How to start a fitness business

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Are you interested in combining your passion for business and exercise? If so, then starting a fitness business might be something for you.

Not sure where to start? Use this guide to find out the key practical, legal and financial steps to get your venture up and running.

What is a fitness business?

A fitness business offers physical exercise training and classes for a fee to clients. Training can be provided entirely online or in person.

Fitness training business

Create a business plan

It's always good to have a plan, especially before starting a new venture. Writing a business plan or researching mandatory qualifications can save you headaches down the line. We've summarised what you need to know below. Consider the following points in your plan:

  • Choose a niche. Which fitness niche are you most passionate about? How saturated is it? Are there new opportunities within the niche?
  • Market research. Approximately how many people are there in your target market? Are there any other fitness competitors already operating in your market?
  • Investment and finances. What are the costs associated with starting your new venture? How will you secure the initial investments? What are your projected revenues and running costs?

Find out how to create a winning business plan in our guide.

Get relevant qualifications

In Australia, personal trainers are required to have personal training certifications to operate. Gym floor instructors that supervise and instruct gym members on the proper use of equipment need a Certificate III in Fitness (approximately $2,500). Trainers will also need a Certificate IV in Fitness (approximately $3,500) to be able to coach individual clients.

Some councils require a fee or permit to use parks for boot camps or exercise classes. Find out from your local council whether you can use the park before launching the business.

If you're keen to work on your business knowledge while also building your fitness skills, you can complete your personal training certifications with a Diploma of Business. For those also providing advice on diet and nutrition, consider a nutritionist course to ensure you have the right qualifications.

Once you have your certifications in hand, your fitness business might also benefit from becoming a member of an Australian fitness association such as Fitness Australia or Exercise & Sports Science Australia.

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    Choose a business structure

    There are different business structures to choose from in Australia. The three most common structures are:

    • Sole Trader. A low-cost and easy business structure, also known as a Sole Proprietorship. It's essentially a one-person business where you alone are responsible and liable for the management and finances.
    • Partnership. A Partnership is made up of two or more people. All partners share ownership and responsibility of the business.
    • Company. A Company is a separate legal entity from its owners. A Company is instead owned by shareholders who are not personally liable for the business's assets.

    Once you've decided on your business structure, you'll need to register your business for an Australian Business Number (ABN) to make it official. You will need your ABN for tax purposes or to apply for any type of business finance.

    Registering your fitness business name isn't necessary if you're a Sole Trader. However, if you're starting a Company, check if your preferred name is available using the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's (ASIC) business names register search tool.

    Depending on the type of business structure you choose, you may also need to register for an Australian Company Number (ACN), goods and services tax (GST) or pay-as-you-go instalments (PAYG). These can all be done online through the Australian Tax Office's (ATO) Business Portal.

    Buy equipment, software and insurance

    Whether running an outdoor boot camp, a yoga studio or a personal training business, you'll need to make sure you've got all the essential equipment. We've listed some of the equipment, software and insurances to consider for your new business below.

    Equipment

    While equipment will vary depending on your business model, you will definitely need:

    • Fitness equipment. This is a given and could be as simple as a few yoga mats or a fully kitted out gym. You can start small and build up as you grow or look into gym equipment finance options.

    Software

    Using the right software can save your business time and money. Consider getting the following:

    • Client management software. Software that allows you to schedule appointments, send reminders, track individual performance and progress, and even accept payments.
    • Accounting software. Useful to track income and expenses, send invoices, scan receipts and also pay employees.
    • Email marketing tools. Once you start building a client base, you'll want an efficient way to keep track of contact details and a way to communicate with your clients.
    • Team communication programs. Streamline communication within your team with applications like Slack.

    Insurance

    Insurance can protect you and your business in many ways. There are different types of insurances to consider:

    • Public Liability Insurance. If you own a gym or fitness studio and someone injures themselves on your premises, Public Liability Insurance can protect you.
    • Professional Indemnity Insurance. If a client injures themselves as a result of your guidance or advice then you could be liable to financially compensate for their injuries. Professional Indemnity Insurance can protect you if someone is injured from your services and decides to sue your business.
    • Personal Accident Insurance. If you suffer an injury and are unable to work then Personal Accident Insurance can provide a source of income for the short term.

    You're nearly ready to launch your fitness business. However, before you begin you'll want to have some legal documents in place first. These include:

    • Fitness Waiver. A waiver can protect a fitness provider if a client injures themself whilst working out.
    • Privacy Policy. A document stating how personal information from clients is collected, used and stored.
    • Website Disclaimer. If you provide health and fitness advice on your website, then a disclaimer can protect you from liability if someone is injured from following the advice.

    If you're unsure of how to write any of the above documents, you can find plenty of legal document templates online. Alternatively, contact an online legal service to help you draft or review policies, contracts and agreements.

    Get access to legal services and documents online

    Name Product What's offered? Starting price to become a member Annual Fee from Free legal documents available?
    Lawpath
    Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $79 per month
    Essentials: $288, legal advice: $828
    You can view samples for free and you can create your first document for free.
    Choose an annual plan from just $288 and get unlimited revisions to your legal or business documents. Plus, unlock exclusive partner offers.
    LawDepot
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
    $4.99 per month
    $59.88
    Free one week trial available which gives access to hundreds of documents.
    Customise and download legal documents in as little as five minutes. Plus, LawDepot offers peace of mind with two service guarantees.
    Legal123
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
    Varies per template
    N/A
    No
    Legal123 offers a range of individual templates or document packages for consultants, app developers, personal trainers and more.
    LegalVision
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $49 + GST per week
    $2,548 + GST
    No
    Your business can take advantage of unlimited lawyer consultations, fast turnaround times and free legal templates with LegalVision.
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    Build a customer base

    Now that your business structure is set up and you've got all the legal documents in place, you'll want to start finding clients. Below we've listed how to market your fitness business and how much to charge customers.

    How to market your fitness business

    Build your customer base and grow sales by marketing your business. Some ideas to reach new clients include:

    • Social media. Grow your online presence by being active on social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Twitter.
    • Influencer marketing. Leverage the power of influencers to market your new fitness business. Contact influencers within your niche and ask whether they would like to try your program for free in return for a review.
    • Referral program. Find new clients by incentivising your current ones to share your business with their network. An example of an incentive is to offer both the referrer and the new client a discount.

    How much to charge customers

    Market research is a great way to find out what your target market is willing to pay. Fitness businesses have different ways of charging customers. Typically, training or classes are charged per hour or at a fixed-rate package.

    An hourly rate is most common for a fitness business that's largely one-on-one based, such as a personal training business. To find your ideal hourly rate, calculate how much you want to earn every year. Factor in any time off and how many hours you want to work each week, and that gives you your hourly rate.

    For example: $90,000 (annual salary) ÷ 46 (weeks of work) = $1,956 ÷ 30 (hours worked per week) = $65.

    You should also take into account the travel time to get to your clients, fees for training in a gym and equipment costs. These running costs will all deduct from your potential earnings.

    A gym usually charges clients by the week for a fixed contract period with costs ranging from $13.95 per week to $38 per week. They also charge a joining fee, typically starting at $25 that can go up to $199. Check out our gym comparison to get an idea of how much gyms across Australia are charging.

    Group fitness classes such as yoga, boot camp or Zumba can charge an average of around $10 to $30 per session. This can be based on the cost to rent your space, how many clients you expect to have in each class, and how niche and specialised your fitness business is.

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    Frequently asked questions

    Is running a fitness business profitable?

    This entirely depends on how well your business is run, how popular your services are with clients and, of course, a little bit of luck as well. It's possible for a hard-working gym owner, for example, to make anywhere between $105,000 and $210,000 per year once the gym is established.

    How much does it cost to start a gym?

    The cost of opening a gym franchise can be between $45,000 and $330,000, depending on the brand. Creating your very own gym can cost between $15,000 and $100,000, or more depending on factors such as location, size of the gym and the equipment you invest in.

    Can I start a fitness business with no money?

    While there will always be some costs involved in your startup, it is possible to start a fitness business with a small budget. Use low-cost or free marketing options such as social media or free trials, free resource options like online legal document templates and start small by training clients in their home, online or even outside.

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