The Strongest Gym Franchises in America

by Matt Weik

Growing up, I’ve always wanted to own my own gym. At first, I thought that I could start up my own private gym, then later considered opening one of the many gym franchises out there today. Well, neither of those came to fruition. And while I’m ok with that, it never stopped my curiosity of what it takes to open and operate a successful gym these days. Obviously, times have changed from the mom and pop hardcore gyms to the more mainstream “pretty” gyms we see today. I ran across some information while reading Entrepreneur Magazine that caught my eye and I wanted to share my findings with you.

If you are thinking about opening any of the gym franchises you see today, you need to read this article first. If you thought it was expensive to open a gym, think again – the cost is probably way more than you would have imagined. It’s MORE than expensive when you look at the overall costs. That in itself might be the reason we see so many gyms closing these days. The amount of money needed to pay off debt and continue to run the business can be too much for someone to manage on their own when there is so much competition in the marketplace. Here’s what I found.

Strongest Gym Franchises in America

The list below is from 2017 year-end data I found on the biggest gym franchises in the health and fitness industry.

1. Anytime Fitness

Anytime Fitness gym franchises are the most popular locations popping up across the US. These locations are generally key-club locations that are open 24/7 so long as you have the key fob to let yourself in the front door. During normal business hours of 9-5 you can generally find people working in the locations, and then either run on a skeleton crew at night or do not have any employees there at all.

There are currently 3,549 franchise locations spread across the nation. If you were to give an estimate of how many that would be per state, you’d expect to see around 71 (give or take). The startup cost to open an Anytime Fitness location ranges from $80K-$490.1K which is the cheapest on our list.

2. Planet Fitness

It should come as no surprise that Plant Fitness gym franchises are showing up everywhere, including within a mile of other competitor locations. Planet Fitness gets a lot of heat from people in the industry for their business practices and strange rules. However, at the cost of a membership, it’s hard to argue that these gym franchises aren’t making a strong push to put everyone else out of business. Sure, you have pizza days and what they consider a “judgment-free zone” environment, but at the end of the day, people are getting results through the use of their locations. While it might not be the right fit for the hardcore lifter, it appeals to the general public who are dipping their toes into their own personal health and fitness journey.

There are currently 1,066 franchise locations and the average cost to open a Planet Fitness ranges from $853.4K-$3.7M.

3. Snap Fitness

The Snap Fitness gym franchises are another of the popular 24-hour fitness locations that many health enthusiasts are flocking to. Many use the key fob access to allow members to come and go as they wish. Their locations are manned during the day and many unmanned at night.

There are around 1,370 franchise locations and the cost to open a Snap Fitness ranges between $148.2K-$458.5K.

4. Orangetheory Fitness

I must be living under a rock because I have actually never heard of Orangetheory Fitness gym franchises. After doing some research, I can honestly say that I understand why these gym franchises are starting to take off and become successful. Many people who go to the gym have no idea what they are doing or even where to start. While hiring a personal trainer can get expensive, Orangetheory Fitness brings that same training environment to a class setting where coaches take you through your workouts and make sure you push yourself safely in order to reach a desired goal. Members also use wearable technology on their wrist which we all know is huge these days in order to track their progress during their workouts and keep them motivated.

Currently, there are around 668 franchise locations across the US and to open one you can expect to spend anywhere between $424.5K-$980.8K

5. Gold’s Gym

I’m not sure if this gym needs any introduction. Gold’s Gym has been around for what seems like forever and changing their identity has truly helped grow these gym franchises. Back in the day Gold’s Gym was known as a bodybuilder’s gym. You can go all the way back to the days where Arnold was competing and training in Gold’s Gym. Today, the gym franchises have moved more towards a mainstream look at feel and while the hardcore lifters still frequent these locations, the whole vibe has changed to not scare away new members who are just starting their fitness journey.

There are currently 573 gym franchises and if you wanted to open your own you better have some extremely deep pockets as the cost will run you between $2.2M-$5M. This is by far the most expensive franchise on our list. I guess if you want the name, you need to be prepared to pay top dollar?