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Step by Step Guide On How to Start a Gym Business in Nigeria

how to start a gym business in nigeria

How to Start a Gym Business In Nigeria

Starting a gym business in Nigeria is One Passionating, yet profitable business that hasn’t been considered well enough, probably because of the expenses needed to build up one. Although Starting a gym or fitness center is not easy, but it can be extremely rewarding if you’re willing to put in the hard work.

Imagine Waking up at sunrise to teach the first class of the day at your new fitness studio. You love motivating your clients to reach optimum levels of health and well-being. This is what keeps you going when you face challenges or get overwhelmed by the nitty-gritty of running your own fitness center.

If this sounds like something you would love to do, then this article is for you! I’ll walk you through how to start your own gym business in Nigeria, as well as give you the resources to help you start your dream business.

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The Fitness Industry in Nigeria:

While there is no breakdown of the NBS data, the economic activity generated by the fitness sector, a market tilted towards adult women and men is, therefore, one to watch closely.

The fitness industry provides jobs for thousands of fitness trainers, instructors, health food producers, equipment manufacturers, and apparel wear companies, and increasingly, the content creators that ensure that celebrity fitness trainers’ videos are well packaged for social media networks.

According to the TWOREPORT document referenced above, more men than women are likely to be found at live sports events.

Yet, many more women are involved in fitness and healthy lifestyle activities. Competitive sports promoters need to begin to find what makes women avoid live sports in order to turn them into fans and promoters of their sport.

One widely held view in the pay television market is that women and children usually make the decision about what content is watched in many homes. It is time to start actively marketing live sports to women because where they go, children and men go also.

The fitness industry in Nigeria is one to keep an eye on. While it is growing rapidly in much middle-class and upper-middle-class communities due to lifestyle and health issues, it is a segment of the Nigerian sports industry that could actually serve as an example of growth where the mainstream remains at standstill.

The modus operandi of celebrity fitness trainers could serve as an example for sports rights owners looking for ways to grow interested in their events.

The women and men in the fitness industry are excelling without government funding. They are leading the way forward and there are lessons to learn from them.

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Types of Gyms that are Ideal to open right now in Nigeria

  • Full Scale Coed Membership Gyms
  • Sports Performance Training Facilities
  • Apartment Complex Gyms
  • Intimate Personal Training Studios

Full Scale Coed Membership Gym

The standard in the fitness industry, a coed membership gym is one that is open to men and women and offers a wide variety of equipment to suit the different training preferences of various people.  Although a varied selection of equipment is needed, a coed membership gym does NOT need to be large.  Many of these types of gyms are extremely profitable in a room size of 185 to 288 meters squared.  A gym of this size can be run very efficiently without excessive monthly operating costs or the need for additional equipment.

By working with a New Gym Specialist, you will get the proper amount and variety of equipment to help assure that you meet the needs of your members without overspending.

Nigeria’s growing population and nearly 50/50 male-to-female split make it ideal for new gyms.  Here are some facts about the Population of Nigeria –

  • With around 190 million people, Nigeria is the 2nd largest country in the entire African continent
  • Nigeria has the MOST inhabitants of any African nation
  • Roughly 18% of the continent’s population live in Nigeria
  • Nigeria has 8 cities with over 1 million people
  • Lagos is the most populous Nigerian city with an estimated 15 million people
  • Nigeria is one of the most populous countries in the world
  • Nigeria has had a 60% growth rate over only 2 decades

The above facts show the growth and density of the population of Nigeria.  Along with this growth comes the need for modern equipped gyms to satisfy the demands of the modern Nigerian culture.

Sports Performance Training Facility

Nigeria boasts a large youth population, with more than 90 million people falling into that category.  Only China and India have a larger youth population.  The youthful population presents a great opportunity for gyms catering to athletic performance either to enhance youths for school athletic programs or to engage youths in healthy lifestyle choices.

Soccer is the number one sport in Nigeria, but boxing, (both standard and Dambe martial arts boxing also known as traditional Hausa boxing), rugby, and various track and field events are all sports that Nigerians regularly partake in.

This combination of a youthful population and a culture of athleticism creates a genuine need for sports performance training facilities throughout the country. A sports performance training gym requires a different mix of equipment than a standard membership gym and your New Gym Specialist will create a Complete Gym Package that specifically fits the needs of your sports performance training facility.

Apartment Complex Gym

Urban cities like Lagos and Abuja are experiencing significant growth in housing.  Lagos is already known as a bustling business center with a fast-paced community. Apartment complexes in these cities are being built or renovated to accommodate the growing population and need for modern housing.  Apartment buildings that allocate a room for a fitness center have an added incentive for people to choose to live there. Modern apartment complexes in Nigeria need modern gym equipment to attract and retain residents.

An apartment fitness room with the right type and amount of equipment create profit for the apartment complex owner by creating an environment where people want to live. It also allows the owner to charge somewhat more per apartment rental because of this modern amenity.

Although smaller than a standard commercial membership gym, an apartment complex gym still needs a certain mix of the right type of equipment to function properly.  Your New Gym Specialist will create the right Complete Apartment Complex Gym Package for you.

Intimate Personal Training Studio

The economy of Nigeria continues to be on the rise.  In fact, Nigeria is listed as one of the “Next Eleven” economies set to become the biggest in the world.  In the Ikoyi area of Lagos alone, the high level of urbanization has attracted a higher income level and upscale housing.  This type of upscale clientele calls for smaller gym centers and often a more intimate, boutique style of one-on-one training.

These intimate personal training studio gyms focus on individual attention to a client’s personal fitness goals by using private or small group training sessions.  The space required varies depending upon how many clients or trainers the studio will have, but the need for certain fundamental pieces of equipment is the same and it is essential to use State-of-the-Art equipment that features upscale aesthetics and high-end functions.    Here again, the use of a New Gym Specialist is important to assure that you get the right equipment for a personal training studio environment.

With a young, growing population, a rising economy, and an interest in sports and athletic achievement, Nigeria has it all for anyone today who wants to enter the fitness industry as a gym owner.  The above 4 types of gyms are ideally suited for the Nigerian market.  By exploring your local area, you will determine which of these types of gyms is best suited for your area and for your budget.  Whichever type of gym you decide upon, now is the time to take advantage of the great opportunity to open a successful gym in the country known as the “Giant of Africa.

how to start a gym business in nigeria


How To Start?

First, ask yourself: Why do you want to open a gym?

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In 2009, Marcela Xavier, the owner of Bread and Yoga, saw a need for a yoga studio in the Inwood community in upper Manhattan. She started the studio with the intention of creating a gathering space for the community that was inclusive of all ages and people. In addition to the many types of yoga offerings, Bread and Yoga offers a wide array of holistic programs for children and adults aimed at encouraging them to maintain overall health and well-being.

Get clear on why you want to start a gym or fitness center

Your reason behind opening a gym will help you maintain the focus, clarity, and drive it takes to become a successful enterprise.

Be honest with yourself. You may find that instead of starting a gym, you want to become a personal trainer or fitness instructor. Make sure you think through the possibilities and determine if starting a gym is really the right choice for you.

Don’t skip the market research phase

Talk with fitness center owners to find out what it took to get their business up and running. Learning from those that are already successful in your given field is a priceless education that can save you lots of time and energy in the long run.

Step 1: Get trained and accredited

First and foremost, make sure you have the proper training, accreditations, and experience to start your own gym. Your clients will be counting on you not just to help them look great, but to keep their bodies healthy and safe using your services.

There are several different personal training certifications you can choose between, and other types of fitness offerings (such as yoga, Pilates, or aerobics classes) will come with their own certifications as well. You’ll also be responsible for making sure any staff you hire has proper certification.

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Step 2: Identify your fitness niche

There are a variety of fitness niches to choose from. Explore these niches below to determine what kind of fitness center you’d like to open.

Specialty fitness center:

  • This niche typically focuses on one specialty fitness class or activity. Some examples include aerobics, yoga, dance, Pilates, cycling, and much more.
  • Specialty fitness centers often offer a variety of class options during the week based on differing levels, intensity, and complexity.
  • Instructors are certified in a particular niche.
  • Specialty fitness centers can often be more expensive due to the boutique experience, intimate design, and quality instructors.
  • Monthly packages or memberships are often offered as an option.

Traditional gym:

  • Traditional gyms often provide a variety of workout options in one location, including fitness classes, strength and cardio equipment, and personal training.
  • They may provide additional amenities including massage, sauna, tanning, steam rooms, childcare, and more.
  • These additional services are often offered for an additional fee.

Medical fitness and wellness center:

  • These fitness centers often provide physical therapy and other medical services to help clients manage, recover from, and prevent health issues.
  • Usually associated with a doctor’s office or hospital that makes program recommendations.
  • These centers often have professional staff specialized in managing, tracking, and measuring the progress of clients.
  • They often provide a variety of educational services for physical and mental wellness, in addition to the typical group fitness classes and gym equipment.

Family fitness and wellness center:

  • Family fitness and wellness centers include athletic and country clubs.
  • They often provide a variety of workout options, including group fitness classes, strength and cardio equipment, and personal training.
  • Family fitness and wellness centers include exercise options for adults, seniors, teens, and children.
  • These centers often provide classes and programs for youth such as swim lessons, sports clubs, summer camps for kids, and childcare.
  • May offer additional wellness amenities including massage, sauna, tanning, and steam rooms, sometimes for an additional fee.

Step 3: Find the location

Once you determine what kind of gym you want to open, you will have to determine how much space you will need.

First, get clear on how many clients you want to be able to serve in your facility. Knowing how much space you will need will help you find a location that best suits your requirements. Do you need street access? Access to parking? Are you in an area with a lot of foot traffic? Will it be hard for people to find you? Are you on a bus route?

Initially, a good location is a key to getting clients to your gym. Many gym owners believe that location is worth paying more money upfront so that your business gets seen.

For Kaylee Cahoon, finding the right location was extremely important. She wanted to be in an area that was still developing and where many things were happening. It was also important for her to be around a more highly-educated population, and to have nearby medical facilities since her fitness niche focuses on “educating” the whole body.

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Step 4: Figure out what additional staff and equipment you will need

Before hiring fitness instructors and personal trainers, check their training and accreditation carefully. Ask thorough questions during the interview, and consider “auditioning” the person before hiring them. You also may want to consider hiring them temporarily for a few test classes or personal training sessions before committing to keeping them as an employee.

When Bread and Yoga first opened its doors, Marcela Xavier taught about ten yoga classes per week. Eventually, she secured a strong group of teachers so that she could fully focus on the leadership aspects of the business. Finding a strong group of quality yoga teachers was extremely important to her when it came to fulfilling her overall mission and vision, and she did this by holding auditions for yoga teachers to see how they taught, who they were, and what they were all about.

Some questions to ask yourself in terms of hiring staff:

  • Will you be the primary fitness instructor at your gym, or will you need to hire fitness instructors and personal trainers?
  • Will the staff be employees or independent contractors?
  • What are the accreditations and training that potential staff, fitness instructors, and personal trainers must have?

Will you need fitness center equipment?

If you need fitness equipment, you will need to decide whether to buy or lease. Leasing can help you stay current on the latest fitness technology, can give you an opportunity to assess your needs before purchasing, and will often include maintenance of the equipment.

However, if you lease equipment, you give up ownership interest, which might end up costing you more in the long run. Do your research and check with a lawyer before making a decision on whether or not to lease gym equipment.

Step 5: Get financed

You will want to make sure your finances are in good shape so that you can get financed. Most financing groups and landlords want to see two previous years of tax returns and financial statements, and before starting your business, you should have enough money saved for personal expenses for at least 12 to 24 months.

Step 6: Market your gym

Once you hone in on your customer base, market and promote your business in places customers spend time. This sounds simple, but it takes consistency and dedication over time to build a solid customer base.

Consider hiring someone to take on marketing, PR, or social media management role, and if you can’t afford that, do some of it on your own. By coming up with a marketing plan for your gym or fitness center, you’ll be able to focus your efforts and get the word out about your new business.

how to start a gym business in nigeria

How to Promote Your Gym Business In Nigeria

Offer Corporate Wellness Initiatives

Having a group of other like-minded people to work out with helps keep gym-goers motivated. Go to local offices and hand out promotional offers only available through the workplace. Discounted rates are always a good incentive to get people interested. Offering a corporate gym membership promotion rate entices new groups of people to visit the gym.

Provide a landing page where new corporate clients can sign up for email updates and learn more information about the gym and your fitness services.

Run Promotions on Social Media

Social media is a great place to connect with new clients. Promotions and contests are some of the most popular posts on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Consider running a seasonal promotion or contest to get people interested. Use hashtags and follow fitness trends for maximum reach and impact. Automate your social media management for maximum efficiency.

“What are your fitness goals for this year? Whoever has the best story will win one year of free yoga classes! #NewYearsResolutions.” Or: “New clients who use the code ‘Bikini Bod’ will get a 20% discount off of the summer class of their choice.”

Hold Charity Competitions

Showing your involvement in your local community makes your gym stand out from the others. Set up a simple online signup form that participants can use to register quickly and easily. The competition may be a group event or may include single participants. A percentage of each entry fee will go to the local charity of your choice.

The competition may be an obstacle course, a race or a strength test. The winner(s) receive a free membership to your gym or a similar prize.

Advertise Your New Hot Workouts

Keep an eye on fitness trends and offer new workouts while they’re still fresh. Market these new workouts to clients and new leads through automated social media updates and email newsletters. Many new clients come in because they get interested in new workouts that they have heard about on social media or on TV. Advertising-these new workouts that are available at your gym and providing social media updates for these new classes are good ideas to get more clients coming in.

Run Promotions with Other Local Businesses

Partner up with businesses around your gym in order to make gym membership more appealing. Offer a coupon for a free pair of yoga pants at the local sports clothes store if the person completes a one-month yoga class. Promotions like this drive business to the local community core and give people a greater incentive to take advantage of the offer.

Send Automated Reminders to Clients

Clients lose track of when their last gym visit was. For clients who have not worked out in a while, a timely automated reminder lets them know that they’re due for a gym visit. Text messages are more likely to be opened than emails. Personalized reminders keep clients loyal and engaged.

Run a Refer a Friend Program

A couple of other ideas to get more clients are marketing your gym through word of mouth and referrals. Friends will refer new potential clients to your gym, especially if they receive an incentive. The incentive for the “Refer a Friend” program could be a free class, a discount on personal trainer services or a similar fitness coupon.

Manage Gym Marketing Campaigns and Communication Seamlessly

What is the best way to manage all your email communications, text message coupons, social media promotions, online signup forms, and marketing campaigns efficiently? An automated all-in-one gym marketing solution keeps all your information in one place. It’s easy to use, and the automation capabilities save you time.


Final Word

The gym business can be very profitable, now imagine if membership at your gym is $1,000 per year, you only need 100 members to turn over $100,000 in annual revenue. But adding just one new member every week puts annual revenues at $152,000, Another thing is that the gym business in General also builds one up, be it physically, emotionally, or socially.

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