Do you love boxing and coaching? If you want to make a living without fighting professionally, or you want to retire from fighting, opening a boxing gym might be a viable way for you to make a living while still being involved in the sport.
That said, boxing gyms can be expensive to start and might present a lot of legal and financial pitfalls that could ruin your finances. In this article, we’re going to detail how you can open a boxing gym that is profitable and sticks around.
How to Start a Boxing Gym
Starting and opening a new boxing gym can be a long and winding process. To help you save time and get started off on the right track, we’ve mapped out the process into 8 easy steps:
- Check State & Local Regulations
- Plan Your Business
- Register Your Gym
- Choose a Location
- Secure Funding
- Get Adequate Insurance
- Purchase Equipment
- Market Your Gym
All these steps are important, but pay special attention to steps #1, #2, #6, and #8 because it’s easy to make “little” mistakes here that have big, business-ruining consequences on your new gym.
Check State and Local Regulations
It’s common for fitness clubs – boxing gyms included – to be registered with the state and/or local government. This is sometimes handled by agencies under consumer protection departments. These agencies will also stipulate what’s required of your business, including what sort of financing options you can offer members and the resources and insurance policies that are required to operate your business.
Special regulations aside, it’s common that you need a business or commerce license of some kind from your local government. If you’re selling food and drink items in your gym, that might also be subject to its own permitting laws in your area.
Plan Your Business
If you want to know how to run a successful boxing gym, the secret is writing a good business plan – and sticking to it. In short, it should address these key topics:
- Executive & Company Summary
- Market Analysis
- Marketing Plan
- Operations & Management Plan
- Financial Projections
A business plan might sound like a drag, but it’s truly one of the most important steps you will take in building your boxing gym. For a more in-depth how to on writing a great plan, check out our martial arts business plan article.
Register Your Gym
The first part of registering your gym is to register a business entity that represents it. You normally do this by filing articles of incorporation or articles of organization with your Secretary of State. There are several potential business structures you can use for your gym, but Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) and S-Corps tend to be the most popular and sustainable from an administrative and ease-of-filing standpoint.
The second part is registering with a governing body. If you’re in the USA, you’ll want to register your gym with USA Boxing. If you live in another country, start by researching your National Governing Body, whomever produces athletes for the Olympic games. You might be able to register with them directly, or they might have more local organizations you should join.
Choose a Location
Location is important for foot traffic and visibility in the community. But depending on your area and your marketing ability, you might take different approaches to how you choose your location to trade visibility for lower overhead. To learn more about how to choose a location, take a look at our martial arts location article.
SBA loans are a common way of gaining funds for your gym. However, these loans have been sometimes hard to procure post-pandemic and aren’t a guaranteed source of funding. Your personal savings and funds from friends and family might be more reliable. Whichever route you take, proper planning is crucial to help you survive the early times before you establish your membership and start to break even.
Get The Right Insurance
There are several kinds of liability insurance around. General liability insurance probably won’t be enough because boxing is a well-established and regulated sport and insurers understand the needs of associated training centers. Be sure that your insurance policy covers the full spectrum of boxing practice or, even better, is a boxing-specific policy.
Sometimes a governing body will offer sport-specific insurance as a benefit of club and athlete-level membership to their organization.
If you’re going to maintain in-house personal trainers and employees, you’ll also need worker’s compensation insurance. Professional insurance helps cover you if you or staff are negligent in some way. And if you operate out of a commercial facility, commercial insurance is recommended.
In the business planning stage, you will have decided if your gym is pure boxing or if it will also have its own strength and conditioning facilities, too. Some gyms just have boxing equipment and others include squat cages, benches, barbells, dumbbells, and many other pieces of traditional gym equipment.
Regardless of what you choose, there are some bare essentials that any gym should have:
- Heavy bags
- Speed bags
- A boxing ring
- Jump ropes
- Focus mitts
Don’t buy the cheapest gear you can find just because it’s cheap. If you buy quality gear, you’ll spend less money in the long run because you won’t have to replace it as often.
Market Your Gym
Marketing is one of the single most important things you do to consistently and sustainably grow your new boxing gym. It’s especially critical for generating your first 10-20 members upon opening, that first bit of momentum which really gets your business off the ground.
These are some major channels that gyms use to keep their facilities full:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Search & Social Advertising
- Event-based Marketing
- Direct Mail
- Referral Programs
How Much Does it Cost to Open (and Run) a Boxing Gym?
As you might expect, this cost will vary. Some costs are one-time for startup purposes (i.e., equipment) and others are recurring. Let’s put together some ballpark figures from the expenses listed in previous sections:
- Lease: $2,500-10,000 per month
- Marketing: $500-2,000 per month
- Software Tools & Website: $200-1,000 per month
- Business filing & licenses: $300-600 per year
- Insurance: $1,000-9,000 per year
- One time equipment buy: $15,000-30,000
The cost to open a boxing gym is somewhere between $20,000 and $55,000. Overall, this is a lot cheaper than trying to buy an existing gym franchise plus footing the regular startup costs, but it’s still a hefty sum to raise.
Are Boxing Gyms Profitable?
Yes, boxing gyms can be very profitable if you manage them right. However, this depends on how much you charge for membership, what alternative income streams you maintain (merchandise sales, personal training, etc.), and how well you manage your overhead costs. If you can keep expenses minimal and sales healthy, you will have a profitable boxing business.
To learn more about properly managing a boxing gym, check out our interview with Keith Keppner on running a successful boxing gym.
What Certifications Should You Get?
The only major certification you should have is a coaching credential from your National Governing Body (NGB). In the United States, USA Boxing has several levels of coach credentialing to represent experience and accomplishment inside the USA Boxing system.
Personal training certifications are helpful but not necessary. If you want to enhance your conditioning knowledge or engage in more 1-on-1 sessions, then becoming a certified personal trainer will be an asset to you.
Why Do Boxing Gyms Fail?
Not Pricing Correctly
If you charge too little to become a member of your gym, you won’t be able to sustain the volume of members you will need to sustain the business, much less profit from it. While charging lower fees sounds like a romantic notion, the reality is that you will lose good members to more expensive gyms because they perceive your lower price as representing a lower standard of training.
Retention is also working against you, too. The bigger your member count, the higher your attrition numbers will be each month. It’s much better to have a break-even point at 200 members than 500 members. The more members that are needed to carry your expenses, the harder and more expensive it will be to maintain a student body of that size.
Poor Sales & Marketing Systems
No matter how cool and elite your gym is, it won’t sell itself. You’ve got to communicate the value of your boxing gym to the right people in your community and then convince them to sign on the dotted line. If you’re not constantly maintaining marketing activities – SEO tweaks, running ads, being present at events, etc. – then you will not have a consistent stream of new leads for your gym and consequently lower sales numbers.
Unprofessionalism or Poor Customer Experience
Professionalism starts with the politeness and knowledgeability of you and your staff, but it extends to a customer’s whole experience of the gym. Someone needs to be tending to the phones, answering emails and texts, and available to assist new prospects and members while they’re in the gym. If your staff is aloof and unaccommodating, prospective members will view you as unprofessional and might avoid signing up.
Boxing is exploding in the fitness industry right now. If you have a passion for boxing, and you’d like to make a living as a coach or trainer, starting up a gym is a great path to take. However, with any business, there are a lot of pitfalls you want to avoid. In this article, we addressed all the most important things you need to have squared away to set the foundation for a successful boxing business.