Memberships to fitness centers are not inexpensive and they can be a viable business idea for many entrepreneurs. That said, the cost of gym equipment is not cheap – that’s part of the reason so many people have gym memberships as it wouldn’t be feasible to pay for having all that machinery at home. In this post, we are going to explore options for financing gym equipment for both startup businesses and existing gyms that are looking to expand the options they have for their members.
Of course, in addition to the price of the actual piece of machinery, there are other expenditures associated with having gym equipment that must be taken into account. The additional expenditures include setup, machine maintenance, and (if you are a new gym) the installation of rubber matting flooring to house the equipment on top of.
How Much Does It Cost to Buy Equipment for a Gym?
A significant portion of this cost is attributable to the preferences that each gym has. For instance, if you want a best-in-class treadmill, you may find your gym spending $9,000 or more per station. As a result, the cost of your equipment will depend in large part on what sort of gym you are trying to start. Is this an exclusive gym in a wealthy neighborhood where patrons will be willing to spend top dollar on a membership to use the best equipment? Or is this a budget gym designed for members who are looking to work out but not spend a fortune on maintaining an expensive gym membership? This will be one of the biggest factors in the cost of your equipment.
Whether you purchase old or new gym equipment will also have an impact on your overall cost. Many people who own gyms stock up on their equipment by using slightly older models of machinery that are still well-functioning and in good shape.
You will also need to take into account what kind of gym you are starting. CrossFit gyms, for instance, don’t need all the machinery that a traditional gym requires. As a result, they cost significantly less to start. However, at the same time, they are targeting a more niche clientele. These are all tradeoffs you will want to take into account.
How to finance fitness center equipment?
In this section, we will talk about potential sources for financing the equipment for your fitness business. There is a wide array of different financing options to choose from as you consider how you want to manage financing.
SBA 7(A) Loans
SBA 7(a) loans are a go-to resource for small businesses in the United States. These loans are offered through the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) and backed by the federal government. This allows a wide array of small businesses to access top-tier financing that would otherwise be ineligible for such options.
SBA 7(a) loans are term loans, making them ideal for gym equipment, and can offer come with repayment terms of up to 25 years (though 10 years is the maximum when using the funds to buy equipment). The lowest available interest rates change with the market; however, they are often some of the best rates available, and there are fixed and variable rate options.
Unfortunately, SBA loans are not super easy to qualify for. They still usually require a credit score of around 650, and typically the business needs to have been in operation for at least two years with $100,000 in annual revenue. However, the requirements change based on the SBA lender you are attempting to work with – so it is always a good idea to try for an SBA loan.
Equipment financing is another good option for financing your gym equipment. With equipment loans, the actual equipment you purchase serves as collateral on the loans. This reduces the risk involved for the lender and can make it easier for businesses to access them. As a result, equipment loans are a great way for businesses to preserve the cash they have on hand since the amount of cash they will have to put up to purchase the equipment is typically significantly reduced or not required with equipment loans.
Small business investors
If you want to start a small company that you can run for profit out of your new gym but don’t have enough money to get started, it would not be a terrible idea to think about recruiting a few investors to help you out with the venture. Partners can help provide the business with capital to get started as well as additional assistance with running the business. They can also provide connections to help the business grow.
If you are looking for a business partner, consider leveraging your network connections or contacting relatives and friends that have an interest in starting up new businesses.
Renting or leasing gym equipment is another option that proprietors of small businesses who are interested in lowering the initial financial investment associated with purchasing equipment can explore.
You may arrange a lease program with a large equipment supplier or a leasing company so that you can spread out the payments over a period of time rather than having to spend thousands of dollars upfront before your firm has even had a chance to make a single penny.
Leasing involves paying a monthly payment to the leaser for the equipment. As a result, you are essentially renting the equipment for the length of the leasing agreement. Leasing agreements can last anywhere from six months to a few years. Once the lease is up, there are a few options for your business:
- Buy the equipment outright
- Renew your lease
- Return the equipment to the lender
- Upgrade to newer equipment
Leasing can be a great option for pieces of equipment that tend to go out of date quickly in favor of new models. If you lease the equipment, you can upgrade the equipment more frequently than if you buy it. However, this will also result in higher costs in the long run – this is a tradeoff you will have to consider.
Leasing also releases cash, which, in many cases, may be spent more effectively on other parts of the company. When money is invested in exercise equipment, that money is lost permanently once the purchase has been made unless the equipment is sold for its salvage value. Leasing fitness equipment also enables you to spread out the cost of the asset over the whole of its useful working life.
What are the standard requirements in order to apply for business financing?
Specific criteria may differ from one lender to another, but in general, the following is true regardless of the lender or the location of the borrower.
Lenders will often request the following information from a new gym business or one that has been operating for less than three years:
A comprehensive strategy for the firm
- Financial projections
- Financial reporting for management (if already trading)
- Statement of the sources and uses of the funds (i.e. where money is coming from and what it will be spent on)
- Essential staff profiles and individual financial accounts
Last but not least, in the case of newly established companies, personal guarantees from owners are often another need. In general, in order to lease space to a gym that has been in operation for at least three years, a leasing firm will demand the following:
- 2 years’ worth of accounts that have been audited
- Financial reporting for management
- A review of the market activity
- A rundown of the total number of members
Additional Costs Associated with Financing a Gym
There are a number of factors to take into consideration when you search for finance for your gym. Your financial plan and estimates should take into account both one-time expenses and ongoing commitments to pay for them.
1. Remittances on a monthly basis
Continuous monthly payments besides those going toward the cost of the equipment are additional expenses that you should take into consideration.
Remember that you will need to have cash flow in order to make your minimum monthly payments, so this is something important to keep in mind. This does not mean you need to turn a profit your first year – many startup businesses do not. But you do need to be cash flow positive. Consider the following types of recurrent payments:
- Utilities such as water, energy, electricity, and phone service
- Wages paid to employees
- Gym equipment leasing
- Payments on a mortgage or a lease
- Costs associated with processing payments
- Supplies for the cleaning of the gym and/or the cost of a cleaning service
2. Payment of attorney costs and insurance
Both your legal expenses and your insurance premiums will consist of one-time and recurring payments respectively. When you finally get your business off the ground, you will have to pay for various licenses, permits, and legal expenses.
The specific licenses and permissions that your company requires will be determined by the location of your firm. You will need to think about getting a company license as well as permits for health and safety. Many of these will be required by local and state governments in order for your business to operate within the confines of the law.
Remember that drafting contracts and engaging in lease negotiations will both result in legal expenses. Before entering any lease or contract, it is a good idea to have a qualified legal professional take a look at the terms and conditions to ensure that you know exactly what you are agreeing to and what your obligations will be. After you’ve paid off your startup costs, company insurance will be an ongoing expense that you’ll need to consider in your yearly budget.
As a gym, you will need to get basic liability insurance for any accidents that may happen when individuals are using your equipment. This will help protect you and your business from any lawsuits that could arise from patrons getting hurt on the premises. Here is a list of different types of insurance you will likely need:
- General Liability Insurance – this will help cover any damages associated with customers hurting themselves, such as slipping and falling, while on the premises.
- Professional Liability Insurance – Also commonly referred to as errors & omissions (E&O) insurance, professional liability insurance will help protect your business against claims of negligence (i.e. if someone is hurt doing a routine exercise recommended by an on-staff fitness trainer or something along those lines.)
- Workers’ Compensation – If your gym has employees – which it likely will – you will also need workers’ compensation insurance to cover any accidents that may impact employees while working on the premises.
This is not an exhaustive list of the insurance policies that you may need when running a gym but these are definitely some of the most important ones.
3. The Gym’s Aesthetics and its Upkeep
The appearance of your fitness center will have an effect on your revenue. If you are going to operate a high-end boutique gym that has the most up-to-date exercise equipment, the space needs to look the part. And even more importantly, your gym needs to be clean. It is super important to keep workout spaces clean in order to reduce the risk of bacteria and disease spreading. Cleaning gym equipment is critical. It is also recommended that you keep wipe stations by workout machinery so that patrons can wipe down machine handles and any other parts of the machine they may have touched after using them since people’s sweat can spread germs and bacteria.
Keeping your gym clean will incur additional monthly costs in terms of keeping enough cleaning supplies on hand and potentially hiring a cleaning service to keep the space clean.
4. Digital health and exercise equipment and safe practices online
These days, digital fitness is an essential component in the operation of a gym. Because we live in a hybrid society, it’s not uncommon for people to want to squeeze in a brief exercise at home after a long day.
Maintaining one’s digital fitness is critical to being one step ahead of the competition. Bringing your fitness facility online and providing digital services has several advantages, one of which is the generation of an extra income stream that is not dependent on the physical location of the facility.
In order to begin streaming, you will be required to make investments in digital fitness technology as well as online security for the purpose of keeping and processing worldwide payments. These are all something to consider as part of your costs as well as another way to grow your business.
5. Conditions on the availability of liquid assets and cash flow
There will probably be certain criteria for liquid capital and cash flow if you decide to finance your equipment or take out a loan. These will vary depending on the kind of financing you choose. This is particularly true for applications for small business loans and franchises of fitness centers, both of which have regulations in place.
When you’re operating a company, it’s smart to have some cash on hand that you can use for day-to-day operations as well as contingency planning in case unexpected costs arise. As such, you will need to plan your finances carefully and make sure you are able to hit your mark in terms of free cash flow each month.
Sales and marketing are very important for bringing in new members, expanding your existing membership base, and eventually growing your organization. This is a recurring monthly expense that has to be accounted for in the budget for your gym.
Activities that fall under the category of sales and marketing include everything that is done to recruit members and sell products. This may include your activities on social media, your budget for paid advertising, your website, landing pages, and maybe other elements.
How much money you put into your business’s sales and marketing is entirely up to you. If you are looking to keep costs down while also expanding your company, there are still methods to grow your customer base organically. However, all things considered, a sales and marketing budget will be quite beneficial to your company.
7. Software for the administration of gym members
The cost of software to handle gym members is another expense to take into consideration. Utilizing a platform that is designed for gyms will enable you to manage the payments made by members, the payroll of employees, the timetables for classes, as well record marketing and financial data. There are many different software options on the market that you can take advantage of with a wide range of features.
Some software solutions, for instance, incorporate a distinct site for workers and members, which gives members full control over their membership status and allows employees to manage their own memberships independently.
All of these things work together to promote member acquisition and retention, as well as to simplify the operations of your organization.
8. Expenses incurred while employing personnel
Employers cannot successfully manage their companies without their workforce. These are the individuals who will be responsible for representing your brand and delivering a one-of-a-kind experience to your members.
Wages paid to employees might vary widely from one company to another according to the nature of the firm. You may have a very big crew working for you, or you could only have just one or two other employees.
Payroll can be a huge drain on cash flow, so be sure to plan for it accordingly.
9. Take into consideration any maintenance and necessary repairs.
You should get acquainted with the maintenance schedule of any equipment that you decide to purchase. Although this may not have an immediate impact on your spending, it may have a subsequent impact on your budget as you strive to maintain your equipment.
It’s the nature of any machinery that it requires maintenance and repairs from time to time. Making sure you are diligent about this sort of upkeep will ensure your machinery lasts longer and reduces the risk of patrons getting hurt, thereby reducing your liability.
Opening and maintaining a fitness center can be a financially burdensome endeavor. To get the business off the ground, other requirements include a significant amount of commitment as well as continuing financial contributions.
However, if you are willing to put in the work and do your due diligence in terms of finding the right location and customer base for your gym, then opening a gym can be a viable and long-lasting business idea.
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