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Starting a Gym: How to Determine How Much Equipment You Need

Posted by Dave Johnson on Jan 4, 2017 2:05:07 PM

Screenshot of gym- credit: chicago marriot

Starting a gym is exciting but before you start planning your grand opening, there's a lot you need to consider. It's easy to fast-forward past all the logistics and visualize a space full of fit and happy clients. But before your first members ever set foot into your space, there’s some legwork you need to do to ensure that your gym will operate as successfully as possible. And one of the most important things you need to consider is exactly how much equipment you'll need to satisfy demand while keeping costs as low as possible.

Here are our best tips for determining how much equipment to purchase along with what kind. With some thoughtful planning before your launch, your patrons will have all they need for a great workout, every time! 

When you think of the minimum amount of equipment a gym should have, picture your typical hotel gym. Hotel gyms usually have a small set of dumbbells on a rack in front of a mirror, one or two adjustable benches, a few pieces of cardio equipment, and maybe a versatile cable machine. While these pieces form a solid baseline for planning your equipment purchases, we can get a little more granular than that by learning from others’ experiences.

The 2015 IHRSA Health Club Equipment Report, which polled 437 fitness facilities, cited that 20.1% of facility space tends to be used for cardiovascular equipment, 15.7% for strength equipment, 12.1% for group exercise, and 8.2% for functional training.

Before you run with these percentages, though, you need to consider what kind of operation your gym will be. For example, if you’re opening a franchise, your company may dictate the equipment you’ll need, or if you’re a functional training gym, you’ll probably want more strength equipment than cardio equipment. If you’re offering group fitness classes, you’ll need to incorporate large, open classroom space (and the accompanying mats, steps, TRX equipment, etc., that correspond to the classes).

Once you’ve determined the ratio of strength, cardio, and group space that fits your needs, you’ll need to drill down and focus on how many units you can fit on the floor. While it’s fairly straightforward to measure how much space is needed for free weights and cardio equipment, it can be trickier to plan around plate-loaded and resistance equipment. For these kinds of equipment, you have a few things to consider: the footprint size of each machine, whether a machine takes up additional space when in use, and the amount of open floor space there needs to be between adjacent machines.

Luckily, many gym equipment companies provide free online room planning tools that take the guesswork out of what you can fit into your space. Simply enter the dimensions of the space you’re looking to outfit and then drag equipment – pictured to scale – into the digital space. The one drawback of tools like these is that they’re specific to the sizing of each brand’s equipment, so if you were planning on using pieces from multiple brands in your space, this may not work well for you. 

If the thought of floor planning still stresses you out, don’t worry – you don’t have to go it alone. Some companies offer equipment packages based on the size of your space or number of patrons, and other companies will plan your space for you if you provide them with some basic information, including dimensions and photos.

So, to set your gym up for success, spend time before you open to thoughtfully plan how you’ll use your space. Carefully consider what kinds of customers you want to attract and purchase the equipment that those individuals would want to use. Then, measure carefully or use online floor planning tools to make sure your equipment will fit in your space before you click “buy”. And finally, if this all sounds like too much of a headache, you can always hire an expert gym floor planner to help you design a space that has a natural flow and isn’t crowded.  

[eBook] The ECOFIT Guide to Maximizing Profit of Your Health Club Floor Space


When you're trying to run a profitable health club, every inch matters. That's why undetstanding how to calculate the profitability of your floor space is essential for today's health and fitness club operator. 

  • A step-by-step plan for calculated floor profit
  • How to determine profitability by programming type
  • The secret to making smarter equipment decisions

Download for Free

[eBook] The ECOFIT Guide to Maximizing Profit of Your Health Club Floor Space

When you're trying to run a profitable health club, every inch matters. That's why understanding how to calculate the profitability of your floor space is essential for today's health and fitness club operator.

  • A step-by-step plan for calculating floor profit
  • How to determine profitability by programming type
  • The secret to making smarter equipment buying decisions

  Download for Free

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