New Equipment vs. Refurbishing Old Equipment

KaleenStudioTips

Some of you are looking to add equipment to your studio.  Or, you are looking to replace your current equipment.  How do you know whether to buy new from the manufacturer or scour craigslist and ebay for used equipment?  Is your older equipment worth refurbishing?

Owning high quality equipment from Gratz, Balanced Body or Peak is a great investment, as it retains its value and relative condition over time.  Consider that if you closed your studio tomorrow, your client list would be hard to sell.  But, your equipment would be worth quite a lot.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you are considering adding or starting your stable.

Do you own your current equipment?

Basically, the goal here is to own your equipment.

Scenario: Borrowed Equipment

  • If you are borrowing the equipment and do not have to pay for maintenance, then by all means, string that awesome deal out!  Just be prepared for the day that the deal ends.
  • If you are borrowing the equipment and have to pay for maintenance, you are probably still in an okay position.  Especially if there is no room for more equipment and you share the space with the equipment owner (i.e. another instructor is letting you use their equipment).
  • If you are borrowing the equipment, have to pay for maintenance, are not sharing the equipment with its owner, have to deal with a crappy “lender” that puts a strain on your relationship, and/or you are planning to teach Pilates long-term, I strongly suggest discussing financing with your manufacturer or credit card company to purchase your own equipment.

Scenario: Leased Equipment

  • I can’t really fathom why you might want to lease equipment, except if it is only a short period of time and you don’t want to deal with the hassle of selling it when you are through.

Scenario: Financed Equipment

  • If you are still making payments on new equipment, I hope your equipment will be five years old or younger when you finally own it.  In which case, good job!
  • If you are financing used equipment through a private party (or “renting” their equipment) for more than five years, CAREFUL!  The value of used equipment can be over-stated in these deals and it may be better to finance new equipment in the long run.  Be sure you explore all your options before agreeing to pay for someone else’s old equipment.

Scenario: You don’t own any equipment yet

  • If you are looking to open a small studio or home studio, bolster your patience and set up some alerts for equipment on ebay and craigslist.  Be sure to include cities within a 5 hour or so radius, because even driving to get used equipment can be worth it.
  • If you are opening a large studio with more than two or three Reformers, check out what the manufacturers can offer you in terms of discounts and financing.  It’s nice to have uniform equipment personalized to your space, brand new, and under warranty.
  • If you are opening a large studio, ask around at other local studios to see if any of them know someone else in the business who is looking to sell their studio equipment.  Often there are successful studios who want to upgrade, or studios who are closing that don’t know what to do with their old equipment or how to advertise it.  Make your interest known and a sweet deal might land in your lap.

Are you ready to take care of your equipment as it ages?

I feel as if I’m about to adopt out a new puppy.  But, you’ve heard me harp on this before.  Once you buy your equipment your work is not done!  Regular cleaning, tune-ups and replacement parts are required!  Be sure to budget for new springs (yes, all of them!) every two years.  Upholstery and foam every 6-8.  Wheels and ropes every 5.  And off-hand squeak, creak, noise and sticky maintenance as it comes up.  Plus, the time to wipe the rails every week and do periodic safety checks.

Do you know how to value used equipment?

A lot of you want to buy used equipment.  Those deals you see on Craigslist are tempting, and usually in great condition… they’re probably for sale because they didn’t get used enough!  A lot of the time you are not just saving money by not paying sales tax or shipping, but also a slightly depreciated value.

Here is what you should expect to pay for used equipment less than 10 years old:

  • Wood Studio Reformer: $1500-2500
  • Wood Studio Reformer w/Tower: $3000-4000
  • Allegro Reformer: $2000
  • Allegro Reformer w/Tower: $3000
  • Allegro 2 Reformer: $3000
  • Combo Chair: $800
  • Reformer-Trapeze Combo: $4500
  • Cadillac: $2500
  • Gratz Reformer: $3500

Think similar prices for Peak and Stott equipment.

When you start seeing equipment that is more than 10 years old, like some wood studio Reformers and Allegros, go with caution.  These are not worth the same as those examples I’ve listed above.

  • >10 year old Wood Studio Reformer: $1500
  • >10 year old Allegro Reformer: $1200
  • >10 year old Allegro Reformer w/Tower: $1600

As with any purchase, these prices are ballpark for used equipment which has been gently used and well cared for.  Sometimes you will see equipment new in box (NIB) or less than a year old.  Expect to pay close to the full sale price on these items, minus sales tax and shipping, of course.  That can save you over $500 alone!

Which upgrades are necessary?

If you see any of these signs on used equipment, be aware that you should replace them once you get it home.

  • Wheels haven’t been replaced in more than 5 years (regardless of amount of use, the wheel bearings develop flat spots which cause a bump-bump-bump when you roll the carriage)
  • Ropes that are fuzzy, thick and stiff around the pulley.
  • Balanced Body Reformers with pulleys that are only silver and white.  New pulleys should be red, black, white and some silver.
  • Major upholstery knicks, scrapes or cuts.
  • Major foam deformation where knees go.
  • Any frayed rope, loops or other webbing that is load bearing.
  • Springs, unless a receipt is shown for purchase <2 years ago.
  • Footbar padding where heels are placed during footwork.

Replacing these things when you get home by ordering through the manufacturer can make your equipment look and feel brand new.

Are there any deal breakers to look for when buying used equipment?

  • If the Reformer appears dirty, as in black dust on the rails and dirt on the frame PROCEED WITH CAUTION.  This is an indication of how the equipment was treated and you probably don’t want to take one home that has been abused.  It can be a treasure trove of unknown issues that are difficult to diagnose and fix because the Reformer was not cared for.
  • Don’t bother paying for shipping for used equipment across the US.  Be sure you can test the equipment before you buy it.
  • Bring a friend and a truck to pick up the equipment.  It’s heavy, large, and despite some of my Instagram posts, not easily disassembled.  Most of the time these aren’t able to be disassembled to fit in a car or SUV at all.
  • You may have heard that Balanced Body has a lifetime warranty on their equipment.  This is not true.  They have a lifetime warranty on their wooden frames, but if they are sold, transported or otherwise mistreated then that warranty is void.  Don’t count on making a warranty claim on equipment you purchased used.  But do count on this equipment to last you a long time.  With proper care, of course.

Which brand should I buy?

  • One of the larger manufacturers like Gratz, Peak, Stott and Balanced Body are my recommendations.
  • If you are a student, buy something similar to what your instructor has you work out on.
  • If you are a teacher, most new instructors buy what they were taught on.  However, it is not hard to make the switch to a new manufacturer if you are drawn to the other style or customer service experience.
  • I do not recommend mixing brands (or even models) in your group classes.  For example, teaching someone on a Balanced Body Clinical Reformer and someone else on a Classic Reformer can be tricky, much less a Balanced Body and a Gratz machine.

How do I plan my space?

If you need help planning your space and equipment needs beyond what Pinterest can provide, shoot me an email and we can talk about what it right for you.

How do I find used equipment?

Need some assistance finding used equipment in your area?  I can set up email alerts and help you determine if the machines you are looking at are priced correctly and a good investment.  I’m here to help!