Are you looking at starting a gym? Or maybe you are considering expanding your existing gym?

Do you decide what gets added into your high school or even even college gym? Maybe you make decisions about what goes into an apartment or hotel gym? 

Whatever the case may be, when we talk about commercial gyms, we are certainly including more than just Planet Fitness, Gold’s Gym, and Lifetime Fitness. We are instead talking about any gym not primarily for personal use - a gym built for a group of people and one that expects more traffic than just you and your spouse and that one neighbor. 

Maybe you are the type of person that knows exactly what you want to purchase. You’ve had the gym design finalized for months, you placed your orders and your gym is going to be set to perfection. You even know exactly what services you are going to offer your customers. Congrats! That is a huge process to undergo, and you’ve crushed it. 

However, I would guess for most people reading this article, you are in the beginning stages of looking at fitness solutions for your school, gym, or community fitness center.

Maybe you aren’t sure where to start?

There are so many options for types of equipment. You’ve got dozens and dozens of different treadmills. There are dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells, and plate-loaded dumbbells. Then there is the question of space. Where do you even put everything and how do you know what will fit in your facility? Not to mention, what are the needs of the people at your gym? What are some common workouts that will be performed at your gym? It goes without saying that the needs of a local gym versus a high school weightroom versus a 55+ living community gym are going to vary significantly. 

There are some pieces of commercial fitness equipment that I believe almost all commercial gyms will benefit from in their facility. This list includes dumbbells, barbells, power racks, kettlebells, benches, weight plates, treadmills, sleds, ellipticals, plyometric boxes, bikes, and rowers just to name a few. 

While we aren’t going to dive into all of these today, let’s take a look at three specific pieces of equipment on this list. 

We will start with the bench. 


Weight Benches

I think the bench may be one of the most underrated, underappreciated pieces of gym equipment there is. The bench is constantly ignored and disrespected. It’s often an afterthought when designing a gym and taken for granted for all that it truly does. 

After all, aren’t all benches pretty much the same? What’s the big deal anyway?

The answer is no. 

Why does your commercial gym need a bench? 

Hopefully, this doesn’t take too much explaining to do if you are including power racks and bench press stations in your gym. It’s pretty hard to bench press without a bench. I mean there’s always floor press, but still. Anyways, you know that workout benches are necessary for bench press, but what other value do they provide? Benches are important for any seated variation of an exercise - think seated strict press, seated curls, seated rear delt flys. Benches are important for leg exercises like Bulgarian split squats, step-ups, and single-leg squats. Benches are used in tons of pressing exercises like incline bench press, dumbbell bench press, and even bench dips. This is just the beginning, honestly. Benches are used for mobility exercises, core exercises, and so much more.

Benches are absolutely critical for commercial gyms. 

Let’s consider the smaller gyms really quickly. If you are considering purchasing equipment for a hotel or apartment gym, I can imagine this may be the only commercial gym that may push back on the idea of benches due to space. However, no matter how much room you have, a bench has to be at least the second piece of equipment purchased. The first piece, you might ask? Dumbbells. Dumbbells allow for almost every strength exercise you can think of to be performed, and by adding a bench you dramatically increase the potential uses of the dumbbells. 

Benches, just like everything else in the weightroom, vary significantly by price, quality, and function - I’ve even seen homemade benches made entirely of wood with no foam top. 

Let’s start with function. 

The biggest function capability that you are going to want with your bench is the ability to incline and decline. Some benches don’t move at all, leaving them fixed and parallel to the ground. This is great for about 75% of things you are going to use a bench for - things like bench press, Bulgarian split squats, single-arm rows, etc.

However, you are going to want to invest in an adjustable bench.

Adjustable benches will take up the same amount of space, typically only cost slightly more, and provide your gym members with the option to perform a larger selection of exercises - things like incline bench press and incline dumbbell rows. 

As far as quality goes, you are going to want a commercial-grade weight bench for your facility. I would probably recommend these types of benches for any gym, but especially a commercial gym. With the amount of traffic and use that benches get you are going to want a commercial-grade weight bench. 

What makes these benches any different? 

The biggest difference is durability. They are built to withstand the constant wear and tear they will be experiencing. The padding, cover, and frame are designed to last longer.

Oftentimes, the commercial-grade weight benches are going to be a little bit bigger and heavier as well. 

We all know bench day is the most popular at any gym, so make sure the bench you purchase can handle the constant use from gym bros. 

Last thing here, as a commercial gym, make sure you are checking out your wholesale options for your fitness equipment. This can be a great way to save money and get quality fitness equipment at the same time.

Let’s look next at the king of cardio machines - the treadmill.



Treadmill season is coming upon us quickly. As the New Year approaches, brace yourself for the Planet Fitness ads scanning a room filled with dozens of treadmills. 

For better or worse, the treadmill is the piece of equipment the general public pictures when they think of a commercial gym. Treadmills have a lot going for them. They allow members to run or walk and get a great cardio workout. Messy weather outside? The treadmill can be a great option. 

Any commercial gym is not complete without a treadmill  - or more than likely, quite a few. Let’s talk quickly about commercial-grade treadmills. 

If you thought commercial-grade weight benches had a few different options, you are in for a treat here. Commercial-grade treadmills have many, many different options. 

Lucky for you, we’ve fully covered the biggest differences and things to consider before purchasing a commercial-grade treadmill.

However, here’s a quick overview of some things to consider. 

There are a few different types of treadmills. You have the traditional treadmill with one revolving motorized belt. You also have the newer model of treadmills that are curved. These are intended to improve running form and more closely mimic running outdoors. The belt on these is segmented and is powered by gym members as they run. So instead of setting a speed on the treadmill and keeping up with it, you get to set the speed with each stride, which is more similar to running without a treadmill. 

You also have treadmills with iPad-like monitors allowing you to follow a live class, treadmills with small screens only displaying distance and speed, and everything in between.

Again you are going to make sure you select a commercial-grade treadmill.

They were designed to withstand the amount of wear and tear they will be experiencing. Wholesale commercial-grade treadmills are the way to go here.

Let’s look finally at ellipticals. 



While treadmills are arguably the most common piece of gym equipment, the elliptical is no doubt in the top 3 for cardio machines. 

Ellipticals are a popular choice for anyone looking for a low-impact sweat.

What do I mean by low-impact? Think of a treadmill, with every step you take, whether running or walking, your body weight is landing on your foot. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Many would argue that this is valuable because you are building the strength and ability to continue to be able to run and walk as you age - kind of a “use it or lose it type thing.” 

However, at times, some people prefer to use an elliptical because there is no stepping or “pounding” as your foot stays in place and your legs glide forward and backward. 

Anyways, that’s kind of the appeal of an elliptical. 

Similar to commercial-grade treadmills, there are a ton of different options when it comes to commercial-grade ellipticals. 

As we’ve discussed earlier you are going to want a commercial-grade elliptical, primarily for the durability provided by these models.  

When looking at commercial-grade ellipticals there are a few things to consider.

First, many models offer not just an elliptical, but stair climber-like feature. This is a great idea for a commercial gym that is trying to maximize space. There are also ellipticals that go side-to-side, working different muscle groups than the traditional forward and backward elliptical. If you have plenty of space you could consider investing in one of these, but make sure you have your basics covered first with the traditional elliptical. The monitor technology on ellipticals varies significantly, similar to treadmills. Wholesale commercial ellipticals are going to be a great idea as you can get quality ellipticals at a better price.

Want to know more? We have an entire article breaking down commercial-grade ellipticals - helping you with your fitness solutions and finding the perfect fit.

One last note here, the only commercial gyms that probably don’t need an elliptical or treadmill are high school or college athletic weightrooms. The majority of running these teams are going to do is going to be on fields or courts. However, if your school has the space, go for it. They can be used by coaches, athletes who need some extra cardio, or even athletes rehabbing injuries.


Power Racks

Commercial power racks are essential for almost any commercial gym. 

Really, the only gyms you don’t typically see them at are Planet Fitness and hotel gyms - which is a shame. I, for one, am hoping this starts to change. Got to get the gains even when you are traveling or on a budget!

Anyways, commercial power racks are the move.

Power racks come in all shapes and sizes. You’ve primarily got half-power racks and full-power racks. Half-power racks typically have two vertical poles connected by a pull-up bar at the top and a base at the bottom. Full power racks look more like a cage. They form a box and allow you to work out “inside the rack.” It is essentially two half-power racks connected together. Power racks are the primary way, gym-goers perform squats, bench press, strict press, pullups, and many other exercises safely. One of the big safety features is the arm attachments. These arms can safely hold the weight of the bar should a gym member fail a squat rep. 

Essentially, power racks allow almost all free-weight barbell exercises to be done at one spot - just please, please don’t whip out the barbell and start doing curls if someone is waiting.

Now commercial grade does matter here.

Depending on the type of gym you operate, power racks can take a beating. They need to be strong and sturdy. At a commercial gym, you’ve likely got anywhere from 5-15 people a day using your power racks. The heaviest weight lifted in your gym will be at a power rack, well excluding probably leg presses and deadlifts. You also want your members to have an incredible experience. Non-commercial grade power racks sometimes are harder to bolt to the floor and tend to shift and move. They simply don’t feel as sturdy and won’t last as long. Investing in a quality commercial-grade power rack will last your gym quite some time. 

Now, the question of how many power racks and which type of power rack is probably one you are considering next.

I would argue the more the better. Now, this is probably biased toward my style of training; however, you truly do need to know what styles of fitness training your member base cares about. If you are a bodybuilding-focused gym or club, you certainly will need power racks but you also will need room for isolation and cardio machines.

If you are a high school or college athletics weight room, you will primarily build your gym around power racks. They are great for putting 2-4 athletes at each rack and allowing them to train there without really having to leave. You can get an entire workout at one power rack (assuming you have weight plates and a barbell of course). For general population facilities - the get fit, improve fitness gym - apartment gym, or even college campus gym - power racks are going to be a part of the design but not necessarily the focus. 

Half versus full power rack really comes down to how much space you have. They essentially do the same thing. One benefit to the full power rack is extra room for storing plates, bands, and barbells. Of course, the biggest benefit to half-racks is the space taken up. Another option is the half-full power rack combo. Essentially this combo connects a full power rack to a half power rack. These are more popular in athletic weight rooms - primarily college and professional sports. 

The biggest reason power racks are loved is the movement options you get when using them.

Are they relatively big, yes. But, think about how much space is taken up with a leg press machine and a preacher curl station. Now, take it easy on me, I don’t want to get rid of your preacher curls. We all know how essential those are. However, let’s consider the exercise selection you have available to you with the power rack. Let’s start with lower body. You’ve got front squats, back squats, lunges, calf raises, and Romanian deadlifts. You’ve got upper body exercises like chin-ups, pull-ups, bench press, floor press, strict press, and bent-over rows. You’ve even got Olympic lifts like clean and jerks and snatches. 

All of these exercises and more can be performed at one power rack.

Obviously, your gym members get to decide how they workout (unless of course, you are in athletics), but as far as efficiency, space maximization, and incredible workouts go - the power rack is a slam dunk. 



Okay, now that we’ve covered power racks, we’ve got to talk about barbells.

It does you almost no good to have a nice commercial-grade power rack without quality commercial-grade barbells.

There are a few types of barbells your gym should have so let’s jump in.

Now, ideally, your gym has at a minimum an Olympic barbell. Olympic barbells are those designed for Olympic lifting. This is crucial if you have members who will clean, jerk, or snatch at your gym. What makes this barbell special is that it can rotate much faster than a traditional strength bar. This means on the clean, you can pull yourself under the bar much easier. This is also a much safer bar to perform Olympic lifts with. 

The reason, I chose this as the bar your gym must have is because you can still perform other barbell movements with an Olympic bar - think squats, presses, hinges, etc. However, it is much more difficult to perform Olympic lifts on a standard bar. 

Olympic bars do tend to be a little bit more expensive, so you could consider having a few Olympic and a few standard barbells.

An Olympic lifter should know to check the spin of the bar to determine how effective it will be for performing the Olympic lifts. 

With all that being said, if you are a strictly strongman or bodybuilding-focused gym. You probably don’t need an Olympic barbell. Biggest thing here is to know your members. What type of training options are you trying to provide them? 

Another necessary barbell is a female barbell. This barbell is ten pounds lighter, but the biggest difference is the size of the bar. The circumference of the barbell is smaller allowing female athletes to get a better grip. This is very helpful for presses, Olympic lifts, and pulling exercises. The bar is also not quite as long. 

The last two commercial-grade barbells are not necessities but are really nice to have if you have the budget and space. The first is a trap bar. Trap bars are barbells with a giant square in the middle. This square allows you to stand “inside” the barbell. The most common exercise it is used for is deadlifts. So essentially, instead of pulling a traditional barbell close to your shins and deadlifting it with the weight in front of you, you stand inside the square and the weight is in line with your body. It is just a variation of the deadlift that is easier to learn. 

Another really cool bar is the safety squat bar. This barbell allows you to squat without your hands actually on top of the bar. So traditionally, with a front or back squat, you have to get your hands on the bar to stabilize it. This bar allows you to stabilize the weight through handles out in front of you. It is a great option for members of your gym dealing with injuries or who want to add variation to their leg day.

Okay, I know that was a lot on barbells. 

The biggest thing is that you don’t want to go cheap and skimp out on barbells.

Commercial-grade barbells are the way to go. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune, but honestly, even for a home gym, I think barbells are one of the most important purchases you can make. Cheap barbells will bend and wear out much quicker than quality commercial-grade barbells. You don’t want equipment to be the limiting factor for your gym members. 

Feeling overwhelmed, we can help. Designing and purchasing equipment for a commercial gym is a huge undertaking. Great news, we speciallize in it! We offer a FREE 30 Minute Gym Design Consultation.


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