Fitness Equipment for a Better Club or Studio

by Sandy Todd Webster on Feb 26, 2019

Update your gym or studio with these tried-and-true favorite fitness tools, as well as some emerging fitness equipment and technology.

Whether you’re the owner of a large gym, a small-studio entrepreneur, a mobile personal trainer, or a yoga or Pilates specialist, a basic tenet of keeping your edge sharp with clients is to shake things up frequently enough that they (and you!) don’t get bored. Certainly, that means changing your programming regularly, but it also means looking at your equipment with fresh eyes and considering some new tools for experimentation—all while being judicious about your budget.

Thinking of investing in a “workhorse” staple like an upright cycle or a new balance tool to challenge boomer clients who crave functional longevity? Get a running start here with our take on the tried-and-true favorites as well as emerging stars. With all the innovation in our vibrant industry, it’s impossible to give an exhaustive list of what’s available to you today, but we hope this starter revs up your imagination and inspires you—and your clients—to try something new this year.

A is for Assessment

BMI Calipers and Measuring Tape for Fitness Assessment

The foundation of your client relationships and of the accurate measure of progress over time is a thorough initial assessment. Carefully measuring baseline numbers for several health and fitness markers will give both you and your clients a means to track and evaluate your programs. How else can you really know they are working? Metrics are magic! Done right, assessment can serve as your best retention tool. After all, who doesn’t love to see progress, and who wouldn’t come back for more success?

TOOLS OF THE TRADE: skinfold calipers, tape measure, scale, food diaries/food-tracking apps, camera, sit-and-reach testers, postural assessment grid, heart rate monitor, training timer, pedometer, jump testers

NOTE: All of the major certifications have courses devoted to detailed training in this area.

B is for Balance, Body Weight, Bars

Body Weights and Balance

Quality movement is born of balance. Without a stable core and keen proprioception, movement becomes inefficient and can be plagued by compensations that evolve into injuries. There are countless balance tools to enhance clients’ overall fitness, as well as their joint stability, proprioception, strength, neuromuscular coordination, agility and quality of life over the long haul.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE: BOSU® Balance Trainers, stability balls, stability disks/pads, rockers, wobble boards, balance boards

For another “B,” don’t forget to use body weight for balance training (and pretty much everything else, too). Body-weight training in the presence of a sharp, creative coach means little to no equipment is necessary.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE: TRX® Suspension Trainer, Lebert Equalizer®, Halo® Trainer

The third “B”: Bars—not the kind you belly up to, but the type you “chin-up” and “pull-up” to—should be a staple in every club and studio. Old school rules!

C is for Core

Core Exercises

If we believed what consumer fitness magazine covers seem to be telling us, core would be 100% about six-pack training. But true pros know this barely scratches the surface. Yes, you can do abdominals-specific work as part of your core regimen, but don’t forget the many other muscles in the lumbo-hip complex whose combined function gives our total bodies power, strength, spinal stabilization and postural control. Core training is full-body movement.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE: ab roller, stability balls, bands, tubing, medicine balls, slam balls, Core-Tex®, ViPR PRO®

D is for Deceleration

Deceleration and Speed

Speed is the factor that separates the proverbial wheat from the chaff when it comes to elite versus average athletes. But sports don’t happen in a straight line. Cutting, faking, quick starts, stops and pivots—they all come before reacceleration. To help your athletes slow down with control, the key is to challenge them with an array of deceleration props and tools.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE: agility ladder, cones, hurdles, rings, bungie assemblies, stopwatch/timer, matrix-drill mats, chutes, weighted vests, reflex balls

E is for Explosive Training

Explosive Power, Training and Exercises

We usually associate development of explosive power with training athletes, but daily life demands quick bursts of power as well. Common explosive exercises—plyometrics, vertical jumps, power cleans, squats, weighted/dynamic step-ups, overhead walking lunges, uphill sprints—train large muscle groups with progressive load. Match specific training protocols to clients’ goals and get people moving in the patterns for which they will ultimately harness the power.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE: plyo boxes, bungie cord and belt combos, weighted vests, power sled, vertical jump trainers, chutes, resistance harnesses, slide boards, dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags

F is for Functional Longevity, Flooring, Floor Mats

Functional Longevity and Aging

Trends associated with the boomer generation in the world at large always happen in a big way, and it’s unfolding like this in fitness, too. Older adults want to be fit and enjoy their next chapter with gusto—and they are actively seeking guidance on how to do that. The opportunity to specialize as a functional longevity specialist is massive; are you ready?

TOOLS OF THE TRADE: low-impact resistance equipment, flexibility and mobility tools, hand/grip strength, balance (see B), resistance training, agility and reaction training, water fitness equipment

NOTE: Look to the major certification organizations for courses on specialty training of older adults.


For flooring, floor mats and G-Z equipment, see “Build a Better Club or Studio” in the online IDEA Library or in the February 2019 print edition of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.