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How to Start a Gym: Tips to Get All the Heavy Lifting Out of the Way

The fitness industry is constantly growing as people become more aware of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, this is why this post will help you understand how to start a gym. 

Long gone are the days when gyms brought to mind Schwarzenegger look-alikes; a gym is now the refuge of food-lovers and city professionals.

The global health club industry pulls in $81.2 billion each year. This is enough proof that people dedicate a lot of their time and money to getting in shape. Therefore, you may wonder how to turn your passion into a profitable business by opening a gym. 

Luckily, this post covers the first steps you need to know before you start your very own gym business

Table of Contents

What is a Gym

A gym is a business where clients can come to exercise using machines, weights, cardio equipment and other exercise devices. Oftentimes gyms are indoors, but some more contemporary gyms ultilse outdoor space as well. 

Getting Started: The Pre-Planning Steps 


Before you get going on starting your own gym business you should do your research early on will ensure that everything is in order, when you launch. You should consider the cost of your services and what you will be providing. In determining your price, you must look into your competitor’s charging rates. 

Ideally, the cheaper your services the more inclined customers will be to contact you. However, you must be careful not to make your services too cheap for two reasons. Firstly, you need to make sure that you are making a profit. Secondly, you do not want customers to assume that your prices are low because the quality of your services are compromised. 


Your location is probably the most important aspect of your business when looking to open a gym so all related decisions will be vital. To start, you need to understand your target demographics in order to cater to their needs. For example, you can create a gym to deliver a family atmosphere where most of the equipment will be cardio machines and deliver weight loss programs. 

On the other hand, if you want to target a younger demographic, you will need to have more weights and equipment. Finding a balance between the two is preferable to maximise memberships.

You should also consider these factors when searching for a premises:

  • Size of the facilities
  • Proximity to shopping centres, competition and public transport
  • Rent cost
  • Lease terms

Nowadays, people go to gyms for a full experience rather than just a simple workout. Hence, your gym should be more than an iron paradise. Try incorporating health shops, cafes, nutritionists etc where customers can feel comfortable spending their time.

Opening Hours

Nowadays, people often prefer gyms with 24/7 access. Although customers desire this, it may drive up the costs substantially so it is an important consideration to think through. Additionally, you will need to consider appropriate safety precautions if you choose a 24 hour model.


When considering how much it will cost to open a gym business, it is important to understand what niche your gym will fit into. Is your gym going to focus on weights or cardio? 

Similarly, do you want to run classes or just provide the equipment? You should research how much the machines cost and how it will fit into your business plan when looking into opening a gym from scratch in Australia. 

Develop a Gym Business Plan

Excellent planning will often lead to success. Using your research, you should develop a formal business plan to guide your business. This might include your:

  • Business objectives and goals
  • Business structure
  • Target market
  • Competition
  • Marketing strategy

You can always seek assistance from a professional accountant or business lawyer to assist you with this, if you aren’t confident in developing a business plan yourself. It’s important to revisit and review your business plan regularly.

Determine your Business Name

Now you need to decide on a business name. Once you decide on your name, you can check the availability of the business name you have chosen. 

If the name is available, you can then register your business as a trademark to ensure that you have the exclusive rights to your business name throughout Australia. 

Determining your Business Structure

You will need to decide on a business structure to establish your business plan. Consider whether you will operate as one of the following. 

  • A sole trader is someone who owns and operates a business under their personal name. 
  • A partnership is when two or more people come together to form a business.
  • A company is when you register your business as a separate entity from your personal affairs. 

You should contemplate which structure will work best for your business goals. It is important to know what the legal ramifications are of each structure and how they can affect how you operate. 

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Registering your Business

You need to register for a few things in order to make your business official. For instance:

Source Insurance 

Insurance is the most important step when setting up your business. It is imperative that you protect yourself and your business from any legal action. Firstly, you will need a type of public liability insurance, this will be beneficial to limit liability.

Public liability insurance from insurance companies such as BizCover can help you protect your business.

Hire Employees

You will want to consider hiring additional staff to help ensure that your business runs smoothly, especially as it expands. You will need to decide how many employees you are looking to hire and what type of employment they will receive. Will they be full time, part time or casual workers? 

You will then need the appropriate employment agreements drawn up and signed. There are different types of employees that you can hire, learn more about how they may affect your business in the Webinar below.

Marketing Your Gym Business

Now all you need to have a successful business is working on appropriate jobs. When considering how to advertise your Gym business in Australia to help you attract individuals in need of a gym.  You may want to implement a strategic marketing plan to cover all your bases. This will allow you to gain insight into your target market. 

It will also be beneficial in helping you understand what is the most effective marketing method to reach your target market. 

Some marketing methods you may choose to use include starting a social media page or putting an advertisement in your local newspaper. Lots of gyms utlise platforms like Facebook and Instagram to grow their reach and get more customers. Another simple and effective approach to reaching new customers is through word of mouth. 

Having an online presence is important even for construction companies. Using websites like Shopify or GoDaddy can help you create a well-established business so that your customers can easily find you. Additionally, you should set up and maintain a website which means you need to consider any website terms and conditions to ensure that your customers are safe.

Here are a couple examples of Australian Gym Businesses and their online presence:

Running a gym involves a range of safety and occupational health hazards you will need to be aware of. You will own a duty of care towards your customers and employees.

‘Legal documents are an important consideration when running a Gym to ensure everything can run smoothly’ – Zoe Spanos Prime Strength Surry Hills 

Gym Waiver 

A gym waiver will provide you with a base level of protection and release from liability. In order to maintain high standards of safety, consider:

  • The safety of machinery;
  • The positioning of equipment; and
  • How classes are taught.

Additionally, if your gym contains a spa of sorts you may want to consider using a Spa Waiver also. 

Furthermore, it is wise to join an industry association. Fitness Australia is the national fitness and health association that monitors the adherence to the safety regulations and standards of service.

Membership Contracts

Your customers will be the lifeline of your business so understanding their needs are key when creating membership packages and marketing your gym. Your membership packages should consider:

  • Free trials
  • Length of membership
  • Flexibility of membership
  • Which facilities the membership gives access to

Once the membership packages are ready, it is essential you draft the terms and conditions of your gym. This document should outline:

  • Calculation of fees
  • Cancellation of memberships
  • Responsibility in the case of an injury
  • Events of late payment
  • Dispute resolutions

Also, it is important to be in constant communication with your members to receive feedback. You should email them about any news, promotions, and events.

To get up and running, you should consider these legal documents so that you can protect your business. Some documents you should consider include:

  • A Services Agreement can outline the service you provide so that your customer can know what to expect. 
  • A Employment Agreement can outline your employee’s responsibilities and their obligations to your business. 
  • A Tax Invoice allows you to create a formal request for payment and ensure your records are up to date. 
  • A Non-Disclosure Agreement (Mutual) allows you and another party to share confidential information while legally forbidding either party from disclosing that information to any other person or entity.
  • A Privacy Policy outlines how your business will use, store and collect your customers’ information.
  • A Liability Waiver (Personal) is a legal document that protects someone who wants to reduce their risk of liability.
  • A Gym Waiver (Covid) informs customers of the broad risks that come with attending a gym while the COVID-19 pandemic remains afoot.

How Lawpath Can Help

At Lawpath, we can help guide you through starting your own gym business. One of our Experienced Lawyers can provide you with all the legal information and requirements necessary for your business to succeed. 

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