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Seven Tips for Starting a Fitness Center

Fitness is your passion, and you're tired of working for someone else. The idea of striking out on your own and opening your own studio is getting harder to ignore. Before you convince your clients to follow you to the new space, here are eight things you need to know to become as financially fit as possible:

Pinpoint Your Audience
Like in any business, you need to figure out to whom you want to cater. Will it be parents who need to work around their children's school and sports schedules? Will it be professionals who will work out before and after their jobs? Will you be a studio focused on one discipline or several? Your audience will influence where you set up shop.

Location Rules
One of your biggest expenses is rent. So choose wisely. It took Yoga for Athletes franchise creator Kimberly Fowler more than a year to find the right space. First, she researched the studios that already existed in the area for possible conflicts. She also had to find a location that allowed for lots of people to come to and fro.

"You're a mass assembly place," she explains. "We have 100 people going in and out at one time" for the 120 spinning and yoga classes each week. For 3,100 square feet in Venice, Calif., she pays $1,300 a month.

To make the most use of the space, she closes it down for only two hours in the early morning so it can be cleaned.

Keep a Tight Ship
For most fitness companies, the next biggest overhead cost is staff. You want to attract the best teachers. That in turn brings in the most loyal -- and best-paying -- clients. But paying employee benefits can take a huge chunk of your profit.

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