Fitness As A Business: Who has or wants to own a gym, be a trainer, work in fitness?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 03, 2014 5:05 PM GMT
    Who wants to work in the fitness field?

    I've owned gyms and worked as a trainer for many years and I found it very satisfying. Seeing lives improve---and friendships made was the great part. The demanding schedule was the only down side.

    What's your experiences and/or goals if you plan to work in fitness?
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    Dec 04, 2014 4:25 AM GMT
    I have thought about it as a "retirement" job and watched some of my friends try to make a living at it. e.g. As Scuba and sailing instructors. The problem seems to be that you teach someone how to do a sport and then they don't need you any more. Before long, you've saturated the market and income dries up. They try to supplement by selling gear, but the internet (or in the old days, mail-order) businesses always under cut them. Then they try dividing up their classes into ever smaller and more ludicrous increments. (For $400, we'll teach you how to put on a mask and snorkel! But come back and pay more for the next vital lesson or you'll DIE!) Then people just buy the DVD.

    Seems more like a supplemental thing to make a little extra cash, than like a career.

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    Dec 04, 2014 5:12 AM GMT
    Funny, just today someone at the gym asked whether I'd consider becoming a personal trainer. I told him I'd given it thought but being honest with myself realized that I could only remain personable in doses, not for three hours and three clients in a row. Most clients I've observed are really looking for someone to talk at, and that's not me.

    I'd make the effort in if I still lived in Manhattan because there I observed that any trainer with half a brain could make a fortune because they exercise a form of strange, svengali-like control over some of their bigwig clients. Like women with their hairdressers, on gym floors I've overheard executive men give everything from free career advice to actual jobs to illegal insider stock tips to their trainers. Outside the golf course who aside from a personal trainer would have as much one-on-one access to a company President or CEO? Who are ceded control by their clients (like women with their hair stylists) through the intimate power of touch?
  • dido8

    Posts: 7

    Dec 04, 2014 10:14 PM GMT
    Determinate saidWho wants to work in the fitness field?

    I've owned gyms and worked as a trainer for many years and I found it very satisfying. Seeing lives improve---and friendships made was the great part. The demanding schedule was the only down side.

    What's your experiences and/or goals if you plan to work in fitness?


    I'm a Kinesiology student and I was hoping to do some personal training on the side. But as some of the guys here said it is hard to keep people motivated and is not very secure.
    What if I added some certifications on the side? Such as getting pilates certified and stuff like that. I could do personal training, pilates, yoga, etc.

    What do you think?
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    Dec 05, 2014 11:34 PM GMT
    I was a personal trainer for a little over a year and absolutely loved it. I'd get a buzz from pushing my clients through a tough workout and then seeing their sense of accomplishment afterward. I did it part-time, just for fun, as I have a day job in technology and ultimately left it because it was just too much of a burden to have two jobs, a boyfriend and some semblance of a social life.

    If it paid better, I would do it full time. Owning a gym is something that I dream about, too.
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    Dec 06, 2014 12:00 AM GMT
    own a gym:
    in a very nice part of town, not to upscale, just nice, i saw a gym go out of business only after a year of operation.

    its still a recession in Denver i guess
    competition is a bitch; i pay $100/yr at 24hour Fitness.
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    Dec 06, 2014 1:28 AM GMT
    dido8 said
    Determinate saidWho wants to work in the fitness field?

    I've owned gyms and worked as a trainer for many years and I found it very satisfying. Seeing lives improve---and friendships made was the great part. The demanding schedule was the only down side.

    What's your experiences and/or goals if you plan to work in fitness?


    I'm a Kinesiology student and I was hoping to do some personal training on the side. But as some of the guys here said it is hard to keep people motivated and is not very secure.
    What if I added some certifications on the side? Such as getting pilates certified and stuff like that. I could do personal training, pilates, yoga, etc.

    What do you think?


    YES, become certified to teach classes as opposed to relying only on 1-on-1 training.

    As eagermuscle pointed out above, the "paid listener" aspect of personal training doesn't suit everyone. As a teacher you'll suffer none of that.
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    Dec 06, 2014 1:38 AM GMT
    pellaz saidown a gym:
    in a very nice part of town, not to upscale, just nice, i saw a gym go out of business only after a year of operation.

    its still a recession in Denver i guess
    competition is a bitch; i pay $100/yr at 24hour Fitness.


    I'm fascinated by the 24hour gyms as a business model.

    Having minimal staff makes the operation easier. And not worrying that your opening person is there by 5am every morning...would be a huge stress relief.

    But the 24hr gyms charge so little that I can't see profits after maintenance.
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Dec 06, 2014 1:46 AM GMT
    pellaz saidown a gym:
    in a very nice part of town, not to upscale, just nice, i saw a gym go out of business only after a year of operation.

    its still a recession in Denver i guess
    competition is a bitch; i pay $100/yr at 24hour Fitness.

    This. It seems like the competition is great for consumers, but it would be tough to compete as a business owner. You'd almost have to find a niche market within the fitness world.
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    Dec 06, 2014 2:14 AM GMT
    I knew some guys who rented an old garage and pooled all their weights and stuff. Nobody was making a profit, but their monthly "dues" were far, far less than membership at the racquet club, which was the only alternative in that town.

    Maybe that's one reason there are so many "cross fit" start-ups. All you need is a warehouse and some junk...
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    Dec 06, 2014 2:19 AM GMT
    Determinate said
    pellaz saidown a gym:
    in a very nice part of town, not to upscale, just nice, i saw a gym go out of business only after a year of operation.

    its still a recession in Denver i guess
    competition is a bitch; i pay $100/yr at 24hour Fitness.


    I'm fascinated by the 24hour gyms as a business model.

    Having minimal staff makes the operation easier. And not worrying that your opening person is there by 5am every morning...would be a huge stress relief.

    But the 24hr gyms charge so little that I can't see profits after maintenance.


    Places like Planet Fitness make a profit by getting hordes of people to sign up then making it a major pain in the assignment to drop your membership. You can't do it via phone or Internet. You have to go back to the one you signed up at to cancel. So even if it's only $10/month if you have several hundred people paying but not showing up you're set.
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    Dec 06, 2014 2:25 AM GMT
    I think the next wave will be some type of variation on the Crossfit experience.

    Imagine a Crossfit that doesn't take itself as seriously but still offers qualified supervision for those who want it.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 06, 2014 2:32 AM GMT
    The low price scheme is pretty old in gym business. At one time it was a smart bet that most people would never use the membership so the $99/year was still pure profit.

    But now on average, we buy and then use our memberships.

    We also value the gym experience more. We're willing to pay for quality instruction and great equipment.

    A gym can always be a great business for an owner who pays attention to his customers and values quality.
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    Dec 06, 2014 3:26 AM GMT
    I would open a gym. But liability/insurance kinda makes me hesitant.
  • wesv

    Posts: 907

    Dec 06, 2014 5:02 AM GMT
    I was thinking about getting a BA in urban planning or civil engineering but changed my mind. Now I'm just going to get an AA in kinesiology. I might just pursue some type of career in physical fitness.
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    Dec 06, 2014 1:12 PM GMT
    xrichx saidI would open a gym. But liability/insurance kinda makes me hesitant.


    If that's your only hesitation it shouldn't be.

    Your insurance company will offer you a surprisingly low rate to insure your gym against liability. The reason is that you are very, very unlikely to ever face a claim.

    Can you imagine how few trainers there would be if liability for injuries was actually an issue?
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Dec 06, 2014 1:41 PM GMT
    I am definitely a little unusual here, I'm a financial planner with a law degree and already am involved in a successful business venture (my clients)!

    But those of us who like to be involved in a variety of things can do more than one thing.... I do a weekly recorded webradio fitness program and interview those involved in the fitness industry. We have a great format and a growing audience. I'm fortunate to have a great contributor to our program who himself is an attorney and personal trainer. Becoming ACE certified has been just a single step in what I perceive to be a great calling.
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    Dec 06, 2014 3:26 PM GMT
    3 years ago, a group of us spotted a warehouse with 5 apartments above.
    -all near a lite rail with parking
    -the apartments nearly 100% rented and in good shape
    -the structure was 1890 vintage, solid with modern mechanical, electrical plumbing and roofing.
    -the city was willing to permit a few business plans for the commercial space
    -the rent from the apartments would support the commercial space.

    I had lots of frustration getting a bank to fund the project despite a solid business plan and reputation.
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    Dec 06, 2014 5:05 PM GMT
    HndsmKansan saidI am definitely a little unusual here, I'm a financial planner with a law degree and already am involved in a successful business venture (my clients)!

    But those of us who like to be involved in a variety of things can do more than one thing.... I do a weekly recorded webradio fitness program and interview those involved in the fitness industry. We have a great format and a growing audience. I'm fortunate to have a great contributor to our program who himself is an attorney and personal trainer. Becoming ACE certified has been just a single step in what I perceive to be a great calling.


    Great Example of another path into the fitness biz.
    Bravo!
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 14354

    Dec 06, 2014 6:26 PM GMT
    wesv saidI was thinking about getting a BA in urban planning or civil engineering but changed my mind. Now I'm just going to get an AA in kinesiology. I might just pursue some type of career in physical fitness.
    That is a very good move on your part. There are no jobs and no viable future in the urban planning profession. You are much better off pursuing a degree in kinesiology. I wish that I could pursue a career in a fitness related field but I can't afford it. Working in a gym or health club would be a massive improvement over working in a crappy little office/mailroom.
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    Dec 07, 2014 7:54 AM GMT
    I'd love to have a stake as either a shareholder or employee in one where physical fitness is part of the rehabilitation treatment.
    @pazzy, you have said,

    " but the fitness trainer shit is rigged with dishonesty, integrity issues, falsehoods and etc as they unfortunately reflect the fitness/bodybuilding industry which is fucked up in itself"

    I agree to an extent, particularly at those gyms that offer inexpensive memberships. I had worked at a posh rehab where I attended a mini rehab program as envoy from management. I tested the rehab fitness trainers (where they were paid much more than at commercial gyms) and they were quite knowledgeable. They could prescribe a specialized exercise program (for me) that appeared sound. (Although I did not major in Physical Ed in college, I took many electives in P.E., worked part time for 2 physical therapists specializing in patients with multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy, & courses to be a certified life guard). Besides the rehab was wise to hire qualified fitness trainers, otherwise any mishap experienced by the patients due to incompetency could land in expensive lawsuits.