How to Start a Health and Fitness Business

Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.

Working in the health and fitness industry is a rewarding career, helping people to feel great and stay healthy. If you’re reading this, then you’ve either made the decision or might be considering setting up a gym and fitness business.

These are exciting times and there’s nothing more rewarding than creating your own business from the ground up and watching it grow. However, creating strong foundations for your business is crucial if you’re going to be successful. In this guide, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about how to start a fitness business.

Online scheduling, payments and more with Square Appointments.

Scheduling software that helps bring in more business.

Decide on what kind of fitness business you will run and register your business:

The first thing to do is decide what kind of business yours will be. You could choose to open up a basic gym that caters to all individuals, or you may specialise in a gym with advanced weightlifting equipment. Alternatively, your new business venture may be a studio that runs fitness classes for women only. The choice is yours, but this is something you need to set in stone before you move any further.

When determining which route to go down, follow our tips and take the following points into consideration:

Have you researched the market?

While you may already have an area of health and fitness in mind, it’s important to ensure there is demand for that service before you jump right in. Do some research by scoping out what other health and fitness services are offered in your local area. Look online to see what facilities they provide, their opening hours and any extra services they provide.

What is your speciality?

Do you have a specific area of expertise you could make the most of? For example, if you’re a trained physiotherapist, then your gym may specialise in rehab treatments, or offer sports massages and rehabilitation programmes for injured athletes or individuals. Or if you specialise in body building then you could run a weightlifting gym that offers body building coaching and fitness plans.

Keep in mind that for each of these niche areas, your business will be required to hold the right professional licenses and qualifications. This means that you will either need to have them yourself or employ staff who have the desired qualifications.

Different options for owning a gym

There are a few different types of set up to choose from when considering how to start a gym. If you’re starting out with minimal funds and experience, then a franchise may be a good option. With a franchise, you will get all of the support and guidance needed from experts to grow your business. If you have more confidence in starting up your business from scratch, a private boutique gym or studio could be a good option and offers unlimited growth potential.

Register your business with the UK Gov

Once you have decided on the above, you will need to register your fitness business as a limited company on the UK Gov website and trademark your name and logo. This ensures you are paying the correct VAT and other fees required, as well as filing other legal obligations that are associated with starting up a company.

Create a fitness business plan

The next step is to create your fitness business plan. This will help keep you on track when setting up a gym business and will be essential in helping you obtain a loan or extra funding for your business venture. The steps to creating a business plan are as follows:

Write an executive Summary

Outline what your business will offer, what services it will provide and who to. This is your time to really sell your business and address what gap in the market it will fill.

Understand who is your target market

Here, you should go into detail about the current gap in the market and who will benefit from the services you will be providing. You should profile a thorough breakdown of the personas that will attend your gym and outline how their needs will be met.

Confirm what services and offerings you’ll provide

You should be as detailed as you can when laying out what services you will provide and the professionals you will be hiring to deliver these services. For example, if you are setting up a dance studio, discuss how you will obtain certified dance instructors to come and lead classes at your gym.

Work out who is in your market and who are competitors

This is where you will include all of your research on the current market, what services already exist and where there is a gap in the market for the services you are going to provide. You should do a detailed competitor analysis, including the top four or five competitors in your local area.

Create a staffing plan

You will need to consider what kind of staff you will employ and how you will manage your team. Will you be hiring freelance personal trainers and instructors to work at your gym and charge them a fee? Or will you hire permanent staff that will be based solely in your premises? The answer will depend on your budget, your expertise and the type of niche area you are targeting.

Detail your equipment and retail needs

Consider what equipment you will need when setting up a gym business. If you are going to run a dance studio then you may need to install ballet bars, specialist flooring, sound equipment and perhaps an area where you can sell dance and fitness clothing too. If you’re setting up a standard gym, you will need to purchase specific machines from a vendor that are in line with regulations and set up correctly.

Fitness Business startup costs to consider

Before setting up a gym business, it’s important to consider the following startup costs:


Consider how much you will need to either rent or purchase the building you will use for your fitness business. If funds are low to begin with, you could consider alternative options such as renting a small studio space or going down the franchise route.

Licences and Insurance

As well as public liability insurance, you will need to obtain the correct licences for your niche and ensure all staff have the correct qualifications and insurance to operate.


Again, if you don’t have enough initial funds to purchase your equipment, you could consider hiring it or going down the franchise route. Alternatively, you could use your business plan to apply for a startup loan.


Consider what staff you will need to run your business such as a receptionist, cleaners and supervisors or instructors.

Ways to finance your fitness business

If you don’t have enough money yourself, consider asking family and friends to invest in a small percentage of your business as a stakeholder. Alternatively, you could take out a business loan with the bank.

Technology and Tools to Run your Fitness Business

Setting up a gym business will require a lot of time and resources. However, there are a number of tools available to make running your business a lot smoother.

Square online - setting up a free online website

A website is essential in this day and age and will ensure your business can be found, as well as enabling you to build rapport with potential clients and returning ones too. Square offers an easy to build website platform that doesn’t require any complicated coding knowledge.

Square Invoices for recurring payment

Square’s invoicing system enables you to take the manual work out of the process by quickly sending digital estimates and invoices, as well as keeping track of which invoices are paid and unpaid, sending reminders and accepting payments, all in real time.

Square Gift Cards

Gift cards are a great way to promote your business by word of mouth and allow your current clients to let their friends and family try out your services too. Square gift cards can be generated at the click of a mouse and can be customised for each one purchased.

Square Team Management

Employing a team? Square’s team management system enables you to improve workflow your both you and the team with essential scheduling software, access controls for your gym POS system, time tracking and insightful analytics which will enable you to manage your team better.

Square Appointments

Going to be setting up appointments for physio or training sessions? Square’s booking and scheduling system will enable you to automate the process, removing the admin and leaving you to focus on what matters – the clients.

Setting up a gym business may seem like a challenging thing to do, however if you put in the work and dedication then you have a great chance of succeeding in your dream of running your own fitness business. So, what are you waiting for?