In a nutshell, supply and demand. Of course, there are many more in-depth reasons why you might get a nosebleed from how much you shell out for fitness, but it all comes down to supply and demand.
Looking at the cost of buying equipment versus paying for a gym membership has been an ongoing debate between price and accessibility for centuries. Take a look at the top reasons why equipment is so expensive before making your location decision.
Considerations that go into the Cost of Equipment
Everything ultimately comes down to supply and demand, but what is demanded, what kind of materials can be supplied, and how far it has to travel to get to you are all more specific pieces of the final price. Not to mention the manufacturers need their cut too.
Let’s Talk Materials
The type of material affects the cost of everything. Iron and steel are heavier and take more material to create than something made with a plastic casing filled with sand or water. The material will also cost more if access to the desired materials is limited.
Anyone with experience at a fitness facility has seen the heavy-duty iron dumbbells, the solid kettlebells, and the super sturdy benches and bars. Now go home and try to buy your own equipment. Will you buy what you know or buy whatever is cheaper? You will most likely skip over the “cheap” looking plastic set and spend the extra for what you already used at the gym.
So, in the case of material, not only is a heavy metal more expensive, the demand is there, so manufacturers can jack up the price. You know, and they know buyers are more likely to pick up iron or steel over plastic.
Costs Behind the Scenes: Shipping, Fuel, Weight
You, as the buyer, probably don’t think about these considerations. Still, every part of travel is considered in the price of every piece of gym equipment sold.
The heavier it weighs, the more cost incurred for freight during shipping, and the seller will pass some of that cost onto you, the buyer. Also, the further away it is being shipped from, the higher the shipping cost.
There are years when fuel prices skyrocket. Those are the years you likely say to yourself, “Dang, why is this bench so much more than last year?” Fuel comes in the shape of gas, diesel, coal, propane, and other types, I’m sure to forget, and again, those costs are passed down the line.
If demand is high and equipment is shipped in bulk, you may see savings in this area, but typically retailers and manufacturers will not cut their profits if they don’t have to. And that doesn’t happen unless demand goes down and they need to promote sales.
The heavier the weight, the more it costs to produce, ship, and move. By move, I mean sell. Even though fitness, working out, buying for your home, and filling the gyms keep these manufacturers busy, the really heavy-weighted equipment tends to be used by a smaller margin of the fitness population.
For instance, my heaviest kettlebell is 15 lbs, my flat plate max is 10 lbs, and my dumbbells only go up to 35. There is this elite group of bodybuilders and powerlifters whose goal is to lift as much weight as possible. So the demand for gym equipment over 50 pounds is smaller than that of the average weight used by beginner and intermediate fitness buffs.
Today, everyone wants their equipment to link to a phone or a watch so they can track measurements and goals. Well, that particular function costs ALOT of extra money. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but you can pick up a set of dumbbells, sweat your butt off, and KNOW you got in a great workout simply by doing the work. Personally, I jot my reps and sets down in a notebook so I can log a history of weight.
This is another big aspect that causes equipment prices to keep going up. Everyone now wants one machine to do everything and anything. The Peloton is an amazing machine that pretty much does it all AND tracks for you with up-to-date technology. The demand is there, but so is the hefty price tag of around $4,000!
The demand for these machines also plays into the price of individual equipment. Suppose more people are buying these full at-home workout systems. In that case, fewer people are buying individual pieces of equipment, which means the cost will go up to account for the loss in sales.
How To Save Money on Your Next Purchase
Not every purchase has to be top-notch, brand-new, top-of-the-line stuff. Especially if you are just getting started and aren’t sure what you will use. Because gym equipment is meant to be a one-time purchase or at least a long-term buy, there are not a lot of repeat buyers for the same gym equipment.
- Check local thrift shops, garage sales, and newspaper ads for used equipment
- Ask your local gym if they sell their used equipment at a decent price
- Borrow from a friend to see how you like it
- Watch free videos online and use household materials for makeshift weights
I will leave you with this last thought. Consider the cost difference between buying all your equipment at home versus paying for a gym membership and having all different types of gym equipment at your disposal.
Buying for home means you only buy what you know you will use. You cut out gas for travel and probably that coffee or donut stop on the way home. You are also more likely to use it longer and see more results because you own it and don’t have to shell out the membership fee.
Getting a gym membership is pricey, and you might only use some of the equipment there. Statistically, people don’t stay with a gym long term, so your fitness lifestyle may drop off due to recurring fees, drive time, and accessibility to equipment.