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Scott Poston, M.S.

Founder & President

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Grand Opening a Private Club Fitness Center (Checklist)

A checklist for operators

Private clubs are entering the fitness market in droves. It is the way of the future. Members expect it, and the next generation of members demands it. Private clubs are known for their customer service, communities, and overall quality, but herein lies the risk. When it comes to fitness, clubs are quite green. Yet, members still expect the same level of overall quality.

This checklist is dedicated to clubs who don’t have a fitness center yet, but have started moving dirt. For those of you who have fitness centers already, the list can still be helpful especially if you are looking for a fresh perspective on operations.

The checklist is for operators, not builders, though conversations with builders and designers will be very important. It is critical that an operator is included in the early discussions so that the operations can be factored into the build out.

The below checklist is the product of our experience grand opening private club fitness centers—though we reserve the right to get smarter. The list lacks finer details, but if you have never grand opened a fitness center then you will appreciate the framework this provides.

Note: We refer to pre-opening as the time before grand-opening. Six to nine months is what we generally recommend for the project.

The list

  • Introduce private club fitness best practices for review/approval:



Staff turn-over

Program diversity

Fail-friendly culture

Marketing needs

Department integration

  • Strategic plan for pre-opening, grand opening, and first full year of operations

  • KPIs

  • Deliver rough financial projections and pro formas

  • Determine what the GM/board need/want of the fitness center/operation/services

  • Survey the membership to determine interests

  • Conduct a market analysis of private clubs nationally, commercial boutique nationally, and the local fitness market

  • Architectural wants/needs:

Electrical for cardio

Cable tv needs for cardio

Internet/data for cardio

Location of water fountains

Lighting needs

Location of electrical outlets in relation to fitness equipment, wireless speakers

Audio needs, zones, music subscription service, control devices

Window shades (retractable)

Support beams in ceiling (for TRXs, aerial yoga)

Hot yoga needs (as needed)

Separate temperature controls in all exercise spaces

Soffits or mill work that may interfere with equipment placement

Sound proofing needs

Closet/shelves for fitness equipment storage

An empty wall reserved for storage of towels and small member items

TVs mounted on walls

Monitors mounted on walls for club promos

Air filtration (especially if there is a kitchen nearby or outdoor grill)

Signature scent

  • Member engagement event

  • Run focus groups (as needed)

  • Determine the brand position (check out this article for more help with branding):

How will the operation bring the brand position to life?

How will the brand position influence who is hired, what programs to introduce, and how to market/sell services?

  • Finalize staffing needs (especially pro hours, reception, management, staff development, and budget)

  • Introduce SOPs for review/approval:

Hiring restrictions

Fitness specific service standards

Private club appropriate sales strategies (we call it Service-Sales)



Fitness monitor checklist

Staff workout policy

  • Introduce fitness center rules for review/approval:

Member guests

Hours of operation

Refund policy

Towel policy

Age limits


  • Begin meeting with fitness equipment vendors:

Do not go with a single manufacturer

Consider PM plan and warranty options

Don’t just work with your equipment vendor—consult with a fitness operator to make sure you aren’t filling your space with too much equipment

Do your equipment selections allow you to evolve at the pace of fitness?

  • Sketch the first two months of programming

  • Decide upon pricing schedules:

Group fitness

Personal training


Signature programs


Packaged sales


Tiered pricing

  • Member engagement event

  • Office/supplies for fitness director

  • Office/supplies for staff (as needed)

  • Introduce safety and risk management standards for review/approval

  • Finalize fitness equipment (hard goods) order, including lease v cash decisions

  • Technology solutions:


Member check in

Fitness business management software

Member engagement/marketing

  • Decide upon KPIs. 1000 Hills Fitness uses the following KPIs in their managed facilities:

Program visits

Staff engagement

  • Publish fitness center/program renderings

  • Deliver final financial projections

  • Recruit and hire core staff (e.g., personal trainers):

Job description

What is an ideal candidate like?

  • Finalize fitness equipment (soft goods) order

  • Recruit and hire support staff (e.g., group fitness instructors, subs, reception, expert guests for first 3 months of operations)