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Choosing Your ‘Other’ Fitness Equipment


Every health club that you enter has immediate similarities in cardio equipment. Each likely has a series of treadmills, indoor cycling bikes, recumbent bikes and ellipticals. From there, a health club owner will try and differentiate their club from others by choosing “other” or “niche” cardio equipment, such as stair climbers or rowers. In choosing this equipment, club owners will want to keep a few things in mind:

First of all, your constraints are both money and floor space. With that in mind, you will want to choose equipment:

1. That a majority of people can use.

2. That your trainers are interested in and can train people on.

3. That allows members to train different muscle groups.

4. That can be used at both high intensity and low intensity.

5. That is self-powered and does not need a wall plug so that you can move it around if you need to, without being tied to the wall.

6. That is safe and does not require constant supervision.

7. That can be used by both personal training clients and casual fitness users.

About two thirds of cardio users are female, so pay particular attention to the things that they like. Many women gravitate to things that develop their lower body (glutes, calves, quads) and do not require a lot of force to operate.

There are many choices in the market like stair climbers, rowers, rope climbers, ladder climbers, to name a few. But knowing your clientele is the key. Many clubs have reverted to a “club enhancement” fee where they use this money to purchase new equipment. Instead of choosing the equipment themselves, the club owner or manager will take a vote of their clientele. Be sure not to ask an open-ended question like, “What type of new equipment would you like to see in our club?” You will get many different answers and most will not take into account your constraints — especially money. Give them a multiple choice Q&A and then provide for a “write in” vote. As always, the goal is to walk away with happy and bragging customers.

At the end of the day, offering equipment other than traditional cardio pieces can be a great differentiator for your club. But don’t choose that “other” equipment lightly — do your research and find pieces that will complement your facility and please your members.


Bob Palka is the owner of Jacobs Ladder, LLC, the creator of the Jacobs Ladder and Stairway climbers. For more information, email bpalka@jacobsladderexercise.com or visit jacobsladderexercise.com.

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