What you'll need
Gym is not for everyone. It's for those who want either shed some weigh, keep fit, learn martial arts or gain muscles. Therefore, before setting it up, make sure its location is convenient in terms of accessibility and security. According to Benson Wachira of the Genesis Fitness Centre, you need to be somewhere visible, even to attract clients.
He says: "You cannot hide your gym somewhere in a dark alley and expect to have the clients you are so looking for. Your premise must be accessible, secure and convenient for everyone including yourself."
You will need to have enough space for the gym machines, equipments, instructors and clients. Gym machines and equipments can be valuable, so you'll have to ensure that the space, whether rental or own, will accommodate all that. For a start, Benson adds, a 10m by 10m room is enough to start a simple gym.
As any other business venture, you will need to have some capital to set up a gym. You will require an upwards of Sh500,000 to get your venture up and running. The amount of capital you intend to sink in your start up will however matter with the type of equipments and machines you want to start with.
You will have to hire qualified instructors for your gym. For a start, you can do with two and hire more as you grow. Make sure the instructors have the required capability to handle their work in order to reduce chances of accidents, injuries or even death at you premise.
To operate a gym in Nairobi, you will have to acquire the mandatory licences from the City County and other stakeholders such as the music copyright bodies. This would cost you between Sh28,000 and Sh35,000.
Machines and equipments
For a start, you will have to have the most basic equipments and machines to kick off your venture. According to Gilbert Onsongo the owner of Prime Time Gym, treadmills and weights are the most basic gym equipments you will need for your gym. "Just make sure you have a qualified aerobics and weigh instructor to add to the equipments and machines and you are good to go," he says.
What you don't need
For a start, you can opt to go for manual equipments and machines that electronic ones. Electronic machines are expensive to purchase and if your budget is lean, just start with the manual ones which are less expensive.
Benson advices that only two instructors are enough to get you started. However, depending on how fast your gym will expand, you will have to add more employees to take care of valid needs of your clientele.
A lot of services
Ruth Kimemia owns Super Fit Gym in Kasarani estate in Nairobi. She advises that, however the urge to offer all the services you would found in an established gym, you don't need to strain yourself when starting and have limited means. You can just offer the basic services such as weight-lifting and aerobics. You can diversify to other services such as martial arts, hiking and yoga after your venture "has grown enough teeth."
Your social strategy
Benson highly depends on referrals from his existing clients. He says that the quality of services, equipments and machines, adding to his relations with the customers, brings more clients to his premises, through word of mouth.
Like Genesis Fitness Centre, set up a website where you can advertise your gym in diverse ways. Besides updating the site with all the relevant information, including location and services offered, upload videos and photos of your equipments and also people working out.
On Facebook and Instagram
On regular basis, update your clients on any new service or machine at your gym. This will trigger their interest to come over for a session or two. Also, upload photos and videos of the services available at your premise.
Create a group made up of your existing clients and keep them updated on any new development at your gym. This way, you might even find more referrals.
"If you are an entrepreneur of limited means and only capable of starting your venture in estates such as Roysambu, don't look down at your humble beginnings by comparing yourself with other establishments in uptown locations such as Westlands or Lavington. You might learn vital lessons at studying how they run their business, but never feel intimidated by what they have to offer. Focus and you'll grow." –Benson Wachira, Genesis Fitness Centre.