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Find your Niche as a Gym Owner

Ben Lucas shares insights on surviving and thriving in the fitness industry.

No stranger to the sporting and fitness industry, Ben Lucas has always had a passion for staying active. Getting involved with plenty of sports as a kid put him on the road to play rugby league professionally for the Cronulla Sharks and later inspired him to open his own fitness studios. 

He sold his first three in 2012 – in Mosman, Neutral Bay and North Sydney – but remains owner and director of Flow Athletic Paddington.

In his time, he’s learnt a thing or two about what it takes to survive and thrive in the fitness industry.

Not in it for the holidays

Every day brings a whole new set of challenges and a gym owner’s schedule can be gruelling.

Ben is up at 4:20 am every day to take care of his own training before he has breakfast with his family. In at Flow Athletic by 8 am, he fills his days with training sessions, meetings and training up staff. 

“You can be on the go from 5 am to 8 pm and it’s seven days a week,” Ben remarks. “I’ve been in gym ownership for nearly 15 years and trust me: if you’re getting in the business for some days off, you’re not going to get it here.”

It’s not just about passion

Passion is certainly important. Without his enthusiasm for staying fit and healthy and helping others do the same, Ben certainly wouldn’t be where he is today – but you can’t thrive in this sector on passion alone.

“You need to have good people skills and a lot of energy,” Ben explains. “You might be on your tenth session for the day, but it’s always [the customer’s] first and they’re looking to you for guidance and advice.”

Ben really likes to hone in on those people and customer service skills, seeing them as just as important as the product. “We’re actually in customer service – we just happen to sell fitness!” he says.

Ben also recognises that his prior experience as an employee in the fitness industry has helped him enormously. “As a business owner starting out, I was the receptionist, cleaner and head trainer, but it didn’t bother me because I’d done all that before,” he laughs.

This experience didn’t just come in handy when he was starting off. As his businesses grew, more staff came in to lighten the load. Since Ben had experience of wearing many different hats, he could thoroughly train up his staff with ease. 

Ben’s top tips for gym owners

  1. Have a financial plan. “Have enough capital to keep you going,” he says. “You’ll have good months and not so good months – so you need to be prepared.”
  2. Have a business plan. Get a professional in to help if you’re not sure. “Find your niche,” advises Ben. “Is it men? Women? The elderly? Find out who will be in your gym and if your answer is ‘everyone’ – your niche is actually no one.”
  3. Have a marketing plan. “It’s such a crowded marketplace,” Ben notes. Know who your target market is, learn how to speak to them and find out through what media you should speak to them. It can be hard to stand out, so make sure you plan well so you’re not wasting time or resources. 

Gym ownership is not for the faint of heart and the long hours can be gruelling – physically, mentally and emotionally. Ben has it down to a fine art after spending nearly 15 years in the industry and knows how to switch off and get out of business mode

“I take my son to the park and I switch off my phone,” he says. Being fully present with your family and friends after a long day is important, he implies, and your support network will get you through the tough days.

Think you have what it takes? Read our guide on how to buy a gym and/or browse our health and fitness clubs for sale



Faye Ferris

About the author

APAC Sales & Marketing Director for BusinessesForSale.com, the world’s most popular website for buying and selling businesses globally and attracting over 1.5 Million visitors each month. To contact Faye please email faye@BusinessesForSale.com

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