Before Opening a Gym Here are Things to Think About

Coach Development


Tim Caron

At the gym, he’s known affectionately as T-BONE. This industry-leading strength coach has two Master’s degrees—one in Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention and one in Strength and Conditioning. Before Allegiate, T-BONE was the Head Football Strength and Conditioning Coach at Army West Point. He helped Army beat Navy for the first time in 15 years—an explosive triumph in one of the oldest football rivalries in sports. Before Army, Tim was an Associate Strength Coach at USC, where the Trojans came off a 10-2 season and ranked number 1 in the country. He worked with the football team on nutrition, injury and rehabilitation protocol, preparing players for the NFL Combine. From the warm up and workout to the recovery, you’ll get plenty of T-BONE time (he takes pride in directly coaching every member), and the dynamic program he has personally designed is guaranteed to take you to the next level.

// Thinking of opening a gym?

So you are thinking about leaving your job and opening up a gym? The amount of times I hear this on any given day. It makes me think that gyms will soon take over restaurants for “most failed business venture.”

The biggest question you must ask yourself, are you running towards or away from something?

Do you have the need to open a gym?

If you are serious about starting a gym there is a list of books you should read at the bottom. The overwhelming message from all of them is an undeniable calling towards something. The stories and goals may be different, but they all have one thing in common. A deep physical need. Make no bones about it, entrepreneurship is a full-contact sport. To create something and not relent even after failures arise.

It’s difficult to listen to people wanting to open a gym based solely on not liking their current job. I understand that most people just want to vent and I can get that. But the reality is that you are asking something extremely personal that has made a huge personal impact on me. It can be difficult to separate the need to vent from a serious question.

Specifically, in strength and conditioning, were we all know what we signed up for. Low pay, long hours, little autonomy, the list goes on. It is surprising to me when these conditions are met with frustration or surprise. I’m not condoning low pay, but when people complain about their circumstance, it makes me wonder, “what did you expect?” If you are ready to start a gym, that’s great. But the reality is, opening a gym is a huge risk. If you are not ready to put in the work required it can make your situation worse.

Here is a great thought experiment before taking the plunge and starting a gym. Think to yourself. “Am I just having a bad day at work, or do I have a deep desire to be doing something else.” I can tell you, the people in those books, left or started based on deep need, not because they had a bad day at work. 

Not gym owner, business owner

The phrase, “I want to open a gym” should be reclassified as “I want to start a business.” As a gym owner you will have more in common with a yoga studio than a D1 S&C coach. The sooner you realize that the better your chances of successfully opening a gym will be.

So what does a business owner need to know? Well, they need to know how to manage their business. As well as their target market and their product(s). The truth is most gyms out there are not run that effectively but they have more money than you do. It’s a loaded deck so you have to find a way to compete.

Managing your business is simply about making more money than you spend. You will get familiar with terms like Net, Gross, and Return on Investment. Now, buying that random barbell has to be justified. Will it add to the overall gym experience? Will it somehow differentiate you from your competitor? Can you monetize it effectively? These are all questions you need to ask yourself when managing your budget. I see a lot of S&C coaches struggle with this. You go from playing with house money to your own. It can be hard reinventing yourself with much less of a budget.

Marketing/Selling your business is a skill and the ones that are better at selling their product will win every time. Your quality will keep them and the results you get will make people loyal. But you need to figure out how to get them in the door in the first place. This is around the clock job: outreach, contacting leads, working on your sales pitch. Get used to rejection and being told “no, I am not interested” or “I cannot afford it.”

CLosing remarks on opening a gym

Every aspiring entrepreneur should listen to How I Built This with Guy Raz. The Guy always asks, “was it luck or was it skill?” I think we all want to say it was skill, but the truth is it was probably a lot of luck too.

If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know, I realize how lucky I was. I have a wife that I can count on. I had a great salary with a house provided. No debt so I could save money.

Opening a gym can be an amazing experience. Just make sure you are ready for all of the difficult challenges that face starting a business.

Other Prerequisite Reading Before Opening a Gym

There are more books to read before you consider opening a gym, but this is a good start.

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