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Startup Steps for Your Fitness Business

Posted Jun 25 2013 2:25pm
Losing weight can not only be a health benefit, you can also use it to as a financial benefit. If you are an ambitious, driven entrepreneur with a deep passion for fitness, you may envision a profitable future by owning a CrossFit gym, spinning studio or personal training consultancy. CrossFit, the latest trend in the fitness world, is based on high-intensity, varied functional movements, including Olympic weight lifting and gymnastics. The emphasis is on short, intense workouts, making this a popular and growing fitness activity among young professionals. Spinning is a brand name for indoor cycling, which as been a favorite cardio exercise since the 1970's. And personal training, of course, offers one-on-one customized workouts with a client and trainer.

CrossFit is a franchise and profitable opportunity for a fitness maven interested in owning a business and succeeding in a competitive market. Franchise owners report a great sense of satisfaction upon successfully launching their start-up businesses, but also add that achieving business goals can be time-consuming and stressful. Spinning is a license-based business, which means indoor cycling studios must adhere to MadDogg.com's brand requirements in order to call themselves "Spinning" studios (and you have to buy their bikes). Personal training offers the most freedom from corporate branding; on the other hand, it lacks the brand recognition of CrossFit and Spinning.

Getting Started

CrossFit and Spinning have reputations to uphold, and the companies require owners to participate in a basic training program. Training involves learning the basics of the overall program—from foundational movements to specialized mechanics—and understanding safe and proper coaching techniques. Prospective CrossFit entrepreneurs must complete the basic level of the company's training program before they can apply to become official affiliates. Spinning instructors must maintain their licensing by taking continuing education courses (It's a money-making deal for MadDogg, the copyright holder).

Application to CrossFit

Once you've completed the initial training program , it's time to apply to open your business.
The CrossFit process requires detailed information about the prospective owner of the business, including information about the backgrounds of potential trainers or employees. Ideally, the prospective owner will have participated in the CrossFit program at an alternative location and have the ability to provide feedback on the mental and physical results he or she obtained through CrossFit exercise. Passion for this pursuit must be expressed during the application process. A prospective affiliate must be able to prove his or her ability to get customers excited about working out.

Whether your fitness offering is CrossFit, Spinning, Pilates, personal training or yoga, the more credible your training and certification is, the easier you will find clientele. With trademarked names, however, you must adhere to the companies' requirements in order to call yourself a Spinning, Pilates or CrossFit studio.

Annie Thorisdottir Pushing the Sled
Photo of CrossFit champion Annie Thorisdottir by Anthony Topper via Flickr

Finding Clients

Now you must market your brand to find dedicated clients. Forming relationships with new clients will be challenging. You have two basic populations to attract: Fitness buffs who are loyal to their gyms and couch potatoes who need a inspiration to get started. Both of these populations are difficult to attract. The first group you must persuade to change their well-established habits; the second group you must persuade to start a new habit. Groupon.com, LivingSocial and other deal-of-the-day marketers are great ways to get people through your doors. The immediate return on investment is low, but if you can get them to commit and buy packages, you've just boosted your bottom line.

Staying in the Black

In the beginning, you're going to need money for start-up costs. Early expenses will include fees for becoming an affiliate, as well as costs required for equipment and marketing strategies. Entrepreneurs limited in resources can rely on small business credit cards  to pay for upfront business expenses without making massive financial sacrifices and high risks. Some cards offer rewards for purchases; American Express offers sky miles and  Chase offers free personal checking accounts to its small business account holders.

As you start to plan your business, keep track of expenses and make lists of things to do. Get a three-ring binder to keep yourself organized and, if you can, find someone else who's been-there-done-that. A mentor can save you a lot of worries.

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