Blog How to Choose the Right Gym Business Model and Grow Your Fitness Business

How to Choose the Right Gym Business Model and Grow Your Fitness Business


Many people go into the fitness industry because of passion. If you want to open a gym, it’s because you’re passionate about helping people reach their fitness goals and you want to make a healthy lifestyle more accessible to all.

And passion is a great reason to start a business, but it alone will not bring in money – or keep your head above water when things get rough.

You need to be able to make a profit so that you can do what you’re passionate about for the long haul. Having a good plan and a solid business model is how you do this.

Every gym business model looks a little different depending on your goals. We’re going to help you figure out what the right fitness model for your gym looks like so that you can be profitable and grow your business.

Inside this blog:

Chapter 1

What is a Business Model?

Most simply put, a business model is your profit making plan; it’s how you structure your business to make money. It should lay out the services you will provide and how.

Your business model needs to cover the type of offering you’re selling, how you’ll deliver it, and to who. You need to think about what kind of expenses you will face and pricing your services for customers so that you can make a profit.

There are several ways a gym or fitness business might model their business. Let’s talk a little more about what every business model needs then get into some specific examples of gym business models that you can use to inspire yours.

Chapter 2

Characteristics of a Great Business Model

Every gym business model is a little different, but there are some common characteristics that your model should have to be successful.

Your business model needs to:

  • Maximize revenue
  • Maximize value delivered to members
  • Differentiate your fitness business and attract your ideal client

The more revenue you make, the stronger your business will be. This is what will help you comfortably pay for all of your business expenses and make a healthy profit on top of it. Money isn’t everything, but it sure is nice when your business is bringing some in, week after week. It is how your business will survive and thrive so that you can keep doing what you love. Use your business model to determine how you’ll make that happen.

In addition to maximizing revenue, you need to also maximize the value you are delivering to your customers. Delivering value in the form of great exercise equipment, a well-designed facility, highly skilled trainers, etc., helps support you in your quest for more revenue and will keep your members around much longer. It will improve your retention and bring in more business through word of mouth.

There are well over 100,00 gyms and fitness businesses in the US. So lastly, your business model should include details on what makes your business different from the competition. For this section, it’s a good idea to let your ideal client inspire you. What is it that they need to reach their health goals? How does your business provide that in a unique way?

A business model with these three components will help you grow. Now let’s get even more specific and go over some of the common types of business models gyms operate from.

Chapter 3

Fitness and Gym Business Models


This is typically the most common business model that comes to mind when thinking about a gym or fitness studio. For membership based gyms, clients pay a set price (or tiered price) for access to the gym’s equipment and/or services. Typically membership is paid on a monthly basis.

Membership pros?

This can lead to a predictable and consistent income. Plus, people are more likely to come to the gym if they feel they are financially invested. You can offer sign-on specials and discounts throughout the year and create personalized packages for your customers.


Sometimes clients want more flexibility than offered with monthly memberships or don’t want to be stuck in a contract. This model can put a lot of pressure on you to sell a lot of memberships each month to keep your business afloat.

Personal Training

Personal training may be your main business model or a component of it. You can offer personal training as an add-on for gym members or operate fully as a personal training fitness space.

One-on-one personal training is the traditional method, and is an option that many people are looking for. It’s great for clients that have specific fitness goals and want support reaching them. However, to deliver even more value to clients, you might consider offering other types of personal training outside the traditional model. Let’s talk about a few of these options.

Semi-private training: With semi-private personal training, you can train and support more clients at once. Many personal training clients can benefit from being in smaller groups with others that have similar fitness goals.

This can be a great way to offer a more affordable training and to train more clients in less time.

Online personal training: The most modern way to offer individualized training support is through online personal training. This involves offering you training services remotely through workout videos, online content, community support, and more.

Online personal training is a great option because it can easily be added as a supplement to other business model aspects. You can even package it as part of your gym’s monthly membership.

Hybrid personal training: With hybrid personal training, some of your training components are delivered online, but there’s still the occasional in person meeting. This is a great option for clients that need some extra hand holding but also want more flexibility and affordability from traditional personal training models.

Hybrid training can help you provide the personalized experience each of your clients need and is more sustainable for you than squeezing in tons of in-person sessions each week. Because of the flexibility and customization of hybrid training, it can actually help you retain the clients you do have and make more money per client.

Personal training pros?

Many people are looking for more than the typical gym membership and want support reaching their fitness goals. Offering personal training can help you stand out from other gyms that don’t, and can help you bring your customers better results. This will lead to more business as happy clients will gladly spread the word about your business.


Are you already a certified personal trainer? Do you need to hire one? Getting trainers on staff can be costly. It will also take more of your time to offer personal training than it would to operate solely as a gym equipment space.

Additionally, personal training (particularly traditional personal training) is a model that ties your time directly to your profit. With traditional personal training, your income potential is limited by the amount of hours you have in a day.

Group Training

Another common business model for gyms and studios is the group training model. You might offer one specific type of workout class like boxing, pilates, or yoga. Or you can offer a combination of several group fitness classes to your gym or studio. Group classes can stand alone as your main money maker or you can include group classes in addition to regular gym memberships or the personal training model.

One way to make group training highly scalable is by offering it online. You can host virtual classes and reach clients all over the world, but the best use of your time is creating online group coaching programs or online fitness challenges. With online groups programs you can train several people at once, making the most of your fitness content and knowledge at scale.

To make sure that the online group challenge works for all participants, it is important that all participants more or less have the same start point and a common end goal. For example, you can bundle working moms who are looking to shed a few pounds in one training group.

What should be included?

  • A group training plan
  • Community
  • Personalized support
  • Additional helpful resources like meal plans and recipe guides

Group training pros?
Many gym goers are looking for in-person group classes to include in their fitness routine. Additionally, when you take your group training online, you can scale your business extremely quickly as the amount of people you can train at once is no longer limited by your capacity.


Group classes are limited by size and schedule. If you are a small team or solo gym owner, maintaining the in-person model long term can be very difficult.

For online group challenges, you will want to make sure you have a strong marketing plan to attract people to join your program.

Chapter 4

More Gym Business Model Tips

Your business model may include components from one or more of these categories. Select the services you want to offer and design your gym business model accordingly. It can be helpful to include services that range in price from premium to affordable so that you can reach a variety of clients.

Think about what your goals are and how you want your business to operate: How much money do you want to make? Do you want to work mostly from home? Who do you serve? What are their needs?

You’ll also want to keep adaptability in mind when working on your business model. What will you need to make each model work? How long will it take for your business to launch with your model? Do you need to purchase equipment, hire trainers, etc?

Scalability is also important. For your business to work, you need it to grow consistently and predictably over time. If your services can’t scale, you will have a hard time maintaining. A non-scalable business will be stagnant – and at worse will not survive. Think about the scalability of your business model, and the specifics of how your business will continue to grow over time.

COVID has changed the way that people want to work out. These days, it’s imperative to think outside the box and offer more flexibility. Plus, there will always be people that live and work remotely but still want the benefit of fitness training. Stand out from the competition with a business model that includes online personal training.

You can offer both online personal training and online group training more easily with a personal training app like TrainerFu. You can deliver every component of your training through the app and automate many of the most tedious aspects of running a fitness business. You can even try the app for free to see if it makes sense with your business model.

Every business needs a profit making plan and gyms are no different. If you’re excited about building a business you’re passionate about, start by formulating your unique gym business model and let it guide the way.