USA Boxing

The author’s opinions are their own and do not reflect that of USA Boxing.

Thoughts for “starting a gym, location and insurance”

I met Coach Will, with Champion Boxing in Columbus Georgia, at the Albuquerque Western Qualifiers and he asked if I could write something about “starting a new gym, location, and insurance”?

Here’s what I’ve done in the past, and a little bit of what I had learned and wished I had done. After you have decided that starting a boxing gym is what you really want to do, here’s a bullet point checklist to get you started:

  • Depending on the state, processes and prices will vary, but research how to start a business and decide on the route to take (in Kentucky I started an LLC, then registered a DBA [Doing Business As] with my gym name, under the umbrella of my LLC).
  • Decide on a name
  • Register that name with the appropriate government agencies
  • Get a domain name for a website (I always use a third-party host just for my domain, like Hover. For $15 a year I have control over where I link that name to. Most site builder sites, like go-daddy or wix, will give you a free domain, but can be a hassle to take your name with you if you decide to build somewhere else in the future).
  • Get an email for the company so all future business communication are in one area (I personally like using G-Suite by Google because it has up-to-date google technology with a professional looking address [like] for about $5/mo)
  • Get a cell phone and a number for your business, making sure that the phone is adequate for social media, photos and videos
  • Start using that new email and phone and contact your local small business development center (SBDC) and have them assist you with creating a business plan, and networking with your soon-to-be new business community. With the support and coaching from your SBDC you’ll figure out what your market will be and how you will make money (if you are a for-profit), or raise money (if you are a non-profit). Is your gym going to be for recreational/fitness boxing, competitive boxing, an after-school youth program, or a combination for anyone and everyone? It won’t cost much to figure this out but will lay an essential foundation for your business to grow
  • Get a logo, whether it’s from a buddy, your niece, or you out source (with some trial and error you can have some luck with a site like Fiverr. Jesterr and Smork are the two artists I’ve found that are pretty good)
  • Once you know who your members are going to be, consider where those people are and choose a neighborhood. You basically have two options. 1. Put your business where your target population is, or 2. Pick another neighborhood knowing that your target population will have to travel to you. The extreme opposites are:
  • You can always talk to the local rec centers and/or the school district to inquire if they would be interested in partnering up with you, especially if you’re creating a non-profit to support at-risk, after-school youth. Kronk, one of the most popular gyms in the world, was a small room in the basement of the Kronk Recreation Center in Detroit, MI. If you are a for-profit but on a budget, consider looking into partnering with another local MMA or martial arts instructor.
  • How much room will you need (use your business plan as a constructive tool to figure out …):
  • Go to your local insurance agent (or look on-line) for business insurance (in the past I’ve used Karate Studio insurance and checked off all the boxes for fitness, kickboxing, mma, strength & conditioning, and of course full-contact boxing. This way everyone is covered from slip and falls to sport related injuries)
  • Get a lawyer to help you with a Release and Waiver of Liability for everyone to sign when they come through your doors
  • Begin your social media presence with whatever platforms you are used to plus a couple more. Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are my primary mediums, even though I honestly don’t use them as much as I should. (note: this will also depend on your geographic and demographic. When I lived in Los Angeles, Facebook got me little results, but when I moved to Bowling Green KY I found Facebook worked well). Start building your community and let them in on the journey. Start by posting an ad with your logo and “Coming Soon!” and have people message you for more details. Most importantly, get their contact info, and follow-up! Keep them up to date on your progress (let them know you are looking for a space and you’ll contact them when you have more to tell, “in the meantime, like us and follow on Facebook and Instagram”), and what they can expect when you open.
  • Begin looking for the building that will satisfy your needs.
  • Once you find it, and before you sign the contract, go to city hall and make sure zoning, parking and amenities (wheel chair access/restrooms) are all up to standards. Don’t sign the contract, pay the deposit and first month’s rent just to have the project be put on hold because the city inspector is raining on your parade
  • Take possession (whether the space was donated or partnered or a contract signed/money exchanged), and build your gym
  • Before your grand opening, go back to your insurance source and get insured. Also register your gym with USA Boxing so you have sparring insurance covered as well (for registered coaches and boxers)

All the rest is up to you. Get them in the door, teach them boxing and make champions. And remember to use your social media to build community, show the daily progress as it’s being built (people love that stuff and will feel a part of your community before the doors even open), and keep them informed with Grand Opening details and promotions.

Coach Will, I hope this gives you some new things to think about and answers some questions about “starting a new gym, location and insurance”.

Also, if you are reading this, and you have your own suggestions, or even disagree with something I’ve said please let us all know with a comment below. I know I’d like to read what has worked for other boxing entrepreneurs as well.

Coach Chadrick Wigle

USA Boxing Merchandise Manager