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Essential Equipment for a New Gym

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Fitness

Today’s post is from a forum discussion in the Renegade Inner Circle.

I’m opening a new gym and I want to run group training out of it and set it up “Renegade style” as I have a lot of old clients and leads who are interested because I use to teach similar type group training at my old globo-gym.

My question for you is what baseline equipment do you recommend getting for it. I know prowler, tire, kettlebells etc. Just wanted to see what your recommendations would be. It would be mainly mainstream general public group training, but I also want to train some high school athletes as well. Not sure if I should get a couple squat racks or one of those big all purpose unit type things.

Thanks for any help!


Firstly, let me say this to you…

If you want to do big complex lifts it’s ideal to keep a 6:1 or at most 8:1 client to coach ratio. When you go above that quality control is lost and it becomes very difficult to run the training sessions effectively. Unless, of course, everyone in the room has the athletic ability of Kobe Bryant.

That probably won’t be the case, however.

If you want to do more than eight people at once I would suggest another coach. I personally can get great quality with up to twelve people, as long as they are somewhat experienced. Maybe you can too. But you need to consider the future and growing the business and the fact that at some point you won’t be the only coach there. If not you’ll never grow.

So you don’t want to trust the safety of your clients with employees who may not be able to handle coaching more than eight people at once. And even eight is pushing it for complex exercises when some members of the group might not be as skilled as the others. Six might be the best option.

I did this for over ten years and then made some big mistakes the last three years trying something different and I can tell you from experience not to do it.

As far as equipment goes you need to decide how many people will be in a group and how many people will be in the gym at the same time. Then decide what kind of training you are going to do and know that the most people you can have on any one implement is 4-6.

So if you want to have groups of six with you and one other coach, for example you could have two racks that you both run. Then for assistance work you would most likely need two of everything you planned to use- glute ham, back extension, dip bars, etc. That is, if everyone is doing the same workout. You also have the option of letting people start the workout together, say on hurdle jumps and squats and then proceed to split up the assistance work so that Group A is on the glute ham and Group B is on the 45 degree back raise.

Six people per piece of equipment is a lot but you can get it done if you are very efficient. Four is a better number and works great in a rack since you can keep the guys rotating clockwise from position 1-2-3-4. Spot left, spot back, spot right, squat, spot left, etc. With six it’s a little trickier but you can make it work. If you have guys doing dips and chins or other similar exercises alternated for assistance work it’s usually not a problem.

Having gotten all that out of the way I’d get the following equipment to start:

– A rack of db’s up to 120lbs, at least

– A few power racks from Elite Fitness (tell them I sent you). The 3×3’s look more professional and higher end but I might save money and just get the 2×2’s. You could argue that those look more hardcore and underground. The choice is yours but definitely get them with monkey bar parallel chin up handles. As I’ve mentioned before, too many straight bar chins and pull ups will lead to elbow problems.

– Dip stations to add on to power racks

– Bars for squats, deads, presses, etc. This is great all purpose bar.

Bands for assisted chins, dips, etc. pushdowns, face pulls, pull aparts

– Prowler and/or sled

– Adjustable benches- 2-3 (Unless you save money and just get flat benches. When I was on the phone with Wendler ordering some new stuff a few years back, he tried to save me about a grand by saying how much are you going to use the incline function? Just prop the bench up on a box old school style like Arnold and Franco. So that’s what I did. In retrospect I’d probably rather have the adjustable benches now but saving the grand at the time was worth it.

Kettlebells– really you don’t end up using KB’s for a lot of heavy stuff so I’d save the money and plan on only doing 1 arm swings and snatches and a few other things at first. That way you only need to get up to 61’s or 53’s. I’d want more of fewer weights. So 26, 35, 44, 53 mainly. If you have girls get some 17’s. Don’t waste money on eights. If someone can’t move the 17 they can’t train with you. I’d make that a rule. I’d want 3-4 of each weight.

– 3-4 sets of Rings

– 3-4 Power Wheels

– 3-4 pair of Fat Gripz

At that point you have the basics covered and can make it fun. Then you can add stuff like rings, ropes, farmers walks, etc. as you go.

I always go from the top of the body down to see what we could or would need/use.

So for traps and shoulders you’re fine with what you got. Same with chest. You got your chin up bars and variations. I might want to add in some rings for chins and dips. For inverted row variations maybe you’d want some ropes and cable attachment handles that you can put the Fat Gripz on. But that would be about it. Then you got your dead variations in and out of the rack, swings, single leg RDL’s, single leg hip thrusts.

For quads you can squat and then do every single leg variation known to man. Plus you have sled/prowler work. But you might want some plyo boxes to jump on and do step ups with. Getting some furniture slides to do lunge and pushup variations would be cool too. Plus they’re like five bucks at Home Depot.

For abs you’re pretty set.

Everything else like yokes, logs, stones, ropes, etc. is gravy but definitely not essential.

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

PS. Once you have the facility set up you’ll need to start getting clients.