Are you ready to turn your passion for gymnastics into your own thriving business? Maybe you’ve been nurturing the idea but never found a blueprint to overcome your procrastination and get things rolling. Well, that changes here and now. In this article, I’ll lay out an 11 step guide to taking your gymnastics gym dream from vague idea to a successful business.


It always pays to have a roadmap of exactly where you’re going. Here’s an overview of the steps we’ll be covering as we put some flesh on the skeleton of your gym business concept and bring it to life:

  • Answer the Question Why
  • Get Experience
  • Narrow Your Gym Type
  • Develop Your Business Plan
  • Form a Legal Entity
  • Find a Location
  • Equip Your Gym
  • Get Insured
  • Write Out A Procedure Plan
  • Hire Staff
  • Market Your Business

Answer the Question Why

There are many opportunities within the existing framework to satisfy your passion for gymnastic instruction. Whether it’s working in a club, a school, a YMCA, or a not-for-profit, you can teach without going into business for yourself. So, the first thing you need to do on your journey to opening your own gymnastics gym is to answer the question of why you want to go down this route. 

For most people, the reason is simple; they want to develop a profitable business. The passion and satisfaction of teaching may drive you, but unless you’re able to pay the bills, you won’t be able to teach anyone anything. Opening a gym is not the route if your goal is to make a lot of money in a hurry. You need to realize what you’re getting into here; incredibly long hours, you’ll always be the last one to get paid and if anything goes wrong, it’s all on you.

Over the long term, you can definitely build a profitable, thriving business that is both exciting, of huge service to others, and extremely rewarding for you. 

Get Experience

Before you start making moves to open your own gym, you need to soak up as much experience as you can while working in other people’s gyms. Spend time working across as wide a range of gymnastics settings as you can, including schools, YMCAs, and community rec centers. Keep a diary where you record your observations, jotting down what works and what falls flat. Be constantly on the lookout, too, for gaps in the market that you could potentially fill. 

Narrow Your Gym Type

Having verified that you want to open a gymnastic facility and that you are going into this venture wide-eyed as to the challenges and long-term profitability potential, you now need to narrow in on your vision. What type of gym do you want to operate? Here are a half dozen questions that will guide you in formulating your gym type:

  • How large will the gym be?
  • Do you want a mobile gym where you go to the client or a stand-alone facility?
  • Will you offer one on one or group training?
  • Will you train both boys and girls?
  • Will you train preschoolers?
  • Will you focus on competitive and elite gymnasts?
  • Will you exclusively train adults?
  • Will you focus on trampoline, tumbling, or acrobats training?
  • Will you include extra training such as martial arts and dance?

Develop Your Business Plan

A business plan is vital for several reasons. You will need to present a comprehensive plan of your business to any potential lending institution or potential investor. It will also help you to quantify the answers to the questions in the previous section, develop your mission statement, vision, and marketing plan and act as your blueprint as you bring your vision to reality.

Here are the different sections of a comprehensive business plan:

  • Introduction 
  • Executive Summary that provides an elevator pitch of the business concept, performance measures, and your financial requirements.
  • Vision / Mission Statement / Business Milestones
  • Market Analysis – overview, trends, target market, customer profiles
  • Competitive Analysis – breakdown of competitors, analysis, challenges, risks, and opportunities
  • Strategic Action Plan
  • Service and Product Description 
  • Marketing – branding/marketing strategy
  • Operations – staffing plan / organizational plan / facilities and programming plan 
  • Financials – Start Up Costs / Start Up Balance Sheet / Profit-Loss Forecast / Cash Flow Projection / Break Even Analysis / Balance Sheet

You can find a lot of useful guidance on how to write your business plan through the Small Business Association website. 

Form a Legal Entity

You now need to establish the legal structure for your gym business. By creating a separate legal entity for your business you will be protecting yourself from personal legal liability. The legal form of your business will also determine your business’ tax status. 

If you are going to be operating the business without a partner, you could create a sole proprietorship. Two people going into business together may set up a partnership. However, neither of those forms will prospect you from business creditors if everything goes belly up. Only a limited liability company (LLC) will do that. It cost more money, though, and requires dealing with governmental red tape. The choice between the relative simplicity of operating a sole proprietorship or partnership and the financial protection of an LLC is one that you will need to make early on. 

Find a Location

The location of your gym will be instrumental to the success of your business. Unless you are situated in a place that is surrounded by enough people to fill the gym while also being able to afford your fees, you won’t be around for long. While there are many thriving gyms in the small-town USA, the most desirable locations for a profitable gymnastics business are the growing suburban areas developing outside of the major cities. 

Locating your gym in a suburb has the following advantages:

  • It will only require a short commute for your members
  • You’ll likely be able to piggyback off the local fitness center, martial arts club, and other businesses that cater to kids and families. 
  • You will be able to enmesh yourself in the community, establishing your business as a service-minded local attraction. 

You should try to locate your gym a good distance away from an established gymnastics center. Trying to compete with a going concern off the bat will be a real challenge so look for a place that is at least 5 miles away from an existing gym.

The size of your gym will be a huge factor in its financial success. If you rent a facility that is 15000 square feet, you will need a membership of more than 500 students to make the business viable. A recent trend in the gym business has been to share several different training services under one roof so that a 15000 square foot warehouse might house a gymnastics gym, a fitness studio, a martial arts academy, and a dance studio. This not only divides the rent by four; it also allows for much greater foot traffic with the potential for cross-marketing and piggybacking off each other. 

As a general guide, a gym that has a membership forecast of 250 students will be able to operate comfortably in a 2,500 square foot space. 

Equip Your Gym

The following equipment breakdown is based on a membership of 250 students, with half of them being pre-school, 40 percent being enrolled in recreational classes and the final 10 percent being competitive.

  • A competitive floor that measures 42’ x 42’
  • A vaulting station
  • Two sets of uneven bar
  • A single bar
  • Four balance beams
  • Two 6’ x 12’ trampolines

In addition to this training equipment, your facility will also need to provide an administrative area with a counter, a sibling waiting area, restrooms, and an office. 

A major problem area for many gyms is having adequate parking available. Look for a location that provides a minimum of 25 parking spaces ( for a 250 student capacity gym) and that provides drop-off areas that makes it easy for busy parents to come and go. 

Get Insured

Before you open your new gym, you need to have insurance protection to make sure that you are completely covered for loss, damage, and liability arising from injury. You will need separate cover for all of the equipment, as well as for accidents and injuries to students while under your care. If you will be taking on independent contractors they should have their own insurance protection. 

You should start with general liability insurance. Professional liability will cover errors of negligence such as could occur if a member gets injured and sues on the basis that your staff member failed to properly instruct them. If you have employees, you should also have worker’s compensation insurance. 

Write Out A Procedure Plan

A Procedure Plan provides the specific action-focused guidelines that support the vision and mission statement of the business. This document will quantify how employees should conduct themselves, as well as providing details regarding employee hours, benefits, and compensation. 

The Procedures Plan will also spell out the operational expectations and standards regarding financial matters, day-to-day operations, and use of equipment. This plan is intended to be a living document that evolves along with the business. 

Hire Staff

Your employees are the face of the business. As a result, the success or failure of your business is largely dependent on the hiring decisions that you make. Before you begin the hiring process, though, you should familiarize yourself with the laws relating to staff recruitment. 

You may choose to work only with independent contractors. This will relieve you of any tax concerns regarding your staff. Every person that you bring on board, whether as an employee or a contractor, should be put through a background check with USA Gymnastics / National Center for Safety Initiatives. 

Market Your Business

You’ve now got everything in place to welcome members to your gym. All that’s left is to get out there and find them. Your marketing plan should encompass three levels:

  • Internal
  • Online
  • Off-line

This will cover your entire potential community so that you’re not just relying on one stream of leads. So, let’s take a look at each of these lead chains.


This refers to existing clients. You may not have any clients at all at the moment, but bear with me; you soon will. As soon as you do, you need to be running some sort of referral reward system. Your reward could be in the form of free sessions or a gift voucher. Tell your clients what type of new clients you’re looking for and make it easy for them to refer that person to you. 


Even though online marketing is going to constitute a large proportion of your marketing focus, it is vital that you still maintain a vibrant offline marketing presence. The two best off-line marketing avenues are networking and joint ventures. You’ve got a list of contacts in your community that you know and have established relationships with. As part of your marketing plan, you need to reach out to a certain number of these people every week.

Joint venture marketing is when you approach other businesses in your area where you know that your target market spends their money and partner with them. If you don’t know where your clients spend their time and money, simply ask your existing clients. Tell them that you’re looking to partner with local businesses in the area and asking for their help. 

Once you identify the businesses that your clients frequent, make an appointment to see the manager and promote a joint-venture partnership where you promote each other. Don’t be afraid to be specific in your requests. Ask them to email the client list, hand out flyers, and post on their social media. Remember, you don’t get if you don’t ask – you have got to learn to be a little bit bold in this business.


Your online marketing should be focused on social media and email. Probably the most important single thing you can do when it comes to marketing your business is to build an email list. Of course, social media is awesome but, ultimately, it is beyond your control. The social media companies set the algorithms and, therefore, the rules of the game. If they make changes, your lead channel could be adversely affected. 

Gymdesk’s management software for gymnastics businesses integrates the email and SMS marketing half of your marketing strategy with your member management, scheduling, and billing. It’s so convenient you’ll never want to separate these features again.

When it comes to social media, both free and paid advertising works. If you’re starting out, build up your social media presence for free. You need to meet the goal of sharing three social media posts per day, every single day. 


You now have a basic blueprint to take your gymnasium business from idea to reality. Here’s a recap of the 11 steps to follow to get your doors opened …

  • Answer the Question Why
  • Get Experience
  • Narrow Your Gym Type
  • Develop Your Business Plan
  • Form a Legal Entity
  • Find a Location
  • Equip Your Gym
  • Get Insured
  • Write Out A Procedure Plan
  • Hire Staff
  • Market Your Business

This article has provided a broad-brush approach to opening your very own gymnastics gym. In future articles, I’ll be drilling down on specific processes such as hiring the best staff and how to implement a targeted and effective marketing plan to meet your gymnasium membership goals. Stay posted!

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