Illustrations: Tavis Coburn & Gianmarco Magnani
Where do people go to peddle their squat racks turned laundry racks, their dust-collecting rowers, and their practically new treadmills? Get it online, of course. The venerable bare-bones buy-sell site that are the ultimate underground marketplace for fitness equipment.
And if you’re looking to build your own home gym, they are the places to go. There’s a ton of money to be saved buying fitness gear there. Just learn the internet universe first. Here are some tips and tricks.
YOUR RULES OF ONLINE BUYING ENGAGEMENT
When it’s possible and safe, go to the seller’s home.
You’ll probably learn a lot about how well the item you’re buying was cared for.
Pass on carpark lots.
If a seller wants to meet in a carpark, forget it. Why? It means you can’t really test the workout equipment.
Pack your bids into different jeans pockets.
You can claim to have “only,” say, $100, pull it out of your pocket, and look convincing.
Retail price: $900 for a heavy duty squat rack
Aim for: $250
Hoping to embrace squats? You’ll want a rack, a large structure to hold your barbell. Don’t be stingy, because it’s for your own safety. Aim for commercial grade. Cheaper racks can support up to 180kg but may teeter when you lift the weights off them. That can wreck a heavy lifter’s confidence.
Focus mostly on quality of steel and build quality of the rack. Thicker steel is better, says Cooper Mitchell of Garage Gym Reviews. Compare the thickness of the steel to cardboard. If it’s cereal box or shoebox thin, move on. At least push for a discount if you notice rust at welding points.
If the rack won’t stay flat on the ground. You don’t need a seesaw.
ANY STURDY RACK If it’s available for $100 to $150, grab it quickly.
FORCE USA POWER RACK At about $700, it could last forever.
Retail price: $1/kg for most Rogue plates
Aim for: $1/kg
You’ll want a barbell and a few sets of 20kg plates, but know that not all plates are the same. Don’t buy metal weights – they can damage the floor when dropped – or sand weights, which break. Look for bumper plates, coated in bouncy rubber. Many brands make solid ones. Rogue Fitness is a good bet.
The plan is simple: Prod the metal inner ring of each plate with your finger. When cheap bumper plates are made, the ring is positioned after the rubber forms. This eventually can fall off, leaving the rubber to crack. If the rubber is cracking around the ring, ask for a discount, or find other options.
If the inner ring rotates freely. That plate has taken a beating.
ELEIKO AND KRAIBURG Both are old-school brands you can trust.
ROGUE FITNESS Pay up to $1 per kg. They can be resold later.
CARDIO ROW MACHINE
Retail price: $1,800+ for Concept2 Model D
Aim for: $1200
Rowing burns more calories per minute than many other forms of cardio. Companies like Life Fitness and Xebex make rowers worth considering if you see them cheap, but chase a Concept2 – they are durable. Don’t shy away from old models; all use the same fan-powered resistance, and parts are easy to find.
If the console is malfunctioning, use that flaw as leverage. (Could be just dead batteries!) If it powers up but won’t track your workout, a headphone jack-size wire may just need reconnecting. Also, check the mileage in the console settings, but purely to negotiate – it won’t affect the unit’s durability.
If the console is actually broken. It costs $200 to replace.
Any Working Rower for $400-$900.
LIFE FITNESS ROWER HX TRAINER Smooth resistance, but a retail price of $2,988.
Retail price: $3,000+ for a Sole Fitness
Aim for: $1900
Treadmills remain in demand, so bargains are hard to find. Most retailers sell new treadmills for half their retail price online, says Rajan Chopra of Treadmillreviews.net. Those come with warranties too, something you rarely find online.
First, make sure the electronic console powers on. If it doesn’t, the fix could cost hundreds or even thousands. As for the heart rate monitor, it’s seen as a major feature, but (shh!) you don’t care if it’s broken. It’s rarely accurate anyway, and your smartwatch can do the same job. Use that defect as a bargaining chip.
If the belt is fraying. That machine has seen plenty of kilometres.
Any reliable brand you can sometimes find for $650.
TRUEFORM MANUAL TREADMILL If you spot it for $5K, jump on that deal.
Explore these sites too.
This is less anonymous than other websites, and Facebook is working hard to make it grow.
A start-up that has been gaining steam lately, it makes buyer-seller communication easy. But it’s a mobile-only app.
The network that connects you to neighbours has a convenient marketplace. Your seller may live right around the corner.
By Ebenezer Samuel & Anthony McCarron