Your Ultimate Guide to Buying Used Fitness Equipment

Ashton Ferrazzo November 14, 2021

Are you tired of overpaying for new fitness equipment, only to sell it a few months later because you lack the motivation to continue training?

It’s a vicious cycle that repeats itself every year for millions of New Year’s resolutioners.

Instead of paying enormous sums for brand new equipment, most people should be looking at the used fitness equipment market for value priced essentials.

Not convinced?

New fitness equipment prices can be astronomical. Look up a new Life Fitness treadmill, or new Hammer Strength piece, premium fitness equipment and you will see prices ranging in the $5000-$10,000+ for brand new equipment.

Most often, those same gym pieces can be purchased for a fraction used, as much as a 90% decrease in total cost.

The used home gym equipment market is quite reasonably priced, with excellent value to dollar ratio. But how do you go about finding high quality, value-priced equipment?

It seems like a pretty difficult process, constant searching, scrolling through different online marketplaces, trying to find the best equipment, but unsure of what brands are actually reliable, and potentially being ripped off by sellers charging too much.

So, what do you need to do to get a great deal?

Step 1 – Research Training Types

Research Training Types

You do not want to jump into the used fitness equipment market headlong without having an idea of the type of equipment you want for your home gym or training facility. You need to understand the method/type of training you want for health, longevity, strength, and endurance.

If you are into resistance training, a great place to start is with a barbell and free weights (such as Olympic plates, adjustable dumbbells, and kettlebells). This is my personal favorite.

If you prefer bodyweight exercises, bands, bosu balls, and steppers are a great way to increase resistance naturally without introducing heavy weights.

Choose the fitness equipment that is right for you. Make sure you set training goals and are choosing equipment that is versatile. Particularly if you have a small space to work with, you need to choose equipment that allows you to do several different workouts effectively with a single piece of used fitness equipment. Having a single-use machine or piece of equipment is great, but it takes up a lot of square footage, and will eventually be discarded in favor of more versatile equipment.

Adjustable Dumbbells
(Adjustable Dumbbells, Credit: Smrtfit)

Products like a squat rack, adjustable weight bench, barbell, grip plates, adjustable dumbbells, bands, and adjustable kettlebells all allow you to do multiple exercises with the same equipment, rather than switching constantly between equipment to complete a workout.

Single-use equipment like leg curls, leg presses, or chest press machines with weight stacks should generally be avoided unless you have a massive amount of space available. They take up a lot of room, are not very versatile, and unless you can find “combo” units (such as a leg extension/leg curl combo or a VERY heavy duty all-in-one unit), they usually aren’t worth it as your training needs will likely change over time.

Leg Press York Barbell
(Leg Press, Credit: York Barbell)

One note: I mentioned “all-in-one” units. HOWEVER, you ABSOLUTELY want to avoid “all-in-one” units that are made by brands like Weider, Gold’s Gym, Marcy, Fitness Gear, etc. (see image below) that are made exclusively for home use, and are built from flimsy materials. All-in-one units can be extremely effective as long as the weight stacks or loading pins can accommodate enough resistance for your training needs. However, you need to be extremely careful that you are choosing a heavy duty, preferably commercial-grade unit that can stand the test of time, and does many things well.

all in one workout machine
(Flimsy All-In-One Unit, Credit: Marcy)

Do your research on a training method. Don’t get stuck with equipment that you won’t use. Buy wisely, and buy once.

Step 2 – Research Brands

Research Brands

Now that you have located where to purchase used fitness equipment, let’s get into the meat of this article. 

How do you go about choosing high quality gym equipment?

Start by making a list of reputable brands, and do some research to narrow your search to those manufacturers who are making excellent products.

There are value-brands, high-end brands, and mid-tier brands, all competing for your buying dollars.

For the purposes of this article, we will assume you are looking for home gym equipment for resistance training.

Here are a few high-quality brand names to consider:

  • Rep Fitness
  • Titan Fitness
  • Hammer Strength
  • Life Fitness
  • Precor
  • Hammer Clad
  • Body Solid
  • Powerblock

These brands should generally last longer than normal residential grade brands (there are exceptions), and can often be found at a steal compared to retail prices. Rogue is not mentioned here as their resale value is generally high compared to retail.

GENERALLY avoid brands like:

  • Weider
  • Cap Strength
  • Gold’s Gym
  • Marcy
  • Fitness Gear

These brands are not known for making high-quality home gym equipment, and are made of thinner and lower-grade materials, including aluminum and low gauge steel.

As with all brands, there are exceptions to this rule, so do your research when purchasing! These

Other higher-end brand names are sometimes available used (Sorinex, Kabuki, Eleiko), but are normally quite expensive, even on the used marketplace. Feel free to research other brand names and products, but the above brand names should give you a good sense of what’s available.

Eleiko Bumper Plate
(Eleiko Bumper Plate, Credit: Eleiko)

When does brand name not matter?

Generally, you can throw brand names out the window when purchasing:

  • Rubber coated hex dumbbells
  • Cast iron olympic weight plates
  • Cast iron kettlebells
  • Accessories such as barbell clamps, ab straps, and/or lifting gloves

Most of these products are manufactured in the same facilities overseas in China and are all about the same quality of material. This is not to say that the quality is sub-bar compared to other fitness equipment. There are plenty of companies who do an excellent job with quality control when importing from overseas.

Rubber Hex Dumbbells
(Rubber Hex Dumbbells, Credit: Amazon)

Just keep in mind that when a salesperson is trying to sell you on the quality or brand differences of one of these particular items, generally speaking there is no quality difference among these pieces. It is simply a different brand stamped on the equipment which makes the “perceived value” of the product increase the total price.

Rogue does an incredible job of this, where an identical product with the name “Rogue” on it may sell for 2-3 times the price, due to brand capital, yet the item may be manufactured in the same facility as every other product on the market.

Step 3 – Find a Marketplace

Find a Marketplace

Locate a reputable source for used gym equipment. There are tons of used fitness equipment stores in most major cities. However, online marketplaces can sometimes provide even more value. Choose the one that works best for you.

The benefit of a physical brick-and-mortar store location is that you can test and feel the equipment prior to purchase. A lot of stores will let you use the equipment, so you can determine quality and whether the functionality will work for your training needs. The key to buying used fitness equipment for a home gym is finding high quality, versatile equipment, that will last for years.

Avoid physical locations that are selling new equipment, like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, or Sport’s Authority. These locations are generally overpriced, have low quality fitness equipment, and do not have any used pieces for sale at a discount. Of course, as with any store, there are exceptions.

So where to go?

Here are a few options:

Once you have located a reputable online or local marketplace/store to purchase used fitness equipment, take your time and browse around to see what kinds of fitness equipment are offered.

Take the list of brands that you looked at, and the type of fitness equipment you researched, and bring that list with you when shopping.

A lot of marketplaces allow you to set up search alerts so that when something pops up as available in your area, you will be alerted to the posting or product availability immediately via email, text, or phone notification. Take advantage of these notifications to get great deals! No need to continuously browse these websites. Most of us don’t have that kind of time!

Use equipment through facebook
(Credit: Facebook App)

If you do, however, find yourself browsing constantly, note that Friday evening until Sunday evening are some of the best times to find good deals, as people are off on these days, and will post multiple listings to get rid of equipment on hand.

If you are trying to get the absolute best deal on fitness equipment, you CAN constantly search and refresh online marketplaces like Facebook marketplace, and occasionally find steals from listings that are only a few minutes old. In some cases, these listings are only up for 30 minutes before the listing is deleted, since the item will sell quickly. 

If you want to go this route, feel free! There are some awesome deals to be had!

Step 4 – Negotiate

Negotiate

The best part about used gym equipment is that you can always negotiate the final price with the seller. The worst thing that can happen is that they say “no”, which just means you can move on and find another piece of fitness equipment.

This holds true both for physical used gym equipment retail sellers, as well as online marketplaces like Facebook and Craigslist.

Never Offer “Asking Price”

There is a fine line between “low balling” someone and negotiating a lower price. Be courteous with your offers, but don’t be afraid to offer less than what is being asked.

Sometimes you can get away with offering half of the listed price, particularly if the item has been available for weeks or months.

Sometimes you can offer to trade something that you have for the item, particularly if you already have fitness equipment that you are not using, or have something the seller needs to add to their home gym or fitness collection.

In all cases, patience is key, so wait until you find something you like, and negotiate with multiple sellers along the way.

BE POLITE!

You will catch more flies with honey. 

Some buyers are extremely negative and sour during negotiations. A little kindness goes a long way when negotiating with a seller, as they may have multiple buyers vying for the same item. Your attitude can stand out in a sea of rude and unpleasant people.

Buy the Item!

Once you have agreed to a price, the last step is to pick up the equipment, put it in your home gym, and get to work! Make sure that you ALWAYS follow through on your commitment to purchase the item, unless you need to go see the item in person first, in which case, be prompt about going to see it!

There are a lot of sellers who have been “ghosted” by interested buyers, who commit to pick up something and never show up. Don’t be that buyer! Show some respect for the seller by following through on your promise to pay. If you cannot make the purchase, inform the seller that you need to back out, and apologize for not being able to complete the sale. This is just common courtesy.

A Note About Item Condition

There is an exception to what I just stated above about following through on your commitment. 

If you arrive, and the item is not in the condition that was described or shown in the photos, or if the buyer was (intentionally or unintentionally) hiding some aspect of the item, then you have every right to either abandon the purchase, or negotiate a lower price on arrival based on condition.

Do not abuse this.

Some people will arrive, the item is in the exact condition described and shown, and people will lie, manipulate, or go back on their original commitment to purchase and start offering a lower purchase price to the seller. This is a waste of your time and the seller’s time.

If you think the item might not be as described, ask to see the item first. Don’t make a commitment to purchase until you have looked over the item.

Congratulations! You’ve taken the first important steps to building your home gym, and starting a healthy habit which will last for years! The convenience, accessibility, and time savings you are creating for yourself is something that keeps home gym enthusiasts motivated.

Ashton Ferrazzo

Ashton is a powerlifter, fitness equipment enthusiast, and home gym nut who enjoys writing about and educating his clients on the value of good gym equipment. Ashton also has a podcast (FreedomCast) dedicated to health and fitness education. He owns Freedom Fitness Equipment, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, a fitness retailer for new and used gym equipment.

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