The Unexpected Challenges of Running a Gym Or Leisure CentreSituations to prepare for as a gym owner or manager

Running a gym or leisure centre, as with any business, can be overwhelming at times.

Therefore, it is a good practice to be prepared for all eventualities, from maintaining equipment to training employees.

However, unexpected challenges—even those particularly out of the ordinary—can still arise.

If you’re new to the world of running a gym, or simply wish to revise your business and contingency plans, here are some unexpected challenges that coincide with running a gym, along with their solutions.


Looking after all the aspects of your gym can be costly. From elements such as software and lighting to equipment and soft services, there are many areas that can cause a headache when it comes to budgeting your finances.

Moreover, if you are just opening a gym, financial factors such as the quantity of equipment and products you need to purchase can equally leave you in drowning in a deficit.

However, all hope is not lost and there are simple solutions to ease your financial situation. For example, ensure that you start small with an investment in a long-life. high quality product.

One or two main machines supported by a plethora of smaller items, such as weights and resistance bands, will keep the cost down and allow you to gradually scale up as your business grows.

A gym employee scheduling solution like Findmyshift is ideal here, as it's free for small teams and you'll only pay one low price once you go beyond that.

In addition, simply being aware of financial challenges and preparing for them with a fool-proof business plan, realistic financial goals, and correct budgeting can ensure that you stay connected with the reality of your business.

Financial sources, such as bank loans, investors, or even investing your own capital, are also available options.

Injury and disaster

Disasters strike without warning and a recent study found that 50% of businesses are underinsured. Some of them never reopen after a catastrophe. Even though your clients may have signed a consent form, you must still protect yourself against accidental injury claims.

Disasters can also come in the shape of cyber-attacks. Cyber-liability risk at gyms and leisure centres is particularly high due to the size of both financial and personal data on file.

To aid you in case disaster does strike, ensure that you have good quality liability insurance along with a strong business continuity plan. Safeguard your clients and employees by properly training them to use equipment and be sure to record all training.

Ensure that all data is physically or electronically locked and make use of data encryption software and anti-virus protection.

Customer retention and virtual workouts

The unexpected challenges of the coronavirus pandemic left all businesses struggling.

As a result, the number of gyms in the UK fell from 3,654 in 2020 to 3,060 in 2021, and subsequently, the number of searches for ‘home workouts’ dramatically increased. This boost in virtual workouts can mean much less revenue for gyms who do not quickly adapt.

It is important to support members through their fitness journey, no matter the external situation. Incorporating digital fitness, such as virtual classes, ensures that you are enhancing your client’s gym experience whilst retaining their membership.

By adapting in this manner, you are also protecting your business from potential future lockdowns.

It is also crucial to request feedback from your clients. Surveying is a fantastic way to diagnose and solve unknown challenges. By giving members the opportunity to voice their opinions, you will keep them engaged and satisfied whilst creating a sense of community.

Standing out and online marketing

When starting your gym, it’s easy to accidentally mimic existing businesses and blend into the overwhelming crowd. It is therefore essential to know your target market, carry out market research, and to then strive to meet those expectations.

Dare to be different and stand out from the corporate competition. Focus on giving your clients a unique experience—from aesthetic, to equipment, to classes—in order to ensure that you are successfully set apart from the majority.

As more than 50% of people use online engines as the first point of call when looking for a business, creating an online presence for your fitness business is vital.

Ensure that you have an up-to-date informative website for your gym and create active social media profiles to maximise your online marketing potential. In doing so, you’ll make a name for yourself and push your brand out into the world.


As more people switch onto the world’s climate crisis, businesses that don’t contribute to reducing their carbon footprint are not only damaging the environment but are also becoming less appealing in the eyes of a customer.

For gyms and leisure centres, your carbon footprint can range from the energy used to power the premises and your plastic usage to the amount of paper and ink your staff get through.

As a business owner, you hold the power to help. By making small changes such as banning single-use plastics, incorporating biodegradable cups, and giving clients the option to recycle, your business will gain additional selling points and thus, profit.

Making eco-friendly changes, such as going paperless, can also save your business both time and money. By embracing a digital rota system, you and your employees can spend less time worrying about shifts and more time devoted to other key aspects of your gym.

Start scheduling your employees online.

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