How To Choose The Best Commercial Gym Equipment

So, you’ve got your space sorted, and now it’s time for the fun part: choosing the kit for your gym!

But with so many options out there, it can be difficult to figure out which equipment you need.

We’ve put together a quick step-by-step guide to help you pick the best equipment for your gym.

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What Type of Gym Do You Want to Create?

The first thing to consider when choosing your gym equipment is the type of gym you’re trying to create.

The health and fitness industry has changed a lot over the last 20 years, and there’s now a huge variation in the types of gym and the facilities they offer.

With the recent increase in budget gyms, a “bog standard” gym that’s aimed at a very broad market may be a lot more difficult to run than a gym that’s more specific.

Your membership prices are going to have to be a lot more competitive to draw people in from other gyms, and you’re going to have to be a lot more selective with your equipment, the décor, and even things like the music if you’re trying to reach a wider market.

But if you run a specialist Bodybuilding gym, people don’t tend to care about the colour of the machines or the walls, and you can whack on some death metal for the heavy sets and no-one is going to complain.

If you’re looking to create a world class strength and conditioning gym, the likelihood is that you’re going to have a lot of free-weight and plate loaded gym kit, with some specialised cardio machines.

However, if you’re trying to create a group fitness gym or CrossFit gym, you’ll be wanting more class and activity space, and will be a lot more selective about the pieces of kit you do want.

Think About Your Clients' Skill Level

Another consideration when purchasing new gym equipment is going to be your clients’ skill level.

If every member of your gym is an experienced weightlifter, then they should all be able to use the most complex machines and equipment.

However, if your key demographic is going to be students who are new to exercising, you’ll want to keep the machines fairly simple, to make sure they can grasp the basics of training.

How Much Space Do You Have?

Once you’ve got those two aspects decided, the next factor is going to be the amount of space you have to use.

If you’re developing a huge warehouse gym, then space is probably not going to be much of an issue, so your main consideration will likely be the number of members you can fit in to the space.

If you’ve got a smaller space to work with, you’re going to have to be a lot more selective about the equipment you choose.

It may also be worth speaking to your equipment manufacturers to see if they can help get the most out of a smaller space.

Things like half-racks will take up less space than a full rack, but still allow users to perform most (if not all) of the exercises they’d do in a regular rack.

Custom disc, bar, and dumbbell storage will help you make the most of any odd corners or areas that you may have, allowing you to free up more space for your gym kit.

Custom gym kit can be more expensive to buy, but you can make that money back much sooner if it allows you to fit more members into the same space.

What’s Your Budget?

Your equipment is likely to be one of the biggest expenses when you’re setting up your gym, but that doesn’t mean you should buy cheaper kit.

There’s lots of options when it comes to purchasing equipment.

Paying the full sum is one option. This obviously involves a huge amount of capital up front but does mean that the equipment is then yours.

Many suppliers now offer great financing deals, meaning you can pay the equipment back in monthly instalments. While you do pay interest, which ultimately means you’re spending more on the kit, it allows you to reduce your initial investment, and can be a helpful option.

Another option is to look into second hand equipment. Most commercial grade equipment is built to withstand a few years of abuse, so if you can find old demo equipment then the likelihood is it will last you a couple of years, even if it does have some scratches and signs of wear and tear.

The key with any equipment is to make sure it’s well maintained, and all your members know how to use it properly to avoid unnecessary damage.

Choosing the Kit

Picking the right mix of equipment is crucial to making sure your gym is a success.

There’s a lot of choice out there, and a range of different machines that will achieve the same result, so make sure you consider all of these options:

  • Plate Loaded
    Plate loaded machines allow users to perform isolated exercises that focus on one muscle group. Using the gyms existing weights gives the option of training as heavy as possible but does mean some gyms may need to purchase more weights to make all the machines usable.

  • Selectorised
    Selectorised machines give the user similar options to plate loaded machines but are often more of an entry-level piece of equipment as they’re restricted by the size of the weight stack. This makes them a great choice for health clubs and fitness centres looking to offer users an introduction to lifting weights.

  • Benches
    Commercial weight benches are built to be more heavy duty than at-home models and are available with a range of adjustability. Choosing the right bench can free up space in your gym, allowing you to add more usable stations and increase membership numbers.

  • Squat Stands
    Squat stands offer a versatile way to incorporate heavy bench or squat training into a gym, with the added benefit of being portable if necessary. These are ideal for smaller gyms that don’t have enough space for a dedicated squat rack.

  • Squat Racks
    Squat racks are a more permanent gym fixture but offer users a squatting or benching station. Unless you’re looking to have a dedicated squatting area, and if height isn’t an issue, it will likely be a more efficient use of space to install a half-rack or power rack.

  • Power Racks, Half-Racks and Rigs
    These are a versatile bit of kit that can give your members space to perform everything from chin ups to squats, and shrugs to chest press. While a power rack will be enough for most gyms, it can sometimes be more efficient to have something bespoke built to fit your space more effectively.

  • Platforms & Flooring
    Platforms and flooring can often get overlooked when kitting out a gym, but they’re a key factor in making your space work effectively. There’s a range of sound-deadening flooring options available to prevent noise complaints from adjoining businesses, and platforms for lifting areas can give your flooring added protection.

  • Smith Machines
    Smith machines offer users a wide range of training techniques and can be a great way for beginner users to transition to more complicated movements. This flexibility often makes it a staple in commercial gyms.

  • Bars and Discs
    There’s a huge selection of bars and discs available for commercial gyms nowadays, but one important factor to consider is the type of training your clients will be performing. If your gym is for general fitness then a standard range should be fine; but if you’re offering specialised training, such as powerlifting, you’ll need to make sure you have the correct equipment.

  • Dumbbells
    Dumbbells are an essential piece of kit in most commercial gyms, but it’s unlikely you’ll need to splash out on a full set that runs up to 100kg if you’re core demographic are going to be middle-aged women.

  • Cardiovascular Equipment
    The range of CV equipment available has exploded over recent years, and machines are now giving users much more feedback by making the most of the fitness tracking apps that are available. It’s important to remember that you don’t need every piece of kit, so be selective about the machines you choose.

  • Functional Training Accessories
    With a wide range of functional training accessories now available, gym users have lots of exercises to choose from. With CrossFit, Strongman, and HIIT training all still on the rise, it’s important to make sure your gym has all the right accessories for your users.

  • Storage
    Another area that’s often forgotten during the planning stages of a gym is the storage. All your dumbbells, bars, discs and functional training kit will need a place to stay; and keeping this kit out of the way will help your gym look tidy and feel less cluttered.

Maintenance and Warranty

So, you’ve done some digging around, and you’ve got a handful of quotes from a few suppliers. Surely the obvious choice is the cheapest option?

Not always.

A very important consideration is any maintenance or warranty that’s included with the purchase.

A piece of kit that’s dirt cheap, has no warranty and ends up costing thousands in repairs isn’t cheaper than a well-built piece of kit that lasts 5 years without needing any upgrades.

But don’t think that a cheap piece of kit that has a lifetime warranty is a bargain either.

Sure, you won’t have to pay when it breaks every couple of weeks, but would you want to pay full price to be a member of a gym with kit that’s always out of order?

Your members will understand if a piece of kit breaks, just don’t become renowned for it

Buying Your Kit

Once you have a pile of kit to choose from, it can be tempting to rush the process, but don’t.

A lot of the time, it makes sense to purchase kit from one supplier, and this means that there will likely be some trade-offs, so it’s important to consider any sacrifices you may be making, and the pros and cons to using each company.

Consider factors like manufacturing and delivery times, installation costs and, if you’re kitting out an existing gym, any buy-back offers that may have been included as they can have a real impact on your business.

What Next?

Once you’ve chosen your kit and placed the order, the fun really starts!

It’s time to start marketing your gym (if you haven’t already) and getting everything ready for the big launch.

It’s now your journey really begins!

Good Luck!