The Top Ten Pieces of Equipment Needed to Start a Gym | Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

The Top Ten Pieces of Equipment Needed to Start a Gym

If you’re curious about the equipment needed to start a gym, look no further. We have compiled a gym equipment list that highlights the best fitness equipment pieces to help make your gym successful. The gym equipment on this list will help your members succeed and that will help your business generate a steady flow of income. Keep reading to find out the details.

Dan Chojnacki is a writer for and a personal trainer in Green Bay, WI. In his free time away from work, Dan stays busy in a variety of different ways. He is a runner, tennis player, youth softball coach, home beer brewer, and saxophone player. Dan is also a fan of all things having to do with Wisconsin sports including Brewers baseball, Bucks basketball, all Wisconsin Badgers sports, ...

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UPDATED: Feb 5, 2021

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Get the Basics...

  • The right equipment provides a better experience for your members
  • Your business will turn a better profit if members are satisfied
  • Fitness Business Management Software to run your business is an equally important piece of equipment

Starting a fitness business is an exciting endeavor. There is the prospect of being your own boss, helping other people, and earning income by doing something you love. None of this is possible, however, unless your gym is a success. Building a fitness business that brings members through your doors and helps you turn a profit comes down to providing services and experiences that people want to pay for. A big part of this is your choice of equipment.

You might be asking yourself how to choose the equipment needed to start a gym. The answer to that question varies by the type of facility you want to open and the popularity of certain types of exercise in your area. Researching your competitors is an important way to begin collecting information and starting a gym equipment list. Surveying friends, family, and even potential members through social media is also a great way to begin grasping the concept of what people would pay for.

Even though some specific pieces of fitness instruments might vary, depending on certain factors, there are staple pieces of equipment needed to start a gym. We’d like to help give you ideas about some items that are both commonly used in many gyms and will help your individual business to be successful. Here is our list of the top ten pieces of equipment needed to start a gym.

If you want to find out how can help you put your equipment list to use, request a demo of our software.

How to Start Your Own Gym

Many factors go into starting your own gym or fitness business. Insurance, legal matters, staffing, and budgeting aside, one of the more exciting aspects of building out your gym is filling it with useful equipment. Over time, you’ll want to add some of the more complex pieces of commercial gym equipment; but, for now, there are a few basic items that can go a long way and can help you get started. Use this guide as your own fitness center equipment checklist.

Once you’ve checked everything off of this gym equipment checklist, consider asking your clients or members what additional pieces of equipment they’d love to use in your gym. Then, work towards making that wish a reality.

The Basic Gym Equipment Checklist

#1 – Free Weights

When you consider which equipment to bring into your gym, you want to think about the expectations your potential members will have. Nearly every fitness facility has some sort of free-weight element whether it is made up of dumbbells, barbells, or kettlebells. These items offer versatility because they can be used by everyone, in some form, and for a variety of different goals.

Free weights can be used for strength training, but they can also be used for plyometrics, core work, and interval training. The wide range of options gives a broad appeal to an equally wide range of people. Future members will walk into your facility, see the free weight section, and feel confident knowing they will be able to meet the needs of their workout.

#2 – Cardio Equipment

In the same way that free weights are a normal item, gyms are expected to have various machines that can be used to complete cardio workouts. Treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes are cornerstone pieces of equipment that people expect to see when touring your facility and deciding whether or not to join. Cardio machines are used by people of all fitness levels with different goals.

It is nice for members to be able to feel like they understand how to use a piece of equipment or get a great workout without someone else’s help. There are certain people, of course, that will want to hire a trainer or have an orientation on various pieces of equipment, but a large number want to walk in and get going on their own. Cardio equipment is a great starting point.

#3 – Rowing Machines

Rowing machines could very easily fall into the category of cardio equipment, however, they are not as common as treadmills, bikes, or ellipticals so they deserve their own category. Also, rowers have become an integral part of other kinds of programming in many gyms, such as boot camps or small group training classes. These extra uses add a feel of exclusivity to your facility which means you can also charge extra for those services.

One of the major benefits of rowing is that it has been shown to work over 80 percent of the muscles in the human body and that is something your gym can market. Whether you choose to keep rowing machines out on the floor for anyone to use or you decide to keep them as a part of paid programming options, this is a piece of equipment that will draw members into your facility.

#4 – Stability Balls

Also knows as Swiss balls, pilates balls, or exercise balls, this is a piece of equipment that has been around for ages but is still getting the job done. People love to use stability balls to work on, well, stability. From core movements to assisted squats to hamstring curls, every movement will challenge the participant’s strength and balance. There are even plenty of ways to use a ball for stretching or mobility movements.

Stability balls are also often used in group fitness classes. If you are considering offering group workouts in your facility, stability balls offer an inexpensive way to add variety to the workouts. They are easy to work with and give instructors a lot of options when planning a group fitness class. One thing you will want to make sure of, however, is that you have a place to store the stability balls, especially if you plan to purchase a large number.

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Management software should be on your gym equipment list.


#5 – Medicine Balls

Different ball, different purpose. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts everywhere call for medicine ball movements as a regular part of most routines. They are often used with explosive exercises such as slams on the ground, rotational slams against a wall, and wall balls (a deep squat where the participant throws the ball high against the wall when returning to a standing position).

Even though HIIT workouts are an ideal place to use a medicine ball, it doesn’t mean they can’t be used in other workouts for other purposes. Dozens, if not hundreds, of different core exercises can be performed with a medicine ball. They can also be used to add a stability challenge to common exercises, like push-ups, by placing your hands or feet on the ball while performing the move. Medicine balls offer versatility and can be used by everyone in your gym.

#6 – Battle Ropes

There are certain pieces of equipment that people enjoy using for no other reason than it makes them feel powerful. Battle ropes fall into this category. From athletes to average Joes and Janes, slamming a battle rope provides intensity and grit that is matched by few other items in the gym. People love feeling like they are overcoming a challenge and working hard while doing it, and battle ropes are a perfect tool to make that happen.

Battle ropes also offer options because you can use them for different purposes. There are variations of slams, burpees, jumping jacks, and even Russian twists that can all be performed with the ropes. They are also great for use in boot camp workouts, so there is a draw for both individual and group exercise participants.

#7 – Suspension Trainers

Combining strength, core work, and endurance can easily be done during the course of an entire workout but it usually takes more than one piece of equipment. Suspension trainers, like a TRX, throw that theory right out of the window. You can use a suspension trainer to work nearly every muscle in the human body, and the instability of the straps gives the core muscles a constant challenge.

When it comes to your business, you can use suspension trainers in several different ways. You can run specific classes for them, utilize them in only personal training sessions, or simply keep them out for any member to use. Having options gives your business the flexibility to meet the needs of your members. The people in your gym will love the results they get from a suspension trainer and you will love the result of keeping their business.

#8 – Resistance Bands

When it comes to easy-to-use equipment that has a variety of uses, it is hard to beat a resistance band. They can be used for muscle and joint activation, as well as part of a regular workout. Resistance bands are commonly used for internal and external rotation movements as part of a warm-up for the shoulders or for opening the chest with pull-apart movements. These movements are easy to perform and can be made easier or harder by using bands of different tension levels.

Resistance bands are also a great start for people who want to begin resistance training but feel uneasy diving right into free weights. Bands are easier to maneuver and are less intimidating to most people but they still put tension into the muscles during an exercise movement. The result is an increase in strength, just like with free weights, and a better level of comfort for certain groups of your members.

#9 – Mats

If members do not want to use the free weight or cardio sections of your gym, they are likely going to want to set up a more individual space for themselves. Many of these people will alternate between standing movements and floor work, so having a cushion to sit or kneel on is important. Providing your members will quality mats will allow them to create a space they feel comfortable in that also meets the needs of their workout.

Mats are also very common in group fitness classes for the same reasons as individual workouts. There is often a fair amount of core work in group fitness, which is performed in a seated, kneeling, or lying down position. Mats are essential if you plan to offer group exercise classes, but they are just as essential if you simply plan to make them available for general use by your members.

#10 – Gym Management Software

This one might seem like a bit of a wild card because it cannot be physically touched by the members of your gym, but it is vital to the success of your business and the overall experience of your members. When you have fitness business software that helps run your business smoothly and efficiently, you can spend time on other aspects of your business. These other areas may include communicating with your clients, running workout challenges, or planning workouts to add value for your members. takes gym management software to the next level by doing more than running your business at the highest level possible. The software platform also helps you to deliver quality in the other areas of your business that you want to put time into, such as the communication, workout challenges, and workout planning that were mentioned above.

At, we combine business efficiency with member experience to deliver a product that is unmatched by our competitors. The quality we deliver to our customers is the same quality we will help your business provide for your members. When your business has the right systems, equipment, and quality in place, it is destined for success.

Opening Your New Gym

Now that you have your list of equipment needed to start a gym, you are well on your way to having a successful fitness business. Equipment is not the only step, but it is an important one. The pieces you choose to include in your facility should draw members in, meet the needs of their workouts, and provide a spark for new ideas and motivation.

You also want to make sure you aren’t sinking money into equipment that will never be used. This is not beneficial to your members and it certainly is not beneficial to the bottom line of your business. There are pieces of fitness equipment that require a significant monetary investment, like free weights or cardio machines, because they will be used often and that makes them worth the cost. Other pieces of equipment like bands and stability balls, however, are inexpensive but also frequently used, so you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Check out our article, “Should My Gym Lease or Purchase New Equipment,” to help you determine whether a specific piece is worth the lofty price tag.

Once your gym equipment list is finalized and you are ready to start signing people to membership agreements, consider using the software platform to help manage your business. Whether your membership base is big or small, we can help you manage it in an efficient way that will leave you more time to build relationships with the people who make your facility great. Going the extra mile to connect with your members is the best tool for retention and the longevity of your business.

If you’re ready to put your equipment to use and start bringing in members, find out how the software platform can help you. Request a demo today.

Learn more about Fitness Business Management Software.

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