What you choose to kit your gym out with – your commercial gym equipment – matters. Choose the right types of gym equipment, and you’ll attract and retain more members. Here’s what you need to consider.
The number of gyms, health clubs and fitness centres in the UK is set to pass 3,500 in 2023. And that means competition for members has never been fiercer. With so many other options to choose from, it’s crucial to give members what they want.
As the owner of one of these new gyms or fitness clubs, that means kitting out your premises with the right commercial gym equipment. You need to offer all the basic gym equipment that your members expect. Plus, the pieces that will help you stand out from other clubs. And you need to find it all at the right price for your business.
We’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll run through a list of essential commercial gym equipment. We’ll cover everything from the must-have machines to advanced equipment for discerning members. And we’ve packed in pointers for choosing and sourcing equipment too.
Let’s get started!
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The essential commercial gym equipment list
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” – Muhammad Ali
If you want to be heavyweight champion of the world, then hours spent in the gym are a necessary evil. Training is there to be endured, not enjoyed. Yet for most members, hating training is a shortcut to cancelling their memberships.
They want to enjoy training at your gym. They want to follow their own workout plans, and they want your support as they do it. That means having access to the right gym equipment.
The exact types of commercial gym equipment you’ll need will depend on the type of facility you run and the members you want to attract. Start by kitting out your club with the following essentials. And you’ll be on the track to success.
Whether it’s for strength training, bodybuilding, or functional training, your members will want a wide range of free weights. Make sure your gym is fully kitted out with the following basic and advanced weights:
- Commercial training benches – a basic training bench can be used in many ways. Look for one with an adjustable backrest so your members can move it from a flat position to an incline. Your training benches will be heavily used, look for a robust model that can be easily adjusted
- Commercial dumbbell sets – another must-have that will be heavily used. Make sure you have a good mix of different weights and opt for a hardwearing material that will withstand constant use. You’ll need a rack too to keep your dumbbells organised and tidy
- Commercial barbell sets – essential for those who want to focus on strength training, as well as those wanting to combat aging and increase bone density. You’ll need a squat rack, bench press rack, and a choice of weight plates. If your facility has a strength focus, you’ll likely want to invest in Olympic bars
- Commercial kettlebells – a worthwhile investment, kettlebells come in a variety of weights. And are a popular choice with those wanting to activate core muscles while weight training
Many gymgoers want to be faster, better conditioned, and fitter overall. That means they need to keep on top of their cardio. So, you need to provide a range of commercial cardio gym equipment to help them warm up, work out, and cool down. And get that blood pumping in general!
Aim to have these key pieces available, including at least one low-impact option:
- Commercial treadmills – a sturdy, commercial treadmill is a must-have. At a minimum look for an option that offers different inclines, speeds, and heart rate monitoring. Upgrade to machines with more hi-tech features to help members avoid the ‘dreadmill’ feeling!
- Low impact treadmills – a great low impact option. This type of commercial treadmill is ideal for those with joint issues as it’s pressurised to reduce impact
- Commercial stationary bikes – an alternative to a treadmill and another low impact cardio option. Stationary bikes will always be popular with gymgoers of all ages
- Commercial recumbent stationary bikes – recumbent bikes offer a comfortable way to achieve a cardio kick. As these bikes have a wider and lower seat, they place less stress on joints – great for older gymgoers and those with injuries
- Commercial elliptical trainers – another low impact option that gives a satisfying workout
- Commercial rowing machines – help members achieve a full body workout with a rowing machine that engages legs, core, and upper body in one go
Rehab & resistance equipment
Building back up to fitness after an injury. Starting a fresh fitness journey. Looking to improve mobility and function. In all these scenarios, members will seek equipment that helps build functional muscle strength.
With functional fitness training a top trend for 2023, there’s even more call to invest in rehab and resistance gym equipment including:
- Resistance bands – available in a variety of weights, resistance bands help members to train pretty much every muscle
- Pull up frame and bar – to save space, look for a squat rack with an incorporated pull up bar. Pull ups and chin ups are a popular exercise choice so a pull up frame and bar is a worthwhile investment
- Stability balls – another piece of gym equipment that can be used in many ways. These are particularly popular for core exercises
- Foam rollers – have these on hand to help members remove knots and reduce tension in key muscle groups. Ideal for increased flexibility and faster recovery
- Mats – consider providing these for comfort when members are doing floor-based exercises. You could also encourage members to bring their own (it can even be a profitable item to sell)
With this list of essential commercial gym equipment, you’ll have the basics in place to open your gym. And provide your members with key equipment they need. If there’s one piece of equipment we’d recommend above all others, it’s the exercise bike.
When entering a gym, especially as a new member, analysis paralysis can kick in. Where to start? An exercise bike offers a place to sit, think and warm up while a member plans the rest of their workout. Make sure you always have one available.
As you grow, you can invest in a wider range of weight machines or specialist equipment. And look at connected gym equipment too.
Connected commercial gym equipment
Basic gym equipment will get your new fitness club off to a strong start. Want to offer your members an even better experience? Then consider choosing connected gym equipment that integrates with your gym management software.
Connected gym equipment will help make using your gym more rewarding for your members.
What is connected gym equipment?
Good question! Connected gym equipment is any machine or device that connects to the internet or a server to collect user information.
Many of the cardio machines on our essential gym equipment list are available as connected machines. And you can also get connected weight machines and equipment.
Why choose connected gym equipment?
Simple. Because it’ll help you retain more members. Connected equipment tracks user performance. So, your members will be motivated to keep coming back to improve on their previous personal bests.
Using gym management software with integrated marketing automation features? You can take this information and share it with members as part of your retention strategy. Tailored marketing is key to your gym marketing strategy. So, what better way to provide tailored information than by tracking members’ progress for them?
Next, let’s look at where to source your gym equipment.
Which commercial gym equipment supplier should you choose?
You have your gym equipment list. Now all you need to do is go shopping! Which brand should you choose?
Which will be the best fit for your new fitness club? Let’s look at four of the biggest players in the market.
With a great reputation in the UK, the USA, their native Italy and around the world, Technogym is one of the leading names in connected and commercial gym equipment.
You’ll find a wide variety of machines and exercise tools from Technogym. That includes cardio equipment like connected treadmills, bikes and ellipticals. Plus foam rollers, loop bands and dumbbells. Technogym’s gym equipment is cutting edge, and they’ll work with you to create a tailored offering for your club.
Xplor Gym software is integrated with Technogym. The integration provides a single app which can be adapted to the services your fitness facility offers. This helps you create and deliver an enhanced member experience.
Plus, you can automatically set compatible Technogym equipment for your training programmes and membership tiers – controlled by scanning a QR code on the equipment screen. Read more.
EGYM supports over 15,000 clubs worldwide with quality commercial gym equipment.
They offer a wide range of smart workout machines. Including some refurbished models that’ll help you keep your initial costs down if you’re open to taking advantage of pre-used gym equipment.
3. Life Fitness
Life Fitness pride themselves on simple, elegant, usable equipment.
Widely used in hotels and health clubs, Life Fitness’ range of cardio, strength and resistance equipment will tick off every single item on your gym equipment essentials list. Like Technogym and EGYM, they’re also available to help you plan, design and layout your gym or exercise space.
Functional training. That’s Raze’s speciality.
High impact cardio. Hard-wearing bars and plates. Functional, efficient rigs. And of course, full racks designed to offer everything serious strength trainers are looking for. If that sounds like your audience, take a look at the Raze range.
Other commercial gym equipment brands to consider include:
- Hammer Strength
- Matrix Fitness
Which commercial gym equipment supplier should you choose?
A key consideration will always be your budget. But that’s only one consideration.
Before settling on a gym equipment supplier, you’ll need to do three things:
- Create a clear floor plan of your new gym or fitness club to work out how much equipment you’ll comfortably be able to have in use at any one time.
- Set a timeframe for when you’ll need your new gym equipment in place and ready for members to use.
- Create a set equipment budget.
Steps one and two will depend entirely on your own circumstances. So, you’ll need to use your own judgement there.
Also, think about the type of facility you are running and your target members.
If you are primarily a strength training gym, you’ll want an impressive variety of free weights and machines. If you want to focus on functional fitness, you’ll need equipment that lets your members move in a similar manner to everyday life. If you are targeting older members, you’ll want plenty of low impact options.
And when it comes to step three, setting that budget, there’s some advice we can give you when it comes to costs.
The cost of gym equipment
When you’re setting up a new gym, there’s a lot of expense to consider.
You need a premises budget, because you can’t have a fitness club without somewhere for members to visit. You need a staff budget because it’s practically impossible to look after all your members yourself. Marketing goes without saying. Without a marketing budget, you’ll struggle to attract new members
Plus, there’s your gym software cost to budget for. Because investing in the right gym management software can help to keep other running costs to a minimum. And make the most of your equipment investment.
With so much to consider, you need to understand how much you can afford to set aside to cover the cost of commercial gym equipment. Equipment is an essential investment whether you buy, lease, or a mix of both.
Setting your first budget
Before you can set aside the budget to get the types of commercial gym equipment you need, there are two things to work out.
- How much money you’ve got to work with
- How much of that is available for equipment
Knowing how much money you have comes down to how much funding you have to begin with. How many members you expect to have. And what your gym pricing strategy is for those members.
If you expect to have 1,000 members in year one, each paying £50 per month, then you can expect to bring in £50,000 per month. That’s a cool £600,000 per year.
Take off the amount you’re expecting to spend on wages, taxes, rent and consumables. Add on any remaining funds you have. And that’s the absolute maximum you can afford to spend on gym equipment.
However, spending the absolute maximum you can, isn’t always a wise idea. What if membership numbers don’t grow as fast as you’d hoped? What if there’s an unexpected expense?
When setting your first gym equipment budget, always leave some money aside in case of emergencies.
And always look for the most cost-efficient ways to source your new equipment from your preferred manufacturer. Instead of buying outright, you might want to consider leasing.
Buying vs leasing – How should you kit out your gym?
With your budget in hand, you’ll probably be aware that you have important choices to make. You need many of the items on your essential gym equipment list, they’re essential after all, but they’ll represent a huge outlay.
One that may need to be funded with a loan, higher membership fees, or even by cutting into potential profits for that crucial first year.
Or you could spread the costs. You’d still have the equipment your gym needs. And instead of paying for everything up front, you’ll pay over a longer period.
It’s a tough question for any business. Do you buy, or do you lease?
The case for buying
- Buying is usually cheaper overall. Leasing works by charging more in total – with small instalments paid regularly
- As the full owner of your gym equipment, you’re free to sell it on at any time and replace it with newer, cutting-edge equipment
- You have no ongoing costs (beyond maintenance). Once the purchases have been paid for, you don’t need a huge gym equipment budget. Because you’ll be adding machines here and there, or replacing the odd older, damaged machine
It seems attractive. Buying is cheaper overall, gives you more control, and reduces ongoing costs to zero in some cases. So, why do many gyms still choose to lease their equipment?
The case for leasing
- Initial costs are lower, and that’s key for a new gym. You can have the equipment on your essentials list, on opening day, for a much smaller initial outlay with a gym equipment lease programme
- Unlike purchasing outright, leasing shouldn’t take away too much money from your marketing and operations budgets, leaving you with more left over to fund your growth
- Many leasing contracts allow you to replace broken machines or upgrade older ones for a set fee, meaning you can always offer the very best gym equipment to your members
So, how should you kit out your gym – buying or leasing?
Both have their pros and cons. And the one that works for you is likely to depend on your budget, forecasts, and financial situation.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to buy everything or lease everything.
Look at some of the items on the essentials list. Compare a recumbent bike to a dumbbell.
The bike has lots of moving parts. It’s got a seat that can degrade over time with use. It’s got wheels that’ll need maintaining. And a smart system that might become obsolete as technology moves on. There’s a lot to maintain.
Buy the recumbent bike, and you’re going to need to think about how to cover all those costs. Lease it, and you might be able to negotiate a maintenance or repair contract. The manufacturer will protect you from those running costs.
In that case, leasing makes perfect sense, even with higher overall costs. What about a dumbbell?
A dumbbell can’t break down. It’s a solid piece of metal. Zero moving parts. It can be maintained with a regular wipe down. And it’d take some serious strength to deliberately damage one, let alone break it accidentally.
Paying for a maintenance contract on a dumbbell doesn’t make sense. Because it’s so robust, so hard-wearing, it makes perfect sense to just buy it outright. A well-made dumbbell will be with your gym for years – decades even – so why should you still be paying for it in 2030?
The wrap up…
The fitness industry is competitive. Members have never had as much choice as they do now. So, it’s absolutely crucial to offer them the gym equipment they want to see.
Our essential commercial gym equipment list is here to give you inspiration for the key pieces of kit you should consider investing in. Exactly which equipment you choose and in what ratios will depend on your business proposition.
There are many gym equipment suppliers out there. Consider which of them offers the right equipment for your new gym or fitness club.
Think about your leasing options for the types of machines it makes sense to lease. So, you can free up more of your budget to buy the kind of equipment that it makes sense to buy.
And always look for ways to offer more to your members. A better experience, that takes advantage of technology to keep members coming back for longer.
Get the fuel to go further. Request a demo to see the value that Xplor Gym can bring to your fitness business.
Article by Xplor Gym
First published: 05 May 2023
Last updated: 02 February 2024