A blog post on Starting a Fitness Boot Camp Business on a Shoestring Budget – by Bedros Keuilian
If you’re a personal trainer and still doing one-on-one sessions every day, 6 days a week, and you love it more than anything else on the planet, then this post isn’t for you.
The top three questions I get the most in my inbox are:
1. How to get more personal training clients
3. How to start a fitness boot camp business
As much as I loved personal training and really got into training my clients and helping them get to better health, at some point I had to stop and think about how I could maximize my income and work less hours.
I don’t care who you are and how long you’ve been training… at some point you’re going to burn out and start looking for a way to get some balance in your life and with that comes more money.
And while more trainers ask me about starting a personal training business… I’m here to tell you that starting a fitness boot camp business is far more profitable, has less moving parts, still delivers your clients amazing results, and it’s way less costly then starting a one on one personal training business.
Here are a few points that might help:
Think Big but Start out Small
Probably the biggest expense you’re going to encounter is rent. With commercial space the more square footage you have the higher the rent will be, plus all the related expenses. If you’re skilled at marketing and already have a waiting list of people to join your boot camp that’s great, but can you keep that marketing ball rolling? You don’t want to end up with a 5-year lease and a dwindling number of members. I know you’re dreaming big – there’s nothing wrong with that, but walk don’t run. The planning stage is crucial and the key here is to be realistic, otherwise your endeavor could turn into a financial nightmare.
Consider the size, visibility, costs of upkeep and the terms of the lease before you sign. Many commercial property leases have crippling termination fees if you have to close down before the end of the term. Hire a lawyer to look over any lease before you sign.
If you rent somewhere that will accommodate a class of 50 remember then you have to provide equipment for all those people! It may be more cost effective to rent smaller premises, and run more classes thereby greatly reducing your capital outlay on equipment. Plan well ahead as to what you will need because you don’t want large pieces of equipment taking up floor space and not paying their way.
By running smaller classes it also means you can give each member more personalized attention, which is essential. Happy members will spread the word; those who can’t get your attention will go away disappointed.
Lease don’t Buy
Leasing expensive equipment has a number of advantages; the most important will be a big reduction in capital outlay. If you’re starting a fitness boot camp business for the first time and your credit is good, then spend a lot of time researching the equipment you’ll need and the leasing companies that can provide it. Play one off against the other. Bargain and negotiate for what YOU want.
If you intend to hold several classes a day, every day of the week, your equipment is going to take a pounding and you won’t want to have to deal with selling and disposing of busted equipment when you could simply request a replacement or repair from the leasing company.
If you decide to lease and you need to get a loan to start your fitness boot camp business you won’t have to go cap in hand for a loan for the full amount.
The last thing you should ever do is purchase equipment on a credit card when starting a fitness boot camp business because there are a ton of exercises you can do with body weight or a few sets of dumbbells.
Look at a Franchise
There are a number of advantages to buying into a franchise (Full disclosure, I’m CEO and President of this personal training franchise )
They will assist you in finding the right premises and that’s a BIG plus when you’re considering signing your name on the dotted line.
Equipment lease and/or purchase costs can be greatly discounted because they buy in bulk
They have access to specialist financing: they may offer deferred loan terms and financial assistance for startup
Marketing costs – because you will be working with an established “brand name” that side of the marketing has been done for you. The company will know all the best places to advertise and how to attract new clients for you, leaving you more time to concentrate on the business and less time experimenting and trying to find the best methods of promotion.
The franchise company wants you to succeed. You will be part of their family and they will help you every step of the way. They will charge for additional marketing such as pay-per-click advertising but by being a part of that recognizable brand name you’ll already be ahead of local independent competitors.
There are downsides to joining a franchise though. You may feel that the monthly costs are too high and certain of their rules are too restrictive for you. Contact all the companies and see what each has to offer.
If you decide against a franchise then you could find other ways of financing your business
Small Business Administration (SBA)
You could apply to the Small Business Administration to finance your fitness boot camp business, but with as with any business loan you must have a solid business plan and be able to answer a lot of questions. They also offer many helpful classes on different aspects of running a small business, even if you don’t apply for a loan with them.
Credit Unions & Banks
If you have an account with a credit union, did you know they offer competitive small business loans to entrepreneurs? Again you must be able to show them a solid business plan. Credit Unions pump their profits back into local communities and often have better, more flexible terms than big banks.
Friends & Family
Have you thought about approaching someone who knows you well for a loan? With returns on CDs, Treasury Notes and investment accounts being so low at the moment many investors are looking at creative ways to get better returns. Treat them as you would if you were borrowing from a financial institution. Hire a lawyer to write up the terms of the loan so there are no misunderstandings. Let them know you’re really serious about starting a fitness boot camp business!
You’ll need to be an entrepreneur, have the right mindset and self-discipline to make your fitness boot camp marketing and business work. Planning is essential, right down to the tiniest detail. What happens if you get the ‘flu for a week or break an arm? You’ll also have to look into insuring your business and have public liability insurance in case someone gets hurt and it’s your fault.
Have you thought about partnering with someone else who’d like to start a fitness boot camp business? You’ll be able to maximize the return you get from your property rental and you’ll both be covered for days off, sickness and the odd vacation that you’ll want to take.
Don’t start a fitness boot camp business because everyone else is doing it. That’s not the right attitude. Plan to start your business so that after a few years you’ll have others running it for you and you can get on with other things in life that are important to you. You must also plan to have enough money to be able to do those things and sock away money for emergencies and retirement.
It’s not so much about starting your boot camp business as it is about having solid financials, business plans, boot camp marketing plan, and goals so it will sustain you for the rest of your working life.