested in extra services e.g. massages, personal training, etc.)?

For example, a high-end pay-per-class HIT gym like Barry’s Bootcamp would target fit and affluent young professionals and adults who are looking for short, high-intensity workouts. They aren’t necessarily interested in personal training nor even weight loss.

Knowing exactly who are your target customers will give you an edge over competition to attract and retain them.

Legal Structure

Finally, your business overview section should specify what type of business structure you opt for. Is this a corporation or a partnership (LLC)? Who are the investors? How much equity percentage do they own? Is there a Board of Directors? If so, whom? Do they have experience in the industry?

Download the Gym & Fitness Club budget template

  • Lender & investor-friendly
  • Easy-to-use Excel template
  • CPA-developed financials
  • 30+ charts and metrics

3. Market Analysis

The market analysis is an important section of your fitness club business plan. Here, you should show lenders and/or investors that you fully understand the trends of the industry you evolve in.

More importantly, it should prove to anyone that opening a fitness club now makes total sense based on market and competition dynamics.

For example, you would open a fitness club in an area where competition is limited. The same way you would start a HIT training gym in an area where your target customers live (e.g. large cities, affluent neighborhoods, etc.).

Market trends

Here you need to clearly identify 2 very important metrics:

  • Market size: how big is your market?
  • Market growth: how fast does your market grow?

First, you will need to define what is your market. Is this the membership gym industry in Los Angeles? Or is this the pay-per-class spinning gym industry in the US?

It’s always better to be more specific. For example, it’s better to define your market at a city level where you plan to open your gym (Los Angeles for example) vs. for the US as a whole.

Indeed, the US gym industry may be a very large industry ($33 billion in 2022), it might not be the case in the city where you want to open yours.

Of course, chances are that you will have difficulty finding some information. In any case, you should be able to make a high-level estimation of your market. Read our article on market sizing and how to estimate TAM, SAM and SOM for your startup.

Competition

The 2nd step of your market analysis is to describe competition in your area. There are a few questions to answer here:

  • How many gyms are there in the area?
  • What types of gyms are there (membership vs. pay-per-class ; specialty vs. general commercial gyms)?
  • What is the price point of your competitors (how much do they charge per membership / per class)?
  • How many customers do they have (approximately)?
  • What type of machines / equipments do they have?
  • Do they offer extra services (personal training, nutrition planning, massages, SPA, etc.)

In the end, your competition analysis should show a strong rationale for opening your gym today. It can be for example that:

  • There is no bodybuilding gym in the area but only affordable gyms with limited machines and equipment. Bodybuilders would love paying extra for a new gym with all the key machines they need for their competitions and physique
  • There is no pay-per-class fitness club in the area and existing gyms’ few spinning and HIT classes are always overbooked. Some sport enthusiasts would rather avoid paying a membership for a generic gym and go instead once or twice a week to a spinning class with dedicated trainers and lots of dates / times to choose from.

Customers

We already touched upon your target audience in the Business overview section earlier.

Here instead, the objective is to show lenders and investors that your target audience actually exists and live in the area where you plan to open a fitness club.

Therefore, you should explain here what are the types of customers who go to gyms and other fitness clubs in your area. Are they going to a yoga class once a week, or are they heavy sport addicts who hit the gym 2-3 times a week?

When you present customers here, you should always tie it into competition. Are gym customers in your area finding what they want, or is there a gap to fill in the market instead?

Studying competition is also very important to find information about potential customers. For example, it wouldn’t make any sense for you to open another CrossFit gym in an area where your only competitor is already struggling to pay rent. In other words, you don’t need to speak to any CrossFit enthusiast to know that they aren’t many in this area.

4. Sales & Marketing Strategy

Your fitness business plan should include a sales & marketing plan where you outline your strategy to acquire your target customers.

For example, you should answer the following questions:

  • What channel(s) do you plan to use (online vs. offline marketing channels)?
  • How does it make sense for your target audience? For example, social media may be your best bet to attract young adults to your new gym. Instead, billboards may be too expensive in certain areas
  • What is your unique selling proposition?
  • What is your expected marketing budget?
  • How will you track whether your marketing strategy is profitable? What’s your customer acquisition cost (CAC)?
  • What strategies and promotional offers do you plan on using in the early days to attract your first customers?

Let’s expand a bit on a few questions below:

What marketing channels fitness clubs use?

A few marketing channels fitness clubs typically use are:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • Pay-per-click campaigns (e.g. Google Ads)
  • Sponsorships (especially for B2B customers)
  • Partnerships (for example with day spas, coworking spaces, companies, etc.)
  • Billboards
  • Radio
  • TV
An example of a social media promotional ad for a gym

What is your unique selling proposition?

In other words, how do you differentiate yourself vs. competitors? This is very important as you might need to win customers from competitors.

A few examples of USPs are:

  • Price: you may be cheaper vs. your competitors
  • Quality: you offer new, state-of-the-art machines and equipments whilst your competitors’ are outdated
  • Pure player: you aim to be the go-to gym for pay-per-class HIT and spinning classes (vs. existing generic membership gyms that lag behind for these workouts)

5. Management & Organizational Structure

The 5th section of your fitness club business plan should be about people. It should include 2 main elements:

  • The management team and their experience / track record
  • The organizational structure: what are the different teams and who reports to whom?

Management

Here you should list all the management roles in your company. Of course, the amount of details you need to include here varies depending on the size of your company. A franchise business with 6 gyms would need more detail vs. an independent fitness club.

If you plan on running your business independently, you may write a short paragraph explaining who are the co-founders and/or managers (if there are any in addition to yourself), their qualifications and previous professional experiences.

Organizational structure

No matter how many leadership roles there are, you should now explain how you intend to run the company from a management standpoint.

What are the different teams (management, operations, personal trainers, etc.)? Are they any key supervisory roles who aren’t necessarily managers (e.g. team leaders, etc.). Note that you should include these details even if you haven’t hired anyone yet. It will show lenders and investors that you have a solid hiring and management plan to run the business successfully.

A great addition here is to add an organizational chart that list all the roles, from Directors to managers, key supervisory roles, employees and contractors. Make sure to highlight with reporting lines who manages/supervises whom.

An example of a fitness club organizational chart

6. Financial Plan

The financial plan is perhaps, with the executive summary, the most important section of any business plan.

Indeed, a solid financial plan tells lenders that your business is viable and can repay the loan you need from them. If you’re looking to raise equity from private investors, a solid financial plan will prove them your business is an attractive investment.

Remember: business plan are meant to obtain funding (a loan, grant or equity) from investors or a bank. These lenders or investors are people with strong financial analysis skills. Therefore, they will mostly look at your project from a financial standpoint. You might have the best fitness club out there, yet if yours isn’t profitable no one will invest, let alone lend you money.

There should be 3 sections to your financial plan section:

  • Your historical financials (only if you already operate the business and have financial accounts to show)
  • The startup costs of your project (if you plan to open a new gym, purchase new equipment, renovate your facilities, etc.)
  • The 5-year financial projections

Historical Financials (if any)

In the scenario where you already have some historical financials (a few quarters or a few years), include them. A summary of your financial statements in the form of charts e.g. revenue, gross profit and net profit is enough, save the rest for the appendix.

If you don’t have any, don’t worry, most new businesses don’t have any historical financials and that’s ok. If so, jump to Startup Costs instead.

Startup Costs

Before we expand on 5-year financial projections in the following section, it’s always best practice to start with listing the startup costs of your project. For a fitness club, startup costs are all the expenses you incur before you can open your gym and make money.

These expenses mostly include:

  • The lease deposit for the space you rent
  • The equipment and machines. If you decide to purchase (vs. leasing) the equipment, the total cost varies based on the number of machines and the quality. Keep in mind that fitness equipment typically ranges from $2,000 a piece for standard equipment (e.g. mid-end price range bikes) to $8,000 for heavier, high-end machines

It costs on average $24,000 to $500,000 to open a gym. The startup costs depend on a number of factors, mostly whether you decide to buy or lease the equipment (the machines). For a full review of how much it costs to open and run a fitness club, have a look at our complete guide.

Startup costsMin.Max.
Gym equipment$20,000 (leasing)$500,000 (buying)
Certifications$500$500
Legal fees$2,000$4,000
Insurance$1,500$5,000
Total$24,000 (leasing)$509,500 (buying)

Download the Gym & Fitness Club budget template

  • Lender & investor-friendly
  • Easy-to-use Excel template
  • CPA-developed financials
  • 30+ charts and metrics

Financial Projections

In addition to startup costs, you will now need to build a solid financial model over 5 years.

Your financial projections should be built using a spreadsheet (e.g. Excel or Google Sheets) and presented in the form of tables and charts in the business plan of your fitness club.

As usual, keep it concise here and save details (for example detailed financial statements, financial metrics, key assumptions used for the projections) for the appendix instead.

Your financial projections should answer at least the following questions:

  • How much revenue do you expect to generate over the next 5 years?
  • When do you expect to break even?
  • How much cash will you burn until you get there?
  • What’s the impact of a change in pricing (say 20%) on your margins?
  • What is your average customer acquisition cost?

You should include here your 3 financial statements (income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement). This means you must forecast:

  • The number of customers over time ;
  • Your expected revenue ;
  • Operating costs to run the business ;
  • Any other cash flow items (e.g. capex, debt repayment, etc.).

When projecting your revenue, make sure to sensitize pricing and the number of members / customers as a small change in these assumptions will have a big impact on your revenues.

When it comes to the costs, consider both startup and operating costs. For more information, read our article on how much it costs to open a gym or fitness club. For more information on how to build financial projections for a gym, read our complete guide here.

Source: Gym financial model template

7. Funding Ask

This is the last section of your fitness club business plan. Now that we have explained what your fitness club business model is about, what’s your strategy, where you go and how you get there, this section must answer the following questions:

  • How much funding do you need?
  • What financial instrument(s) do you need (is this equity or debt, or even a free-money public grant?)
  • How long will this funding last?
  • Where else does the money come from? If you apply for a SBA loan for example, where does the other part of the investment come from (your own capital, private investors?)

If you raise debt:

If you raise equity

  • What percentage ownership are you selling as part of this funding round?
  • What is the corresponding valuation of your business?

Use of Funds

Any business plan should include a clear use of funds section. This is where you explain how the money will be spent.

Will you spend most of the loan / investment in paying your employees’ salaries? Or will it cover mostly the cost to acquire the fitness machines and the renovation of the building?

Those are very important questions you should be able to answer in the blink of an eye. Don’t worry, this should come straight from your financial projections. If you’ve built solid projections like in our fitness club financial model template, you won’t have any issues answering these questions.

For the use of funds, we recommend using a pie chart like the one we have in our financial model template where we outline the main expenses categories as shown below.

An example of a funding ask slide for your fitness club business plan (source)

Download the Gym & Fitness Club budget template

  • Lender & investor-friendly
  • Easy-to-use Excel template
  • CPA-developed financials
  • 30+ charts and metrics