Many Kenyans are now crazy about physical fitness, largely driven by the urge to live a healthy life. Science keeps on giving us reasons to exercise and keep fit. As more and more people appreciate the benefits of regular exercise, the more that will be keen to join a gym.
This is also helped by the fact that majority of the working class Kenyans claim to be too busy to exercise and therefore joining a gym is their only option. People who are well-to-do are leading a sedentary lifestyle–to work, to the car and then to the bar. Life has put a lot of pressure on them and this has given many of them no choice but to turn up to a gym if they want to survive.
Starting a gym business in Kenya can be a lucrative idea. This will especially do well in middle or upper income areas. This group has the reason to exercise and also the means to pay for it. With the number of them consciously aware that they need to flex and stretch their muscles regularly, you are likely to get a steady stream of clients from these groups. Low income areas also have a market for a gym business, therefore, do not overlook these areas.
Choosing a good location for your gym business is of utmost importance. This is to ensure that you have a location that is accessible for people who want to exercise and use gym equipment. You have to therefore determine whether a location that you are eyeing for your fitness gym business is accessible to the majority of your target market.
A gym business needs a large space. The best location would be upstairs in a tall building, say 2nd or 3rd floor, away from the distraction of the streets below. Upper floors also tend to be cheaper to rent than ground floor. It will also be cheaper to rent space within a residential area. This may be convenient to your clients since they can frequent the gym over the weekends.
A good space that is big enough to set up your gym business will set you back Ksh.10,000 – Sh.30,000 in a middle or high income residential area.
Gym business requires some basic equipment to start with. Some of the equipment can be very expensive because of their commercial nature and also because there are few shops where they are sold. You may decide to frequent some local well established gyms in your locality and check on the equipment they have. This can form part of your market research and competitor analysis before you set up your gym business. You can then offer better or newer equipment.
Any gym worth talking about should have a treadmill. This is one of the most basic gym equipment that nearly all clients will expect to use. You should therefore ensure that you get one, a simple one to start with, if you can‘t afford an advanced model. These are used by those wishing to lose weight by running or walking, but do not have the time. Various treadmills are available in large supermarkets such as Nakumatt. Prices range from Sh.100,000 – Sh.300,000. They have various functionalities, speeds, sizes etc.
A good gym should also have an elliptical trainer, a static exercise bike, weight benches and dumb bells. For those clients who wish to build up or tone their muscles in order to look good, you should have a significant number of weights that they can use. With another Sh100,000- Sh150,000, you will get all these equipment in large supermarkets. You may include other equipment after some time to have a complete set. You may also add more depending on your client‘s needs.
Apart from the equipment, a good gym is as good as its staff. You will need qualified personnel to help you run your gym business, like trainers and nutritionists.
These people should be able to advice and train your clients. Many clients come to a gym with specific objectives. While majority may want to lose some weight, others may want to keep fit or gain muscle. Others may have been given instructions by their doctors to attain certain fitness limits. Your staff should be able to deal with such diverse objectives.
Ensure you hire qualified, experienced and well trained staff. You also need a good receptionist to talk to existing and potential clients, when they enter the gym premises
You will require a business permit/license from the county government to set up your business. If you will play music, you will require an MCSK permit too. Depending on the size and noise expected, you may need NEMA clearance too.
Many gyms have different charges depending on the time of day. They have low peak charges and high peak charges. Low peak is the time when there are very few people frequenting the gym, 111 like the hours from 8am all the way to about 3 pm. During these hours, charges are at their lowest to attract more clients. Peak hours of between 5am and 7am and then evening as from 4pm till closing time attract many clients. Weekends and public holidays also attract more clients.
Depending on your location, offerings and size, you can charge sh.200 – Sh.500 per day or Sh.5,000 to Sh.10,000 per month. You may also enroll members and give a discount when they pay for 1 year. Membership should entitle a client to privileges such as free reserved parking, free refreshments, free access all day, dedicated professional and nutritional advice or any other extras. This will just be to encourage more people to become members and pay for a longer duration, like 1 year.
Health and Safety
Health and safety is an important part of running a gym and involves a number of concerns depending on what services you provide. Upkeep of the gym and the machinery/equipment is important, as poorly-maintained equipment can fail and cause injury. People can also slip on floors so you‘ll need to install carpet or non-slip mats.
Ensure safety measures and rules are observed to make your gym a safe place for clients. Hygiene should also be observed to avoid diseases. Ensure clients use towels to wipe out sweat during workouts and equipment should also be cleaned before and after every use. You don‘t want to have all the equipment covered in sweat. This helps to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.
It is necessary to have washing facilities where clients can take a shower after exercising. These should be kept clean and neat and should have hot water.
- High demand due to healthy lifestyle needs.
- Can be very expensive to set up
- May lack clients some hours during the day.
You will find that attracting clients may be easy but retaining them may be a challenge. Good customer service and extras such as music, TV, refreshments, good ambiance, extra offerings and good/variety of equipment may keep clients coming back. Offerings such as aerobic and dance classes can also be used to attract and retain clients.