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How to Source the Best Equipment Brands for Your Fitness Studio

By Andrea Isabelle Lucas

Whether you’re just launching a fitness business, or you’ve owned a studio for years, knowing the best gym equipment brands to source from will ensure your clients receive an optimal workout experience on the highest quality machines available. Your choices in equipment speak to your values as a business owner and a fitness professional—and it will show your clients what they can expect.

So, how should you choose the best gym equipment for your needs—and your clients? Read on to learn about the best gym equipment brands and explore the factors to consider before making your choice.

What kind of gym equipment does your business need?

It can be tempting to only purchase the very basics to get your clients started. But knowing what kind of fitness facility you want to become and what type of clientele you want to cater to can help you identify your equipment needs. If your focus is primarily group classes like yoga and high intensity interval training (HIIT), you may not need extensive equipment. Creating a full suite of cardio and weight opportunities, on the other hand, requires some serious consideration. Investing in the right equipment for your clientele can make a significant difference in creating the momentum you envision.

Once you have a clear vision for the type of equipment you want to source, it's time to vet your options by considering the following questions.

Will the brand back their warranty?

Having fancy equipment is only impressive when the equipment is working well. Malfunctions and breakages are somewhat inevitable, of course. Sourcing from a company that provides excellent warranty coverage and a clearly outlined policy for maintenance and support can make the difference between a chronic headache and a successful fitness business.

What additional services do they provide?

If you're building your gym from scratch or doing a complete overhaul of current equipment offerings, you could likely benefit from working with a full-service commercial gym equipment company. Representatives and staff will help you determine how to space your equipment, how many machines you can fit comfortably, what type of flooring your machines will require, and/or offer full delivery and installation services. These additional services can save you precious time and, in some cases, money.

What kind of discount or financing options are available?

Many business owners make the decision to either purchase refurbished equipment at a lower cost or to utilize a company's leasing program instead of purchasing. To determine whether you should buy or lease gym equipment, consider:

  • Do I want to test out this equipment for a while before I decide to make a purchase? Leasing can be a great way to determine whether a certain set of equipment is right for you.
  • Will I use it for years to come, or will I want to trade it for updated machines? Regular upgrades are often possible with leased equipment.
  • Will maintenance costs be significant if I purchase? Will a lease program provide regular maintenance and repairs?
  • Will I be able to sell my equipment back or resell it to offset the cost of upgrades? Certain companies offer a buy-back program when you're ready to swap out your equipment.

Some gym equipment distributors offer in-house financing options to help business owners make big purchases or provide discounted rates. Of course, equipment can also be a small business tax write-off, which can be a significant money saver in the first year of business!

Another resource is Mindbody Capital—which offers Mindbody customers a cash advance based on business performance that can help cover the cost of equipment for fitness studios. Mindbody Capital offers these advances with no minimum payment, no ongoing interest, and no collateral. Simply choose the estimated timeframe, and repayment will be based on 6-15% of daily payment processing transactions. The cash advance can be deposited as soon as the next day, giving you the freedom to use the money how you see fit!

Where can you find the best gym equipment brands?

Gym Source has been selling fitness equipment for 75 years, specializing in helping gyms build their equipment fleet from the ground up. If you're truly starting from scratch, Gym Source will help you plan everything from equipment spacing to electrical needs and even flooring. You won't necessarily find all of the latest trends in equipment here, but Gym Source can get you started with the basics.

Life Fitness is also a top brand in the fitness industry with 40 years of experience. They carry brands like Hammer Strength, Cybex, and ICG in addition to their own Life Fitness equipment. Life Fitness offers tiered maintenance options to reduce the wear and tear on your machines and has in-house credit options as well as a leasing program.

Johnson Fitness & Wellness offers more specialty brands like Matrix, SPRI, Water Rower, and TRX. They also offer Pilates Reformers and other highly specialized equipment, making them a go-to for gyms with very specific needs.

Which equipment should you not invest in?

Although it's good to stay abreast of current trends, the fitness industry has seen a lot of shifts over the last couple years, and there are undoubtedly more to come. Many have created home gyms or have found online classes they enjoy, so coming back to a gym or studio will need to offer something they can't get at home.

Before jumping on the latest water-rower trend or filling your walls with The Mirror, spend some time paying attention to what your clients use, what they request, and what other gyms and studios in your area are offering. Then prioritize investing in equipment.

Determining the best gym equipment brands for your business can feel a bit daunting. But with the right combination of buying and leasing, as well as a quality supplier, you can make smart business decisions to equip your fitness center well. That means happy clients, increased retention, and higher revenue. And that sounds like a successful small business investment!

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About the author:

Andrea Lucas headshot

Andrea Isabelle Lucas

Founder

Barre & Soul

Andrea Isabelle Lucas is a feminist author, speaker and entrepreneur. She's the founder of Barre & Soul, a barre and yoga studio with five locations in the Boston area. She believes that strong, passionate women will change the world and that if you want to achieve greatness, it's time to stop waiting for permission.

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