Setting Up Your Gym: What "Extras" Should You Provide?

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  • Setting Up Your Gym: What "Extras" Should You Provide?

If you are getting your gym ready for opening day, chances are you have already assembled a checklist of equipment you would like to stock. Barbells, dumbbells, benches, racks, cardio machines, and weight machines are all standard fare and will likely be the bread and butter equipment that most of your soon-to-be patrons use.

But, why stop there? It’s almost always a good idea to have additional workout options, peripheral supplies, and "extras." The more "complete" the user experience when working out at your gym, the more your patrons will feel like their membership is well worth the cost.

If you are looking to fill out your offerings with more variety and usefulness for the average gym member, consider stocking some of or all of the items on this list.

Resistance bands

Resistance bands can function as primary workout equipment or as supplements to an otherwise barbell-based or machine-based workout. Elderly exercisers, or those in rehab for a physical injury, appreciate that they can use bands in place of heavy barbells and dumbbells and decrease their risk of injury from dropping heavy equipment. Yoga practitioners often use bands to help with a variety of stretches during warm-ups and cool-downs. And, bands can be used to assist with pull-ups, chin-ups, and a few other strength-based exercises.

Make sure to stock a few bands of each resistance level, so your members can pick and choose without having to wait for someone else to finish a set.


Kettlebells are far more than the strange and obscure fad for which they sometimes carry a reputation. Many advanced fitness programs use kettlebells as the backbone of calorie-blasting metabolic workouts that improve cardiovascular fitness while they build muscle strength and explosive power.

Balance Balls

From ab crunches to balancing and core strength exercises, inflatable balance balls are a favorite for anyone trying to whittle their waists and build a strong, stable core. Balance balls often get a bad rap because they are large, unwieldy, and difficult for gyms to store safely; the last thing gym owners want is a bunch of trip hazards bouncing and rolling all over the floor. However, if you have the means to keep them up off the floor and out of the way when not in use, balance balls are great, inexpensive, and easy to maintain additions to your equipment stock.

Medicine Balls

In a similar fashion, weighted medicine balls bring a large value for exercisers looking for variety in their equipment, at a relatively low cost to you. Storage is again an issue, but medicine balls do not bounce or roll as far as balance balls when dropped, so they are easier to handle and store on racks or along walls safely.

Yoga Mats

Yoga mats might seem like a no-brainer to include on your list of workout equipment, but these essentials are often overlooked. Gym patrons working on any type of floor exercise will appreciate the extra floor cushion and hygiene that easy-to-clean standard yoga mats provide.

Peripheral Weightlifting Supplies

While barbells, dumbbells, benches, racks, plates, and safety bar clips are the only weightlifting equipment most lifters truly need, you should definitely consider offering some additional supplies to make workouts more comfortable for advanced lifters.

Shoulder and neck pads, for example, cushion those areas during exercises like heavy barbell squats and can take some of the pressure off for people lifting several hundred pounds at a time. Barbell grips help exercisers keep a strong hold on heavy bars and can offer a different lifting experience by targeting forearm muscles for improving grip strength. Support belts, joint stabilizing cuffs, and rentals of lifting shoes are a few other items you could provide if you choose to.

Hand chalk

Hand chalk can be messy and inconvenient. It’s certainly not an ideal solution for all gyms. However, if your gym will cater to demographics such as Crossfitters, heavy lifters, or gymnasts, hand chalk could be an essential item to provide.

Foam Rollers

Foam rollers, like kettlebells, sometimes unfairly get lumped into the "fad" category and dismissed in favor of "real" workout equipment. But some exercisers swear by the foam roller’s ability to release tight muscles, soothe strained fascia, and help with post-workout pain. At the very least, they are inexpensive to provide, easy to clean, and unobtrusive to store, so there really isn’t a strong case against providing foam rollers for members who will appreciate them.

Stretching Stations

Because official stretching stations take up valuable floor space, not many gyms provide them. And, indeed, they may not fit well enough into your equipment layout to justify dedicating the floor space to stretching instead of working out. If you have the extra room, however, and especially if your gym will cater to practitioners of yoga, Pilates, or gymnastics, stretching stations can be a great investment. They not only promote safe stretching form and ideas for new stretches that patrons can try, they also encourage exercisers who would normally have skipped their warm-up or cool-down to take a minute and limber up to avoid injuries.

Weight or Body Fat Monitoring Systems

Since weight loss, fat reduction, and improved body composition are all huge motivators for people to join gyms in the first place, providing the equipment to track progress toward those goals can go a long way toward membership retention. You can keep a scale and a handheld bioelectric impedance monitor in the main gym area for anyone who wishes to track progress in a quick and easy way.

For members aiming toward precise measurements or very specific body fat goals, you might also want to offer professional body fat measuring services. Fitness trainers may choose to offer body fat caliper measurements for a small fee for members who are not already clients of that trainer. If you can, you might also want to consider having a Bod Pod scanner on-site as an extra paid option that members can use to track body composition changes over time.


Exercise Series 6: The Pull-Up or Pull-Down

Exercise Series 1: The Squat