Ashton Ferrazzo is the owner of Freedom Fitness Equipment, a new and used gym equipment seller based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. I started Freedom Fitness Equipment during the pandemic, buying a squat rack and barbell to start building my first home gym. In March of 2020 I sold that rack, doubling my money in the process, and using the proceeds to buy more home gym equipment. I continued to flip, and purchase, more expensive and higher end gym equipment as time went on.
After a short while, I realized that the demand for gym equipment, particularly home gym equipment, was skyrocketing, and I started to flip, refurbish, and resell gym equipment in my spare time.
At the time I was working a traditional 9 to 5 job in finance for a Fortune 100 company, but was becoming increasingly exhausted with the bureaucracy, red tape, and slow pace of business in my role. I started to run Freedom Fitness Equipment alongside my full-time job to see if it would take off, and boy did it ever! The business ran on jet fuel throughout the pandemic, garnering hundreds of clients, and the more I sold, the more people asked about what else I could offer for fitness equipment.
Eventually, I left my cushy finance job, and struck out on my own, expanding from a sunroom in our backyard to a full-blown warehouse. Our business was booming, doubling in size (on average) every 6 months. Finally, I was my own boss, and could accomplish and control my own job. I didn’t have middle management breathing down my neck to do things which were out of my control. It was the Freedom I had always been looking for.
Eventually, the business morphed into catering to professional and commercial gyms, training studios, personal trainers, and other health clubs and facilities, in addition to home gyms. We started to offer new gym equipment from established suppliers, building relationships with bigger brands. We got into commercial grade barbells, free weights, bumper plates, squat racks, power racks, dumbbells, and more. Our brand presence really started to establish itself.
However, I still have a love for the home gym community and to this day remain extremely active in the community on r/homegym Reddit, and other groups. The home gym community is definitely an area where a lot of companies still do not have a firm grasp on how to develop products for the individual. During the pandemic, a lot of companies started to develop home gym equipment, but then phased out those developments when inflation and recession hit the economy.
In my opinion, the home gym market is a ripe opportunity, and any company that continues to develop products for that community, listening to feedback and taking in opinions, will do extremely well. Thankfully, with the growing movement of home gyms and basement gyms, this community continues to thrive.
Even though we were extremely involved in the home gym community both during the pandemic and afterwards, business eventually did trail off a bit, with the crazy demand dying down to a more reasonable level. This became our first challenge.
Thankfully I was networked in with an excellent social media guru who taught me a lot about how to run SEO and build more attention for our Freedom Fitness Equipment brand. As a result, we started a number of initiatives, including our FreedomCast Podcast, and multiple social media accounts, all of which did quite well early on. It was all quite providential.
There have been a few other challenges that the business has faced in its explosive growth journey. One of them was accepting bad deals from people who were trying to take advantage of our business. In one instance, we almost lost $20,000 to someone who decided to back out of the deal mid-way through the process. This was a huge blow to our business in the early years because we relied on cashflow revenue and not debt. I had to find out the hard way that this individual had an extremely negative reputation in the fitness business and was not to be trusted.
After that, we had other deals go south, but nothing quite as monumental as that first devastating situation. I remember panicking as we were extracting the equipment, thinking that it was too much to handle, and having to calm myself down about the entire situation.
The key to handling all of these situations was to be gracious, tenacious, and firm. Having established contracts, making sure all parties understood expectations, and being able to handle the inevitable complications that would arise from different deals were all critical to the success of the business in the early years.
Although setbacks in business occur from time to time, all of them seemed critical at the moment, no matter how severe they actually were. One of the many current challenges I think all fitness businesses are facing currently, which seems quite alarming, is runaway inflation. Prices on new fitness equipment are soaring. Thankfully, used gym equipment resellers are seeing good growth, and continuing to be able to make a living. However, for parts of the business that offer new fitness equipment, prices are going up, and customer demand is going down. This means distributors will have to be even more competitive on pricing moving forward, and it may lead to more businesses going out of business even after crushing it during the pandemic.
The other current challenge is that a lot of the major players are now flexing their muscle with profits garnered during the pandemic, scooping up smaller business (like Rogue has done with Ghost Strong) to build their fitness empires. If other companies do not make similar acquisitions, there are a few players that will likely break away from the rest of the pack and dominate the fitness equipment business for years to come.
On the bright side, as a result of the home gym explosion, there is a greater interest in fitness equipment than ever before. Even the home gym review space has seen many new reviewers popping up and reviewing gym equipment, strength equipment, and more on their Instagram, websites, and blogs. Our company even created an award for the Top 10 Best Garage Gym and Home Gym Review Websites, a vetted and approved stamp for each reviewer to display on their page which would encourage others new to the lifting scene to seek out these websites for good gym and gear reviews.
Another opportunity, even with a current recession and inflation on the rise, is the growth of the used gym equipment market. While the market is still strained with demand being relatively high, people will likely see increased inventory and availability in coming months as people flock to used fitness equipment stores like Freedom Fitness Equipment, or even websites like eBay, Offerup, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace. We created an article specifically around how to build a gym based on used gym equipment available in your local area, and have encouraged our clients to seek out high quality (particularly commercial grade) gym equipment as it becomes available, since the best deals are in the used gym equipment space.
As a result of the used fitness equipment market growing, Freedom Fitness Equipment has continued to see steady growth, and I am committed to growing the business in this direction moving forward.
Particularly in light of the growth of used gym equipment, our brand has tried to educate people on the best ways to source and purchase high quality fitness equipment. Other businesses should be doing the same, providing great and FREE information to their client base about deals, opportunities, and the best brands.
Companies that rely on dishonesty, high margins, or screwing over the consumer by hiding business practices will ultimately come out on the bottom and go out of business. Companies that really add value to their clients’ daily lives by educating them about fitness equipment, providing gym equipment that fits their needs and wants, training styles and workout environment, will always be more successful than a “salesy” brand that only offers the most profitable items for the business, not the client.
Customers come first, and organizations that offer free information about the products they are seeking will come out on top.
If you’d like to learn more about Freedom Fitness Equipment, get educated on fitness equipment, and hear more about what we do, please reach out at https://freedomfitnessequipment.com/ or visit us on Instagram at freedomfitnessequipment1 or any of our social media profiles online!
We are also working on reaching out to First Responders (Firefighters, Police, EMS, and more) to help underfunded departments reach their fitness goals under budget. If you’d like to know more, visit our social media profiles for ongoing videos about our efforts!