A few days ago I testified a bit on how to properly choose a home / residential grade treadmill. This time, since it has been a quiet day at the DOJO, I am going to ramble a bit on the ins and outs of remanufactured commercial equipment. This guide can be used not only for cardio equipment like treadmills and ellipticals, but also for strength equipment…although I get more than enough of a strength workout every day lifting and moving heavy treadmills around the DOJO.
Remanufactured equipment (sometimes called refurbised or reconditioned — it all depends on which company you are dealing with) has taken off quite a bit in the last few years as gym owners and home buyers both have realized they can purchase ultra high quality commercial equipment, in great condition for a fraction of the cost. Most remanufactured equipment with sell for 30-70% off of the original price! If you’ve ever wanted to have a Precor Elliptical or Life Fitness treadmill in your home, now you can!
The single most confusing thing about remanufactured equipment is just what it means…and what the difference between a remanufactured treadmill, a refurbished treadmill and a reconditioned on is. Unfortunately for buyers and poor service techs like the Treadmill Sensei, there are no industry standard definitions for these terms and what you get will vary from company to company. If you are going to buy remanufactured (or refurbished or whatever) equipment, make sure to ask what a company’s definition of what they are selling you is because you might be surprised at the answer. Some companies will just wipe a unit down, touch up the paint and then send it out the door as «remanufactured.» Beware of these companies!
Let’s go over the life of a piece of gym equipment destined for remanufacturing…this is something I do nearly every day for my repair clients so I know of what I speak!
Most larger gym chains lease their equipment instead of buying it. This allows them to trade in their equipment every few years. Once that equipment has been returned the the manufacturer, it is then resold to a remanufacturer (or reseller who then turns the unit over for remanufacturing to someone like your Treadmill Sensei). A quality remanufacturer will then strip the unit down to the frame, sandblast it to remove any traces of rust (a number of less reputible vendors will just paint over rust) and then repaint it using the same high end paint ($250-300/gallon!) used by the manufacturers themselves. We do powder coating here at the DOJO, but the regular repaints can be almost as good. At this point, all wear items are replaced — bearings, grips, rollers and so on. Diagnostics are then run on the electronics to make sure they are up to snuff and then cleaned up or replaced. On most equipment (treadmills and ellipticals, for example) the majority of problems will, luckily, come in the form of the control board. I say «luckily» because the boards can generally be replaced for $30 or so and take almost no time to reinstall. Also, most structural problems with a treadmill or elliptical will pop up in the first 30-60 days. Once you’ve made it past that point you should be in the clear and have a fine piece of equipment on your hands.
In my personal experience, and this may be because the DOJO turns out great work, remanufactured units tend to have a much lower rate of problems or defects when done correctly. This is because the treadmills and ellipticals (or strength equipment) are gone over with such a fine tooth comb and service so completely that any defects or problems which might have been missed by the manufacturer are caught and fixed as part of the servicing.
With a little bit of research, going the remanufactured route will allow a smaller fitness facility to compete with larger chains by offering competitive fitness equipment while saving money. In fact, many fitness trainers and gyms are finding they are able to reach a profit much earlier by taking advantage of the lower cost and high reliability of remanufactured equipment.
For home buyers, remanufactured equipment lets you purchase the same high end commercial equipment you work out on at your local gyms for a fraction of the price. And, if you’ve ever tried to go from working out on a Life Fitness, Matrix, Star Trac or Landice to working out on a crappy Proform machine, you’re already familiar with the disappointment a lot of wind up experiencing when they try to make the transition. Buying remanufactured lets you stick with what you know.
A quick tip on where to buy remanufactured equipment: places like Megafitness, Big Fitness, Fitness 909 and Fit4Sale sell it, but the highest quality units seem to be coming out of Treadmills Central right now. I’ve seen a number of their Precor 544 and 546 units, as well as quite a few Life Fitness 9500 Rear Drive Ellipticals, Star Trac Treadmills, and Matrix Ellipticals at a recent Fitness Trade Show, and I’ve been impressed every time.
Good luck with your purchasing and feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions or comments. The DOJO is always open.
-The Treadmill Sensei