13 types of gyms: A guide for aspiring gym owners

Vicki Morillo
21 min read
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Starting a gym business offers a world of choices. There's a type of gym for everyone, whether you're a fitness enthusiast eager to share your passion, a trainer planning to grow, or someone dreaming of opening your own gym. 

This guide is for aspiring gym owners like you. We'll explore 13 different gym types, each unique in style and approach. 

From classic weightlifting gyms to high-tech fitness centers and everything in between, you'll discover what each type offers. 

This isn't just a list it's a guide to help you find the right gym model that matches your goals and fitness philosophy. 

Let's dive in and find your ideal gym type for your journey into gym ownership.

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Key takeaways

  • Aspiring gym owners have a range of options including big box gyms, 24-hour access membership gyms, HIIT and circuit cardio facilities, bootcamps, among others
  • Investment costs for starting a gym vary, with big box gyms and CrossFit gyms requiring substantial capital, often upwards of $150,000, while smaller studios like yoga or Pilates may need as little as $15,000 to $50,000.
  • Monthly operational costs across gym types can range from a few thousand to over $20,000, encompassing expenses such as rent, utilities, and staff salaries.
  • Annual revenue potential also varies widely; high-investment gyms like big box or CrossFit can potentially generate around $700,000 to $1,000,000, while niche studios may see lower but still substantial incomes.
  • Space requirements are dependent on the gym type, with larger facilities requiring 4,000 sq ft or more, while smaller, specialized studios may operate comfortably within 1,000 to 2,000 sq ft.

Big box gyms

A big box gym.

Imagine stepping into your own big box gym, a place buzzing with energy, where fitness dreams become reality. 

This is where your entrepreneurial spirit meets the health and wellness industry. Catering to a wide audience, these gyms are more than just fitness centers; they're community hubs.

Setting up a big box gym is bold, but let's break down what it entails. You're looking at an initial investment ranging from $130,700 to $205,000. This figure includes securing a location, outfitting your gym with state-of-the-art equipment, and taking care of renovations to create an inviting space. 

There are marketing and operational costs to consider. On average, running your gym will cost about $12,033 each month.

But here's the exciting part: the financial rewards can be substantial. A well-managed gym can bring in a net income of around $754,900 annually on revenues of about $1,000,000. 

How? Well, membership fees, which average $37.71 per month, are your bread and butter.

Space is key. You'll need about 4,000 sq ft to house a variety of workout stations and amenities. This space is more than just functional; it's where your members will meet their fitness goals and where community is built.

24-hour access membership gyms

Members running on treadmills in a 24-hour access gym.

Image credit: Verywellfit.com

Welcome to the world of 24-hour access membership gyms, where fitness meets flexibility. 

These gyms are a haven for those with non-traditional schedules: shift workers, night owls, and busy professionals who crave a workout at their convenience. 

It's about offering an exercise haven that's open when most others are closed, catering to those who want to avoid the rush hours or cherish the quiet of a midnight run.

Starting one of these gyms requires an initial investment in the ballpark of $130,700 to $205,000, covering everything from leasing a prime spot to equipping it with the best gear and getting the word out. 

Once you're up and running, expect monthly expenses of around $12,033 for upkeep, staff, utilities, and more.

The payoff? Imagine your gym bustling around the clock, and you could see a net income of around $754,900 a year on a $1,000,000 revenue. That's thanks to membership fees, averaging about $37.71 monthly. Space-wise, you're looking at 4,000 sq ft or more, a playground for fitness enthusiasts at any hour.

HIIT gyms

A gym designed for HIIT workouts.

Now, let's shift gears to HIIT gyms, the epicenters of high-intensity interval training. These are where workouts are short, sharp, and super practical, attracting everyone from fitness buffs to time-crunched professionals. 

Here, efficiency is key, offering intense exercise bursts followed by recovery, all within a dynamic and supportive environment.

Opening a HIIT gym is a sizable venture, with costs ranging dramatically based on location, size, and equipment sophistication. 

You could look at anything from a few hundred thousand to a few million dollars. This investment includes essential workout gear, opening promotions, and setting up your space. 

Monthly, your expenses will vary, including electricity (which could run $500 to $1,000), staff salaries, and other operational costs.

In terms of income, a HIIT gym with an annual revenue of around $1,000,000 has its profitability shaped by these expenses. 

Membership fees can differ widely, from yearly memberships with unlimited classes to various monthly or pay-as-you-go plans ranging from $84 to $225 monthly. 

Space-wise, consider 1,500 to 2,000 square feet as your starting point, expanding based on the amenities and services you plan to offer.

Did you know?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) was ranked as one of the top fitness trends for several consecutive years, highlighting its popularity and effectiveness in achieving fitness goals. (Source)

Circuit cardio gyms

An outdoor space for circuit cardio workouts.

Image credit: Tgogc.com

Step into the circuit cardio gyms, where high-intensity interval training (HIIT) reigns supreme. These gyms are the go-to places to boost cardiovascular health and fitness levels. 

Imagine a space where fitness enthusiasts engage in intense bursts of exercise punctuated by brief rests, all designed to maximize fitness results in minimal time.

If you're considering opening a circuit cardio gym, anticipate an initial investment ranging from $100,000 to $200,000. This sum includes leasing or buying a suitable location, equipping it with necessary gear like treadmills and rowing machines, and covering renovation, marketing, and operational costs. 

You might spend between $10,000 and $20,000 monthly on rent, staff salaries, utilities, and other operational expenses.

Financially, these gyms can be pretty profitable. Say your gym pulls in $500,000 in annual revenue; after expenses, you could be looking at a net income of around $350,000. 

Membership fees might range from $30 to $40 monthly, offering an affordable option for those keen on regular, high-energy workouts. Space-wise, plan for 3,000 to 5,000 square feet to accommodate your equipment and members comfortably.

Bootcamp gyms

A bootcamp workout in the outdoors.

Image credit: Tunturi.com

Bootcamp setups offer a different flavor of workout. 

Here, it's all about intensive, high-energy routines inspired by military-style training. 

These gyms attract individuals seeking a challenging, diverse workout experience, combining cardio, strength, and flexibility exercises under the guidance of a fitness trainer.

To start a bootcamp, you need between $150,000 and $300,000 initially. This covers leasing or purchasing space, acquiring equipment like exercise bikes and free weights, funding renovations, marketing, and operating expenses. 

Monthly costs, including rent, staff wages, utilities, and maintenance, could total $12,000 to $20,000.

In terms of revenue, a well-managed bootcamp gym could see annual earnings of about $700,000. After deducting expenses, the net income could be around $500,000. 

Memberships could cost between $40 and $60 monthly, with the price reflecting the gym's location and offered amenities. 

These gyms typically require more space, around 4,000 to 6,000 square feet, to accommodate the diverse range of activities and equipment.

Small group personal training facilities

A small workout group exercising using medicine balls.

Image credit: laxymca.org

Small group personal training facilities offer a unique blend of personal attention and group dynamics. Here, classes with 210 participants provide a more tailored workout experience led by skilled instructors. 

This setting appeals to those seeking a personal training feel but within a group context, offering both affordability and camaraderie. It's perfect for fitness enthusiasts who crave a more intimate, focused workout session without the higher cost of one-on-one training.

If you plan to open such a facility, your initial investment might be between $100,000 and $200,000, encompassing lease or real estate costs, essential workout equipment, renovations, marketing, and operational expenses. 

Monthly running costs, including staff wages, utilities, and maintenance, could be around $10,000 to $20,000.

In terms of financials, consider this: with an annual revenue of about $600,000, your net income could be around $300,000. Membership pricing could range from $200 to $300 monthly, balancing exclusivity with accessibility. 

You'll need approximately 3,000 to 5,000 square feet of space to accommodate your clients and equipment comfortably.

Group fitness

Group fitness facilities are vibrant hubs where various group workout classes are held, from yoga and Pilates to HIIT and strength training. 

These centers cater to a broad spectrum of individuals from those in competitive training to those rehabilitating injuries or simply aiming to enhance their fitness levels. 

It's about creating a community space where people with different fitness journeys come together.

Opening a group fitness facility involves an investment of about $150,000 to $300,000, covering lease or purchase costs, equipment, renovations, and marketing. 

Monthly operational costs can hover between $12,000 and $20,000, accounting for rent, wages, and maintenance.

When your facility brings in $400,000 annually, you could see a net income of around $200,000.

Membership fees may average $37.71 monthly, providing an accessible option for those looking to join a fitness community. 

For such a facility, plan for a space of around 4,000 to 6,000 square feet to accommodate various classes and equipment.

Powerlifting gyms

A powerlifting gym.

Powerlifting gyms are specialized fitness centers where strength is king. Catering to competitive athletes, bodybuilders, and anyone aiming to enhance their muscle mass and strength, these gyms offer a focused environment for serious lifting. 

With equipment like barbells, power cages, and dumbbells, they're designed for those who take their strength training seriously.

Starting a powerlifting gym requires an investment of around $100,000 to $200,000, covering lease or purchase, outfitting the gym with heavy-duty equipment, and other start-up expenses like renovation and marketing. 

Monthly costs for running such a facility, including staff wages and utilities, might range from $10,000 to $20,000.

In terms of revenue, a powerlifting gym generating $700,000 annually could net around $500,000 after expenses. 

Membership fees might be set between $40 to $60 per month, depending on your gym's location and amenities. 

You'll need about 3,000 to 5,000 square feet to accommodate the heavy equipment and provide ample room for workouts.

CrossFit gyms

A CrossFit gym.

Image credit: Grailfitnessph.com

CrossFit gyms stand out with their daily Workouts of the Day (WODs), embodying the philosophy of high-intensity lifting and exercise. 

These gyms attract a diverse crowd, from beginners to fitness veterans, all looking for a challenging and dynamic workout environment.

To open a CrossFit gym, you might need an initial investment between $150,000 and $300,000. 

This includes securing a location, equipping the gym with various fitness tools, and covering initial operational expenses. Monthly costs could be around $12,000 to $20,000, accounting for rent, staff salaries, and other operating costs.

Financially, a CrossFit gym with an annual revenue of about $700,000 could see a net income of $500,000. Membership pricing can range from $40 to $60 per month, offering access to a unique and engaging fitness experience. 

For space, plan for 4,000 to 6,000 square feet to facilitate the diverse range of CrossFit activities.

Rock climbing gyms

A gym with a rock climbing wall.

Image credit: Climbing.com

Rock climbing gyms offer a unique fitness experience, focusing on climbing skills and competitions. They appeal to a range of climbers, from hobbyists to competitive athletes, providing a space for both learning and perfecting rock climbing techniques.

The start-up costs for a rock climbing gym are similar to other specialized fitness centers, ranging from $100,000 to $200,000. 

This investment covers leasing or buying a space, installing climbing walls and safety equipment, and other start-up necessities. 

Monthly operational costs could be between $10,000 and $20,000, depending on the gym's size and location.

With annual revenues of around $500,000, a rock climbing gym could achieve a net income of $350,000. Membership fees might be set from $30 to $60 monthly, attracting a diverse clientele. These gyms typically require 3,000 to 5,000 square feet to accommodate the climbing walls and other necessary equipment.

Sports training facilities

Sports training facilities are dedicated spaces designed for focused athletic training. They cater to a broad audience, from individuals looking to improve their general fitness to professional athletes with specific training needs.

Launching a sports training facility can require an investment of $100,000 to $200,000. This budget covers leasing or buying a space, purchasing essential equipment, and covering other start-up costs. 

Ongoing monthly expenses, like staff salaries and utilities, might be around $10,000 to $20,000.

If such a facility brings in $500,000 in annual revenue, the net income might be around $300,000, factoring in total expenses. 

Training session costs vary but average between $30 to $60 per session. A typical facility might need 1,000 to 2,000 square feet, depending on the services offered and the number of clients it serves.


Clubs stand out as fitness facilities offering a wide range of workout equipment and classes. They cater to a diverse crowd, from beginners to fitness buffs, providing everything from yoga and Pilates to dance and strength training.

These clubs are not just about exercise; they're about building a community for those seeking to enhance their fitness, health, and overall well-being.

The initial cost to open a club ranges from $130,700 to $205,000, which covers leasing, high-quality equipment, renovations, and marketing. 

Monthly expenses, including staff wages and utilities, total around $12,033. 

The profitability of a club depends significantly on its ability to attract and retain members and offer a range of services. 

With effective management, clubs can generate significant revenue, potentially seeing net incomes of $754,900 on annual revenues of $1,000,000. These clubs typically require about 4,000 sq ft or more to accommodate their diverse facilities.

Yoga studios

A yoga studio.

Image credit: Timeout.com

Envision a yoga studio, a serene sanctuary where people from all walks of life beginners, athletes, busy professionals, and families come together to stretch, strengthen, and find inner peace. 

These studios are more than just fitness spaces; they're wellness havens for anyone looking to enhance their physical and mental well-being, reduce stress, and seek a more profound connection in their lives.

If you're dreaming of opening a yoga studio, let's talk numbers. 

Your initial investment could range from a modest $15,000 to a more significant $1,000,000, with the average hovering around $30,000 to $50,000. 

This investment covers the basics like legal and accounting services, hiring skilled instructors, promotional efforts, constructing the studio space, and equipping it with essentials like mats and props, which can cost between $1,240 and $5,000.

When it comes to monthly expenses, you're looking at an average rent of about $2,000 to $3,000, depending on your studio's location. Add to that utilities, which might run you about $1,038.60 monthly, and cleaning costs around $340. 

Remember, these figures can vary based on your studio's size, location, and student base. Don't forget other ongoing costs like marketing, staff salaries, and studio management software.

Profitability in this field can be as varied as yoga poses themselves. While some studios might aim for a revenue of $1,000,000, your studio's success will depend on your unique business model, location, and the services you offer. 

Membership pricing also varies; you might opt for a flat monthly fee lor offer more flexible options with varied membership plans.

Opening a yoga studio is more than a business venture; it's about creating a community space where people can grow physically and spiritually. 

It's an opportunity to build a business that not only profits financially but also enriches lives, making it a rewarding endeavor for aspiring gym owners.

Did you know?

Yoga, with origins dating back over 5,000 years in Northern India, is not only a physical exercise but also incorporates philosophical and spiritual elements. (Source)

Pilates studios

A Pilates studio.

Image credit: Mindandmotionpilates.com

Imagine a space where core strength and flexibility are the stars of the show that's what a Pilates studio offers. 

These studios are a hit with a wide variety of folks from those just starting their fitness journey to seasoned practitioners. 

It's a place where everyone comes together to work on their physical strength, improve flexibility, and achieve mental clarity through Pilates.

Now, if you're considering opening your own Pilates studio, the financial picture is as varied as the Pilates poses. 

You might need a modest $5,000 to a sizeable $500,000. This range covers leasing a cozy spot, getting the perfect Pilates equipment, marketing your unique space, and bringing in a team of skilled instructors. 

Monthly costs, including the $2,000 average U.S. rental fee, marketing, accounting, and insurance, are part of the deal, too.

But here's the exciting part: your studio's success hinges on your creativity and business savvy. 

Offering a range of classes, some unique Pilates fusion sessions, and leveraging tech like online bookings and a buzzing social media presence can set you apart. And when it comes to membership fees, you've got options. 

You could go for a range, like Club Pilates, with flexible packages ranging from $84 for a few classes to $219 for a whole lot more each month.

Opening a Pilates studio is like going on a rewarding journey it requires balance, strength, and a bit of entrepreneurial flexibility. 

You're not just opening a studio; you're creating a community where people come to grow stronger, more flexible, and, yes, a bit more zen.

Dance studios

A dance studio.

Dance studios are dynamic spaces where dance is both an exercise and a form of artistic expression. They cater to a wide range of enthusiasts, from beginners to advanced dancers, offering classes in various dance forms. 

These studios attract individuals seeking physical fitness, stress relief, and a platform for creative expression.

Starting a dance studio is more affordable than larger fitness facilities, with estimated initial costs ranging from $9,500 to $47,000. 

This includes setting up dance floors, mirrors, sound systems, and other necessary equipment. 

Monthly expenses cover rent, utilities, and staffing. Dance studios typically charge between $40 and $160 per month for one class per week, though this can vary based on location and class offerings. 

A standard dance studio requires about 2,000 sq ft or more, providing adequate space for dance classes and facilities.

Pole & aerial studios

A pole and aerial studio.

Pole & aerial studios are where fitness meets the finesse of aerial arts, primarily attracting women and individuals seeking a unique and personalized exercise experience. 

These specialized centers are not just about fitness; they're about empowering through unique forms of movement.

To launch a pole & aerial Studio, the initial investment ranges from $150,000 to $250,000. 

This covers the lease of a 3,000 sq ft space in a mid-tier city, specialized equipment costing $20,000 to $40,000, renovations of around $30,000, marketing expenses of $6,000, and annual employee wages of about $80,000. 

Additional costs include utilities, maintenance, insurance, software, licenses, and permits. 

Monthly, you're looking at expenses totaling approximately $2,926, covering lease, wages, utilities, and more.

A pole & aerial studio can be quite lucrative in terms of profitability. With an annual revenue of $500,000, you could see a net income of $384,800. 

Membership fees average around $45 monthly, offering a viable option for those interested in this unique fitness form. 

Space-wise, a standard studio spans about 3,000 sq ft, providing ample room for pole and aerial classes.

Martial arts studios

A martial arts studio.

Image credit: Schoolofma.com

Martial arts studios are dynamic fitness centers where discipline meets physical training. They cater to a diverse crowd, from beginners finding their footing to fitness enthusiasts honing their skills. 

These studios are more than just workout spaces; they're centers for learning self-discipline, strength, and the art of martial arts.

To kickstart a martial arts studio, anticipate an investment between $100,000 and $200,000. 

This includes leasing a 2,000 sq ft location in a mid-tier city for around $15,000 annually, acquiring specialized martial arts equipment for $10,000 to $30,000, and setting up the space with a budget of about $20,000 for renovation and construction. Marketing your studio will cost around $5,000. 

Annual employee wages could total approximately $70,000. 

Remember the other essentials: utilities at about $8,000 annually, maintenance and cleaning services for $4,000, insurance at $1,000, software for $1,500, and licenses and permits ranging from $800 to $1,000.

Every month, running a martial arts studio involves expenses such as lease payments of $1,250, employee wages of around $5,000, and utilities costing roughly $750. 

Maintenance, insurance, and software add up to about $625. In total, your monthly operational costs could be around $2,725.

Financially, a martial arts studio has the potential for a strong return. For instance, if your studio achieves $600,000 in annual revenue, you could see a net income of approximately $480,000. 

Membership fees vary, typically around $35 monthly, providing an accessible fitness option to a wide audience. 

Concerning space, a standard martial arts studio requires about 2,000 sq ft, ample room for classes, training, and equipment.

Online fitness training institutes

Online fitness training institutes are at the forefront of the digital fitness revolution, offering a range of virtual classes and programs. 

These virtual centers cater to all from workout newbies to seasoned fitness buffs, delivering a convenient and flexible way to stay fit.

Launching one of these institutes can range from $50,000 to $100,000 in initial investment. 

Key costs include website development, priced between $10,000 and $20,000, and initial marketing efforts at around $3,000. Employee wages are estimated at $20,000 annually. 

Other expenses include utilities at approximately $1,000, maintenance and cleaning for about $500, insurance at $500, software costs around $1,000, and licenses and permits between $500 and $1,000.

Monthly costs for running an online institute, including website maintenance and staff wages, can total roughly $3,950.

In terms of profitability, an online fitness training institute with annual revenues of about $200,000 could see a net income of $170,000. Membership fees are often affordable, averaging around $20 monthly, allowing accessibility to a global audience. 

The beauty of this business model is its lack of need for a physical space, as all programs are delivered online.

13 types of gyms: A guide for aspiring gym owners FAQs

Which types of gyms are the most profitable?

The most profitable types of gyms typically include big box gyms, specialty studios like pole & aerial or martial arts studios, and high-end boutique gyms, which offer unique services at premium rates.

Which gyms are easier to start without substantial funding?

Online fitness training institutes and smaller specialized studios like yoga or Pilates studios are easier to start with less funding due to lower overhead costs and minimal physical space requirements.

What gym models have the lowest overhead costs for new owners?

Online fitness training institutes have the lowest overhead costs as they eliminate the need for physical space. At the same time, yoga and Pilates studios also tend to have lower overhead due to smaller space and equipment needs.

How does the choice of gym type impact the target demographic and membership fees?

The choice of gym type directly impacts the target demographic and membership fees; for instance, specialized studios like yoga or martial arts attract specific interest groups and often charge premium rates, while general fitness clubs appeal to a broader demographic with more varied pricing.

What are the average start-up costs associated with different types of gyms?

Start-up costs vary: online fitness training institutes can start at $50,000; specialized studios like yoga or Pilates range from $15,000 to $500,000; while larger gyms like big box or martial arts studios may require $100,000 to $250,000.

Which gym formats are most adaptable to changes in fitness trends and customer preferences?

Boutique and specialized studios, such as yoga, Pilates, and martial arts studios, are often more adaptable to changing fitness trends and customer preferences due to their focused and flexible business models.

How does the location influence the success of different types of gyms?

Location greatly influences gym success; urban areas favor boutique and specialized studios due to higher population density and diverse interests, while suburban or rural areas better suit general fitness clubs or martial arts studios due to broader demographic appeal.

Find the perfect pricing
model for your fitness business

Pricing Strategies

Read the guide here.

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