A budget crunch and a tight economy have squeezed many businesses, and the business of personal training is no different! Experienced trainers are looking at ways to service clients and offer variety in their workouts with less expense. New trainers want to keep startup costs to a minimum. Regardless of experience, every trainer wants to deliver more and spend less.
No problem! Let’s look at the eight must-have pieces of equipment in a trainer’s toolbox that carry a low price tag or, in many cases, can be found for free!
Resistance tubing or bands are one of the most frequently used types of equipment for training. With a price tag of less than $10, this piece of equipment is easy to transport, is versatile and gives a trainer the chance to do a total body workout with ease.
Budget Tip: Look for bands that have adjustable handles that can add or remove resistance. They might be a little more expensive, but you get four or five bands in one unit. This is one of the first pieces to put into a trainer’s bag of toys.
Stability Balls
Another piece that costs only a few dollars, a stability ball offers a huge variety of training options. By having a ball in the bag, there isn’t a body part that cannot be trained.
Budget Tip: By adding fluid inside the ball, a complete new way to train the core, balance and stability and other stabilizing muscles can be achieved with only one piece of equipment.
Medicine Balls
These old training devices have become the new must-have piece of equipment for the new way of training; however, to invest all at once in a variety of medicine balls with different weights can break the budget! The solution is to make your own: Take an old basketball, soccer ball or small beach ball, add some sealant from a home improvement store and fill the ball with water or sand.
Budget Tip: Beach balls cost only a few pennies, and a gallon of water (which is free!) weighs about eight pounds!
Weighted Bars
Having a variety of bars with different weights can get pretty expensive as well. Back to the home improvement store for your homemade version! Go to the PVC section (plastic piping) and take your pick from a variety of diameters and lengths. Choose the length that will work best for your clients and will fit their grip. Ask for end caps that can seal off the “bar” and PVC glue to cement the ends onto the pipe. Determine how much weight you want to put into the tube with water or sand, fill to desired weight, and cap the ends!
Budget Tip: If you can, find removable end caps that won’t slide off. This way, you can adjust the weight in the pipe, and your clients advance in their workouts without having to purchase new PVC pipes.
Suspension Training Apparatus
There are a number of suspension devices on the market, and they are great tools and very convenient to use. But you can make the same thing with either rope or chains. It might be a little bit harder to adjust, but the money you save will be well worth the effort! To make the handles, buy short pieces of round metal tubing at plumbing store, have it cut to size, and slide the chain or rope through the pipe.
Budget Tip: Buy a chain with adjustable links that can assist with shortening or lengthening the piece to meet the needs of your client. In many cases, you can find someone that has old chain or ropes lying around - just make sure to check them over before you use them so you keep your clients safe.
Sandbag training has been around for ages, but it is making the rounds as a new way to train. With a large number of pieces of equipment, buying different weight bags can be a very expensive endeavor, but make your own and you can save bags of money! There are a number of places where you can pick up sandbags that are used for holding - you guessed it - sand. By making your own, you can choose the weight and adjust it to make it work for each training situation.
Budget Tip: Go to a construction site or someplace that deals with drainage or sewer systems. They often have extra bags lying around and will give them to you. Then find a beach, and you’re set!
This training tool can be anything from thin small ropes used for jumping rope to the big rope found in shipyards. The exercises you can do with rope is only limited by your imagination. You can pull them, wave them side to side or up and down, do different combinations with them and even hook them to other resistance or body weights for pulling.
Budget Tip: Go to a local boat shop, marina or shipyard, if available, to find ropes for little or no money.
This piece of training equipment, which can be found at a number of locations (start at your local tire dealer and ask if they have some used tires that you can have), can be used for numerous exercises and training drills. Toss them, flip them, throw them, hop in, hop on or run around them… tires are one of the less expensive tools that can be found. The only downside is the difficulty of transporting them to training locations if you are mobile, in which case the tires don’t help get you where you need to go!
Budget Tip: Make sure to clean the tire off well before you use it. You want the workout to come from using the tire, not scrubbing clothes to get out the grit and grime spots that can come from an old, used tire.
With a little imagination and looking at training equipment with a different set of eyes, you can set yourself up for success as a trainer while making your workouts fun for your clients and keeping your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
Mark Roozen, M.Ed, CSCS*D, FNSCA, is owner and president of Performance Edge Training Systems in Texas (www.markroozenpets.com) and works with Day of Champions Sports Camps. Mark has served on a number of committees through the NSCA, currently sitting on the Board of Directors for the organization.


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