Your Home Workout
Buying secondhand equipment
By Ginny Frizzi
Known as Dre the Trainer, fitness expert Andre Farnell, owner of Better Body Expert L.L.C., recommends exercise equipment for his in-home clients. His suggestions for purchasing secondhand exercise equipment include doing your homework, especially if you’re looking at a specific piece, to become aware of any recalls. He recommends finding out the manufacturer of the equipment because the best brands of new equipment generally make for the best secondhand equipment.
“Make sure that all of the parts are present and accounted for,” he says. “Many people have things sitting in the garage, and over the years bolts and accessories tend to get lost. Offer to pick up any large pieces. You can really negotiate free or low-fee (equipment) on Craigslist or at yard sales.”
For Joshua Margolis, founder of Mind Over Matter Health & Fitness, purchasing secondhand exercise equipment is a matter of real value versus cost. If you’re not accustomed to a particular piece of equipment, don’t get it, he advises. “Try it out first at a gym or health club. Exercise is not about an inanimate object; it’s about you. It’s all about whether you like the equipment and would use it.”
A treadmill is probably the No. 1 piece of exercise equipment bought for home use because “it doesn’t take much to walk,” Margolis says. Bikes for home use are now being made small and compact enough to fit into a bedroom in a small apartment and elliptical are gaining in popularity as companies design them for home use, he adds. When it comes to secondhand equipment, the fewer moving parts there are the better, he says. “There is less of a chance of it breaking, and it will be easier to get fixed.”
Farrell sees purchasing secondhand exercise equipment as usually a “buyer beware” situation and offers additional tips for being an informed consumer. The first is to determine whether the equipment was used often, moderately or at all. “You will want to purchase things in the way of treadmills, elliptical and weight-training machines that were moderately used and still have a manufacturer’s warranty,” Farnell says. “Equipment that has sat for many years of disuse tends to have issues, for example, dry rot. Avidly used equipment is also a good purchase, but make sure that it is not on its last legs when it becomes yours.”
The best purchases are commercial-grade equipment, Farnell notes. “These are the best to snatch up at privately owned neighborhood gyms. Also, small-gym equipment suppliers usually have floor models for sale at heavy discount,” he says.
Margolis agrees. “Most gyms lease equipment and trade it in for new equipment every year and a half or so. You can often buy this returned equipment from the supplier,” he says. “Be sure to check it out, because it is used equipment, although buying from a supplier or manufacturer is better than Craigslist.” It is also important to check the size of equipment to make sure it will fit into your house or apartment.
The American College of Sports Medicine produces a series of free brochures written by experts designed to help the public safely enjoy physical activity and exercise. To download them, go to www.acsm.org. Click on “Access Public Information” and then “Brochures & Fact Sheets.” The “Selecting and Effectively Using . . .” series provides guidance on choosing and using equipment such as treadmills, stationary bicycles, and stair machines. There is also information on yoga, walking, exercise and blood pressure, exercise and asthma, and more.
“One of my favorite resources for the public is the ACSM Fit Society Page, which is a quarterly e-newsletter. The fall 2010 issue focuses on healthy aging. Each issue has articles on a range of health and fitness topics,” says Dan Henkel, ACSM’s senior director of communication and advocacy.
Beata Aldridge of Betterfly suggests an online resource for checking into the price of used equipment: “Something I find handy when trying to buy/sell used items is Worth Monkey, which tells you how much used items are worth. It indexes eBay, Craigslist, depreciation rates and other factors. It only focuses on one aspect and can’t tell you too much about the quality of the machine, but it does help to keep you from overspending or to recognize when you’re getting a deal,” Aldridge says. “It’s also good for sellers to keep from pricing themselves out of the market.”