Opening a gym

Hi Roy,

Around how much would it cost to open a school?

do you have any tips for opening one?

are there any websites that could help?

I, too, have similar questions.

Hello PablosNewton,

With regard to opening up a school, I would caution you against doing
it right off the bat. Why? Because martial arts students are fickle. While
you will find some loyal and dedicated students, you will have up and
down periods like crazy during thre formulative years. So, here are my
recommendations if you are serious about opening up a school:

  1. Get your martial arts insurance.

  2. Get competent legal advice. Know what the laws are in your area
    before you set foot in any gym!

  3. Start small. Offer to teach classes at other martial arts schools,
    fitness gym, kick boxing studios and the like.

  4. Work your butt off. Teach classes, hand out flyers, do radio and
    magazine interviews, teach free self-defense workshops, give
    demonstration, teach at a local college or university, advertise online
    and occasionally in print. Demonstrate to your community that you are
    different from everyone else!

  5. Offer things for free to set yourself apart from the competition.

  6. Read as much as you can. There's a lot a person can learn from
    reading what others have accomplished. Keep yourself sharp.

  7. Learn from anyone and every one. Always remain teachable.

  8. Give more than what is asked of you.

  9. Put in your time. Success does not come overnight.

  10. People skills are more important than physical skills.

  11. Always say and give thanks!

  12. Make a difference in people's lives!

Then, once you have a large enough following, it will be easy for you to
open a school. How long will this take you? I don't know. Maybe a year?
Maybe two years? Maybe three to five years? The time invovled does
not matter if you heart is set on making a difference in people's lives!

Does this make sense?

Roy Harris

P.S. There are two books I highly recommend:

  1. "The Success Principles" by Jack Canfield.

  2. "Start Late, Finish Rich" by David Bach.

These are two excellent book on helping a person accomplish the things
they want to accomplish in their lives.

The study and application of the knowledge contained in these two books
will forever change your life. THEY ARE THAT GOOD!!

Roy Harris

thanks for the help. i will check out the books...i definitely need to brush up my business skills


Have you gotten those books yet? Have you begun reading them? Any

Roy Harris

Hi Roy,

I have read the introductions to both. but right now, I'm concentrating on learning how to write a proper business, finance, operations, legal issues...

after i learn the basics of creating a business, I will read those books.

Does this sound like a good plan?

thank you so much.


While learning how to write a proper business plan is important, doing so
causes you to focus on one small detail of running your own business.
Granted, it is an important detail. However, it is not the most important.

I would highly recommend reading, studying and putting into practice the
contents of Mr. Canfield's book on the Success Principles alongside your
reading and study of business plans. I write this because Mr. Canfield's
book will give you an overview on how to become successful in your
endeavors....whereas the study on how to write a successful business plan
will focus exclusively on only ONE aspect of your business!

Good luck to you,

Roy Harris

I see what you mean Roy,

I should look at the big picture, and improve myself first before I even look into opening the gym...

thanks, I really look at it from this perspective. I will definitely read that book.

...I'm also wondering if martial arts billing services are really that important, as many people have suggested that I use one.


Getting a martial arts billing services is an important part of doing
business. However, such services are not necessary in the beginning. If
you have the time and the energy, you can do all of the billing yourself.
But keep in mind it is a time consuming process.

Once your academy has more than 30 students, you will probably want
to use a billing service. It will help you keep better track of who is
paying, who isn't, who isn't attending classes, etc...

For years, I haven't used a billing service. However, it has hurt me
financially. I am headed back to using one in 2006!

One comment about reading Mr. Canfield's and Mr. Bach's books: I
have recommended these books to several of my friends, students and
instructors. The unfortunate thing (for me) is that very few of my
friends, students and instructors have actually read them.....and even
fewer have started working on the ideas/concepts mentioned in the
book. To me, this is a tradgedy. Why? Because these books are so
good. These books offers REAL WORLD solutions to the problems in
many of our lives. While it is true that making change is difficult, it is
also true that if we continue to do what we have always done, we will
continue to receive what we have always received.

I cannot overstress the importance of reading and doing what is
mentioned in the above mentioned books. They have positively
affected my life. And the few who have read them and begun practicing
the contents of the book, they too are seeing positive changes in their

I have recommended these two books because they stand out head and
shoulders above many of the other books I have read!

So, give these books a try. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain!

Roy Harris

great, thanks again

Let me answer your first question with some details:

"Around how much would it cost to open a school?"

  1. For starters, all of the equipment at my academy costed me a total
    of $51,000 (mats, sticks, knives, boxing gear, kickboxing gear,
    wooden dummy, fitness gear, furniture, computers, improvements).

  2. Second, insurance began (in 1995) at around $1200 a year and has
    gone up since that time. This is usually paid upfront.

  3. Getting the business "legal." While these costs were minimal, they
    were somewhat time consuming.

  4. Advertising costs vary. When I first started, I paid for a yellow page
    ad. This one single ad costed me $400 a month. Add to this monthly
    flyers, brochures, business cards, magazine and newspaper
    advertisements and a school sign, and my initial start up costs were in
    the thousands.

  5. Additional costs related to opening a business: I spent several
    hundred dollars on business courses, books and manuals. I attended
    seminars, workshops and read books to learn what I could about
    conducting business in Southern California. I also learned how to do

    many things myself. For example, I am self-taught on my Macintosh.
    I've taught myself 26 programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver,
    Quicktime Pro, Pagemaker, InDesign, After Effects, ImageReady, etc..). I
    went to a digital video school to learn how to shoot, edit and produce
    my own instructional videos. I have purchased, read and studied
    hundreds of books on business and self-improvement.

So back in 1995, I went into business not really knowing what the heck
I was doing. I knew a little bit, but I was unprepared for what I really
needed to do. And as a result of all of this, I made A TON of mistakes
along the way.

I hope when you open your school, that you can learn from someone
else's mistakes so that you will not make as many on your own!


Roy Harris


I have just a few more questions, if you don't mind. These will be the last, I PROMISE!

Is Kickboxing/Muay Thai a large part of your association? JKD completely different? I am interested in joining an association that will help me with coaching and developing a Kickboxing program.

Also, what mats should I buy (any brand recommendations)? I am considering making my own, I think it could look professional, and would be much cheaper.

Do you recommend that I outsource a lot of my work (marketing, graphics, billing, accounting, consulting) or is it better to do it myself - as, it seems, you are?

Were those expensive start-up ads worth it? some people swear by Yellow pages, but the seem costly. should I do a large yellow page ad to start up?

Thanks so much,


sorry last question,

What procedures did you go through to get the business "legal"?

On what basis could it be deemed illegal?

that is all...thanks.


Go easy on your fellow practitioner! He was just asking because he
wanted to find out something he felt he needed to know. And, he came
to a source that he felt could help him.

Now, with regard to your having a problem with my book
recommendations,I am sorry to hear that. I mentioned those books
because they are THAT good for people who have the initiative and
drive to succeed in life. And while it is true that Mr. Canfield's book
doesn't always provide specific answers and in-depth detail for every
person and every unique situation on the planet, no book can really do
that. However, the information is provided in that book is gold - In my
opinion! I wish I would have read it when I first started...............which
is another reason I recommended the book!

Now, the fact that I am somewhat of a success in life has nothing to do
with the books I recommend. Back when I was "coming up through the
ranks", I read all kinds of books. And while most of them were
somewhat helpful, many of them made me read more than I needed to
read to get to a straight answer.

About the best book I have ever read that have gotten straight to the
point, right off the bat, was Jay Conrad Levinson's handbook on
"Guerilla Marketing." Outside of that one book, many of the other
books CONTAINED useful information, but I often had to sift through
the hype, the history and the unnecessary more than I wanted.

Now, with regard to Mr. Canfield's principles actually working: They do
work! And while YES, they are very similar to the works of other
authors, the manner in which he has re-packaged the material makes
it fresh and new. (Mr. Canfield method of re-packaging old material is
no different from what many other authors do. Many of the current
self-help, non-fiction, fiction or fantasy books are old things that have
been re-packaged with a fresh appeal to them).

Finally, with regard to the books I read while I was making the effort to
become successful, many of these books have been listed on my
website for several months now. Please go to my website and find

Happpy hunting!

Roy Harris

Thank you for your insights Mr. Harris.

actually, thanks for the feedback comedian. it's good to get an honest opinion.

Roy (or anyone else), have you read material from by Stephen Oliver? Or

Are these manuals just gimmics, or are they useful?

They are quite expensive....

any opinions?

At one time I purchased the Extraordinary Marketing from Stephen Oliver. Yes, it was expensive (I bought the "Silver package", if memory serves).

I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I learned one or two good ideas from it. On the other hand, I didn't feel that these were worth (A) the cost of the course, (B) sorting through the rest of the course just to get them, and (C) the customer service that I received.

The course has some organization, but is not put together into a professional format. Much of the bulk of it is actually poorly assembled, with the only exception being reprints of other materials included as "free" bonuses.

Now, I understand that when we are discussing potential students, you need to take a long-term look at the value of a student. You need to consider what the student will bring to your academy, both as a person and as a paying client. When you spend money to recruit students, you need to keep this in mind.

With that considered, I asked for (and received) a refund for the program. I did not feel that enough of it applied to my situation for the material to be relevant. (For example, the "Great Secret Worth" whatever, which I think is now called "Direct marketing for martial arts" does not apply to my school at all, because it is a program for recruiting kids, and I only teach adults at my school).

As a note about the company: The customer service I received from them was not great. When I first called about the refund, I did not receive a response for a couple weeks. I called again, and this time was referred to someone else, who was much more communicative. He was very friendly, but not very good at giving refunds. First, he charged my credit card a second time, instead of refunding it! It took almost 2 days for him to refund the second charge, as well as (eventually) refunding the first one.

Overall, my impression of the program was that for some people, it would be just what they needed. However, if you have any experience with sales, or just good personal communication, much of it will be "fluff" for you. Also, if you have a GOOD website, much of it will not be new to you. The website program assumes you've never even heard of the internet...... (though I gleaned one or two good ideas from the website program). Overall, it depends on your situation.

Hope this helps,


thanks chris


would it be okay if you wrote a bit more about those 2 good ideas u learned?

if you don't want to post them, can u email me at:

I guess I'll go the the Small-Dojos manual - it's only like $70 or something, $500 seems a bit unnecessary. Small-Dojo is also in-line with my business model. I want to be the lone full-time teacher/staff...