Purchasing Medical and Wellness Equipment
Volume 2, Number 2
Christopher Breuleux, PhD, RMT
President, Medical Wellness
Each year, the
process of evaluating and purchasing equipment becomes a bit more
complicated. There are new companies and technology, categories,
updates and additions to existing equipment, all which make the
decision more difficult and time-consuming. Obviously, every
business and facility has unique and different needs. Whether you
are developing a new program with the latest equipment or simply
updating your facility, there are some basic processes and steps
that should always be considered when purchasing.
1. What market
segments are you targeting? Beyond traditional therapeutic and
resistance exercise equipment, there are considerations for
specialized populations such as women, children, seniors,
post-injury athletes and rehab patients.
2. What kind of space do you have? Nobody wants to work out in a
confining and crowded space. A general rule of thumb is 40 square
feet of floor space per individual exercise unit. If you’re dealing
with special populations, such as users in wheelchairs, that number
may need to go higher.
3. What are your facility constraints? Certain equipment, such as
treadmills, have large motors that require a lot of power. Some
elliptical/cross training units are wireless, which is a useful
feature when adequate power is not available.
4. What are your staffing and programming capabilities? Make sure
you have or recruit the appropriate staff to provide programming and
supervision for the machines you purchase.
5. What is your budget? This will determine whether you purchase
new, upgraded or refurbished items. As the level of equipment
sophistication increases, so does the cost of buying new.
Evaluate & Compare Supplier Vendors
1. How long have they been in business? New companies may be eager
to offer attractive pricing incentives, while more established
companies may have proven track records and be worth the extra cost.
2. Are they financially stable? You obviously want to avoid buying
equipment from a company that is about to go out of business.
Imagine trying to get parts or service from a manufacturer who no
3. Are they an MWA partner or member? All MWA partners and members
pledge to follow the association’s code of conduct for ethical
business practices and quality.
4. Confirm the warranty. Each part of a machine (e.g. frames, belts,
chains, upholstery) may be covered under a different warranty, and
for a different length of time. Be sure you understand all the terms
5. How complicated is it to service the equipment? Most
manufacturers will train your staff to make routine repairs. Some
offer a certified technician training program, and may reimburse you
for the hours your maintenance person spends on repairs.
Due Diligence and Reference Checks
1. Ask for their
service record and references. The best way to find out what type of
service a company provides is to call reference list to ask pointed
questions. If you know of other clubs that have the type of
equipment you are considering buying, contact them. Ask to speak to
the maintenance staff. You want to know what the service will be
like after your order clears.
2. How is the installation? Did the delivery process go smoothly?
Did the manufacturer take care to get the equipment through the
doors, around the corners, and up the stairs without gouging walls
and tearing the carpet? Was installation painless and trouble free?
Once installed, was the equipment thoroughly tested, and your staff
properly trained on safety, operation, and routine maintenance?
Considerations by Equipment Type
include: a user-friendly operating display, easy-toread
instructions, smooth operation, comfort, well-designed
bottle/reading racks, appropriate programs and heart rate monitors.
have seats that are comfortable for both women and men, and should
adjust easily and smoothly.
training machines should allow for a comfortable stance
full range of motion through a variety of stride lengths.
will have large and flexible/ resilient decks and belts, adequate
motors, self-lubricating roller bearings, a decline feature for
special training, good handrails, and automatic stop/clear features
(useful in resetting between users).
machines should position users to work the gluteus maximum
muscles more so than the knees. They should also have large foot
pads and a special coating on the handrails so that they are
durable, non-slip and easy to clean.
ergometers and rowing machines should provide a smooth rowing
motion, with the cable, seat and flywheel operating smoothly.
include: solid and ergonomic frames, easy seating and quality
equipment should contain clear directions and illustrations.
Information on equipment should clearly explain the muscle groups
being exercised and the appropriate range of motion.
should be of biomechanically sound design and should allow for
should be easy to use, and provide quality negative resistance.
features include: smooth bolt heads, rubber-coated covers which cut
down on the noise, ergonomic grip design, and on/off controls.
Remember that you
are buying equipment for all of your participants and patients. The
appropriate selection of equipment along with appropriate safety
procedures will provide positive results.
Medical Wellness Guide, http://
American College of
International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association