2023 new business idea #2: Open a specialty fitness company

By Michelle van Schouwen

This is the second in an occasional series about good businesses to start in 2023. Fitness, including niche online offerings and specialty in-person programs, is increasingly in demand with the public. According to research assembled by Zippia, The Career Expert, “between now and 2028, the fitness industry is expected to grow 171.75% to $434.74 billion.” Further, the online and digital fitness industry is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 33.5% from 2020 to 2027, reflecting the fact that many people prefer the convenience of exercising in their own homes.

A growing target market

One niche group that presents a growing opportunity for fitness coaches, trainers, and others is working with older adults. According to an American College of Sports Medicine survey of more than 4,500 health and fitness professionals, fitness programs for older adults represent one of the top four worldwide fitness trends for 2023. To learn more, we talked with Kate DeMayo, whose Sydney, Australia-based company Extra Mile PT offers personal training and group fitness classes. The key offering is Steady, Stable and Able, comprising one-hour classes with a focus on balance. The classes are open to all ages but have particular relevance for older adults. DeMayo founded her company in 2004, and began this new, very popular offering in 2017. She says that the classes are, “if not unique, unusual in the Australian market” and adds that she believes that a similar gap exists in U.S. offerings. A certified fitness instructor can offer these classes in affordable venues such as community centers or church halls, and they don’t require expensive or large equipment.

DeMayo also offers smart advice for anyone starting a fitness business: “Like any good business, I think a fitness professional has to offer something he or she does better than the average Joe. Look around and see who isn’t being catered for. I chose to focus on older adults because I saw a lot of them come and go from the gym where I was working because their needs weren’t being met.” She adds a caution important to every small business owner, “Charge what you are worth, which means that you will need to do research into other professionals as well as realistically calculating operating costs. Some potential clients will try to bargain with you and perhaps complain that they can’t afford it. This can be soul destroying, especially when you need the business; however, giving in only sends the message that we are desperate or not worth the money. So while there may be times to offer discounts (say off peak times, or first timer specials), that should be on your terms, not theirs. Someone will always be cheaper.”

Other opportunities in the field

With consideration to playing to your own strengths, a few of the many other fitness business opportunities for 2023 include:

Mobility training for all ages and ability levels

-Virtual reality fitness classes

-Development and sales of custom workout plans

Health coaching business

Not surprisingly, most fitness industry business opportunities will require that you and/or fitness employees have specific training and certifications. Requirements vary according to what you plan to do and where you will base your business. Start your research by comparing programs. Articles such as this Best Personal Trainer Certification Programs overview can help.

How much revenue you will generate with a specialty fitness company will depend both on your offerings and, in some cases, whether you engage other fitness professionals. It’s important to know that this is a very competitive industry, but that its growth and the chance to create an enticing niche nonetheless spells excellent opportunity for the motivated.


Michelle van Schouwen is principal of Q5 Analytics, providing advocacy and communications for climate change mitigation and adaptation. For 32 years, Michelle was president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA), a B2B marketing company. In 2017, van Schouwen Associates was acquired by Six-Point Creative Works, Inc. of Springfield, MA. Michelle is available for speaking engagements on topics including her work on climate crisis mitigation and Florida coastal water issues. She speaks to business and student groups about marketing launches and entrepreneurship and works with start-ups to support their development. She’s also on an endless quest for fitness.

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