Staffed versus unstaffed gyms

If you are passionate about fitness and want to start your own business, investing in a fitness franchise can be an excellent way to turn your passion into a profitable venture.

Staffed versus unstaffed gyms

With many franchise models out there to choose from, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, choosing the right model for you requires research and planning. Bill Painter, Director of Development at Snap Fitness, discusses a key consideration for fitness franchises: staffed versus unstaffed gyms. He shares the benefits of supervised gyms and why this should be a deciding factor when considering investing in a fitness franchise. 

One of the very first considerations to make when seeking a franchise opportunity is whether the model aligns with your aspirations and ambitions. Of course, investing in a fitness franchise gives you an established brand name with a good reputation which can initially attract customers. Retaining those customers relies on providing a consistently good service, and whether or not your gym is staffed is a crucial component in this mix.

Unstaffed gyms, also known as 24-hour gyms, typically operate with staffed hours and become self-service gyms outside of these periods. During unstaffed hours, members access the gym via a key fob or access code, allowing them to access facilities at any time of day or night. Members can use the equipment and facilities as they would at a traditional gym, with security measures in place to monitor the gym for safety. Whilst this model may appeal to those prioritising affordability and convenience, the benefits of staffed gyms are immense.

Safety and guidance

An inclusive fitness environment means every one of your members feels safe and comfortable during every gym visit. Having staff in your gym at all times means you can operate safely and securely, with trained professionals available to guide members through correct form and technique, reducing the risk of injury.

With a recent survey finding that more than 25% of women had experienced an uncomfortable interaction at the gym, and more than 30% of women saying this made them leave the gym, with some never returning1, a staffed gym is more important than ever. With a supervised exercise facility, you have the best chance of ensuring a safe space for all.

While some gym goers feel confident to create their own workouts, the absence of a customised fitness plan can be a barrier to exercise – especially for those new to fitness. With staff on hand to help create tailored fitness plans based on goals, experience and any health concerns, members’ gym experience is elevated. 


One of the primary benefits of exercising in a fitness facility is the motivation and accountability that an exercise community can provide. With staff available to support and encourage members, they are more likely to follow through with their plans to visit the gym. Research has shown that 39 per cent of male and 54 per cent of female respondents cited the motivation from gym staff as the aspect they missed most about exercising during lockdown2. The value of staff friendliness and guidance both increased with age, with 97 per cent of 65–74-year-olds rating the support from gym staff as very or quite important3.

The staff on the gym floor are a key driver of the gym community. Bringing together people who are all striving towards similar goals can create a supportive environment where members encourage and uplift each other. Knowing there is a qualified professional on hand means all members have access to the expertise, which can help them to reach their goals more effectively and safely. 

In addition to the practical benefits, being part of a gym community can also provide social connection and enjoyment. Going to the gym can be a solitary activity, but being part of a gym community can make it more social. Building friendships and connections with staff and other gym goers can make the experience more enjoyable and fulfilling. Staffed gyms can offer a range of classes and activities, which provides a social, structured way for many gym goers to benefit from their membership.

After all, wellbeing includes more than just physical fitness, and a gym community can have a significant positive impact on members’ fitness journeys. Whether it’s through motivation and accountability, support and encouragement, access to expertise or social connection, there are many ways that staffed gyms can help members to achieve their goals and lead a healthier, happier life.

1Safer Gym Group



Bill Painter
Bill Painter