With health and fitness at the top of the list of many American's values these days, it's no surprise that gym membership numbers have skyrocketed more than 33% since 2008.
It's good news all around. Really, it's a win/win for both gym goers and gym owners. Facility owners get money in the bank while members reap all the many benefits of an active lifestyle.
If you're thinking of cashing in on the action and opening your own gym, or even if you just want to kit out your home gym, keep reading to see what modern-day gym-goers expect with our thorough gym equipment list.
First and foremost, all gyms require good cardio equipment. Cardio is a key element to any workout, and no gym floor would be complete without the big four:
- Stationary bikes
- Rowing machine
Now, the size of your facility will dictate how many of each you can have. But nothing is more frustrating than dragging yourself to the gym only to find the equipment you want to use is occupied.
The most common of the three is the treadmill. Make sure to have a sufficient number of robust treadmills that are equipped with the ability to change the include and speed. You'll also want to make sure it has a good heart rate monitor.
Ellipticals are important to have, too, as some people need a more low-impact cardio workout due to injuries or bad knees. It's key to have both options.
Another great low-impact option is the stationary bike. If you have to choose between the elliptical or the stationary bike; our advice would be to go for the bike.
It's best to have both, but the bike gives a better workout overall.
Don't forget to add a couple of rowing machines to the list as well. Rowing machines offer a great total-body cardio workout that cannot be achieved from the treadmill, elliptical or bike.
Rowers are not only a great cardio/aerobic workout, but they also engage the legs, core, and upper body, too. No modern-day gym-goer would be happy to pay a monthly fee to a rower-less facility.
Strength Training Equipment
The other aspect of any good workout is strength training. You can do all the cardio you want, but you won't be seeing any real gains until you start lifting weights.
Trouble is, there are so many options. First, we'll go over the essentials. Then we'll discuss how you can go above and beyond.
First Things First: Free Weights
First and foremost, it's important to have a good dumbbell, barbell and kettlebell set. If you at least have these things, you can get away with calling yourself a gym.
Having a varied dumbbell set ranging from light to heavy will give your members the options to do many, many weight lifting exercises. But don't stop there.
Barbells are key as well for the more serious lifters. First of all, get a few good barbells. Then, splurge on a set of removable plates.
Of course, along with a barbell set is a bench press rack. Get a few of these, as well as adjustable benches.
The other essential free weight inventory you must have is kettlebells. Kettlebells can be used for a wide range of movements including swings, presses, and deadlifts. They can also be used for goblet squats and overhead lunges.
They are a favorite among modern-day gym-goers, so don't skimp out here.
Racks, Frames & Cable Machines
Once you've stocked up on free weights, the next things to invest in are pull-up frames and squat racks.
You can find combos that have both elements included to save money and space. Space for people to safely do pull-ups, chin-ups, and dips is essential.
These movements are key for good calisthenics (bodyweight) workout and require no more equipment than the rack itself.
Squat racks and cable machines are the next steps. Having a good squat rack helps people with their technique and eliminates the need to rely on a spotter. Smith machines are great, but a simple squat rack will do the trick.
Cable pulley machines are incredibly versatile and are definitely worth the investment due to the variety of movements they cater to. People can work their chest, biceps, triceps, and even legs all in one place.
At this point, you've already spent a fortune on equipment. But if you want to stay competitive, you'll have to have some weight machines on the floor.
More advanced trainers are happy to make do with free weights, but many still prefer to use machines. Especially for beginners, weight machines help with guidance and technique and can reduce the risk of injury.
There are hundreds of different weight machines, but start with these essentials:
- Horizontal leg press - this is a great option that many personal trainers start their clients on for a total lower body workout. It hits the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves all in one go.
- Lat pulldown - If you're not quite able to do a pullup, but you want to someday, the lat pulldown is a great step to get you there. It works for the biggest muscle group in the back and activates the entire posterior chain.
- Chest press - Another great machine for hitting multiple muscle groups, the chest press works the chest, biceps, and triceps. Arm day? Check.
If you have these three key machines, plus cable pulley machines, a pull-up frame, and a squat rack, your members will be happy.
There are a few other things you can add to your gym floor that are pretty affordable, and that people love to use:
- Exercise balls
- Yoga mats
- Ab rollers
- Resistance bands
Gym Equipment List: Bonus Material
Now you have an idea of the gym equipment list essentials. But to really set yourself apart, consider adding some battle ropes, TRX bands, sleds, hanging rings, and trap/hex bars to the equation.
And remember, you don't have to buy brand new equipment. Used and second-hand stuff is often just as good.
Ready to start shopping? Check out our gym packages to get yourself set up.