Sweating the Money – The ABC of a Gym Owner Salary

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So, you have always dreamt of owning your own business. Plus, you are passionate about health and fitness. Why not open your own gym? The market is ever growing and there are buckets of profits laying in wait.

But being a gym owner does not mean that there is a steady paycheck waiting for you at the end of every month. There is a secret science behind the six-figure salaries of successful gym owners. Question is, what is the secret recipe?

Owning a gym is about so much more than pumping weights and setting up treadmills. It is about staff and salaries and buying the best equipment. It is about paying your business overheads and managing your budget. Most importantly, it is about making sure that your gym draws as many customers as possible. 

The hours you spend on your gym floor have a direct influence on your earnings. The great news is, you can earn a six-figure salary, and your profits can be huge – because it is all up to you!

Table of Contents

1. So, what do gym owners earn on average?

Truth is, there is no average when it comes to determining a gym owner’s salary.

Market research across the USA shows that a gym owner  of a medium-sized gym could earn around $150,000 per year. The general setup costs for a medium-sized gym is around $100,000.  But your profits for the first financial year could be as little as $50,000. Meaning you will only see larger profits and paychecks in your second year of operation.

Keep in mind that this is a new business, with growing members. Also remember that your earning potential will grow as your member base does. Increasing your member base, guarantees a larger income.

Another key to a bigger salary is to reinvest some of your profits back into your business. This will help to grow your gym daily. Add to that the drive to keep your costs as low as possible, and you will be earning a great salary before you know it.

Now, determining your own salary might be music to your ears. But not everyone can operate and run a successful gym. Like every industry, the world of a gym owner has its ups and downs. But if you know what to look for, you can navigate around the potholes. 

Want to know what these ups and downs are? – Let’s get dirty! 

2. The Ugly Truth About Being a Gym Owner

We look at successful businessmen and women running their gyms and they make it look easy. We imagine that working for ourselves and not answering to anyone must be blissful. But the fact is, it is not that simple. 

The world of a gym owner can be as rewarding as it is challenging.

If owning your own gym has always been your dream and you are passionate about fitness – let no one stop you. But before you jump head-first into starting your own gym, consider the following ugly truths.

You will be the boss and the buck stops with you.

It might look attractive, looking at successful business owners, answering to no-one. But the flip side of the coin is that all the responsibility will be yours. 

Negotiating your lease agreements, equipment repair, staff and administration, will all be on your plate. Apart from all that, you will also need to work in your gym yourself. You will need to train your team to support your vision. And you will have to be visible to your gym members daily.

You will face some difficult decisions about yourself and your business.

There will be a million challenges to building and owning a successful business. And you will question yourself and your abilities more than once. But no matter how tough it gets, you will have to be tougher to drive your brand into the future.

But owning a gym can also be satisfying and rewarding. And there are a million ways to increase your profits and help you earn a decent salary. From start-up investment tips to paying yourself first – we look at some take home points to get you started.

3. Start-up Investment

The first thing to be mindful of is your investment cost to set up your gym. The set-up process can demand large amounts in financial investment.

Your start-up investment will cover the foundation of your business. You will be securing your property and paying the deposit and franchise fees. Large chunks of your investment will go into securing premium quality fitness equipment. And then there is fixing up the building to get it ready for action.

To make sure you have a solid foundation for your gym, make sure you have good financial backing. 

Estimated costs for starting a medium-sized gym start at around $100 000 and can sometimes be a lot more. To keep these costs down, you can start smaller and grow your business as your customer base grows. Or you can opt to buy gym equipment in bulk. This can rope in thousands in start-up savings.  

Also remember that an investment in a good building and premium quality equipment means less maintenance. This in turn will have a positive effect on your bottom-line monthly income and your salary.

Once you have the keys to your brand new gym in hand, you can start building your brand. And nothing supports a strong business like a solid budget.

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Figure 2: Gym Equipment Image Src: Alphafit

4. Budget Like a Boss

Managing your income and expenses is a key priority to running a successful business. And nothing works better than maintaining a strict business budget.  But what exactly do you include in your budget?

Average Income

The average cost of a gym membership is about $55 per month. If you can secure 100 new members in your first month, you can lock in a revenue of $5500 for your first month. And more members will increase your income.

But do not bank on this amount as your take-home salary yet.

As the owner of the gym, it is your responsibility to make sure that all the costs get paid. 

Average Expenses

Monthly expenses will include costs like salaries, rental, utilities, maintenance, marketing, and other overheads. These necessary monthly running expenses will get paid from the income you receive from your paying gym members. 

Let us say these expenses run up a total of $3500 per month on average. Then your balance left on your income statement after expenses will total $2000. This  in essence is your monthly profit.

Put some funds back into your business

Keep in mind that you need to put some money away for unforeseen expenses. Also reserve a percentage of your profits to reinvest in your business for marketing and growth.

Note that you can always do more to increase your monthly income by creating other income streams. Add special classes, take on personal training sessions, or sell snacks and branded fitness gear in your gym. This will give your revenue the boost it needs to increase your profits and your take-home salary.

If you stick to a positive building strategy and invest to grow your business, you can be sure to see six-figure numbers roll in on your annual paycheck.

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Figure 3: Gym Owner Budget Image Src: Nate

5. Marketing for Growth

The drive and passion to grow your business is key to any successful gym. To grow your gym, you need to reinvest part of your monthly revenue back into marketing your gym.

Active marketing will ensure that you raise awareness for your gym. This in turn will ensure that more and more members sign up. And the more members in your gym, the higher the gym owner’s salary.

It does not matter what size your gym is or whether you belong to a commercial franchise. Marketing your gym is the biggest key to running a successful business.

Word-of-mouth and referrals can draw a big part of your new members. But in the competitive world of health and fitness, you will fall short if you only rely on word-of-mouth.

So how do successful gyms compete for clients and how exactly can you rise above the competition? Simple, they make use of every platform available to market their gym on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Below we list some advertising strategies that will get you noticed from the word “go”! 

Add your business on Google

Google is the largest search engine in the world and billions of people use it daily. If you want your business noticed, this is a good place to start.

Creating a page for your gym on Google will help potential clients to have a summarized overview of your facilities. They can also see your address and contact details. And can even follow the direct link to your web page or other important pages on display.

A business page on Google will ensure that your brand pops up when people are searching for local gyms.

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Figure 4: Gym Google Business Directory Image Src: Wishpond

Be sure to use great keywords like fitness, gym, local, and cross-fit in your SEO content. And always keep your contact details and location details accurate and up to date.

Get your website up and running

More than 50% of people use online engines as the first point of contact when looking for a business. If your gym is not listed online, you might miss out on more than half of your potential customers.

If you want to score members online, an attractive website is a must. Make sure your website is user-friendly. Also check that it contains all the information about your gym.  Update images, happenings, and other important feeds on a regular basis.

Daily SEO content

In the world of digital marketing, there is one holy grail – SEO content and keywords.

Local search engine optimization marketing is one of the best, low-cost ways to get your gym’s name out there.

The benefit to this form of advertising is that the more your site gets visited, the higher it climbs up the rank. And the higher it climbs up the visibility rank, the more people will see it and click on it as their first choice.

Make sure that you use keywords like local, near me, and best priced in your content. This will attract as many views as possible through your SEO marketing campaigns.

Get onto social media

Social media should form part of any gym’s marketing strategy.

More than 80% of the best fitness brands in the world have active social media profiles. you can find them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or all the above.

The use of social media marketing is as old as the universe of global information platforms. They hold huge benefits for your business because you can engage with your followers on a minute-by-minute basis.

This in turn creates a big opportunity for your brand because you get to show potential client’s what life inside your gym is like.

One thing to remember when setting up your social media platforms is to use your UTM tags. This will help you to determine and track the number of followers your gym is generating on all your SM platforms.

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Figure 5: Gym members on social media Src: Etsy

Launch a referral and rewards program

One of the most cost-effective ways to get your brand name out there, is to use your members as marketing agents.

With excellent service and facilities, you can start a referral and rewards program. Get your members to refer their family and friends to join your gym. Incentivize your members with a reward.

This will ensure that your members become active marketing agents, referring streams of people to your gym.

Launch promotions and competitions

There is always time for a good promotion! And there is no better way to get your name noticed than the potential for someone to win something or receive something for free.

With the start of every new year, you see hundreds of fitness campaigns filling up every marketing corner.

Make use of this hype by offering new-year sign-on discounts. Launch competitions at your gym. Or run a sign-up promotion that gives your new clients something in return for signing up. This is a great way to get more feet in the door.

Make sure you run seasonal and all-year promotions. This will make people take notice of your brand with great service and exciting giveaways.

6. Reinvesting for Long Term Returns

Investing in good quality commercial fitness equipment is essential for any gym. But even more important is securing your investment by reinvesting back into your business.

Reinvesting a percentage of your annual profits back into your gym will help it grow. This will lead to more members and larger revenues. On top of bigger profits, reinvestment into your gym holds great tax benefits because it is tax-deductible.

There are several ways that you can reinvest back into your gym to make sure you keep your clients happy. But the two most common ways are, through regular maintenance, and investing in the latest fitness equipment on offer.

Regular Maintenance

Making sure your gym equipment is in tip-top shape and safe for your members to use, is of utmost importance.

Regular maintenance will prolong the life of your gym machines. It will also ensure that your gym members have the best possible workout experience.

Latest Fitness Equipment

In the world of fitness and health, gym members want to have options.

Options of the latest and greatest that the fitness world has to offer. It is hard enough to keep up with the Joneses. So why not become a Jones?

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Figure 6: Yanre Fitness Leg extension Impulse fitness Image Src: Yanre Fitness

Stay ahead of the competition. Make sure that you save some of your monthly profits to reinvest back into your gym. Investing in the latest trends of gym equipment.

If you have the latest fitness equipment on offer, your gym will be the talk of the town. And the more members you sign up, the higher your take-home salary will become at the end of every month.

7. Cutting Costs for Bigger Profits

Most gym owners result in increasing membership fees to raise profit margins. If you are working at growing your members, this might not be the best option. A more rewarding option will be for you to look over your monthly expenses. Determine where you can save money by cutting costs.

A simple example of such an exercise will be looking at your monthly salary expenses. By spending more time on your gym floor, yourself, you will not need as many staff on shifts daily. This, in turn, means lower expenses in weekly wages and salaries and has a positive effect on your profits.

If you are running a lean ship and have a handle on your monthly costs and overheads, then there are excellent learnings to take home.

Learn from some of the biggest commercial gym owners on the market. This will ensure your gym turns a good profit and provides you with a generous monthly gym owner’s salary.

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Figure 7: Gym Owner working as a Trainer Image Src: ASFA

8. 3 Key Factors That Will Ensure You Make Money

Surviving your first year of business as a gym owner is vital. We know how difficult it can be and have listed some pointers to help guide you to success.

Generate pre-sale leads

It does not matter what size of gym you are opening; the fact is that the initial investment is a hefty amount. Other than that, your expenses will be greater than your income for the first couple of months.

By selling memberships before your gym opens, you create a way to settle some of your monthly expenses and cover overhead costs.

This is perfect for a start-up strategy. It ensures that there are members in your gym on opening day and it carries your brand into the market.

Become more than the gym owner

As a gym owner, you need to become a fitness chameleon. You need to be comfortable to switch between being a trainer to becoming the person who has the final say.

There will be endless amounts of paperwork and screen time. And many loose ends that will need your attention, other than taking care of business as usual. And then there is the customer care and nurturing. Being visible on your gym floor will create the notion with your members, that they matter.

Your advice and service will in turn ensure that your members leave your gym satisfied and happy. And happy customers will invite more happy customers.

And that, in the end, will lead to bigger profits.

Create a brand not just a gym

It is normal for first-time gym owners to spend their entire first year just focusing on the gym. This is super important for the survival of yourself and your business. But it is also important that you work on developing a brand and not just an institution.

When you sell fitness tools, accessories, and gym wear with your gym logo on it, you are sending your brand into the market. Not only are you creating brand awareness, but you are also marketing your gym and creating extra streams of income.

Many income streams and a strong brand will ensure bigger profits. And bigger profits will result in a higher gym owner’s salary, monthly.

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Figure 8: Gym Branded Water bottles and GearImage Src: Pinterest

9. A Day in the Life of a Gym Owner

As a gym owner your days will be filled with every task that will help to drive your business forward.

You, as owner of the gym, are responsible for keeping the boat afloat. You need to maintain your property and equipment, and grow your membership numbers to increase your revenue and grow your brand.

As the owner of your gym, you will be responsible for a wide variety of tasks.

You will have to hire the right staff and build a solid team. You will have to motivate, train, and manage your team. You will also be responsible for the administrative tasks. These include things like paying the bills, salaries and wages. But it also means you have to come up with clever marketing strategies to get the public through your doors.

The most important part of your day will revolve around interacting with your members. Be visible on your gym floor.

If you get involved in the training and classes in your gym, your current members will pick up on your passion and your goals. Your current members will invite more members to sign up. And the more members sign up, the higher your monthly profits will climb.

A day in the life of a gym owner is never boring and always rewarding. Surround yourself with a great team that knows and understands your business goals. Remain focused and plan your days ahead to make sure you have a handle on every aspect of your gym operation.

This is the winning recipe that will ensure everything on your list is taken care of, every day.

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Figure 9: Daily and weekly planner Image Src: Etsy

10. 7 Character Traits of a Successful Gym Owner

No successful business owner became successful overnight. To become a success, you need to practice key skills daily, until they become a habit. And do not be too hard on yourself if you do not get it all perfect the first time around. That is why practice makes perfect.

We take a look at 7 character traits to work on that will help you run a successful gym that signs on new members on a regular basis.

Lead by example

Gym owners meet and mingle with hundreds of people every day. Your staff, your current members, and potential new recruits. It is important that you trust yourself to make important decisions so that those around you can trust you as well.

Set your goals and performance factors and let your employees know what you expect of them. This will drive them to always give their best. Be kind and lead by example. If you want something done, show them what is expected by doing it yourself.

Remember that you are the face of your brand. As the owner of the gym, you need to behave and carry yourself in the manner you would like associated with your gym.

If you lead strong, proud, and steady, then your members and staff will pick up on that and they will act in the same manner.

Be steady and consistent

A great gym owner knows how to plan and stick to it.

Being a gym owner requires attention to detail on many levels with many tasks to complete. Without consistency and steadiness, these tasks will become a mountain, that if left undone, can harm your gym and your brand.

So, make sure you stick to your plan and stay on top of all your tasks daily. Make sure your gym is clean and presentable and that all your equipment is in working condition. Also take care of your daily admin and finance tasks.

Do not put off for tomorrow what must be done today. Because tomorrow will hold its own unique challenges.

Manage your finances well

The way you manage the finances of your gym will determine if your doors remain open or not.

As the gym owner you are not only responsible for yourself and your business, but also for every employee that forms part of your team. Being responsible for them, means that you must manage your business finances in such a way that you can pay every employee, yourself, and every bill at the end of every month.

Leave room and money enough for growth and advertising. Plough some profits back into your business to help it grow and be careful to not overcommit your business or gyms finances.

Be agile and adaptable

The fitness and health industry is forever evolving . The best gym owners in the world have perfected the skill to change with the times.

If you can adapt and change when times get difficult, you will be able to survive. And you will identify the opportunities and needs in the market that your competitors might not notice.

Because success does not happen overnight your agility and skills to adapt can make lighter work of your challenges. It will also give you a head start on your competitors.

Ace communication

Communication is key to the success of any business. As the owner of the gym, you will be in constant communication with your team, your members, suppliers, potential clients, sponsors and many more.

The health and fitness industry are an incredibly competitive and social industry. IF you want to be the best, you need to communicate like the best. Be open and honest. Be serving and friendly. And always work to expand your network to build your brand.

Persistence and tenacity

To survive in a competitive industry, you need persistence and tenacity.

In today’s world, anyone can open a fitness club or commercial gym. But not every person has the perseverance and grit to see a business through challenging and difficult times.

If you can combine persistence with agility, consistency and good communication, you will become the owner of a solid brand. A Brand that will not only experience constant growth, but will also be popular and well known.

Knowledge is key

Knowing the world of gym, gym finance, and fitness, is key to the survival of your business.

If you know the market then you will be able to identify potential challenges and pitfalls. And if you can identify potential struggles or problems, then you will be able to navigate your business around them.

To be the best at what you do, you need to know the most about what you do. The more you read up and study about your industry, the better you will become at being a successful gym owner.

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4k video footage of a young man using a computer in an office at the gym

Figure 10: Gym Owner working Admin Image Src: Getty

11. You matter. Pay yourself.

Work with no play makes Jack a dull boy, at least in the world of gym owners. You matter to your business. Without you, there will not be a business.

Paying yourself a monthly salary reflects on the health of your business.

This will in turn ensure that your books balance on a month-to-month basis. If your monthly expenses do not reflect your salary as a gym owner, then your bottom-line income will never reflect the gym’s true value. Your bottom line worth is important when the day comes to sell your business.

Also, you would never have one of your employees work an entire month without paying them. So, why would you expect yourself to work without taking a salary home?

So, keep yourself motivated and focused on your business goals. Make sure you secure a good paycheck and get around to paying yourself monthly.

12. Famous Last Words

In a world that needs to get healthier, you as a gym owner play a particularly important role. You should earn a salary that reflects that. 

The six-figure paychecks will not come overnight. But with focus and grit, you will succeed in building a successful fitness brand. Add a heaped spoon of perseverance and drive and you will soon earn a healthy monthly salary.

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