6 things I wish I knew before opening my fitness business

Jordy photo of studio

I’m not usually one for ‘me me me’ time, however this is going to be a rare occasion I engage in it. Not for the purposes of being self-indulgent; I simply hope I can make a genuine impact on someone thinking about opening a PT studio, or gym, or just any business in general. Take my advice, or don’t. Learn from my mistakes, or don’t. It’s really up to you.

1. Things do not happen as quickly as you think they will.

Take the time you anticipate things to happen, and then triple it. That’s the advice I was told early on, and I thought “bullshit”. As it transpires; not bullshit at all. Almost every single thing I have done, from getting this website up and running, to fitting out the gym, to installing a light in the office; has taken so much more time than I thought it’s almost a joke. Learn patience, or learn to be in a permanent state of frustration.

2. Know your legal documents. Also know they are fucking expensive.

At no point in my planning for this business did I give any thought to getting legal documents drawn up (waivers, privacy policies, trademarking etc). When I did have to give thought to them; I got the shock of my life. Who would have thought a couple of pieces of paper with a few words on them could be more than my months rent. Not me, and I had to do some pretty quick shuffling around of shit in order to find the funds. Make organising your legal documents your first priority.

3. Doing everything yourself wears pretty thin after a while.

Early mornings, long days, late nights. Get used to it. If you are currently a personal trainer working out of a gym, or working for someone; just know that the days where you could fill the middle portion of your day with watching replays of the footy, or spending 3 hours at the gym doing arms, are about to be gone. It’s admin, emails, finances, program writing, marketing, social media, cleaning, meetings, following up with clients.. I could go on, but you get the picture. If I had my time over again, I would have done this with a business partner, to share the load. Just be aware that if you take on all this by yourself, as I have, it gets pretty fucking tiring.

4. It’s not all “Oh, you must get to work your own hours, how cool!”

Following on from the previous point, you may be under the impression that as soon as your start your business, you can pick and choose your own hours and have more freedom than you can poke a stick at. Let me tell you that isn’t the case, at ALL. If you start getting picky with your hours; turning down clients because you don’t want to get up, or you don’t want to stay back late; pretty quickly your business is going to go to shit. If the client wants to train, you run the session. If that means 6am on Saturday mornings, you turn up at 5:45am Saturday morning. If it means 9pm Thursdays, you stay until 9:30pm Thursdays. Getting the picture?

5. You’re gonna be broke, and it’s gonna be shit.

More likely, you’re going to not only be broke, but broke and in a lot of debt. If you don’t want this to happen, make sure you secure a large enough loan, or save up a large enough sum of money initially; so as you can sustain whatever lifestyle it is that you are currently living, and want to continue living. I didn’t do either of those things, and am now suffering because of it. Don’t expect that you can sail close to the wind with your finances; because unexpected (and expensive) shit always pops up. Always.

6. The bank doesn’t give a fuck about you.

I always assumed I could waltz into the bank, with my business plan and financial projections, say “I’d like one loan please”, and they’d go “No worries Sean, we’ll sort that out for you within a few business days”

What actually happened was I waltzed in, with my business plan and financial projections, said “I’d like one loan please” and they said “We don’t care about that business plan, show us your last years tax return”. So I did, and they said they would give me “half” of what I asked for. Half. Turns out, the bank only cares about what you’ve done, not what you say you’re going to do. Pretty fair enough really; but just make sure you are aware of this.

There’s my 6 points. I hope they were of some use to even just one person reading who is contemplating starting up a business. It’s not all doom and gloom though; there are many positive aspects to owning your own business.. I just wanted to make people aware of all the shit ones, as I could have avoided all sorts of stress had I read a blog exactly like this one, before I started.