Let’s get real for a moment. Though your passion for fitness and helping people achieve their goals is likely the main reason you opened (or want to open) a gym, making a living is essential!

Whether you’re a gym business newbie wondering if it’s profitable to own a gym, an established owner doing some comparisons, or just a random person who likes to know what other people make (yup, guilty 🙋‍♀️), we’ll cover everything from the typical gym owner salary to advice on how to boost your earnings.

Can you make a decent salary as a gym owner?

There’s no simple answer to this question. Each person’s idea of a ‘decent salary’ is different. Each person will write their gym business plan with different income goals and will experience various degrees of success.

So let’s start by looking at some averages. To begin with, ‘gym manager’ is the closest role that comes up in searches for New Zealand. Now, this is likely different to a gym owner but we’ll note the results anyway.

According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for a gym manager is $23-25 per hour. No annual salary amount is listed. However, Payscale reports a $23.63 average hourly rate which equals a range of $42,000 to $69,000 annually.

Salary Expert reports $91,677 as the average annual salary for a gym manager in NZ.

The Personal Training Academy advises ‘if you stick to it and continue to build and grow your business, you could be earning anywhere from $105,000 – $210,000 per year owning your own gym.’

As you can see, there’s no official ‘average gym owner salary’, simply because there are countless factors and variables at play, which we’ll cover in the next section.

However, data showed that the market size, measured by revenue, of the Gyms and Fitness Centres industry in New Zealand was $379.7m in 2023, which means that although the big players will account for a lot of that, there is plenty of scope to make your mark and earn an acceptable salary.

h the big players will account for a lot of that, there is plenty of scope to make your mark and earn an acceptable salary.

Speak to an expert.

Want to grow the profitability of your gym business? You need to have the right gym software in place to optimise operations and more. Xplor Gym can help.

Get in touch.

What factors can influence a gym owner’s salary?

There are plenty of reasons why income will vary from one gym owner to another. Here are 6 factors that may influence how much you can make.

1. Type of facility

Firstly, the type of fitness facility you run can affect everything from operating costs to membership pricing.

For example:

  • Budget or low-cost gyms – you’ll need to take a high volume, low-margin approach to pricing by signing up the highest number of members you can handle and carefully controlling expenses.
  • Mid-market gyms – you’ll need to offer superior facilities and services, compared to budget gyms, at a moderate membership price point. Your facilities and staffing costs may be higher than a basic option.
  • Premium gyms – your operating costs will be higher. That’s because members expect a luxury experience, equipment, and facilities. In return, you can charge a premium membership fee.
  • Boutique gyms – you’ll offer unique and customised services on a smaller, more personal scale. So, you’ll be able to charge a high price point in most cases. You’re likely to spend more on creating the right member experience and will need equipment that measures up.

Maximising margins


Profit margins will differ depending on the type of facility you run. And in each case, you’ll need to carefully balance the different factors at play to maximise your margins. So, your success in doing that will impact how much you can make as a gym owner.

2. Location

Where you operate your gym(s) will influence your salary as a gym owner.

Your location can impact the amount you can charge, and it can also impact operating costs in the same way. For example, if you are in a city centre location, you may be able to charge more.

Together with membership price, your location will influence the number of members you can attract. Plus, how many sales you can make in other areas. Think pay-as-you-go visits and day/weekly passes, and retail products.

For instance, if you’re next to a busy train station, you’ll have the chance to attract commuters. You may also get more pay-as-you-go visitors. Plus, you could sell drinks and snacks to travellers.

Whereas, in a rural location, members and visitors will have to travel directly to your club. And there’s often a smaller potential membership base living and/or working nearby. All in all, earning potential will be different in each scenario.

And of course, Successful multi-site gym owners can take a higher salary than single site gym owners.

Location, location, location


The region you’re located in can affect the amount you can charge. The average cost of a gym membership is highest in major cities where operating costs are higher and demand is greater. Suburban and regional areas tend to be more affordable.

3. Working IN vs ON the business

Especially in the early days of welcoming members, as a gym owner you’ll spend a lot of time working in the business, which means any task or job that’s required to keep your business running. This could include anything from signing up members to cleaning. This means that for a little while you might be doing more work without taking a bigger salary.

To increase your earning potential as a gym owner, you’ll need to set aside time to work on the business, whichincludes anything strategic. For example, marketing and sales strategy, putting in place new systems, research, or expanding your services. This should all help to increase profit so you can hire people to do the everyday operational tasks.

By getting more strategic, you’ll be on the road to creating a business that serves you, rather than you serving it. And that means you’ll be able to find ways to grow and improve your business. So, you’ll be able to afford a bigger salary.

Planning for the future


Start by making some time to think about the bigger picture and work out how your fitness business is performing. As you grow, you’ll need to delegate more everyday tasks (and automate what you can) to free your time to focus on the bigger picture.

4. Maturity of the business

The good news is, as your gym business matures and has been open for longer, you’ll likely make more money from it. However, in those early years you’ll need to invest more into your business than you take. This is why it’s crucial to attract new members to achieve business growth and keep your gym business in it for the long run!

Once you’ve been open for a while, you’ll be able to rely less on acquiring new customers to grow. Build a loyal base of members and you’ll have the opportunity to increase your member lifetime value (LTV).

With this member loyalty comes the opportunity to take advantage of the power of word-of-mouth marketing, which is more effective than other channels.

So, you’ll be able to decrease your customer acquisition cost (CAC). In combination with a higher member LTV, your business should become more profitable. And so, you’ll have greater opportunity to earn a higher gym owner salary. 

5. Revenue and profitability

Revenue is the money that comes into your gym business, and this may seem like an obvious income factor… because it is! However, the BIGGEST factor that influences how much a gym owner makes is profitability.  

Profitability is the difference between your revenue and expenses. You’ll reach profitability when your revenue is higher than your expenses.

As an owner you are ultimately responsible and need to know how much money is coming in and how much is going out. If you can become more profitable, you’ll be able to take a larger salary.

For most gyms, membership fees make up the biggest proportion of revenue. In addition, common sources of revenue include:

  • Casual visits
  • Day or week passes
  • Group fitness classes
  • Personal training sessions
  • Retail sales – for example, clothing, supplements, food and drink
  • Ticketed events
  • Renting out spaces or rooms to other businesses
  • Nutrition services
  • Training plans

Attract and retain more members, plus find other ways to bring in extra revenue. And, as a result, you’ll make more money.

Attracting new members


To attract new members and keep existing members engaged, why not run an event? This is also an opportunity to make more money.

Check out this blog post for ideas.

6. Expenses and debt

Whereas revenue is what’s coming into your business, your expenses are what’s going out. This cost of doing business should not be more than your revenue, but it can be a tricky balance to achieve at first as you build your customer base.

The cost of opening and operating a gym will typically include covering:

If your business has borrowed money to open, operate, or grow, you’ll have debt. The higher this debt is, the bigger the impact it will have on business profitability. And, therefore, your salary.

Higher debt attracts higher interest rates. That means more expense to cover. And it can also limit your ability to reinvest profit into your gym business to improve and expand.

Balancing expenses and revenue


The better control you have over your expenses and the more revenue you make to cover them, the more profitable your business will be. If you can keep your expenses low and your revenue high, you’ll build a profitable gym business. Keep careful records and revisit your business plan regularly. Enlist the help of a financial expert if necessary, well before your gym is in trouble.

How can you increase your salary as a gym owner?

Great question! The good news is there are heaps of ways to do this. When all’s said and done, it’s simply about increasing your profitability. More money in, less money out = more money you can take as a salary. Of course, it’s not always as easy as that in the real world (where we assume you live).

Here are some tips and tricks for growing profitability (which should mean more $$ in your pocket):

1. Standardise and automate operations

Yes, we know, not the most exciting tip! While it can be easy to procrastinate about putting in place procedures and systems, spending some time on these can help your business become more profitable. So, it’s time to embrace gym automation.

Look at all the daily tasks that need doing across your business. Document these. Put in place routines to find efficient ways of doing things. Use technology that will automate manual tasks. For example, chasing late payments and identifying members at risk of cancelling.

Make sure relevant team members are fully trained in your operational processes. Having documented ways of working in place will make it easier to onboard new team members and help you to identify where things aren’t working as they should.

Listen to staff feedback to refine ways of working and make improvements.

Also think about your member experience and document as much as you can.


  • How should staff greet members?
  • What touchpoints make up your member journey?
  • What’s your approach to marketing?
  • How are classes taught?

This will help you create a consistent member experience.

2. Adjust your pricing

Look at your gym pricing strategy. To increase revenue, you could try:

  • Creating new membership packages at a higher price point with a luxury experience
  • Adding new gym contract lengths that cater to member demands
  • Offering special packages for specific groups like students or over-60s

You may want to increase prices to cover higher operating costs, investments made, and new services. Let members know about new prices well in advance of the price change happening. And make sure you check membership terms before changing prices.

Explain the value of being a member at your fitness club. And showcase any investments you’ve made that benefit members.

3. Sign up more members

Attracting new members to your gym or fitness club will help you grow and generate more income.

Here are some tactics that can help you increase the number of new members you attract:

  • Special offers – use promotion codes to give new members access to a special offer when joining. For example, no joining fees, free or discounted months, branded merchandise like water bottles and t-shirts, or upgraded access to services
  • Effective lead management – use gym management software that makes it easy for you and any sales staff to proactively nurture and manage prospective members
  • Partnerships – create partnerships with other local businesses to offer special packages for loyal customers

4. Retain members for longer

Often overlooked in favour of signing up new members, retention is key to the profitability of your gym business.

Keep members coming back for longer and you’ll increase your member lifetime value. Plus, it’s usually cheaper to retain existing members than it is to attract new ones.

That will help you become more profitable. Increasing retention starts with understanding why members quit the gym.

Recent research found that most members cancel, or become cancelled, without ever telling clubs why. You need to better understand why members leave and take steps to keep them engaged.

5. Expand your offering with new services

Offering new services is a great way to expand your business. As well as adding new revenue streams to boost profitability.

Ideas include:

  • Personal training sessions
  • New group fitness classes
  • Nutrition advice
  • Physio and other recovery services

You could even rent out spare space in your club to coaches and therapists. So, you’ll boost your income this way too.

6. Look at product sales

Talking about new revenue streams, selling products in your club will let you earn incremental revenue from your members.

Branded merchandise like t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, bottles, and towels can be a great option. You also have the benefit of members showcasing your brand away from the gym. Win-win!

Nutritional supplements, sports drinks, and healthy snacks are often appreciated by members. If you have room for a café and seating area, consider serving coffees, juices, and shakes.

Some clubs are even turning areas into co-working locations with hot desks. So, members working remotely or running their own businesses, can choose to work from the comfort of your club.

Additionally, if you don’t have staff available to sell products, you could install a vending machine. And consider a self-service coffee machine, like you often see in service stations and convenience shops.

7. Create corporate partners

Located near other businesses? Create corporate membership rates and partner with these businesses to offer their employees special membership packages.

Other ideas include running events with corporate partners for their employees. For example, fitness assessments, classes and workshops, or team challenges.

Creating corporate partners will let you grow your reach and attract new members. All helping you generate more revenue.

8. Pair up with local hotels

Similarly, if there are hotels near to you without their own gym, form a partnership. And give guests access to your gym. That might mean discounts on day and week passes or another commercial arrangement.

This is a fantastic way to help travellers keep up their fitness routine. And can help you bring in extra income with a light lift.

9. Invest in marketing

Want to grow your business and increase revenue? An effective gym marketing strategy is essential.

Marketing will help your gym business:

  • Spread brand awareness
  • Boost your sales
  • Attract and keep members
  • Build trust
  • Make it easier to reach and engage your target audience

Marketing can be effective and inexpensive:

  • Social media – create pages and groups on the channels your target members use. Create helpful posts. And spend time interacting with your followers to build a community
  • Email marketing – use the marketing automation features within your software to send personalised, targeted, and timely emails to members and prospects, promote special offers, give fitness tips and tricks, and share the latest news from your gym (for example, events happening, new equipment, new classes, or new team member profiles)
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO) – make sure your website is easily found by anyone looking for gym memberships, personal training, classes, and other services you offer

Invest in marketing to create long-term profitability and grow your salary as a gym owner.

10. Run referral programmes

Word of mouth marketing is one of the most powerful and cost-effective type of marketing available. And as you grow, a gym member referral programme, will encourage your members to market your business for you.

Typically, a referral programme will benefit the referring and new member with a discount or gift. And your club will enjoy a new member.

Many gyms will have refer-a-friend offers that run continuously. You could also create time-sensitive special offers and draw attention to your programme and encourage uptake.

11. Organise events & challenges

Fitness challenges gamify fitness to encourage members to use their membership. Use challenges to build community in your gym and get members to interact with one another.

Challenges will help you create a stickier gym member experience, increasing length of stay to grow member lifetime value. Check out this blog for some great fitness challenge ideas.

You could also organise events like workshops with specialists. Perhaps a yoga workshop, a talk on nutrition, or a strength training technique workshop.

Think about what would work for your target membership base. Make events ticketed with a discount for members. And give non-members the opportunity to attend too.

Events like these will help you grow your reach. And bring in more revenue outside of memberships. Both helping you increase profitability.

12. Put in place unmanned access technology

Access control is important if you want to run a profitable gym business. And while it might not seem obvious, effective access control can help you become more profitable.

Why? Access control that’s integrated with your gym CRM will help you track visits. So, you can avoid unauthorised access by non-members. And identify when a member’s visit pattern changes, vital to identifying those at risk of cancelling.

Many gyms choose unmanned access control. Essentially, that means putting in place technology and hardware so members can access your facilities without a staff member being there.


13. Go 24/7

Likewise, offering 24/7 gym access to members can help you attract a broader membership base. And in turn, increase profitability to grow your earnings.

A 24-hour gym access system (often allowing for unmanned access), will help you compete with big players. For example, Jetts and Zap Fitness offer 24/7 access as standard.

It’s fantastic for members who do shift work. As well as those who prefer to workout at quieter times. And as a gym owner it can help you achieve better work/life balance and become more profitable.

The wrap up…

‘How much do gym owners make’ is a common yet complex question. And it’s one asked by both prospective and existing gym owners. While averages are available from Glassdoor and similar sites, really a gym owner salary is determined by many different factors.

Essentially, the more profitable your business is the more salary you should be able to take. There are many ways to increase profitability as we’ve detailed in this article.

Successful gym owners are effective leaders that can create profitable gyms. And in turn choose to take attractive salaries to reward their hard work.

The right systems and partners can help your fitness business grow profitability, so you can earn more as a gym owner. Get in touch to see what Xplor Gym can do for your business.

Article by Xplor Gym

First published: 15 April 2024

Last updated: 15 April 2024