How Does a Gym Make Money?

by Kate Evelyn; Updated September 26, 2017

Many people think of a gym as a service, a place where the sole purpose is to help people get in and stay in good physical shape. But a gym is a business, and it wouldn’t be around for long if it didn’t make money. Thus, the following methods are put in place.

Membership charges

You can’t just walk into a gym at your leisure and start working out. In the overwhelming majority of cases, you will have to register and begin paying a monthly membership fee. These dues are the facility’s main source of income. If you’re not sure if you wish to join and would just like to check out the gym for the day, you may be subject to a “drop-in” fee. The same is true if you’re a guest of an existing member. The general rule of thumb is that the more amenities the gym has, the higher these charges will be.

Extra fees

In addition to the membership charges, many gyms have fees for certain services. These can include towel rental fees, sports equipment rental fees (for rackets and balls) or even charges for the ability to use the gym during certain “premium” hours of the day, such as between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays when they tend to be most crowded. There can also be fees for programs that go beyond the typical gym experience, such as a group exercise class that needs advanced equipment like a Pilates machine, or outdoor training like “boot camp.” Some of the money does go to providing these special services, but the gym is also making a profit from them.

Rent and admission

The gym's management may allow individuals to hold special events there. This can be especially desirable if the facility has a basketball court, skating rink, track or other large, open space. Some may even wish to reserve the entire building. In all of these cases, the gym will charge rent, usually by the hour. Some of the money goes to hire extra staff for the event, but the rest is straight income for the facility. The gym can also make money by charging people admission to attend these events. Sometimes, management will split these funds with the renter.

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