As a fitness facility owner investing in commercial fitness equipment, you have many choices.
But there is one choice I recommend that should be avoided: purchasing used or refurbished commercial cardio equipment.
Why you should avoid buying used
There are several reasons why buying used commercial cardio equipment is not a good investment for a facility owner. The typical used piece of equipment coming out of a fitness center after 3 or more years of operation has been through major wear and tear. This can include punishment from members, general usage which entails anywhere from 10-12 hours per day (or longer), constant exposure to sweat and wet sneakers that have been in rain, snow, and salt (especially on the east coast).
When you purchase these used machines, they usually have been refurbished with after-market parts, not original parts from the manufacturer (which are considerably more expensive, but last much longer). As a buyer, were you made aware of what parts have actually been replaced?
It’s also possible that the equipment’s expensive parts — such as the motor, generator, and electronics — might be working well enough that they were not replaced before being sold to you, and then they end up crashing under your ownership. Unfortunately, used equipment usually comes with a very short, limited warranty from the seller. Not the manufacturer. Will the company you bought your equipment from still be in business when your treadmill motor blows out or your electronics short and you get hit with a large repair bill?
Being in the field for over 15 years as a commercial sales consultant, I have come across customers that have purchased refurbished equipment and their stories ranged from “an expensive learning experience” to “the machines went down and I couldn’t get the company that I bought them from to fix them.” Another common issue I hear about when people buy used equipment is that the frames rust. This leads to the question of whether the frames were re-painted correctly.
Why you should buy new
On the other hand, purchasing new commercial cardio equipment from a direct manufacturer has many benefits and no downsides. After all, the unit will be brand new!
It’s very likely that you’re purchasing equipment from a company that is very secure and stable — a company with a great reputation that has been around for many years. A new unit already carries a warranty and you have the opportunity to purchase an extended warranty. This means your investment is covered, provided you are maintaining it regularly and correctly.
The new unit you are purchasing is smooth, updated, and is the latest on the market. A fitness equipment company will typically provide support for your members and staff on proper usage. New equipment will give your business a jolt and offer the opportunity to market the new purchase to existing members and potential members.
You can typically call your direct rep for guidance on what equipment will work best for your facility. Direct manufacturers usually offer leasing programs that allow you to purchase the equipment with a low down payment and flexible programs.
Lastly, if you choose to upgrade to new cardio equipment after 3 years, you will get a good trade-in value depending on the manufacturer, piece, and condition. This dollar value can be put toward a new lease or direct purchase.
What experiences have you had buying used or new commercial fitness equipment? Let us know your preference in the comments.