The last two years have been extremely difficult for almost any professional working in the fitness industry. While the normal gym industry took a massive toll, other more niche areas of the fitness community were even more negatively impacted by the pandemic. In fact, nearly 20% of boutique fitness studios had to close their doors for good in 2020. These closures have led to an underserved market that will require new training centers to open to meet consumer demand after the pandemic.
If you have been thinking about starting your own athletic performance training center, but unsure about going all in, now is the time. Over the last two years, hundreds of thousands of young athletes had to miss time, take extended breaks, work out at home and do anything they could to remain in shape. Now, with the end of the pandemic in sight, these athletes and new athletes
will need a place to train and you could provide just that.
Opening an athletic training center will be fun, but challenging. For a new business owner, you will have two major hurdles associated with getting your business off the ground. First, you will need to find a space to call your business home, then, you need to source all the equipment and gear needed to get the facility up to par.
First, you will need to identify what type of training center you want to open.
The type of center you open will dictate the gear and equipment you need to accommodate your athletes.
When choosing the type of performance center you want to open, consider a few key things. First, the primary sports you provide training for should be ones you excelled in or know how to excel in. After that, you’ll need to ensure that there is a demand for this type of facility in your area. For example, a beach volleyball complex would probably not be too popular in the chilly Northeast, whereas it would be extremely popular down South.
For the rest of this guide, we will walk through the gear you need for some of the most popular types of performance centers.
All-Around Athlete Training
The most common type of performance center out there is an all-around training center. These training complexes differ from a big gym that offers personal training because that is all these complexes specialize in.
All-around facilities usually will focus on a few key things. Improving an athlete’s core strength, flexibility, baseline speed, and mental health. Any athlete who is looking to grow can use these facilities, which makes them a safer bet over some of the more niche facilities. Some gear you will need to get started is:
Indoor Turf Area – When working inside, it’ll be necessary to have an area for athletes to sprint, stretch and do some basic drills on a soft area. Bringing in a turf area, even if it’s only 15-20 yards, will open up the number of drills you can do year-round at your facility. Before buying indoor turf, read up on the differences in turf materials here.
Modern Exercise Equipment – Seeing that you’re opening a performance center, you need to take the extra step and go beyond what a normal gym offers in terms of workout equipment, or else people could just train there. Luckily, you’ll benefit from quality over quantity when it comes to buying your workout machines. Instead of having to buy eight standard treadmills, you can buy one or two state-of-the-art training treadmills. Purchasing other top-of-the-line machines, like ellipticals, weight decks, and stretching machines will help you stand out from commercial gyms.
Recovery Area – Again, since your facility is specifically designed to help athletes train, you should have a dedicated area for them to recover in. Putting in a shower room, sauna, and bringing on a Certified Physical Therapist to the staff are all good starting points.
Miscellaneous – Obviously, this isn’t everything you will need, but just some starting ideas to get you going. Some smaller items to keep in mind are: field cones, healthy vending machines, resistance bands, sports balls and goals, and vital monitoring equipment.
For former hockey players, opening a hockey performance center sounds like a dream! If you live in a hockey hotbed, keep reading. The gear you need for your facility will be much different than other sports.
Mini Ice Rink – The logistics of putting in a full-size ice rink could be way out of scope when just starting out. Even a small rink could be out of your comfort zone, but if you do have experience maintaining the ice, mini-training rinks would open up the types of training you can do with your clients.
Training Kits – To attract top talent to your facility, you’ll need to invest in having pro-backed gear to train with. Get familiar with some of the best training kits available. These kits will aid you when conducting drills and workouts on the ice.
Skate Repair – Seeing that you will be working with athletes that require skates to compete, it would make sense to have a designated workshop to fix up skates in your facility. Something as small as a skate sharpening tool could
be the tipping point to attracting and keeping an athlete coming to your complex.
Miscellaneous – Again, we are only scratching the surface with this list. Some must-have small things to purchase include: pucks, stick tape, nets, and rink paint.
Combat Sports Training
Combat sports (boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, judo) are all examples of the earliest sports practiced by humans; but until the 1990s, each type of combat was practiced separately. In the 1990s, the UFC burst onto the scene and coined the phrase mixed martial arts (MMA) and from then the combat sports world has changed forever. Now, MMA is often referred to as the fastest growing sport in the world and you could capitalize on it. Here’s what you will need.
MMA Ring – Bringing in a ring will be a must to train any type of mixed martial artist. The type of ring you choose will be up to you. If you specialize in a specific type of MMA, then starting there would be a good plan.
Targets – Many of the mixed martial arts require daily striking training to teach combos and proper striking techniques. Having an assortment of heavy bags, dummies, speed mitts, and body protectors will allow you to train any type of striker.
Mats – While a ring is great for strikers and sparring, that isn’t all MMA has to offer. For more grappling-based forms of MMA, such as wrestling or jiu-jitsu, mats will be required. Mats don’t require walls and allow for more free-flowing open training.
Miscellaneous – With MMA, some key extras to consider would be: mat disinfectant, headgear, recovery equipment, and a certified cut-man or doctor on staff.
Now that you have some base ideas, it’ll be on you to take your idea and make it happen
Know that, like any other business idea, you should establish a business plan to help guide the opening process. You can see everything a business plan should include on the small business administration website. For now, let’s go over some of the most important areas of the plan to think about.
Funding – Every business costs money to get started, but athletic facilities require a little bit of extra cash to cover all the niche equipment costs. In this section, you should lay out how much financing you need and the type of financing you’re going to apply for. The most common way to fund a startup idea is by using funds from family or friends, applying for a personal loan, or through local grants and government aid. Whatever route you decide to take, make sure to meet with a financial advisor or trusted individual to give you a second opinion.
Branding – To attract clients, you’ll need to have more than some state-of-the-art equipment in place. Creating a trendy brand name and persona that encompasses the values of your performance center will be important. Look at some of the best fitness branding over the years to get some inspiration!
Service/Product Descriptions – Lastly, you should figure out how your business is going to operate/make money. Will you offer monthly memberships? Or individual classes? These are things to think about that will directly impact how much your services cost and what type of facility you’ll be running.
Be sure to plan out every aspect of your new business. The starting phase of any new path in life is always scary, but with the right guidance and intuition, you can make your new training center the talk of the town.
If you need any assistance getting your plan off the ground, feel free to contact me today! I have been helping gym and fitness professionals across the country turn their idea into reality and can offer guidance if needed.