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Fuzzy
04-12-2011, 11:34 AM
Hey guys, just wanted to share some news with you guys. About a month ago, I struck upon the bright idea of opening a dedicated strength training gym, in response to the increasing demand I've been seeing. My current partner in this endeavour had tried unsuccessfully to get a loan from a bank, but was shot down. After this, we sat down, did some brain storming and realised that to do this, the gym had to be sustainable and viable. We had to start small, and move.

What I want, is people to shoot down my ideas, tell me where I'm being stupid and suggest alternatives.

I was extremely fortunate that during renovations to our house, my parents agreed to build a large garage/shed. My partner, who lives on the other side of town has a similar set up, as well as a massive backyard.

Our equipment currently stands at:
Mine:
3 platforms
2 free standing squat rack
1 commercial power rack
2 elieko oly bars, 1 ivanki pl bar, 2 standard commercial gym bars, 1 female bar, ez bar
620lbs of bumpers, 14x20kg plates, small metals.
1 flat bench for benching in the rack, adding an incline
hyper
Chains and bands

Partner's
3 platforms
1 commercial power rack
1 free standiong rack
1 elieko bar, 3 standard bars, ez bar
750lbs of bumpers
hyper
flat bench
5 tyres ranging from 600 to 900
farmers, kegs, other strongmanny stuff

Roughly, mine is the Olympic training facility, his is the strongman, and we're both capable of holding people who want to just lift heavy shit.

Now the issue of course is people. So I'm actively recruiting people and inviting them to come train. I have dedicated training times when anyone is welcome to train. I am slightly reluctant to do this as I am unqualified, but I also offer my own personal coaching based on my experience. Cost currently is simply 5 dollars a session, or 10 dollars a week (I'm open 6 nights a week) and 20 dollars for a direct one one coaching with me. I also have no issues with other guys taking clients in the gym and getting paid provided I get a small fee. My partner has an identical set up. So far I have roughly 20 regulars training at various times, some sessions are dedicated for Oly lifters only, and the rest is for general strength training.

Now, as for the future. Out first step is to get more and more numbers, ideally 50-60.

Second is to franchise with a strength gym called Performance Training Centre in Melbourne. Our rationale is that in doing so, we will be able to hold sanctioned CAPO meets, as well as sanctioned Olympic weightlifting meets. This also gets us an incredible saving on equipment. New affiliations, get a free power rack, 5 bars, and equipment at close to to no profit from the excellent guys at Ironedge Australia. I've also found a contact with a massive commercial equipment supplier who can get me stuff at cost price. I'm talking quality bars for 60 dollars, plates for 25 cents a pound, bench presses for 240. I bought a brand new excellent quality power rack new for 350. This also simplifies insurance, liability and business numbers etc.

Third is to find a central location with 300 square feet of room and get shit rolling.

Now, the total cost for our first year, including affiliation, rent utilities etc is going to be roughly (at most) 40,000 dollars for our first year.(not including equipment) Now I was considering signing people up to a foundation membership. Our goal prior to renting the facility is to get 60-80 people training with us and form a tight association. The other option is of course approaching various crossfit clubs and enticing them to come to our facility for a deal. Considering we already have 6 platforms I think this would greatly appeal to Crossfitters. People would then buy a foundation membership, which we could pool together to be able to do our first bomb. Ideally, with 80 people, that's 500 dollars for a year (300 dollars cheaper than the average decent gym here) giving us our first 40 grand. We still haven't accounted equipment, but considering the development time, I intend to be buying a new bar, plates etc as often as I can.

Our rough time plan is. Affiliate with the franchise by September of this year after both attaining 20 regular trainees and clients each. Begin holding competition of weightlifting, strongman, and powerlifting regularly. By June of 2012 I hope to have the 40 grand and 80 or so trainees and have signed the lease agreement for the warehouse. In the meantime, I am looking to add new bits of equipment as often as I can. Plates, bars, rack, benches etc.

Ideally the gym layout I am looking to set up will have
6x power racks
6x platforms
4x bench presses
3x GHR, 3x hyper
Various strong man equipment.
Eleiko Oly and PL competition sets for regular competitions.
20 bars, enough weights for everything
DB's

I am extremely serious about doing this. So... fire away, shoot me down, find plotholes, or just offer plain wishes of luck an encouragement. Any feed back is appreciated.

Travis Bell
04-12-2011, 11:43 AM
40K operating cost for your first year is obscene man. Just my 2 cents as a strength facility owner

You really should go back and figure the minimum you can get away with and still be productive. The strength business is largely word of mouth. Your results will do more for you than fancy equipment. I've seen dozens of gyms come out with the best there is to offer and go under within 3'years because they couldnt turn a profit

Fuzzy
04-12-2011, 12:00 PM
40K operating cost for your first year is obscene man. Just my 2 cents as a strength facility owner

You really should go back and figure the minimum you can get away with and still be productive. The strength business is largely word of mouth. Your results will do more for you than fancy equipment. I've seen dozens of gyms come out with the best there is to offer and go under within 3'years because they couldnt turn a profit

Perhaps I should have made it clear.

Rent of the warehouse space, and insurance as well as various other regulatory demands are possibly as high as 40k. 100 square meters in a warehouse will cost 20-25k, and insurance and other regulatory tid bits are as high as 15k.

I never said I was buying any fancy equipment, all my platforms are homemade from 2 pieces of wood glued together and horse grade rubber I picked up for cheap. I'm paying dirt cheap for equipment and buying the bare minimum equipment that will be serviceable. If I buy more bumpers, they will be the cheapest I can get away with, not Eleiko.

SEOINAGE
04-12-2011, 12:47 PM
I was looking into doing something similar in the last area I lived, did some work on a business plan, did a lot of calculations and things as well. My projected operating costs were considerably lower. Bank didn't take me seriously, only way they will is if you are already making a lot of money. Still though I think your idea is better than this place locally where I used to live that probably spent upwards of 300k on their equipment, tiny gym, just expensive garbage, didn't even have a free weight barbell. I didn't feel bad when they disappeared, especially when they told me the reason they didn't have free weights is because they were a small gym and couldn't handle it tearing the place up. I never saw a single person go in there and work out.

Good luck if you can make that work, I would suggest looking at all the different ways you can bring money in, not just focus on memberships. sell things, get to where you can offer serious coaching and training, have camps, all kinds of things can be done to make it work, but it is never a sure thing, fun risk though.

Kiff
04-12-2011, 01:14 PM
Look into selling Protein, shakes, drinks, maybe even food, clothes and anything people will buy to help get yo off the ground.

MarcusWild
04-12-2011, 02:31 PM
Start small and grow to bigger locations when you have to move because you don't have room. Joe DeFranco has written some good stuff on starting a gym. Going from a really small facility to something huge is going to be a huge financial stress.

BoAnderson71
04-12-2011, 02:41 PM
Start small and grow to bigger locations when you have to move because you don't have room. Joe DeFranco has written some good stuff on starting a gym. Going from a really small facility to something huge is going to be a huge financial stress.

Joe defranco started out the back of his chevy tahoe, and a closet underneath a real gym. Zach even esh started in his parents garage. I am in no way qualified to tell you how start up your own business, but it would seem that they focused on cliental before facilities and loans from banks.

barryisawinnah
04-12-2011, 03:33 PM
Joe defranco started out the back of his chevy tahoe, and a closet underneath a real gym. Zach even esh started in his parents garage. I am in no way qualified to tell you how start up your own business, but it would seem that they focused on cliental before facilities and loans from banks.


This.

This is kind of something I want to do, but I figure it will be a part time thing for a long time, maybe even forever, but hey, part of the reason I am going to school to also be a PE Teacher


Good luck bro.

Magilla
04-12-2011, 05:44 PM
I am no expert on gyms, but I know a thing or two about business. A business is all about cash flow, you have to turn a profit. The succussful business owners do not over extended themselves and never ever let a customer get to deep into their pockets (ie owe you money).

Travis Bell
04-12-2011, 06:20 PM
Perhaps I should have made it clear.

Rent of the warehouse space, and insurance as well as various other regulatory demands are possibly as high as 40k. 100 square meters in a warehouse will cost 20-25k, and insurance and other regulatory tid bits are as high as 15k.

I never said I was buying any fancy equipment, all my platforms are homemade from 2 pieces of wood glued together and horse grade rubber I picked up for cheap. I'm paying dirt cheap for equipment and buying the bare minimum equipment that will be serviceable. If I buy more bumpers, they will be the cheapest I can get away with, not Eleiko.

I hear what you are saying, my point is going right to a warehouse facility is a BIG gamble, one that a lot of gyms (at least in our area) have taken and lost on.

You're looking at paying around $2K/mth in rent is very pricey. Most gyms (like Defranco) end up in a facility like that because their number of clients requires this.

If you end up putting the cart before the horse so to speak, you're going to lose a lot of money and a good opportunity.

You're better off starting with a very small facility that will keep your overhead very low. Insurance is unavoidable. That one you can't really deal down on. But you definitely can choose your facility wisely.

My first place cost me $100/mth to run. Utilities included. I don't know how they do warehouses over there, but around here the rent does not include gas, electric and maintance on things like lights, furnace, AC what have you.

It was small, but as Detard saw when he interned at my gym, it worked. That allowed me to save more money. I also partnered with a gym next to mine which allowed me to use their equipment that I didn't have.

Obviously I've expanded, but now I've developed a very steady client base to where we are making a comfortable income and now gaining on average 2 new clients per month

The plan of opening a gym is fine, but you asked for input and in my opinion your going to end up biting off more than you can chew. You need to be able to go the whole year without making a profit (most models will say 3 years)

Just my 2 cents though.

Fuzzy
04-12-2011, 06:40 PM
I hear what you are saying, my point is going right to a warehouse facility is a BIG gamble, one that a lot of gyms (at least in our area) have taken and lost on.

You're looking at paying around $2K/mth in rent is very pricey. Most gyms (like Defranco) end up in a facility like that because their number of clients requires this.

If you end up putting the cart before the horse so to speak, you're going to lose a lot of money and a good opportunity.

You're better off starting with a very small facility that will keep your overhead very low. Insurance is unavoidable. That one you can't really deal down on. But you definitely can choose your facility wisely.

My first place cost me $100/mth to run. Utilities included. I don't know how they do warehouses over there, but around here the rent does not include gas, electric and maintance on things like lights, furnace, AC what have you.

It was small, but as Detard saw when he interned at my gym, it worked. That allowed me to save more money. I also partnered with a gym next to mine which allowed me to use their equipment that I didn't have.

Obviously I've expanded, but now I've developed a very steady client base to where we are making a comfortable income and now gaining on average 2 new clients per month

The plan of opening a gym is fine, but you asked for input and in my opinion your going to end up biting off more than you can chew. You need to be able to go the whole year without making a profit (most models will say 3 years)

Just my 2 cents though.

And what a valuable 2 cents it is. Obviously I wouldn't jump gun hoe into the big facility. Like I said, right now we have two facilities, the over sized shed at my parents house, and my partner's large concrete block and backyard. Before we look into a big warehouse we need to have a minimum of 80 willing clients ready to pay. We're operating under the idea that numbers make need, not of getting a large place and hoping the numbers will come. So we are hoping to spend from now till June of 2012 (or however long it takes) to get 60-80 people who are willing to commit to a year's membership before moving to the big facility. I really should have made this clear in my first post...

Travis Bell
04-12-2011, 08:03 PM
And what a valuable 2 cents it is. Obviously I wouldn't jump gun hoe into the big facility. Like I said, right now we have two facilities, the over sized shed at my parents house, and my partner's large concrete block and backyard. Before we look into a big warehouse we need to have a minimum of 80 willing clients ready to pay. We're operating under the idea that numbers make need, not of getting a large place and hoping the numbers will come. So we are hoping to spend from now till June of 2012 (or however long it takes) to get 60-80 people who are willing to commit to a year's membership before moving to the big facility. I really should have made this clear in my first post...

Ah I see. You're right I misunderstood that.

So in the meantime, what is your plan? What I mean is are you intending on training clients? Or are you hoping to recruit the 80 members that you need and then proceed with the necessary facility?

Have you thought about your approach to marketing?

Fuzzy
04-12-2011, 11:30 PM
Ah I see. You're right I misunderstood that.

So in the meantime, what is your plan? What I mean is are you intending on training clients? Or are you hoping to recruit the 80 members that you need and then proceed with the necessary facility?

Have you thought about your approach to marketing?

The plan is to train clients should they ask for it. Obviously I'm going to need a basic personal training qualification of some kind but all I really do is put people on the most basic of programs, teach them how not to kill themselves during the big big lifts, and leave them to it., But the real guts idea is to provide a place where 10-20 people who love strength, and training for strength, can train together at a time in a no BS environment with all the right equipment.

The second stage of the plan is to buy into a franchise, which will give me the rights to host and organise powerlifting meets in two states, as well as Olympic lifting meets.

The third stage, having developed a decent sized base of committed people, as well as a regular competition schedule, is to look into renting a warehouse area and moving in. So yes, recruit the 80 people, have the commit to a cheaper one year membership with the facility, and then - and only then - put down for the first year of rent in the bigger facility.

As for marketing, minus facebook groups etc I haven't done much yet. So far I've had no problem getting decent sized groups of people to train 2-3 nights a week. Last night I had a group of 8 training. However I am now looking into making posters to put up around campus featuring one highly attractive female lifter... something alone the lines of 'think you're strong? PROVE IT.' I will sort that out in the next few weeks. Obviously there is also some cash to be made from hosting various oly/pl/sm meets.

Is this more on the right track Travis? I'm going to travel interstate soon to see the man who did this kind of thing in another city and to pick his brains. He went from a small shed to a large warehouse and is doing extremely well. Like with anything, copy what those who have done what you want to do.