A gym SWOT analysis is an essential roadmap for both new and established fitness businesses. Find out how to produce an effective SWOT analysis for your gym business.

Starting out and opening a new gym? Or are you running an established gym business? Either way, you’ll need to navigate opportunities, challenges, and obstacles.

And that’s where a gym SWOT analysis comes in. It’ll help you set your priorities, make the most of opportunities, and avoid roadblocks as you grow.

Read on to find out exactly what a SWOT analysis is, how to conduct one, and how to apply your findings. Be inspired and understand how to tackle a SWOT analysis for your gym business.

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What is a SWOT analysis for a gym?

A SWOT analysis of a gym business is a strategic planning technique. It helps you look at your business focusing on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

What does SWOT stand for?


SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Every SWOT analysis has 4 sections:

  • Strengths – these are the internal advantages and capabilities that give you a competitive edge. For example, a strong brand reputation, an innovative training offering, or an unique member experience. Identify your strengths. And then you can capitalise on them to build member loyalty and power growth
  • Weaknesses – these are the internal areas where you may face challenges. For example, outdated processes, skill gaps, or inadequate resources. By identifying your weaknesses, you can plan improvements
  • Opportunities – these are external factors that can help you succeed. For example, training trends, new technologies, or expansion opportunities. Identify and strategically seize the opportunities that best suit your business
  • Threats – these are external factors that pose a challenge for your business. For example, new competition, economic downturns, or new regulations to adhere to. Identify, assess, and address threats where you can. Often that means putting in place contingency plans

Conducting a gym SWOT analysis will help you find ways to improve your fitness business. As well as giving you ideas of how to make the most of opportunities. At the same time, it’ll help you take action to fix weak spots. And prepare for factors that could impact business success.

What is a SWOT analysis for a new gym?


When you’re opening a brand new gym, a SWOT analysis is even more important. It’ll help you understand how viable your business idea is. And guide you in developing your business plan. A SWOT analysis for a new gym will help you set your business up for success.

Benefits of a gym SWOT analysis

It can be tempting to put off and even skip over conducting a SWOT analysis for your gym business. And instead choose to rely on your intuition to account for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

But, by investing a little time to create a documented SWOT analysis, you’ll get an overview of the big picture. So, you can see a clearer path to business success.

Reasons to conduct a gym SWOT analysis:

Simple and effective exercise

A SWOT analysis can be done for both new and existing businesses. No matter what your business model looks like. And you can even use a SWOT analysis exercise for different purposes. For example, in a gym business plan or in a gym marketing plan.

Plus, as a SWOT analysis is such a simple concept anyone can do one. So, it’s a great team exercise.

Dream big while anticipating realities

When conducting a SWOT analysis for your gym, you’ll think about both risks and exciting possibilities. It gives you the opportunity to dream, evaluate, and worry.

So, you can work out what actions you need to take – both offensive and defensive actions.

See everything in one place

When you’re conducting a gym SWOT analysis, you’ll have comprehensive discussions about the big picture for your business. And it’s a chance to consider all possible angles.

Low cost tool

Unlike some planning techniques, a SWOT analysis doesn’t need special software or skills. Software and skills that come at an expense to your business. A spreadsheet or word document will do, along with a little time to think.

You could even go old school and use a whiteboard (just make sure to take a picture!).

Track progress

A SWOT analysis should be a working, living document that you come back to in the future. So, you’ll be able to track and plot progress. And seeing how far you’ve come is a great motivator for you and your team!

Pitfalls to avoid when conducting a SWOT analysis:

Long lists

There’s no specific number of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats to include in your analysis. Yet, keep in mind that if your lists are too long, it’ll be harder to determine next steps and actions to take.

Too vague

Be as specific as possible when adding items to your SWOT analysis.

Not seeing weaknesses

This is common, especially when you’re deeply involved in the business. So, gather other opinions to work out where weaknesses really lie.

Not thinking ahead

It’s easy to get carried away! So, think practically about what will be possible when identifying actions as a result of your SWOT analysis.


Similarly avoid planning for opportunities that don’t exist yet. Be very realistic about any opportunities you identify. Think about how likely they are to actually benefit your business.

How to do a SWOT analysis for your gym

You can conduct a SWOT analysis alone. And base it on your own understanding of your business and market. Ideally though, it’s better to do your gym SWOT analysis with others.

Bring in your team (and even external experts). And you’ll benefit from a range of perspectives. So, you get greater insights and more observations. Then you’ll be less likely to have blind spots in your analysis.

Every time you identify a strength, weakness, opportunity or threat, write it down in a SWOT analysis grid.

Here’s how to approach each area:


Use these questions to guide you in identifying the internal strengths of your gym business:

  • What does your business do particularly well? What do you do that’s better than anyone else?
  • What do you do in a way that differentiates you from your competitors?
  • What advantages do you have over other fitness businesses?
  • What values drive your business?
  • What unique or low cost resources do you have to work with?

Be selective! A strength is only a strength if it brings your business a clear advantage.

It can also be helpful to think from a competitor’s perspective. What would they put as your strengths? Why do members choose your club over other competitors?

Examples of strengths for gyms:


Have more options available than elsewhere? Have high quality commercial gym equipment? Kitted out with brands that are popular or preferred by certain consumers? Or perhaps you have specific items that competitors may not have? Equipment can be a strength.


Hiring and retaining the right gym staff can be a serious strength. Think about the qualifications, personal qualities, and experiences your team have. And whether these improve quality of services and boost member satisfaction.


Do you offer a type of training or group fitness class that competitors don’t? This could be a strength that helps you to stand out. For example, HYROX is a key fitness trend right now and clubs who are HYROX affiliates attract fitness fans looking to compete in a HYROX race.


Your gym branding can help you stand out from the competition. A respected brand (even on a local level) can hold value helping you win loyal members.

Loyalty programmes

Much like retailers have loyalty card programmes, the right gym loyalty programme can be a strength. Reward members for visiting, reaching milestones and more. So, they have even more reason to stick with you and keep showing up.


The location of your gym can be a serious strength. Somewhere that’s easy to get to for a considerable number of people will set you up for greater chance of success.

Research has shown that members who live closer to their gym will go more often. Those who drive 4 miles or less will go around 5+ times a month. That compares to those who drive 5 miles or more who will go on average once a month.


Use gym automation tech to save time and reduce admin workload for you and your team. And this could count as a strength. Especially if other competitors are operating manually or with outdated tech.


A gym induction and new gym member onboarding journey can strengthen your business. Especially one that makes the most of automated, personalised journeys.

Research has shown that members who have an induction keep using their membership for +4 months longer than those who don’t.


Proactively engage members. Ask for and act on feedback. Use re-engagement programmes to address those at risk of cancelling. And you may have a strength over competitors.

Digital fitness offering

Many gymgoers are looking to digital fitness solutions to bolster their workout. Both in and out of the gym.

Offer a digital fitness offering – for example, on demand classes, digital training plans, and smart equipment. And it can be a strength if it appeals to your membership base and sets you apart from the competition.

Marketing and sales success

Are you able to market your business? And attract new members in a cost effective, sustainable way? Yes, then these can be strengths that’ll allow you to grow your business.


Many members join a gym to get fit, lose weight or be healthier, and at the same time, meet new people. Build a strong community within your gym, one that members want to be a part of. And you’ll have a strength over other clubs.

Pricing and contracts

Have the right mix of gym contract options and gym pricing for your business and members. And it’ll be easier to both operate profitably and provide memberships that members value.


Use these questions to identify the weaknesses of your gym business:

  • What could your business improve on?
  • What could you avoid or stop doing?

Think about what someone who was not a part of your business might say. Consider blind spots. It can be helpful to look at competitors – what are they doing better than you are? Why? What are you lacking?

Identifying weaknesses is usually much tougher than identifying strengths. Be honest and realistic in your observations. It’s better to identify difficult truths sooner rather than later.

Examples of weaknesses for gyms:

High operating costs

If your operating costs are high, this can be a weakness as it’s harder to operate profitably. For example, if you have facilities like saunas or steam rooms, the cost of running these can push operating costs up.

Operating costs could also increase if your space is difficult to heat or keep cool.

High attrition

If you’re not able to retain members, you’ll be reliant on attracting new ones if you want to grow. This can be a weakness, especially at times in the year when sales are slower.

No or little automation

Are you reliant on manual work to complete the everyday tasks needed to keep your business running? Then scaling and growing can become really tough.

Challenging location

Location can have a big impact on your success. And if your location is challenging to get to or lacks necessary parking, it could be a weakness.

Locations can also become challenging as the world around you changes. For example, city centre businesses have been hit by changed working habits. And things like long-term road or building works can make a location tough to get to for quite some time.

No digital fitness offer

If your members want access to a digital fitness option and you don’t offer one, it could be a weakness. Both compared to competitors (and purely digital fitness services).

Poor or no brand reputation

If you’re operating in near to competitors with a strong brand reputation this can be a weakness. Especially if your gym business is unknown or have had a poor reputation.

Marketing & sales struggles

Costly marketing. A lack of the right sales techniques and skill sets in your business. Either or both of these can make it tough to grow your business.

Liability risks

By nature, gym businesses can be more risky than some other types of business. For example, accidents can happen when handling weights or if machines are used incorrectly. The type of facility you run or the programming you offer could increase liability risks.

Staff attrition

The right team is an asset to your business. Yet, if key members of staff or lots of your team leave, this is a weakness for your business. Experience and skills will be lost and you’ll need to incur a cost to hire replacements.


Some members may want to be left to it when they first join your club. But, many need some help and a motivational boost to set them up for lasting success.

No or a limited onboarding journey for new members could be a weakness. And one that leads to higher attrition rates.

Pricing and contracts

Charge too much without providing adequate value, or too little to cover operating costs, and pricing can be a disadvantage. Likewise, without the right contract options for your business and members you could weaken your business.


Are you getting complaints and not completely addressing issues raised? Especially if complaints are online via Google Business and social media, you could have a weak spot. One that’ll make it tough to attract and keep members.


An opportunity is an external chance for something positive to happen to your business. If you choose to claim it!

To identify opportunities look at what’s happening in the fitness market and your local area. Review consumer demands. Consider tech advances. And look at the present and to the future.

Watch for changes in government policy, social patterns, local populations, lifestyle, and more. Consider which trends could most impact your business.

Spot and exploit opportunities that you can turn into a competitive advantage. And ones that even give you the chance to take (or maintain) the lead in your area.

Think about immediate opportunities. And remember, it’s not just about the big opportunities, even the small ones count.

Examples of opportunities for gyms:


Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen an increased consumer focus on health. And the industry has shifted to talk about how fitness clubs can support health practitioners. If this aligns with your business values and expertise, it could be an opportunity to pursue.


Similarly, as the population ages and people live longer, consumers are more interested in longevity. Seeking to live healthier, happier lives for longer. This can present an opportunity for fitness businesses to diversify offerings.

Corporate partnerships

Partnering with local businesses, or working with third parties like Gympass, can be a way to reach new members. And support businesses in keeping their workforces active.

Emerging technologies and automation

Embracing new technologies can present opportunities for your business. Tech can help you to operate more effectively, save time and money, and differentiate your offering.


Want to grow your business? Opening a new site or expanding your current one to offer new facilities is an opportunity to explore. Look at options to take extra space where you are. Find attractive locations that have become available. And keep an eye out for existing gym businesses that may be available to buy.


Making your business a community hub can be a competitive advantage. Look for opportunities to get more involved locally. And integrate your business into the community.

Training trends

Fitness trends evolve over time, and so do training preferences. Look at what’s trending online, in other markets, and elsewhere. So, you can identify opportunities to evolve your business. That might mean introducing new group fitness classes or investing in specialised equipment.


A threat is an external factor that could negatively impact your business. For example, supply chain issues, shifts in market requirements, or staff shortages.

A gym SWOT analysis will help you anticipate threats. So, you can take action to limit the impact these have on your business and avoid becoming a victim.

Think about existing and emerging obstacles you face to effectively running your business.

Look at what your competitors are doing. Think about if you can rise to meet the challenges presented (if right for your business). Always look to improve on what the competition is doing rather than simply copying.

When considering threats, think of anything that makes you extra exposed to external factors. For example, if you have a lot of debt or cashflow issues, even small economic downturns could have a big impact on your business.

Examples of threats for gyms:


This could come in the shape of an existing competitor. A new club opening in your area. Or even other fitness options.

Cost of living increases

When living costs rise, members may cut down on spending and consider cancelling their gym membership. This can leave your business exposed to increase attrition risk. And makes attracting new members tougher. You may also see a higher number of failed payments due to insufficient funds.

Impact of cost of living on memberships


How does cost of living impact gym memberships? Our attrition research explored this topic in depth.

Read the deep dive
Economic fluctuations

Economic factors can also impact operating costs. As we’ve seen over the past couple of years, costs have gone up in almost all areas.


Certain times of year are quieter for gyms than others. For example, we often see fewer new joiners in December. You’ll need to account for quiet times and be aware of how these might impact your business.

Digital competition

There are many digital fitness options available to help consumers work out anywhere. While many gymgoers want to train in a gym environment, you need to be aware of how these technologies could impact your business.

Regulatory changes

Regulatory changes can impact how you operate and in some cases may need changes. For example, changes to health and safety requirements.

How to act on and apply your gym SWOT analysis

Putting together your gym SWOT analysis is really just the start of the planning process. It’s a helpful exercise to kick things off! How you act on your findings is vital.

Review your strengths. Consider how you can make the most of these and build on them.

Look at how you can address your weaknesses. Acknowledge ways you can change and map out steps to drive positive change.

Think about how you can seize the opportunities you’ve found. Strategically plan actions to make the most of them.

Plan to mitigate threats. Put in place proactive strategies to counter the threats you face. Normally, you can’t control threats but you can prepare for them.

If your list of actions gets quite long, prioritise them by looking for connections:

  • How can you use your strengths to open up opportunities?
  • How can you cut your weaknesses to open up more opportunities?

Refine and prioritise your ideas and actions. Look to focus time and resources on the most important and impactful ones. Apply your learnings at the right levels of your business.

Your gym SWOT analysis should be a document that you keep reviewing and updating. So, you set your business up for success.

Competitor SWOT analyses

Finally, it can be valuable to put yourself in your competitors shoes. So, take some time to perform a SWOT analysis for your competitors.

This can also make it easier to spot your own strengths and weaknesses. And it’ll give you a chance to consider how your competition may evolve over the coming months and years.

The wrap up…

A gym SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique that’s super simple to use.

Standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, a SWOT analysis for a gym gives a full picture of your business. And helps kick off the planning process.

Strengths and weaknesses are all about your business. What do you do well? What do you do not so well? Opportunities and threats are all about what’s happening externally. What could you take advantage of? What could threaten your success?

When you’ve conducted your SWOT analysis it’s time to act. Build on strengths. Boost weaker areas. Exploit opportunities. See off any threats.

Remember, come back to your SWOT analysis regularly to track progress. And reassess your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

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Article by Xplor Gym

First published: 02 April 2024

Last updated: 08 April 2024