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

  1. Introduce private club fitness best practices for review/approval:

    1. Revenue

    2. Usage

    3. Staff turn-over

    4. Program diversity

    5. Fail-friendly culture

    6. Marketing needs

    7. Department integration

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

    9. KPIs

  2. Deliver rough financial projections and pro formas

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

  4. Survey the membership to determine interests

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

  6. Architectural wants/needs:

    1. Electrical for cardio

    2. Cable tv needs for cardio

    3. Internet/data for cardio

    4. Location of water fountains

    5. Lighting needs

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

    7. Audio needs, zones, music subscription service, control devices

    8. Window shades (retractable)

    9. Support beams in ceiling (for TRXs, aerial yoga)

    10. Hot yoga needs (as needed)

    11. Separate temperature controls in all exercise spaces

    12. Soffits or mill work that may interfere with equipment placement

    13. Sound proofing needs

    14. Closet/shelves for fitness equipment storage

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

    16. TVs mounted on walls

    17. Monitors mounted on walls for club promos

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

    19. Signature scent

  7. Member engagement event

  8. Run focus groups (as needed)

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

    1. How will the operation bring the brand position to life?

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

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

  11. Introduce SOPs for review/approval:

    1. Hiring restrictions

    2. Fitness specific service standards

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

    4. Uniforms

    5. Housekeeping

    6. Fitness monitor checklist

    7. Staff workout policy

  12. Introduce fitness center rules for review/approval:

    1. Member guests

    2. Hours of operation

    3. Refund policy

    4. Towel policy

    5. Age limits

    6. Attire

  13. Begin meeting with fitness equipment vendors:

    1. Do not go with a single manufacturer

    2. Consider PM plan and warranty options

    3. 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

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

  14. Sketch the first two months of programming

  15. Decide upon pricing schedules:

    1. Group fitness

    2. Personal training

    3. Seminars

    4. Signature programs

    5. Workshops

    6. Packaged sales

    7. Promos

    8. Tiered pricing

  16. Member engagement event

  17. Office/supplies for fitness director

  18. Office/supplies for staff (as needed)

  19. Introduce safety and risk management standards for review/approval

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

  21. Technology solutions:

    1. CRM

    2. Member check in

    3. Fitness business management software

    4. Member engagement/marketing

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

    1. Program visits

    2. Staff engagement

  23. Publish fitness center/program renderings

  24. Deliver final financial projections

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

    1. Job description

    2. What is an ideal candidate like?

  26. Finalize fitness equipment (soft goods) order

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

  28. Staff on-boarding begins 6-8 weeks prior to grand opening:

    1. SOPs

    2. Technology

    3. Service

    4. Business development

    5. Session etiquette and strategic plan

    6. Service-Sales

  29. Print forms and materials for programs and services:

    1. Medical clearance

    2. New client intake

    3. Trainer-client agreement

    4. PAR-Q

    5. Fitness evaluation

    6. Release of information

  30. Grand opening (look for future resources from 1000 Hills Fitness about the best way to launch the fitness program)


About 1000 Hills Fitness


Founded in 2011, 1000 Hills Fitness is a leading private club fitness operations manager and consultant, combining more than 40 years of operations excellence with private clubs and luxury commercial facilities. The company has the expertise to cover every aspect of delivering a high value fitness and wellness experience for Members while reducing the high costs and stagnation often associated with the industry. The firm can provide an operations evaluation, staff development, strategic planning, equipment selection, program development, recruitment, pre-opening of your new facility, and full-service supervision of your fitness and wellness areas in order to elevate the Member experience and enrich the overall value of the Club. For more information, visit or call 303-325-2640 to connect.

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