Your guide to a better future
Here’s which workout machines you should buy used, and what to pass on at your neighbor’s garage sale.
Fitness and Nutrition Writer
I’m a Fitness & Nutrition writer for CNET who enjoys reviewing the latest fitness gadgets, testing out activewear and sneakers, as well as debunking wellness myths. On my spare time I enjoy cooking new recipes, going for a scenic run, hitting the weight room, or binge-watching many TV shows at once. I am a former personal trainer and still enjoy learning and brushing up on my training knowledge from time to time. I’ve had my wellness and lifestyle content published in various online publications such as: Women’s Health, Shape, Healthline, Popsugar and more.
can easily add up. This is especially true if you’re looking to complete your gym with bigger pieces like a , , or even a . The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to buy all of this equipment brand new. You can save money by purchasing some pieces used and still get a perfectly good product. You can find used exercise equipment online, at secondhand stores or even garage sales in your neighborhood.
But before you impulsively purchase that used treadmill, there are a few things you should know. We spoke to some experts for tips on what to look for when buying used exercise equipment, and which pieces you’re better off buying brand new. Keep reading to learn what you need to keep in mind while shopping for used exercise equipment.
Dumbbells are some pieces that are usually safe to buy used.
There are some pieces of workout equipment that are better to buy used than others. Cooper Mitchell, founder of Garage Gym Reviews, recommends buying items that are built to last a long time and won’t break down. “Some pieces of equipment I would go for are dumbbells, kettlebells and weight plates,” he says, adding, “These items are basic and they’re made out of cast iron, so they’re gonna last a long time.”
If you’re looking at used cardio equipment, Caroline Grainger, an International Sports Sciences Association certified personal trainer suggests going for a stationary bike. “Stationary bikes, especially older ones with fewer electronic components, are virtually indestructible and are definitely worth buying used,” she says. So if you’re not looking for the latest Peloton bike, this could be a good alternative to have in your home.
Matt Claes, founder of Weight Loss Made Practical also recommends buying a used rowing machine if you’re looking for another option in the cardio machine category. He says, “Rowing machines like the Concept 2 RowErg have a reputation for being really good second-hand purchases due to their durability.” If you’re uncertain which rowing machine brands to trust, you can use picks as your shopping guide.
Make sure to carefully inspect any used workout equipment you intend on buying.
If you’re purchasing any of these items, there are a couple of inspections you should make before you get out your wallet. “If you’re buying a used barbell, you should make sure that it’s not bent or the knurling hasn’t been worn down,” Mitchell points out. “If it’s a weight plate, I would bring a scale and make sure it’s accurate,” he adds. Often there’s a discrepancy because pieces can get chipped off during use, and you want to make sure the used product is still in the best condition possible.
Although many of these pieces are designed to last, it’s not a guarantee that they still hold up equally. “There is a big difference between a barbell that was used to do 250-pound back squats every day for seven years versus a barbell that was used for 40-pound shoulder presses two times a week for three years,” explains Claes.
You should be prepared to test the product out and know the basics about the machine. “Research the name of the product, the specific model and year, because it’s going to give you good customer reviews to learn about how well this product is going to hold up in the long run, as well as any recalls or other important information to consider,” advises Grainger.
Also, if possible, don’t be afraid to ask the previous owner any questions you may have about the product. “Ask why they are selling the machine and how many years they’ve had it, because if their response is that they simply don’t use it, that’s good to know before purchasing,” says Mitchell. However, if they tell you they broke something on it or it doesn’t work properly, that’s a good reason to not go through with the purchase.
You can find used workout gear at individual yard or garage sales, or in some second-hand stores. Nowadays, used workout equipment is also often purchased on online platforms like Facebook marketplace. You can even find used equipment on Amazon and eBay. So which is best?
“The real value tends to come from individual sellers on less visible markets like Facebook marketplace or even garage sales,” says Grainger. Still, Claes warns that you should be selective about what exercise products you purchase online. “Depending on the reputation and return policies of the websites, you could consider purchasing relatively budget-friendly used exercise equipment online,” he says, adding,” But for pricier equipment and websites or sellers you don’t know the history of, you likely want to have an in-person look before making any decisions.”
A benefit to purchasing used equipment from an individual seller is that there’s room to negotiate the price. “You can always lowball and see what they come back with, because you can always raise the negotiation price after if needed,” says Mitchell. Another haggling trick he suggests is to be very specific in your pricing. “It sounds a little bizarre, but if you say you’ll pay $207 versus $200 for example, the other party will think you’re well researched and really know what you’re talking about.”
If you’re not finding what you’re looking for on Facebook marketplace, you can also check out retailers like Play-It-Again Sports, a second-hand sporting goods store that can be found in some cities and is known to carry fitness equipment.
Equipment like treadmills are better to buy new than used.
There are some pieces of equipment that you should be extra-cautious about buying second-hand. This can be because of safety precautions or machine longevity. “Treadmills are hard to buy used because the motors break down, they’re expensive and they’re heavy so they’re hard to transport,” says Mitchell. Another piece of equipment he advises buying brand-new are cable machines. “Cable machines get used and abused and not taken care of well in most garages,” he warns.
Claes agrees and says most electronic cardio machines should be purchased new. “The reason for this is that these machines tend to have a limited lifetime and if someone else used the machine for a few years, a treadmill may sound inexpensive, but it may not have that many years left.” Not to mention, the warranties of used machines can be tricky since some brands allow the warranty to be transferable and others do not.
Most importantly, make sure you do your research on the used equipment you’re looking to buy. Claes recommends visiting at least one garage sale before committing to buying used exercise equipment from a store. By taking your time to properly research the product, you’ll learn the average price and quality, which will help determine whether or not you’re getting a good deal.
“For example, barbells aren’t that much cheaper when you buy them used,” says Mitchell. So in this case, you may fare better off buying the product from a website such as , or . If you’re looking for new cardio equipment, you’ll want to consider sites like , or even . These brands have a reputation for making fitness equipment that lasts.
Claes advises that you make sure you are investing in at least a decent piece of exercise equipment. “In the short term, the low price may seem attractive,” he says. “However, if you need to buy new equipment every few months, the used exercise equipment options may turn out to be not that budget-friendly.”
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
Gym Equipment Is Expensive. Here's How to Find High-Quality Used Gear – CNET
Your guide to a better future