Strength Equipment

How to choose the right gym equipment

17 Sep 2019 – written by Craig Goodwin

A thought process that increases member happiness whilst staying within budget

Picking the right equipment for your facility should be an exciting process, especially if you’re not quite sure what it is you need, figuring out the right equipment for your clients and your space should be approached with an open mind a creative thought process and overall excitable energy.

The process involves asking the right questions as every piece, every purchase, every kettlebell, every bar collar is an investment that should play its part in the overall feel of your facility.

There are plenty of guides throughout the internet which can explain what bars to buy what squat racks to buy and what weight plates to buy, but we thought we’d cover the thought process you should master before jumping in and making purchases.

The Market

It’s important to understand your market otherwise you may be on the road to creating a facility not fit for purpose, for example, if you are looking to attract Olympic weightlifters then you’re going to want quality plates and great bars. If you’re looking to attract powerlifters, then sturdy squat racks, and fit for purpose bars are going to be your top priority.

Any business that approaches investments with a customer-centric approach typically finds itself with a happier more satisfied customer base that will keep returning, so if you already have a facility or client base it is definitely worth asking your members what they would like to see in the place they train.

For a lot of members the gym they go to is their third-place, a place away from home and work, so creating an environment they enjoy coming to every day will see members happier with their choice of gym, which in turn will see them smashing their fitness goals and returning month after month.

The Space

Considering equipment fit for the space you have is extremely important, when you first set out to purchase equipment consider where it will fit in with your current or future layout, is it obstructing user flow by being in the way of other machines or will it divert traffic around the gym in an unfavorable way, or would it actually add to the experience of the surrounding stations, and will it add value to your members workouts.

Equipment jammed in close together can not only be frustrating for members but arguably dangerous as well so the space you have should always be one of the first considerations when purchasing equipment, we have made effort to show the overall footprint dimensions of our bigger items to help you do so.

Check out our Gym design tips to better see how you can consider your space.

The Budget

Budget is, of course, a top priority for most gym owners and so choosing the right equipment within budget and fit for purpose is of extreme importance. Read our guide on maximizing a budget, to find out how you can add more value for money with every purchase you make.

The Squat racks

Squat racks have fast become one of the most important pieces of equipment within a gym and because of this should be chosen carefully, there are several types of squat racks available each with pros and cons:

Squat stands

These are the smallest of squat racks and can be maneuvered effortlessly throughout the gym floor, they are great for shoulder presses, squats and more, but should be treated with care due to the lack of support they offer.

Half rack

A half rack is what we could call an optimal rack, it offers sturdy support, and can include extra attachments such as pull up bars, dipping handles and even landmine attachments. They offer all of the support you would theoretically need but in a relatively small footprint.

Power rack

A power rack is the biggest of the lot; it provides extreme stability with integrated safety arms, extra options for attachments and provides the lifter with a feeling of safety when attempting heavier uncertain lifts. The Legend Fitness power rack also provides space to lift outside of the rack, basically providing two squat racks in one. These guys come with a bigger footprint however so are usually reserved for the bigger facility, especially when multiples are being considered.

The Machines

Machines offer a more accommodating way to train with specific movement paths already provided for you, they allow for targeted muscle training and are perfect for the mindset of a beginner as they have a perceived level of safety around them. You must analyze your market before filling out an area with machines as if you have a member base that prefers more of a functional way to train then a clear, open space would gather a much higher return than multitudes of machines.

Pin select

Pin select machines are those where a pin is moved throughout a stack of weights to choose the level of resistance, these machines are great as they provide an easy user experience due to the non-manual nature of choosing the weight, but can come with a more labor intense maintenance routine.

Plate Loaded

Plate loaded machines off the same accommodated movement as pin select machines; however, the weight is controlled by weight plates which the user adds to the machine. These are a great alternative to pin select machines due to their lower maintenance demands, and they are also extremely popular among bodybuilders, however, they do need weight plates which are a separate purchase.

The Functional equipment

Functional training has taken a forefront in peoples training recently which has seen large gym chains opt to reduce machines and increase the functional training areas. This allows for creativity in training and an abundance of class-based exercise. When creating a functional area in your facility, space is key; users need enough space to move dynamically, exercises such as battle ropes and kettlebell swings tend to take up quite a large amount of space.

It’s a good idea to consider the flooring options in this space, some facilities choose to add markings on the floor to help guide users in their training, whilst other may couple this with a turf track to accommodate for sled pushes and pulls, again this decision should relay back to the thought process of asking what your members want and what kind of facility you are trying to create.

Just like most blog posts we will conclude with stating that every facility is and should be unique, exercise shouldn’t be solved with a one size fits all approach, listen to your members and they will reward you with loyalty.

We offer a no-commitment consultation service where you can tell us what you're planning and we can advise on the best way to move forward.