How much does it cost?
Don’t even think about it if you’ve only got a few thousand pounds to invest. Putting in a home gym in your spare room can easily go over £10,000 so the start-up costs for a commercial gym are huge.
Back in 1990, Sharkey and his business partner had to sell an expensive car, and a house between them and they still needed a £50,000 loan from the bank. “It cost us about £80,000 back then, but I think if you were setting up a new gym now it would cost you a lot more,” says Sharkey.
So to set up on your own you’re looking at a minimum of around £80,000 – £100,000 for the gym equipment alone. David Courteen founded Fitness Express with a friend from university. The company sets up and runs health clubs for hotels who want a gym on the premises but don’t have the expertise to run them themselves. “If you want to kit up a gym from scratch you’re looking at spending north of a million,” says Courteen. “It’s not just the gym equipment you need to consider – there’s changing rooms, showers, saunas etc.”
However, back when Fitness Express was founded in 1987, Courteen only had to raise about £10,000 to set up the business. “The beauty of our business is that you don’t really need a lot of start-up money because everyone else is investing the capital.” With the Fitness Express model, the company is given the funding to set up the gyms by the hotels. The hotels own the gyms, but Fitness Express staff and run them in exchange for fee plus a percentage of the turnover.
In terms of kitting out your own gym, there are companies out there that sell remanufactured gym equipment for about half the cost of buying it new. Graham Bertrand runs Physique, one such company. “You can kit out a 1000 sq ft gym for about £45-50,000 using remanufactured equipment,” he says.