Why Do So Many Fitness Gyms in Calgary Fail?

how to start a fitness gym business Calgary

The biggest business news story in Calgary, today, came from an obscure online post about someone asking which gym they should join in order to lose weight. The question came from someone donating an organ and wanted to be in good shape for the surgery. With such a noble cause – many people responded with suggestions.


why Calgary fitness gyms fail
Don’t allow fitness parasites in your gym. The last couple years saw a wave of Tiktokers and Instagram “influencers” use gyms as a video studio. If these people were even a little bit successful, they could afford their own gym. These people will drive away your customers and attract even more morons.

To no surprise, the most liked response was Seton YMCA – which happened to be the largest Y in Canada. After seeing all the other suggestions, we got to thinking about all the gyms that have come an gone in Calgary.

What makes a gym successful and what causes them to fail? Unfortunately, many people who start a gym think the 2013 movie, Pain and Gain staring Mark Walberg is a “how to” instead of a “what not to do.”

We spoke with a personal fitness trainer and Calgary gym/fitness facility management expert and he gave us these tips:

  • Running a successful fitness gym requires a combination of excellent customer service, high-quality equipment, varied classes, fair fees, customer-friendly contracts (read more on this below), and a respectful approach to sales.
  • Customer Service: Building strong relationships with your members. Encourage a welcoming and supportive environment. Engage with members, listen to their feedback, and address their concerns promptly.
  • Equipment: Invest in modern, well-maintained equipment to cater to different fitness needs. From cardio machines to strength training equipment, having a diverse selection can attract and retain members.
  • Free Weights: Free weights are essential for strength training enthusiasts. Ensure you have a good variety of dumbbells, barbells, and weight plates to accommodate all fitness levels. Don’t be one of those shitty gyms that only provide weights up to say 10KG as a way to prevent the “no neck club” from joining. Bodybuilders can be aspirational to beginners and general fat messes.
  • Classes: Offering a range of classes, such as yoga, spin, HIIT, and dance, can attract a wider demographic of members. Ensure your instructors are knowledgeable and passionate about their classes.
  • Fees: Be transparent about your fees and offer flexible membership options. Consider offering discounted rates for longer-term commitments and special promotions for new members. Possibly one reason the Y is so popular is that you pay month-to-month. Always avoid gyms that want to lock you in to a contract.
  • Customer Contracts: Make your membership contracts clear and fair. Avoid hidden fees and ensure that cancellation policies are reasonable and easy to understand. Some gyms in Calgary have idiotic contracts where you have to send a registered letter to the head office in order to cancel your membership. This policies will drive your business into the ground.
  • Pushy Sales People: Instead of pushy sales tactics, focus on understanding the needs and goals of potential members. Educate them about the benefits of your gym and let them make an informed decision. Get rid of the sales commissions.
  • Remember, success in the fitness industry comes from creating a positive and inclusive environment where members feel supported and motivated on their fitness journey.


Gyms love people who pay for a full year but never show up
Gyms love people who pay for a full year but never show up.

There’s also a toxic mind set were gym owners love people who pay for a full year membership but never show up. Another big cash grab is the “drop-in fee;” some gyms charge as much as $20 or $30 to use there equipment for an hour.  These are signs of desperation.





free weights Calgary gym
free weights Calgary gym

Some of these corporate gyms also have signs like, “no grunting” or, “no dropping the weights.” Has anyone ever, serious about fitness, NOT dropped the weights while doing deadlifts?

Our final piece of advice before opening a gym is to hire an actual expert. Lifting weights might make you strong but it doesn’t develop your brain – find someone who knows a bit about both to get you started.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *