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Off-Topic Opening a new gym space

Quincyh_SFG

Level 1 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Hello Strongfirst family!

I am ready to take the leap into gym ownership. I am looking to get into a 1200-1500 sqft space ( I think) . I wanted to get some insights into how much space is really needed. I would like to keep it very modest to start. I plan on having just 2-3 squat racks, a lifting platform, my current collection of KB's 8kg - 48kg all doubles, 2 tractor tires,an echo bike, a bench, a sled, and enough room to sprint with and drag said sled/s. I am planning on private and semi-private sessions with up to 8 individuals training in the building at once. Anyone out there that has started a studio like this, I'd love to hear about your experience. How much space is enough, how much is too much, and any other valuable tidbits you can offer?

Thanks in advance!

Quincy
 

Quincyh_SFG

Level 1 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Thanks friend! Do you feel this book does a good job of covering the logistics of starting a small gym business or is it more geared towards getting and keeping clients? I need the logistics, I’m pretty competent in the soft skills already.
 

silveraw

Level 7 Valued Member
Thanks friend! Do you feel this book does a good job of covering the logistics of starting a small gym business or is it more geared towards getting and keeping clients? I need the logistics, I’m pretty competent in the soft skills already.
It is more focused on systems to implement to make sure there is a steady flow of paying clients, retaining clients, selling clients. So really focused on the business side of things.
 

Halfakneecap

Level 5 Valued Member
Good luck with it mate!

Up to 48kg kb’s? Awesome! I have to take my bigger ones to my gym. Plenty of leg press though haha
 

Tony Gracia

Level 6 Valued Member
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I could write a book on this (and in fact have thought about doing it). We've had our facility since 2013 and have been a StrongFirst Accredited Gym since 2019. We offer kettlebell training, barbell strength training, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and weightlifting (what most people call "Olympic Lifting").

It is easy to get excited about what equipment YOU want, but try to not let that drive too many of your business decisions. Yes, if you have the budget feel free to buy yourself a "toy" or two (I wanted one really nice Ivanko barbell so we got one). But the majority of your equipment and the space you lease (or possibly purchase) needs to be tailored to the needs of your business, not your own personal workouts.

That said, start by thinking about what your training model is going to be and what demographics are going to be training there. If you have an existing student base then you can use that for reference, and if not then you'll have to put some thought into this. Make sure the facility and the equipment caters to them and the experience they have there.

All that said, here are a few considerations:
  • You can train more people per square foot with kettlebells than with barbells.
  • You have have more people train at once with kettlebells than with barbells. With barbells you are usually limited on space and will need 2-4 people to share a barbell. This is fine and can totally work (that is how we do it), it's just something to factor in.
  • Most of your students will be using MUCH less weight than you for your personal workouts. Your most popular kettlebell sizes will generally be the lightest ones, especially at first. I think we have ten (10) 16kg kettlebells (meaning 5 pairs). Each size 8-20kg is very popular and it's probably a good idea to have several pairs of each of those.
  • Astroturf can be great for some things, but honestly is pretty uncomfortable for kettlebell training. At our first location we had a large strip of turf, and then decided to get rid of it when we moved to our second location. Nobody wanted to train kettlebells on it (they all wanted to be on rubber mats), so really the only use of the turf was for sled pushes.

I could probably go on and on, but I suspect that is enough info to get you started. Hopefully it helps!
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
my current collection of KB's 8kg - 48kg all doubles
What @Tony Gracia said - you'll do fine at the start, and possibly forever, with nothing bigger than 32 kg, and you might want to invest in sizes smaller than 8 kg as well. I find that sometimes letting someone perform a movement with 4 or 6 kg a few times will give them the confidence to try it with 8 kg. I would have at least 4 each in 8, 10, and 12 kg, possibly a pair of 14's, and at least 4 each in 16, 20, and 24 kg. Maybe a pair each in 28 and 32.

-S-
 

Mark Limbaga

Level 8 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Congrats.

One piece of advice I can share as someone who has helped acquire equipment for gym owners I consulted for:

Do you own the space or are you renting? Rent is usually the number one killer of revenue
 

Quincyh_SFG

Level 1 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I could write a book on this (and in fact have thought about doing it). We've had our facility since 2013 and have been a StrongFirst Accredited Gym since 2019. We offer kettlebell training, barbell strength training, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and weightlifting (what most people call "Olympic Lifting").

It is easy to get excited about what equipment YOU want, but try to not let that drive too many of your business decisions. Yes, if you have the budget feel free to buy yourself a "toy" or two (I wanted one really nice Ivanko barbell so we got one). But the majority of your equipment and the space you lease (or possibly purchase) needs to be tailored to the needs of your business, not your own personal workouts.

That said, start by thinking about what your training model is going to be and what demographics are going to be training there. If you have an existing student base then you can use that for reference, and if not then you'll have to put some thought into this. Make sure the facility and the equipment caters to them and the experience they have there.

All that said, here are a few considerations:
  • You can train more people per square foot with kettlebells than with barbells.
  • You have have more people train at once with kettlebells than with barbells. With barbells you are usually limited on space and will need 2-4 people to share a barbell. This is fine and can totally work (that is how we do it), it's just something to factor in.
  • Most of your students will be using MUCH less weight than you for your personal workouts. Your most popular kettlebell sizes will generally be the lightest ones, especially at first. I think we have ten (10) 16kg kettlebells (meaning 5 pairs). Each size 8-20kg is very popular and it's probably a good idea to have several pairs of each of those.
  • Astroturf can be great for some things, but honestly is pretty uncomfortable for kettlebell training. At our first location we had a large strip of turf, and then decided to get rid of it when we moved to our second location. Nobody wanted to train kettlebells on it (they all wanted to be on rubber mats), so really the only use of the turf was for sled pushes.

I could probably go on and on, but I suspect that is enough info to get you started. Hopefully it helps!
Tony , what can I say, thank you, these are absolutely excellent suggestions , YOU SHOULD WRITE A BOOK ;-) The equipment I listed is what I already have, I previously ran a gym out of my garage...I have now built up a substantial base of students. I've spent the past two years training 30-40 sessions/ week , strictly 55+ population. I feel I have a pretty good grasp on their needs and I think you're right, I need to stock up on 8kg's, 10's, 12's and 16's and of course loop bands have proven to be invaluable as well.

Do you think a space of about 1000 sq feet would be suitable if the model is semi-private with up to 8 people swinging bells at the same time? I would also like to be able to have turf for sleds...Do you think a stretch of about 50 feet would be appropriate for most drills?

Thank you again for your thoughtful response!

Your gym looks amazing by the way. Love your website too! Great work you guys are doing !!
 
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Quincyh_SFG

Level 1 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Sounds like a great gym to me. I am sure there will be pull up bars as well although you did not mention.
It will be a great gym! Thank you :) "Ocala School of Strength" is the name I have in mind. LOL , of course, there will be pull-up bars galore, attached to every rack, fat bar, and standard.
 
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Quincyh_SFG

Level 1 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Congrats.

One piece of advice I can share as someone who has helped acquire equipment for gym owners I consulted for:

Do you own the space or are you renting? Rent is usually the number one killer of revenue
Thank you Mark. I own the equipment but I will be looking to rent the space. The locations I have been scouting are in the $2000-$2500 range. I would love to get the rent below $2000 which is why I wanted to get an idea of just how much space I could get away with.
 

Quincyh_SFG

Level 1 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
What @Tony Gracia said - you'll do fine at the start, and possibly forever, with nothing bigger than 32 kg, and you might want to invest in sizes smaller than 8 kg as well. I find that sometimes letting someone perform a movement with 4 or 6 kg a few times will give them the confidence to try it with 8 kg. I would have at least 4 each in 8, 10, and 12 kg, possibly a pair of 14's, and at least 4 each in 16, 20, and 24 kg. Maybe a pair each in 28 and 32.

-S-
Thank you Steve! Certainly makes sense to stock up on the lighter bells.
 

silveraw

Level 7 Valued Member
There is an attachment, a link from Amazon, for a book named Gym Launch Secrets… I guess your browser is not supporting.
Yeah, looks like when I have adblock on it doesn't show it the book. Not sure why it copied the link over like that.
 

Tony Gracia

Level 6 Valued Member
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Tony , what can I say, thank you, these are absolutely excellent suggestions , YOU SHOULD WRITE A BOOK ;-) The equipment I listed is what I already have, I previously ran a gym out of my garage...I have now built up a substantial base of students. I've spent the past two years training 30-40 sessions/ week , strictly 55+ population. I feel I have a pretty good grasp on their needs and I think you're right, I need to stock up on 8kg's, 10's, 12's and 16's and of course loop bands have proven to be invaluable as well.

Do you think a space of about 1000 sq feet would be suitable if the model is semi-private with up to 8 people swinging bells at the same time? I would also like to be able to have turf for sleds...Do you think a stretch of about 50 feet would be appropriate for most drills?

Thank you again for your thoughtful response!

Your gym looks amazing by the way. Love your website too! Great work you guys are doing !!
I'm glad you found it helpful :)

I think 1,000 square feet would be cutting it close ... my hunch is that is too small if you think you'll frequently be getting 8 to a class. Remember that a 1,000 square foot space also needs to include at least one restroom, probably a second changing area, storage area for people's bags and other belongings while they are training, and most likely some office space for you. Those things add up quickly.

At our old facility we had a stretch of turf 12-feet wide x 50-feet long. It was great for sleds, but keep in mind that is 600 square feet of space just for astroturf ... and as mentioned earlier nobody liked doing anything except sleds on it (not that anybody actually liked sled sprints). If you have your heart set on having turf then you'll either need to size up your facility, or make people deal with lifting on it. Again, the latter is not impossible, but it was highly unpopular at our old space.
 
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