How to Build a Commercial Gym

How to Build a Commercial Gym, December 2021

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I don’t know where I’d be today if it wasn’t for my gym memberships. The gym has always been a sanctuary for me, and I’ve been able to turn to it at every point in my life.

I’ve talked in the past about how to build your own home gym, but I have never really talked about how to build a commercial gym.

Knowing how to build a commercial gym is important, as the knowledge can either help you to get your business off the ground, or it can help to improve and upgrade your current facilities.

As someone who has gone to gyms all their life and has dedicated a blog towards helping people get fit, I feel I can definitely add some information into this area and help you out.

Don’t just take my word for it though. I’ve spoken with several different people and gotten the rundown on how to build a commercial gym.

In this article, you’re going to learn the basics of how to build a commercial gym from the financial side of things all the way to the floor space. With the right business approach, you’ll soon be watching people using your facilities to get gains.

Obtaining Licenses And Insurance

Learning how to build a commercial gym is great and all, but it means nothing if you don’t have the proper licensing or insurance to help cover you in the case of an accident.

The first thing you are going to want to obtain is a business license. 

Simply get in touch with the government and then get all the paperwork that you need.

If you are aiming to create a small gym, you should check out the Small Business Administration Website to get all the information that you need to help build your commercial gym.

All the paperwork and legalities don’t end there however when learning how to build a commercial gym.

 The next step we are going to have to look at is insurance. I’ve seen my fair share of injuries at the gym and you probably have seen a couple as well. 

If you want your business to be able to operate, you are going to need insurance to help cover you when things like this happen. I’m not even talking about insurance for injuries either.

There is expensive equipment in your gym to worry about along with the wellbeing of your employees.

When looking at how to build a commercial gym, I’d recommend picking up an intense insurance package that is going to get you the coverage that you need. Think big here as you want to be covered in case of liability, injury, theft, property damage, and compensation for workers.

Create Business Goals

Cartoon art with peopleallaroundand an arrow hitting the middle of a target

I never workout without a goal in mind, and if you are learning how to build a commercial gym, you should have many business goals that will help drive your decisions.

How big are you planning to make your gym?

How do you plan on marketing it? What kind of growth do you want to see in the first few months?

These are all questions that you are going to have to answer and these are goals that you are going to have to set. Just like when I lift, I like to aim big and push myself to the limit.

If you aren’t doing that when learning how to build a commercial gym, you are going to have trouble getting the traction that you need to be successful.

Don’t think you have to come up with something from scratch either. A simple Google search for business advice will yield tons of different templates and ideas that you can use to guide your business.

Trust me when I say this if you are planning on learning how to build a commercial gym and aren’t setting business goals, your dreams are going to collapse.


Cartoon hand holding cash

Money can be uncomfortable to talk about, but if you are planning on learning how to build a commercial gym, you are going to have to embrace this.

Price your gym too high, people will go elsewhere, price your gym too low and you won’t make enough profit. There is a delicate balance when it comes to this, and if you are the owner of a new gym, you might be stuck having to go with lower rates.

My best advice to you when determining the price of your gym memerbship is to look at gyms around your area. As a new gym, you should be offering a better rate so you can attract people to your facility. Once you start getting more popular, you can start raising the price.

Remember, the space that you are either purchasing or renting out, along with all of the gym equipment is going to be extremely expensive. If you aren’t making your money back via memberships, you are going to have a bad time at your gym. This leads me to my next section.


Budgeting and pricing go hand in hand, however, I still felt it was important to break this down into two areas. I briefly mentioned it above, but you are probably going to be paying for rent, your gym equipment, along with any of the utilities in the building.

If you spend too much money right from the start, you are not going to be able to make monthly payments. What does this mean for your gym?

You are going to have to make some sacrifices, either on the equipment end or with the actual physical space itself. Either way, once you finally start making money you can look to upgrade, but until then, you are going to have to budget with your commercial gym.

A Good Staff & Team

Group of people standing in the gym facing the camera

As much as you want to do all the work when it comes to your commercial gym, you are going to have to learn how to accept help and get people on board with your visions.

A good staff team will not only make life easier for you on the administrative end, but they create an amazing space for your gym goers.

A good staff team should be one that shows up excited to work each day, leaves a good impression on the staff, and is always looking for ways to help improve the gym.

It can be difficult to find people who are interested in more than just a paycheck, but I’d recommend searching hard if you want to learn how to build a commercial gym.


With any business, you need to get the exposure that you need if you want to drive sales and conversions.

Gyms are not an exception. I’d recommend taking advantage of social media, making an account for your gym while also paying for a couple of ads on something like Instagram.

Things might be slow at first, but if you market correctly and throw in a bit of SEO, you’re going to get some growth over time.

You could have the best gym in the world, but it wouldn’t mean a thing if no one knows that it exists. Marketing is one of the most important things to consider when learning how to build a commercial gym.

The Floor Space

Now it’s time to start moving away from all the administrative tasks behind learning how to build a commercial gym and move towards actually building the gym. Take a look at your floor space and try to envision how things are going to look.

Where are you going to put your studios? Where is the cardio area going to go? This relates to business goals, however, I felt it deserved its own categories.

With most gyms, you are going to see the free weight area up against a wall with a large mirror. Cardio machines are typically near this area as well.

From there, you should consider where you want to put all of your machines, and also where you want the locker rooms to go. A gym with a clunky layout is not going to do well. I’ve been to a few and it just leaves me confused and annoyed.

The Equipment

Once you have the layout of your gym in mind, it’s time to start investing in the equipment.

This is not going to be easy at all as budgeting is going to play a major role in what you end up getting for your gym.

For starters, I recommend getting a few smith machines that encompass a large variety of exercises, some treadmills and bikes for cardio, a squat rack, a bench, and some free weights (both barbells and dumbbells).

This is going to give you a gym with all the basics. It might not be sexy, but it is a great start and it is going to allow people to get the complete workout that they are looking for in a commercial gym.

If you have more money available, definitely look into more specialized machines and more cardio equipment.

If money is a little tight, however, you need to make sacrifices.

Once your business is off and running, make upgrades as necessary and I would even recommend talking to the members at your gym.

What better way to reward them by getting actual feedback and getting them the equipment that they need.

Doing this will greatly help you with customer retention.

Make it Unique

If you are learning how to build a commercial gym, the last piece of advice I’d give you is to make it unique. I’ve talked about competition and it’s important to mention that you are going to have to do something special to differentiate yourself from the other gyms out there.

Your commercial gym doesn’t have to have any extravagant or complex ideas to be successful, it just needs a few small things here and there that other gyms don’t offer. Here are some ideas:

  • Add facilities other gyms in the area don’t have (basketball courts, a pool, a track)
  • A women’s only section
  • Fitness classes
  • Competitions and promotions run through social media

These are just a few ideas that you can employ to really make your gym stand out from the competition. People are creatures of habit, and unless you give them a reason to switch from their gym to yours, you aren’t going to grow.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this gives you an idea on how to build a commercial gym. It can be a daunting task, however, if you are up for the challenge and have a dream, you can definitely accomplish it.

Remember to create a space that people want to be a part of. If you keep that in mind, learning how to build a commercial gym is going to be easier than you thought.

Denver Matheson

I spend a lot of time at the gym and even more time in the kitchen giving my body what it needs to repair itself and grow stronger. The third most important place for any athlete is their research zone. That's exactly why this site exists, to help me share all of the information I've learned throughout the years just like people did for me in the first place!

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