Options for dealing with used equipment

Staying competitive in today's fitness market means keeping up with the latest equipment. Your members demand the best and brightest machines. However, your club can only hold so much. So what do you do with the still-working-but-used equipment to make room for the new shiny models?

- Donate the used equipment. Your equipment may be old. It may not be of much value to you and your members. However, it can be valuable to others. So give it away.

Look for worthwhile organizations in your community that could benefit from a donation. That's what Nirvana Athletic Fitness Center in Philadelphia did.

"We had so many pieces of equipment that we couldn't use anymore that we gave it to a local high school and church," says Timothy Zauzig, Nirvana's vice president of marketing.

Donations help you dispose of your old equipment, plus they create goodwill within your community. And there's nothing better than good word-of-mouth marketing for your club.

If you like the idea of donating your old equipment but can't find a local organization or don't have the time or resources to move the machines, consider Operation FitKids. Operation FitKids sets up fitness centers in schools, community centers and youth clubs. The organization picks up old equipment, refurbishes it, stores it and delivers it to FitKids facilities. Donors don't have to do anything.

"There are advantages for clubs donating their used fitness equipment to Operation FitKids," explains Dee Dee Kovacevich, executive director. "We are a 501C3 nonprofit organization so we can give a tax write-off directly back to clubs that donate their equipment."

(If you want to get involved with Operation FitKids, please contact Dee Dee Kovacevich at (800) 825-336, ext. 707 or deedeek@acefitness.org.)

- Refurbish the equipment. If your facility isn't bursting at the seams or you don't have the budget to buy new equipment every few years, then you can refurbish your old equipment. You have the option of either doing it yourself or hiring a company to do it for you.

- Earn some money. Some companies specialize in buying used equipment so that they can refurbish and resell it. If you sell your fitness equipment to these companies, you free up space and make a little extra money.

- Trade the equipment in. Trades depend on the relationship you have with your vendors. If you deal with the same vendor for most of your cardio or strength equipment, the company will sometimes give you a trade-in deal for the purchase of new equipment.

- Store old equipment for parts. "We try to utilize as much of our resources as we can as cost efficiently as possible," says Zauzig. "So if we have a treadmill that is down and too costly to repair, we store it and keep it for parts."

- Move the equipment to another location. Amy Lerner, controller for The Fitness Company, Iselin, N.J., has gone with this approach. "We don't replace all our equipment at every location, so if we have an older piece of equipment, we may give it to another location that is in need of a replacement piece," she says.

- Let your members make a purchase. "Selling our used equipment to our members is usually the way we go," notes Lerner. "We keep our equipment three to five years at tops, so it is in good condition when we start to replace it. That's why our members have a lot of interest in having our equipment in their home."