opening a gym

Gym Owner Struggles & How To Tackle Them

Opening up a gym or fitness club typically starts with two things: a passion for fitness and a passion to help people with fitness. Taking risks is one of the primary aspects that comes along with being a business owner, and even with the most successful businesses, all owners experience trial and error, setbacks and triumphs. Here are some of the most common gym owner struggles and how you can successfully handle them.

Opening Up a Gym: The Struggles You’ll Face


This is pretty much inevitable when an owner first opens up a gym. There’s a lot of pressure associated with being an every-man. You feel that you have to be the trainer, business owner, salesman, janitor–everything in the book, and it’s so easy to spiral into all of these job descriptions and forget to simply be the gym owner. Of course, it’s natural to take on multiple jobs, especially at first, but trusting and working with other people is something that you have to do if you want your gym to grow and succeed. A common occurrence when first opening up a gym that many owners struggle with is member attachment. Members tend to get very comfortable with certain trainers and don’t want to change. The issue arises because unfortunately, a growing fitness club sometimes needs to alternate between multiple trainers.


 Be proactive with your business–not in a way that you pressure yourself to wear all of the hats, but in a way that you set strategies and create a cohesive brand for your gym. When you’re first opening up a business, it’s very common to hire people that you’re familiar with like friends and family. Before going through the hiring process, be organized and have regulations and guidelines already set in place. Have a game plan from the get-go that has systems set in place, so you can teach all of the operations to new hires and people that you already had on board.

Read More: 10 Ways to Keep Your Gym Safe


 It’s so easy to fall into the trap of what everyone else is doing, and to a point, you have to understand what others are doing and know what attracts people. First and foremost, avoid thinking of competition as an “issue.” It’s part of life and always will be, and understanding your competitors is also part of understanding the industry you’re working in. Just avoid becoming obsessed with it.


 Start with understanding your own club and your own business goals because even though you’re in the same industry among thousands of other gyms, there’s always one thing that sets you apart from them, and vice versa.

This especially applies if for example your fitness club is a yoga studio and a kick-boxing gym just opened up down the street from you. Initially this seems like competition, but if you compare the two, your yoga studio has a completely different demographic than the kick-boxing gym. If the issue you face is that it’s another yoga studio down the street, do something like giving free t-shirts to new members at sign-up or hand out water bottles to prospects who try a yoga class for the first time. Include your company logo, slogan or mission statement on free products. This way, you’re taming the competition, not losing sight of your business goals and most importantly, creating value for your club that sets you apart from everyone else.


Arguably one of the most common issues all businesses face is how to get new people in your door. Although exceeding the expectations of your current members is a must for positive word of mouth, in today’s age, businesses need to go beyond their front doors.


Even though you might feel like a tiny fish in a giant ocean we call the internet, social media advertisements on platforms like Facebook and Instagram in addition to your other marketing efforts should be at the heart of your focus. Everyone is on social media, you can reach thousands of people and you can effectively target to your specific demographic. Within your social media ads, make sure to have incentives like free classes for a week and click throughs to your website so a prospect can easily learn more about your club.

Also, take advantage of our Pass-a-friend referral program, which offers passes that are custom to your club and automatically emails new members. Along with measuring the profitability of your marketing program, it tracks sales follow-up and closing percentages. As an owner, all you have to do is brainstorm incentives for members that refer their friends to your club.


When members are happy, that usually means fitness clubs are successful and gym owners are smiling, but member retention is a bit more complex than that. A lot of the time, there’s pressure attached to member retention and gym owners focus so much on funneling new people in that they forget to keep the current members satisfied.


People sign up with specific gyms for many reasons: membership price, convenient location, or something as simple as a friendly conversation you had with them–the list goes on, but unfortunately, people also cancel memberships for very specific reasons too. Sometimes the reasons are out of your control like the member moved or they lost their job and had to cut their expenses, but gym owners usually have a lot of power when it comes to retention. If you don’t already, your club needs to pull reports using gym management software. To breakdown your member retention, you need to analyze your gym’s data using reports like our Hourly Attendance Report, Age Breakdown Report, 30/60/90 Retention Detail Report and Birthday Lists.

You need to understand essential details like the peak and slow times of your facility, what the main age range and gender of your members are, when specific people signed up for their memberships and how often they come in to work out. Acknowledging specific details like member birthdays is crucial to making them feel valued. Another important retention detail is that members are never locked in for life, so it’s vital to bring the same value to the table as you would for prospects.

This means hosting unique events or giving out free merchandise with your club’s logo and mission statement to current members. You also need to know details like members cancelling because of broken machines or the cleanliness of your club. You can break this down using our Daily Service Notes report. The whole purpose of using reports is understanding where your strengths and weaknesses are as a business, so you can maintain healthy retention.


This is one of the most common obstacles when running a fitness club because once your gym is operating, it’s difficult to keep track of everyone’s payments and membership types. This is why all gyms need someone to process their members’ payments for them.


When you have someone else like ASF to process membership payments for you, then you suddenly have more time for other things­ like getting to know your members, understanding their fitness goals and needs along with bringing prospects on board. Money obviously matters to your business and is usually a fragile topic when it comes to members. That’s why ASF not only processes all of the payments for you, but when financial problems arise, members and owners are able to resolve the issues by talking with ASF customer support. When ASF manages payments, owners and members can be confident in their cash flow along with the service and communication that is provided to members.

Read More: How to Prep Your Gym for a New Year






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About ASF

ASF is a leading technology company that provides software, payment processing and customer support to the fitness industry including gyms, health clubs and martial arts studios. Since 1973, we’ve given gym and fitness club owners the ability to generate more revenue through member engagement and stronger communities.

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