The Ultimate Guide to Gym Funding

With 2021 here, there has been great headway made towards ending the pandemic. Experts estimate that this summer could be when our first return to normalcy happens, but what does that mean for your business?

Consumers will hopefully be out in droves, spending more than ever. To capitalize on this, your gym will need to have the newest gear, technology, and other resources to get consumers to come to your gym instead of a competitor.

Investing in your business after a lengthy recession may not be the first thing you are thinking about. If you aren’t sure about how to go about Gym Funding in 2021, keep reading this guide to ensure your business is able to expand safely and efficiently.

First, Identify Why You Need Funding

Most businesses that need funding need it for one of two reasons:

New funds will help them shore up a threat.

New funds will help them capitalize on an opportunity.

Sometimes in life, things happen, and we need money to bail us out. As a business owner, this can be an extremely scary situation to navigate.

Businesses that are in need of funding to get out of a precarious situation should really be looking for low-risk financial solutions that are intended to help business owners who are struggling.

This year, the SBA rolled out new low-risk, low-interest loans for businesses that needed a lot of financial assistance, quickly. If you find that your gym is in need of cash just to remain open, it may be time to apply for an SBA-backed loan.

For businesses that are not struggling, outside funding is often the best way to capitalize on a new trend or business opportunity within an industry.

If you are a business owner that is in need of funding to expand, there are steps to take to help make certain that you apply for the right capital solution for your business.

Pinpoint Areas of Opportunity

Before you can go out and apply for a grant or loan, you will need to identify where and why you need funding.

Within the fitness industry, there are plenty of opportunities available to help propel growth. These opportunities include, but are not limited to:

  • Showcasing gym safety
  • Investing in fitness technology
  • Diversification of the product offering
  • Business Expansion (new location)

Opportunities are truly endless within the fitness industry. Consumers are always looking for new ways to exercise, and as a gym owner, it is your job to provide these opportunities.

The financial aid that your gym chooses to leverage will be entirely dependent on the route of expansion that your business decides to pursue. Some gyms may only need a small technology purchase to hit their goals, while others may need to purchase a whole new building for a second location.

Whatever it may be, identifying the opportunity will help you better plan for the type of financial assistance that your business will need.

Choose a Funding Source

Now that you know how much money you need and what it is for, it is time to choose a funding source. Again, the capital solution that you choose for your business should be dependent on how much money you need and what you need the money for.

With that said, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of some of the most popular gym funding sources.

Small Business Loans

Taking out a business loan from a certified financial institution is likely the first funding option that comes to mind when thinking about business expansion, and for good reason. Lending companies today offer an array of loan options that are helpful for owners in any industry.

The advantages of applying for a small business loan are:

Guaranteed Funds — Not every funding solution will guarantee you delivery of your funds. When you agree on a loan amount with a business lender, you know that you are going to receive that amount.

Clear Repayment Plans — Anytime you go through a certified business lender, they will work with you to create a transparent payment plan that fits your needs.

Flexible Loan Options — A business loan can be as small as a few thousand dollars and can go all the way up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, meaning you can use them for

almost any business opportunity.

Some drawbacks of using a business loan are:

Strict Requirements — Certified lenders will have stringent lending guidelines that you must meet to qualify for a loan. Having a good credit score, healthy cash-flow, and a sound business plan will improve your odds of approval.

Cash-Flow Issues — Anytime you take out a loan, there is more stress to be financially responsible. If you take out a loan that is too big, your cash-flow can be disrupted, and paying off the loan can feel like your main business goal.


Crowdfunding has become an increasingly popular way to raise money. When crowdfunding, business owners take to online marketplaces where they can pitch their new business initiatives directly to consumers, in an effort to receive donations.

The advantages of crowdfunding are:

Zero Financial Risk — Unlike with a loan, crowdfunded efforts will not have to be repaid. This will allow you to test a new initiative with little risk attached.

Word Of Mouth Advertising — Crowdfunding sites can serve as a form of advertising as well. If a certain project begins to gain traction, it is often promoted to the front of popular crowdfunding sites, meaning more consumers will see and hear about your business.

Common issues associated with crowdfunding are:

Non-Guaranteed Funds — Crowdfunding sounds perfect in theory, but in reality, only 1 out of every 3 crowdfunding campaigns actually receives funding.

Time Commitment — Anytime you are asking people to give you money, there has to be some sort of presentation or call to action that explains why they should. Producing a crowdfunding campaign that sticks out amongst the crowd can be time-consuming and costly.


Grants are non-repayable funds that support specific industries and initiatives, that often come from the Government or another legitimate organization. Grants typically will be used for a specific purpose or effort.

The benefits of applying for grants are:

Zero Financial Risk — Grants will not need to be repaid.

The main problems associated with Grants are:

Difficult to Find — Finding a grant within your industry that you qualify for can be nearly

impossible. This makes it difficult to rely on grants for guaranteed funds, especially in a time of need.

Time-Consuming Process — Like any other initiative the government leads, applying for a grant can be very time-consuming. The time taken from the application to grant funding may be longer than you can wait.

Competitive — Chances are that you are not the only business applying for a specific grant. Others will be vying for the same limited amount of funding.

The funding avenue you go down will be extremely important in determining the success of your gym’s new efforts this year. Make sure that you do your research into each and every financial solution that is available to you.

No matter what camp you find yourself in, growing or surviving, I want to make sure that you have the financial knowledge to be able to be successful. If you have any other questions about managing your gym or fitness brand, I am here to help — give me a call anytime.

AnOutsourced CEO and expert witness, Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting, turnaround and brokerage firm specializing in the gym and sports industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars, webinars and workshops across the globe on the practical skills required to successfully overcome obscurity, improve sales, build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. In addition, his company will buy gym equipment from gyms liquidating or closing. Visit his Web site at: or

Serving the United States, South Africa, Eqypt, Canada, Australia, Puerto Rico, Turkey. India, Asia, Serbia, Ukraine, Mexico, England, Norway, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Quatar and Saudia Arabia.

Would you like to double your health club membership sales?

This is a story about three very different types of clubs.  All in three different parts of the county, but they have a few things in common. They were all struggling in membership sales production as a result of a poor sales process and poor sales fundamentals.

In 30 days each club had doubled their membership sales production plus they doubled their contact value (by selling a 24 month agreement instead of a 12 month agreement.)  Of course, this kind of success sets the stages for others successes to come.

Here’s how they did it.


  1.  They gained immediate control over the non member traffic coming into their club and now required each guest to register in.
  2. Each guest is now completing a Needs Analysis to help determine goals and what they want to accomplish.
  3. The membership rep is now giving a tour based on the Super Objective (emotional reason the guest wants to accomplish their goals).
  4. The membership rep is now sitting down with each guest and giving a membership price presentation based on benefits with a strong reason to buy today (that is not price related).


  1. All sales staff is learning how to be agreeable.  For example, if the guest says “that’s a lot of money or that’s a long commitment,” the sales rep now says, “yes, I agree, that is a lot of money, a lot of our members say that, but you should see the smile on their face when they lose that 20 pounds and have that waist line down.”  This works much better than simply defending your position.
  2. The sales staff is now selling desired outcomes (Super Objective) instead of giving a tour the only points out the features and equipment in the club.
  3. With decent boldness, the sales staff is now asking for the sale.  They have learned that if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

There is still more work to be done, but each club is well on their way to success.

Now, go double your sales! 

Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting and turnaround firm specializing in the fitness and health club industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars and workshops across the country on the practical skills required to successfully build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. Visit his Web site at:



How to Spot a Potential Star Health Club Salesperson

After having interviewed thousands of potential salespeople over the years on behalf of client clubs…and after having hired and helped to supervise many of them…and after having trained them and worked beside them, I have found there are certain qualities that every star health club salesperson possesses.

One of the secrets is…don’t be tricked by what they know relative to fitness or the health club industry, and don’t be blinded by how they look. Instead, concentrate on who they are.  Here you go:

1.  Will they do the right thing when no one is watching?  Do they have integrity?

Members and guests appreciate and want to deal with honest people.  Fast talkers will come and go. Hard closers will get some sales, but will create some ill will… experts in fitness will help us understand, but the thing that draws us to do business with a person, more than anything else, is that person’s integrity. We know that we will be dealt with fairly and honestly.

2.  Do they have a high energy level?  Are they a self starter? What kind of work ethic do they have?

Whether we like it or not, it is still true, to a large degree, sales, in the health club business, is a numbers game. Every health club sales person must talk to a certain number of people in order to sell one.

So, the element of volume is very important to a successful health club sales person. Given two salespeople of equal skills, experience, intelligence, product knowledge, etc., the one who works the hardest will be more successful.

There is no substitute for hard work. Sometimes, the difference between one sales person being successful and another being unsuccessful comes down to quantity of sales efforts.

3.  Are they coachable? Do they have the ability to learn?

I’m not talking about the kind of knowledge that you get in school. For the successful health club salesperson, the ability to learn means the ability to evaluate a situation, and then to modify or make adjustments in the way they do things as a result.  Can they think quickly on their feet?

In today’s health club environment, there are a number of areas in which a good salesperson must continually be inquiring, learning, and changing their behavior.

The first of these…are their personal sales skills. Health Club sales is an area of endeavor where a person is never as good as they could be. There is always some skill that can be learned or improved upon. The successful health club salesperson never considers themselves to have arrived, but is constantly looking for ways to refine and improve their sales skills. It’s a continuous learning process.

The health club salesperson must learn how to change their behavior to meet the needs, drives, and personalities of the club guests and members. The successful health club salesperson is a chameleon. They change their behavior and, to some extent, their personality, to meet the ways in which different guests and members need for them to behave.

4. Do they have the ability to build positive relationships? Do they have a winning attitude?

The successful health club salesperson is the individual who can quickly build trusting relationships with all sorts of people in the community and inside the club. That requires empathy, the ability to listen, perceptiveness, and the ability to mold themselves into the kind of person the prospect and club member needs.

Those are relationship-building skills. And the most successful health club salespeople are relationship builders.

5.  Do they have a self-image of success?  Do they see themselves capturing every sale?

People tend to live up to their image of themselves. We all understand that.

Every one of us can think of people in our own lives who have lots of ability and potential, but who never live up to that potential because of their poor self-image.

Somewhere, they developed a poor self-image, and began to think of themselves as incompetent, unable, or unworthy.

6.  Do they really want to be in sales?  What is their personal motivation?

The best health club salespeople all have within them a drive to excel, to be the best.  They have a desire to persuade others.  They have a desire… to get you to see their way of thinking.

It’s that internal motivation that drives all the other qualities of the superstar salesperson. And that drive to succeed is far more powerful than any of the other qualities. Given a strong internal motivation, sooner or later the health club salesperson that is driven to success will succeed. It’s only a matter of time.

Now, add that internal drive, with an ability to learn, an image of success and achievement, a high energy level, personal integrity, and add the ability to create strong business relationships, and you have the ingredients of a superstar health club salesperson.

And should you find a salesperson like this, get ready, because they will make your health club the most interesting it has been in a long time…and, oh by the way, profitable.

Now, go find that health club superstar.

Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting and turnaround firm specializing in the fitness and health club industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars and workshops across the country on the practical skills required to successfully build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. Visit his Web site at:


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