If he could save $400 in shipping, Angelo Sisco will drive an hour to pick up a piece of equipment. But there are more benefits to buying local than just saving money.
“Every little bit counts. So for me, I try to look local as much as I can because one, the shipping and two, you can develop a good relationship with a local company that’s closer to your facility,” said Sisco, the owner of O’Hare CrossFit in Franklin Park, Illinois. “Then hopefully you can grow with them as you go.”
The process of buying equipment can be straining on both your wallet and patience. More than one Affiliate has a sad story of lackluster barbells and medicine balls that broke after one month of use. So how can you save time and money in equipping your gym?
It all begins with determining equipment need. At Level 4 CrossFit Seattle in Seattle, Washington, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and PIOP Level 4 International Coach James Hein explained the staff will collaborate to build a list of equipment to invest in for the gym. Then, the team ranks the list, with needs taking priority. “The key question to help everyone out is, ‘What do we need right now?’ versus ‘What do we want right now?’” said Hein. “Once everyone gets that back, everything is tallied up and sent to the owners for final approval and budgeting.”
Sisco uses an electronic survey he sends out to his entire Box. He offers incentives, like a free Kill Cliff or shaker bottle, in hopes it will push members to complete the questionnaire. “This last survey they mentioned that we need more 10-pound plates, so I went out and bought more 10-pound plates. There’s certain things they’ll see in the middle of classes where they’ll get a better idea of it,” said Sisco. “I take it to the members because they’re the voice.”
After determining need, then comes one of the harder parts of the process: choosing the company. Quality was the influencing factor for Shannon Franklin. As the owner of CrossFit Survival in La Crescenta-Montrose, California, she refused to go into debt.
After a slew of cheap, but bad, equipment, she now only invests in small amounts of quality pieces from suppliers like Rage and Rogue.
Hein said they rely on reviews as a “cornerstone” of the buying process. If he can’t find answers to his questions online, he will call the manufacturer. “We have very high standards for equipment because of the demands we place on them,” he said. “If they break or are faulty in any way, we won’t use that same company again.”
To Sisco, Rogue and Again Faster are the gold standard companies, but he said other vendors like Hi-Temp make great bumpers as well. Overall, there are plenty of online discussions and reviews to help determine what companies are best. And he urges Affiliates to use them. “This is a great thing that somebody told me once, and it resonates true: ‘I’m too poor to buy cheap,’” quoted Sisco. “Try your very best to not buy the cheapest equipment. Buy the best equipment and it will last you a lot longer.”
However, purchasing anything can only be done if it falls in the budget. “You just have to have a certain monthly budget, even if you can only buy one or two pieces a month, you can add to that,” said Franklin.
After reading “The Richest Man in Babylon,” by George S. Clason, Sisco said he was inspired to put 10 percent of his gym’s monthly earnings into savings. He explained it’s great for rainy days when you need to buy something, or see an extra piece of equipment you would like.
And a Box doesn’t need every CrossFit toy. Sisco said he learned a lot about becoming a better programmer when he had to work with a certain amount of equipment. “I think the more toys you have, the art of coaching is easier to lose because you have so much stuff. Because when there were two rowers here instead of 12, it was really hard to pull off a rowing workout and be innovative and be creative,” he said. “And I think that’s really important. Not being so fast to buy everything is also a good idea, because it teaches you how to really coach, because one day that stuff might not be there, and then what do you do?”
James Hein’s Buying Equipment Do’s and Don’ts
Do prioritize. Ask what do you need versus what do you want and why?
Do think in terms of the long game. Sure, that loadable sledgehammer looks cool, but how many people are going to use it? How many times a day is it going to get swung? Etc.
Don’t fall into the trap of sacrificing quality for those low-cost equipment options.
Do your due diligence on researching products before buying. Look for negative comments on forums outside of the company’s website.
Do consider the cost of maintenance, and use the different boards and forums to ask other Affiliates their experiences.
Do get the local representative’s contact info. If you have problems, give them a call.
Do put a little away every month. It’s not rocket science, but you’d be surprised about how few people do it.
Don’t ever compromise client health or safety. Remember, they are irreplaceable.