How to Start a Unique Kids' Fitness Center
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Between smartphones, computers and video game systems, modern children are inundated with ways to entertain themselves through technology. Because of these changes in pastimes, physical activity is in decline and childhood obesity is on the rise. According to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention study, the obesity rate in children has more than doubled in the past three decades.
Enticing kids to use your child-friendly gym can help pull them away from electronic games and into real-life ones.
To find a gym that connects with children in a unique and innovative way, you need to understand what kids are interested in and what they find fun. Spend time with kids to see what activities they enjoy, but don't limit yourself to physical activities. Even non-active hobbies can lead to inspiration for the fitness center. Research other child-orientated fitness centers to see what the competition is doing so you don't repeat their efforts.
When searching for an appropriate venue for a kid friendly fitness center, choose a location where the lease -- and landlord -- allow you to paint the interior and exterior. Paint the outside of the gym in vibrant colors, such as primary colors, to make it stand out from the surrounding buildings and appeal to kids.
Permit and licensing requirements vary from state to state, but your local chamber of commerce is a helpful resource for guiding you to the necessary paperwork and registrations. Generally, you need to obtain a business license, business insurance and apply for an Employer Identification Number.
Since there are children in your facility you'll also need to check the requirements for keeping children for over a certain amount of time, typically three hours. You may need to obtain some day care licenses and permits as a result.
Find a Theme
Finding a fresh angle for your child-orientated fitness center is the most important and most challenging aspect of launching the business. Use your research to determine what has been done and what appeals to the kids you are targeting.
For example, if you find most children prefer to spend time playing video games, integrate this into your fitness center concept. Model your gym equipment and color scheme after a popular video game, such as Nintendo's "Mario Brothers" series. You could use the classic mushrooms and blocks as obstacles within the gym for the kids to tackle. You could also create life-size game controllers for the kids to bounce and jump on.
Classes are a popular and effective way to foster memberships in adult gyms, and can be equally effective in a kid orientated fitness center as well. Create classes that play off your gym's theme.
For example, with a video game theme, you could have a kick boxing and martial arts class that correlates with the "Mortal Kombat" game franchise. Interview martial arts trainers and ask if they would dress in costume as characters from the game for the classes. You could also have dance classes using popular game music, such as the "Mario Brothers" theme music, or classes that become large scale versions of the arcade game "Dance, Dance Revolution".
Child Friendly Amenities
Most fitness centers offer amenities for the guests to enjoy. Recreate this with kid friendly options. A smoothie bar or fruit and frozen yogurt station is both appealing to kids and helps foster healthy eating habits. Use colorful, plastic cups and festive straws. Create study centers for kids to do homework before or after their workout by filling a room with desks and school supplies, such as computers, paper, pens and reference books. Establish a dance zone with speakers and a dance floor where kids can have dance parties with their friends.
- Entrepreneur: Start a Niche Gym
- Entrepreneur: The Top 10 Children's Fitness Franchises
- IDEA Health and Fitness Association: Kids on the Move
- Center For Disease Control and Protection: Childhood Obesity Facts
- The Cheer Professional: Starting a Gym 101
- Small Business Administration: Opening a Fitness Center; 7 Steps to Making Your Passion for Fitness an Entrepreneurial Reality
Michelle Barry graduated from Salve Regina University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Since then, she has worked as a reporter for the Wilbraham-Hampden Times, an editor for Month9Books and Evolved Publishing, editor and has spent the past seven years in marketing and graphic design. She also has an extensive background in dance.