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If you’re looking to set up a new gym one of your biggest investments is going to be in exercise equipment. With many brands out there you’ll be spoilt for choice, but your decision could have a significant impact as to the success of your gym. In fact, research indicates that the equipment you offer is a deciding factor for many people looking to sign up.
With that in mind, how do you go about choosing commercial fitness equipment?
In this article we’ll look at some key considerations to help you make the best choice for your new and existing members and we’ll briefly touch on some of the equipment brands currently available.
What Is Commercial Gym Equipment
Commercial gym equipment is equipment that is designed to withstand regular use by a wide range of people in a gym environment. This includes free weights, cardiovascular equipment, gym stations and resistance-based machines along with gym benches and racks.
Cardiovascular machines include items such as exercise bikes, treadmills and elliptical machines. This type of equipment can provide a low-impact way for your members to burn calories, strengthen their cardiovascular and respiratory systems and improve athletic performance.
Resistance Gym Machines
Resistance machines are available in two variations: plate loaded or selectorized. A plate loaded machine allows the user to increase the resistance by adding weight plates whereas a selectorized machine features a weight stack where the user would choose the desired weight load by way of a pin.
Functional fitness equipment tends to comprise items such as stability balls, pull up bars, plyo boxes and farmers walk handles. Larger items would be products such as cable machines. By it’s very definition functional training carries over to daily activities making them easier.
Gym stations are pieces of gym equipment that allow a user to perform body weight exercises or incorporate a free weight such as a barbell for added resistance. Equipment includes items such as a glute ham developer, prone row bench, leg raise machine and hyper extension bench.
There are a wide variety of gym benches available, and these include flat benches, adjustable benches, decline and incline bench press. Each tends to offer different features and adjustments with flat and adjustable benches being the most common in commercial gyms.
As with gym benches , racks come in many shapes and sizes and include full power racks (the largest and most diverse) through to a half rack or squat rack. Combination racks also fall under this category even though they are a dual purpose item designed for both bench pressing and squatting.
Commercial vs Home Gym Equipment
When compared to home gym equipment, commercial grade equipment will tend to be more heavy duty and high quality with the intention of lasting longer and being able to stand up to any abuse it may face by members.
Equipment for the home is really only suitable for light and sporadic use. Think about a busy gym, when one person is done using a machine, no sooner does someone else jump on. People also use equipment in very different ways, with some performing a few reps with a light weight and others loading on bumper plates which can put significant stress on a machine. Commercial equipment must be able to stand up to the wear and tear of continuous use, and sometimes with extreme weight loads.
How To Choose the Right Gym Equipment
To help you choose the right gym equipment you’ll firstly need to consider two things; the available space you have and the kind of gym you want to offer.
Once you’ve sorted out your premises, measure up properly and obtain dimensions of the equipment you plan on housing in your gym. You need to ensure it will all comfortably fit and allow for ample space for members to move around. Also, don’t forget to ask your chosen supplier how the equipment is shipped as you’ll need to factor in narrow doorways, staircases etc.
Next, consider what type of fitness enthusiasts you want to appeal too. If you like the idea of a gym with an emphasis on bodybuilding or powerlifting, you’ll need to offer plenty of strength training equipment and weight machines. Conversely, if you’re thinking along the lines of an indoor cycling studio then such equipment would be stationary bikes.
You’ll want to invest in high-quality gym equipment that can meet the demands of your members. You’ve heard the saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’, well this is very true. Quality can vary greatly between suppliers, and this be impacted by things such as materials used during manufacturing, attention to detail and quality control processes.
Many commercial gym owners don’t necessarily stick to purchasing from one brand. This is especially true if a supplier offers a particularly innovative and unique product, or they simply like to determine the differences between what the different top brands have to offer.
Just because two machines by two different brands may look similar at the outset, they could differ in several ways. Each of the points mentioned below are very likely to impact the final cost of the machine. If you’re researching new equipment, ask questions to be sure you are getting value for money.
Not only can the quality of the steel vary but also the thickness. A machine made with thicker steel will weigh more and be more heavy duty.
The upholstery pads on equipment is made up of wood/plastic, foam and vinyl. The densities of foam can vary, and a higher density foam will be much more supportive and it will last longer. The quality of vinyl is determined by the Martindale rub test which can showcase the durability of the vinyl. The higher the score, the stronger the vinyl.
Powder coating is a finish applied as a powder and then oven baked. It protects the steel underneath, and some equipment suppliers offer many different colours.
Whilst the process of powder coating remains the same, pre-treatments can differ. Some companies simply powder coat straight over the equipment whereas others shot blast equipment beforehand. Shot blasting removes contaminants and provides a smooth surface for the final coating. This means that the powder coating is much stronger and less susceptible to chips and other marks.
Consider any adjustments on a machine. For example, handles, back and footrests can sometimes be fixed whilst others allow for a variety of adjustments. Adjustments typically make a piece of gym equipment more accessible to more people.
This is an important consideration as all machines should hit the muscle groups they claim to engage. It’s not uncommon for designs to be copied by other suppliers but any deviations from original designs can impact how a machine functions and consequently how it works the muscles of the user.
Price isn’t always an indication of quality and paying more doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a better product or customer service experience. If something carries a premium price tag, be sure to find out why.
For example, let’s say you’re in the market for a new leg press, when mulling through the different types of machines online they can often appear the same but carry very different prices.
Consider things such as where the machine has been made, you’ll always pay more for a machine manufactured in the UK or US when compared to supplier who imports from countries such as China. This tends to be because costs in material and labour are vastly different.
Also take time to compare any distinct features such as adjustments and finishes. Let’s look at the leg press example again. If you compare a British made leg press with an adjustable back rest and nickel plated moving parts with a Chinese import with no adjustments made from thinner steel you can expect their prices to be quite different. But, you should also expect the quality to be different.
What Is The Best Commercial Gym Equipment?
When it comes to choosing the best equipment for your gym, the wide range of products and brands on offer can make it a little confusing. Once you’ve factored in the above points, you’ll want to look at what some brands have to offer as designs can differ making the decision somewhat subjective.
Below we’ve listed just some of the top-rated brands who supply commercial gym equipment.
- Life Fitness – An American company who supply both cardiovascular and strength equipment.
- Kustom Kit Gym Equipment – Custom gym equipment manufacturer exporting worldwide
- Elite FTS – Manufacturer and supplier of strength equipment in both the USA and UK.
- Matrix Fitness – Supplier of commercial and home fitness equipment.
- Star Trac – Supplier of cardiovascular equipment.
- Cybex International – An American manufacturer and supplier of strength and cardio equipment.
- Rogue Fitness – An American manufacturer and supplier of strength and conditioning equipment.
- Hammer Strength – Prior to being purchased by Life Fitness back in 1997, they were a manufacturer of plate loaded equipment.
It’s important to note that the above list is by no means exhaustive and there are many other brands who design and manufacture equipment, some of whom offer bespoke options and can even carry out custom designs.
The wide range of equipment on offer designed specifically for commercial applications can be daunting and choosing what’s best for your gym can take time.
Before considering reputable brands, decide on the kind of kit you want and do plenty of research. Remember to consider the needs of your members as you want them to be able to achieve their fitness goals with the right equipment.