Whether you’re just beginning to build out your garage gym or adding that one final piece, you always want to find the best deal for a piece of equipment. The reason is pretty simple, gym equipment is expensive. From racks to dumbbells to floor mats, there is really no such thing as a ‘cheap’ piece of (quality) equipment.
That’s why knowing how to buy used gym equipment can come in really handy to add good pieces at more reasonable prices. If you buy a quality piece of equipment in good shape then it can last forever, so used equipment can still be a great long term investment.
However, if you’re not well versed in equipment, then it can be nerve racking and overwhelming knowing whether or not you’re making a good purchase.
Worry no more, I’m here to make buying used equipment easy. In this guide I’m going to discuss:
- The Best Places to Find Used Gym Equipment
- How to Spot Quality Pieces of Equipment
- How to Determine if the Equipment is in Good Shape
- What’s a Good Price For Used Equipment
Once you’re done with guide, you’ll be able to buy used gym equipment with confidence. (You can also continue to use this guide as a reference on the fly!)
The Best Places to Find Used Gym Equipment
The first step to buying used gym equipment is knowing where to look. Here are a few of my favorites:
Estate Sales are my absolute favorite place to find gym pieces. Recently, I’ve bought everything from Dumbbells to an Inversion Table at estate sales.
Here is why I like estate sales so much. When my wife and I go to estate sales, we’re going to pretty affluent neighborhoods and it’s common for us to be walking through million dollar plus houses. The owners of these home gyms are only buying nice pieces. You’re not likely to find equipment from Wal-Mart in a million-dollar home.
On top of finding nice equipment, many of these homes have fully furnished home gyms that look like they were rarely (or never) used. The Dumbbells I bought are in pristine condition (image at the top). The Inversion Table I got looks like it just came out of the box. You get the point.
Finally, the prices can be really good, especially if you catch an estate sale on the 2nd or 3rd day when prices can be up to 50% off. My Inversion Table is a $700 model that I was able to get for $100. I’ll take those kinds of deals any day.
Facebook Marketplace & Craigslist
The key to navigating these platforms is, one, checking often, and two, being able to spot and avoid the BS and find the real deals. Let me explain what I mean.
Along with people who are selling stuff on these platforms cause they’re clearing out their garages, you also have a lot of resellers that use these platforms as a side hustle business.
Nothing wrong with people reselling and making a few bucks, but if you want to find the best deals, you need to find the person that’s just getting rid of stuff they don’t want. This is where the deals are.
To find them though, you’ll need to check often without getting sucked into the rabbit hole and losing 10-15 minutes of your day each time. Do a quick two minute check a couple of times a day for any brand new listings and if there are not any, keep it moving. When you do find the thing you’re looking for, be decisive and go get it!
Used Equipment Warehouses
Used Equipment Warehouses can be a little harder to find, but if you happen to have one close to you they can be a great place to pick up used equipment.
These warehouses basically operate by buying out all the equipment from closing commercial gyms. They’re able to get equipment at a very low cost this way and then they turn around and sell pieces.
The best way to find them is to google ‘used gym equipment (insert your city)’ into Google and even Facebook. I happened to live close to a really good one when I lived in North Carolina and one of my barbells that I still have came from there.
Equipment Warehouses are especially good if you’re looking for a machine. Barbells and dumbbells go really fast, but if you’re looking for a hack squat machine or a lat pullover, they’re some of the best places to look.
How To Spot Quality Pieces of Equipment
Like most things, the easiest way to spot a quality piece of equipment is to become familiar with brand names. This is easier said than done because there are A LOT of companies that make gym equipment.
I told you I was going to help you out though, so I put together a cheat sheet starting with the most common names you may find and a little info on each. Listed in alphabetical order:
(Note: This is not an all-encompassing list of all companies, good or bad, just some brands that you’re most likely to see on the secondary market)
Common Gym Equipment Brand Names
BowFlex – Many probably still know them for their giant all-in-one home gym machines, but BowFlex now makes adjustable dumbbells, kettlebells, benches and cardio equipment. These are great pieces of home gym equipment if you can get your hands on them in good shape.
Cap Fitness – This is the most popular brand that you’ll find at big box stores like Wal-Mart, Target, etc. Quality is okay, but unless you’re getting a steal of a deal, chances are you can buy the same thing brand new from a store for not much more.
Gold’s Gym – This used to be the most popular big box store brand before Cap took over. You’ll still find Gold’s Gym in big box stores and you may find them quite a bit on secondhand markets from people who bought their stuff a few years back. Like Cap, the quality is ok, not great, and unless you’re getting a really good deal then you may be able to pick it up new for a similar price.
Rogue – This is the most popular brand among CrossFitters. They make great equipment (and almost anything and everything gym related), but CrossFit workouts can put a lot of wear and tear on equipment. If it’s in good shape and at a good price then go for it.
Titan – Lesser known brand that specializes in home gym equipment that is very similar in my opinion to Rogue. I’ve purchased from Titan several times and I’ve been happy with their equipment.
Here are some brands that make commercial-level equipment. These brands typically outfit collegiate weight rooms and fitness centers, but I come across them quite often at estate sales. If you come across these brands, know that they were NOT cheap when someone bought them.
- Cybex – Generally big strength machines and cardio
- Eleiko – High end bars and plates
- Hammer Strength – High end racks and strength equipment. Very popular brand with collegiate weight rooms.
- Life Fitness – Commercial grade racks and cardio
- NordicTrack – Generally high end cardio (although they also make lower cost models as well)
- Uesaka – High end bars and plates
- Sorinex – High end racks and strength equipment. Very popular brand with collegiate weight rooms.
How to Determine if the Equipment is in Good Shape?
This really isn’t as hard as some people try to make it out to be.
When it comes to equipment (barbells, dumbbells, racks, etc) the first thing you should look for is rust. Rust isn’t necessarily a total deal breaker, because it can be removed, but often rust will tell you how the equipment was taken care of overall. Pieces that have been left outside in humidity and not taken care of aren’t a great sign.
Next, check all welds, joints and connections. When iron equipment breaks, these are generally the spots.
Has something obviously been re-welded? I stay away. Are there chips and/or chunks that have broken away from these areas? I stay away. Cracks? I stay away.
Cardio equipment is a bit different.
There are lots of moving pieces that can wear out and break down and getting cardio equipment repaired, especially older pieces, can be a nightmare. The only saving grace with cardio equipment is that treadmills, ellipticals, etc that are 10+ years old, look like they are 10+ years old. It’s pretty easy to tell, but when in doubt with cardio, pass.
Honestly, I never thought I’d ever buy a piece of cardio equipment used until I came across a $1200 Cycle Ops Bike that looked like it had never been used for $200. So, I guess never say never.
What’s a Good Price for Used Equipment?
Ok. So you’ve found a good piece of equipment, now how do you know if you’re getting a good price?
The easiest thing to do is simply pull out your phone and google it. If you know the brand name and you know what the item is, just look it up. Sometimes this can get a little tricky if it’s a discontinued item, but for the most part, this usually will give you a solid place to start.
Pro Tip: Model numbers matter! The same brand most likely will have low end and high end versions of the same piece of equipment. Check the model number to know exactly what you’re getting.
Personally, what I look for in regards to price when I’m buying used equipment is I want to be able to buy for at least 50% less than I could buy it at retail. I will make exceptions if something is still in phenomenal shape and it’s a piece I really want, but that’s rare.
If you want a better idea of how much things cost full retail, I have done breakdowns on how much a squat rack costs and how much dumbbells cost. Both of those articles will make you an immediate expert in pricing those items.
Learning how to buy used gym equipment is a great way to add pieces to your garage gym without breaking the bank.
The best piece of advice I can give you is to have a game plan before you go looking. Know what you’re looking for and what kind of price you’re looking to pay. Then, stick to your plan. If something is not quite what you want, don’t make a purchase that you’re not going to be happy with within a week (or immediately) of getting it home.