If you’re a personal trainer looking to stock up on equipment, you’re in the right place. From foam rollers to suspension trainers and organisation tools, we’ve put together an A-Z of essential personal training equipment to help you decide. Why? It’s more exciting than a conventional list. Why have vanilla when you can have honeycomb? (However, we did have to think hard towards the end of the alphabet!)
We’ve also included product recommendations to make your life easier, and workout videos so you can see certain pieces of equipment in action if you’re not familiar with them.
Let’s jump into it…
The ab roller (or ab wheel) is perfect for working the whole core and upper body. What’s more, your clients will find an ab roller fun to exercise with, which is always a plus.
Ab rollers are also lightweight and compact, so easy to transport if you’re visiting clients’ homes. They are a simple tool, so we don’t think you should spend a lot of money on one.
If you’re demonstrating compound exercises to a client or performing any exercises which involve heavy loading, you need a barbell set.
You can get different types of barbells for targeting different body parts – and they come fixed-weight or adjustable.
The long Olympic bar is popular because it’s so versatile and tailored to a wide range of goals. Your clients can use it to perform so many different types of exercises, whether they want to tone up or load the barbell with plates to improve strength.
There are also EZ curl bars with fixed weights which are used primarily for arm movements. Or lighter cardio bars for use in gym classes which are portable and good for interval training.
Core sliders, also known as gliding discs, are a great addition to any core workout. They’re portable, affordable, and you can use them anywhere.
Your clients will reap the full benefits of core sliders, as it requires a lot of strength for them to control their movements and stop themselves sliding. This is especially the case if they’re using core sliders as part of a HIIT workout.
If you’ve not used core sliders before, they’re best suited to core movements such as planks, mountain climbers, or knee tucks. The video below shows them in action. When using core sliders, your clients should keep their core and shoulders engaged the entire time to keep their body stable.
You’ll no doubt already be aware of some of the benefits associated with dumbbells, but let’s remind ourselves why they’re so great…
Firstly, they can be used to achieve every training goal, whether it’s muscle building, weight loss, stabilisation, or even bone health.
Secondly, you can use dumbbells to eliminate any strength imbalances your clients may have – unlike barbells, dumbbells force the muscles to work individually. This stops the dominant muscle from taking over, thus preventing your clients from overcompensating.
Dumbbells also provide a greater range of motion than a barbell and activate smaller, more ‘stabilizer’ muscles such as rotator cuffs and rear delts, unlike barbell exercises that use large muscles.
Depending on personal preference, you can get fixed weight and adjustable dumbbells, which range from 5 to 100 pounds.
Our picks of the best dumbbells on the market include:
- Body Power Rubber Hex Ergo Dumbbells
- Adjustable IronMaster Quick-lock dumbbell set
- DTX Fitness 10kg Dumbbell Hand Weight Set With Carry Case
An exercise ball, also known as a swiss ball, is often sat in the corner of a gym gathering dust – but it shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s an effective piece of gym equipment if you know how to use it.
Improved back and spine health, greater core stability, and enhanced posture are just some of the benefits associated with an exercise ball. In fact, many people substitute an office chair for an exercise ball because it forces you to engage (and therefore strengthen) your core muscles to keep you sat up straight.
Some of the exercises you can show your clients on an exercise ball include the reverse crunch, incline plank, jackknife (our personal favourite), and passing V-sit (a killer!).
Exercise balls are portable, cheap, and come in different sizes, giving you plenty of options when it comes to creating a workout programme. They’re available at Starwood Sports (£9.99), PilatesMad from M&S (£7.50), and Core Balance (£11.99).
A foam roller is used to release tight muscles and loosen the soft tissue that connects to the muscles (fascia). It stretches the muscles to improve range of motion and mobility, which in turn allows the muscles to perform better and recover quicker and lessens the risk of injury.
Your clients can foam roll pretty much any part of their body, but some are easier to access than others. It’s also worth reminding them that a little bit of pain is natural when they first start using a foam roller and that this pain goes away with practice. Here are some of the exercises you can perform with them using a foam roller.
We think the best foam rollers have grooves, like this from Core Balance (£9.99), but you can get them from various places. You can also get vibrating foam rollers such as this from Pulseroll (£99.99) or a smooth one like this one from Myprotein (£11.99).
Gymnastic rings are guaranteed to give your clients an amazing bodyweight workout, helping to build functional strength and strengthen their joints. They tend to work the arms, chest, shoulders, and back – but it depends on the exercise.
It’s surprising how difficult it is to hang from gymnastic rings or hold yourself in a pull-up position. Other exercises you and your clients can do using gymnastic rings include ring dips, L-sits, a front lever, chin-ups, press-ups, pull-ups, and forward rolls.
Opt for wood rings if your budget allows because they’re more comfortable on the wrist and easier to grip. You can hang them outside on a tree or swing, in your home on a pull-up bar, or at the gym. However, plastic rings are a cheaper option.
Ok, so this isn’t specific to personal training per se, but it’s a vital commodity in the current climate.
The emergence of coronavirus has meant we’re all more aware of passing germs and what we need to do to stay safe. So, if you’re touching equipment that someone else has touched, it’s essential to carry hand sanitiser with you and use it whenever you exercise with a client.
iPhone (or any smartphone for that matter)
We used an iPhone as an example because it’s still the world’s most popular smartphone, but any kind of smartphone is an essential piece of personal training equipment.
With an iPhone, you can download some amazing apps that allow you to give instructions to your clients, share your advice, set their goals, and track their progress. Check out our blog on the best personal trainer apps on the market.
Plus, an iPhone allows you to stay in contact with your clients, play music to motivate your clients at their training session, and promote your business on apps like Instagram. You can also use the timer facility on your iPhone to time exercises or even take pictures and videos to share on your website. There are so many options available to you if you have an iPhone to hand.
Jumping rope is underrated. Many people haven’t rope jumped since their childhood, but its fitness benefits are extraordinary.
Research states jump rope “can achieve a “burn rate” of up to 1300 calories per hour of vigorous activity, with about 0.1 calories consumed per jump. Ten minutes of jumping rope can roughly be considered the equivalent of running an eight-minute mile”.
On top of this, a jump rope improves coordination, mental sharpness, and bone density. Plus, let’s not forget – it’s fun to use. It’s little wonder, therefore, that so many personal trainers incorporate jump ropes into their clients’ aerobic workouts.
PT and jump rope enthusiast Declan Mcarthy said: “Rope jumping burns many calories in a short amount of time, which is a big contributor to the weight I lost.
“Unlike running it is low impact, so it doesn’t hurt your joints if performed correctly and provided you warm-up and cool down properly. It improves balance, coordination, and agility, and people of all ages can do it.”
You can check out Declan’s daily jump rope tricks and get inspired by visiting his Instagram via the link above.
As with dumbbells, you’re probably aware of why kettlebells are an essential component of any workout. They build strength in the posterior chain, tone muscles, burn fat, improve flexibility and balance. You get the idea.
But have you thought about all the exercises you can do with a kettlebell? It turns out there might be more than you think. Kettlebell instructor Greg Brookes has listed 52 kettlebell exercises with videos for you to try.
If you’re training with a client who’s new to exercise, it might be best for them to use a kettlebell before a barbell, to make sure their form is correct and minimise the risk of a serious injury.
You and your clients can train anywhere with a kettlebell because they’re small so easy to manoeuvre, and relatively inexpensive.
If you’re wondering which brands to go for,we narrowed down the 10 best kettlebells on the market in our recent blog.
It’s a good idea for your clients to use a lifting belt when you perform heavy compound movements, such as squats and deadlifts. Why? It will give them more support and help to stabilise your core.
But, you know as well as anyone that a lifting belt won’t rectify poor form. So, your clients should get this right before they increase reps or add weight.
There are loads of good lifting belts on the market and there are different fastening mechanisms and materials to choose from. Leather and nylon belts are the most popular.
For a leather lifting belt, we like the double buckle Myprotein belt (£20.99). If you want a vegan alternative, try the B_nd belt (£36) with a double-pronged metal buckle. For a nylon option, we like the Element 26 self-locking Nylon belt (£26.77).
You’ll have seen a medicine ball in a gym, or may often use one yourself.
A medicine ball can be used in a variety of ways. It’s a great addition to core exercises such as Russian twists, or your clients can slam it to the ground to work their arms and increase power. Or, they can use it like they would a dumbbell for lower body workouts such as squats.
Medicine balls come in different weights (usually up to 10kg), and some have handles so that they’re easier to hold. They’re available at BodyMax (£24.99), Fitness Mad (from £16.79), or Reebok (£49.99).
Although there’s more software available to personal trainers than ever before, sometimes you can’t beat an old-fashioned notebook. This is a fundamental piece of equipment to plan and keep track of your clients’ workouts and progress.
A notebook is a personal trainer’s best friend. You could write down your clients’ workouts, diet, weight, or what they need to improve on. Or organise your schedule by writing down your to-do list for the day.
Yes, you can do a lot on your phone, but some things are just easier to jot down on paper. That’s where a notebook is so handy. Better yet, you can even get a personalised notebook. What are you waiting for? Getting an extra organisation tool like this is a no-brainer. Speaking of which…
As a personal trainer, you’re constantly on the go. You’re in several places, you have many clients with varying goals, and your plans often change at the last minute. So, organisation is key.
How can you make your life easier? Organisation tools will help, whether you’re trying to keep on top of admin or expand your client base. Some of the organisational tools you need include a notebook (as we’ve covered), a laptop to record client data, a pen, a business card, sticky notes, and folders.
Staying on top of admin is key if you want to avoid being one of the many personal trainers who go out of business within the first two years. A notebook, laptop, and sticky notes could make all the difference.
Let’s face it – plyometric boxes are not only fun to use, they’re a great calorie burner. By using a plyometric box, your clients will train their bodies to become more explosive and develop some serious core strength.
You can change the height of the box, depending on how hard you want the workout to be for your clients. Use a higher box if you want to focus on power – your client’s movements should be short and explosive. If they want to focus on cardio and do more reps quickly with less rest, they should use a lower box.
Soft and wooden plyometric boxes are available, but we recommend the soft ones because there’s less risk of sustaining an injury. Soft plyometric jump boxes are available at Mirafit, BLK Box, and Physical Company.
Quick dry towel
Taking a towel with you to the gym is a good idea. They soak up sweat, keep you clean, cool you down, and they’re easy to carry around with you. The best gym towels are microfibre gym towels.
Resistance bands are perhaps the most versatile personal training equipment around. They’re perfect for improving strength, mobility, flexibility. Plus, they’re affordable and easy to carry around with you.
Your clients can use them to activate their muscles before a workout, add tension during a workout, or stretch after a workout.
If you want to find out more about the benefits of using resistance bands, check out our blog on The 12 Best Resistance Bands on The Market. This includes our favourite resistance bands, different types of bands, and what they’re best for, along with examples of workouts.
For anybody who doesn’t have much experience of suspension training, it’s a bodyweight workout in which you suspend your body by your hands and feet with suspension straps. It improves functional strength because multiple muscle groups work at the same time.
Using a suspension trainer will make your clients’ core muscles (such as their abs, obliques, and lower-back) work to stabilise them as they perform exercises. Because they’re moving through the exercises, a suspension trainer will also strengthen their tendons and ligaments.
You can change the length of the strap or your position to adjust the difficulty. Plus, suspension trainers are very lightweight and fold up small, so you can take them anywhere. Check out this video on how to use them for home training.
So, where can you get suspension trainers? There’s the original (and very popular) TRX Suspension Training Straps (£49.99), while you can also purchase them on PhysioRoom (£39.99) and Fitness-Mad (£49.99).
With so many people working out in their garages and spare rooms in the current climate, a training bench has become an even more essential piece of personal training equipment.
As you’ll know, you can use a training bench for just about anything, from upper-body exercises such as bench press to lower-body exercises such as Bulgarian split squats.
You can get flat training benches or ones that adjust to form a chair back at different inclines. We would recommend that you purchase an adjustable bench as this can be used to perform a wider range of exercises.
Some of the best training benches on the market include the Gyronetics E-Series Multi Function Bench from Gorilla Sports (£119.99), Opti Utility Training Bench (£54.99) and Musclesquad Folding Dumbbell Bench (£64.99).
As a personal trainer, it’s important to look the part. Professionalism can separate you from other personal trainers and looking like you mean business goes a long way. This means wearing fashionable sports gear which is well-fitting. Check out how these three personal trainers dress for the gym.
Another way to make a good impression is to wear custom gym clothing with your business printed on it. If this is something you’re interested in, you can design and order your own personal training clothing and uniforms at Personal Trainer Clothing, or you can opt for an existing PT design.
Even if you don’t have your own merchandise, you should always wear sporty exercise clothing.
Personal trainers are either always on the go, exercising, or in a sweaty room. So, ventilated clothing is a must.
A breathable, quick dry top is ideal if you perspire a lot, and they roll up small in your bag if you want to carry a spare. It’s also a good idea to carry ventilated spare socks with you to prevent Athlete’s foot.
Here’s a selection of the gym clothing we love:
- T-Shirts: Nike Pro T-Shirt (£31.95), Puma Energy Mens Training T-Shirt (£25), Adidas Own The Run T-Shirt (£23.71)
- Socks: Balega Women’s Enduro Low Cut Mid Running Socks (£13), Allbirds Trino Sprinters socks (£15)
- Leggings: Gymshark Womens Vital Seamless Legging (£40), Tala Womens Zinnia Legging (£40), Gymshark Mens 2 in 1 Legging (£50)
- Shorts: Under Armour Men’s UA Tech™ Mesh Shorts (£20.89), Gymshark Training Shorts (£20)
A fitness tracker or watch is one of the most vital items a personal trainer can own. Not only is it perfect for tracking your exercise and lifestyle, but many watches contain features that you can use when training clients. For example, a stopwatch, timer, notes, the ability to receive calls, and control music.
You can also get your favourite fitness app up on your watch, so you don’t need to look at your phone.
A cross trainer, also called an elliptical trainer, provides a full-body workout for your clients. Plus, it’s impact-free, so their joints won’t be put under undue stress. Depending on your clients’ goals, you can ramp up the machine to create resistance and improve their strength at the same time.
There are elliptical cross trainers out there to suit all budgets. You can get more basic ones for around the £200 price region, and there are larger ones you see in commercial gyms that will burn a hole in your wallet.
A yoga mat (or exercise mat) is perfect for core exercises, HIIT workouts, yoga, and pilates.
It stops your clients from slipping when performing certain exercises and provides a cushion to make floor-based exercises more comfortable. It also helps prevent pain in their back and damage to the floor if they’re using a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell.
As a yoga mat is small and lightweight, it’s perfect for taking to the gym with you or transporting to clients’ homes.
You can get standard cheap ones that will do the job, but here are some more pricy mats that stand out:
- The ComFy Mat Unisex’s Black Interlocking foam exercise mats (from £19.61) are tiny squares that fit together, ideal to fill a specific size of floor space in your own gym.
- The Sportstech Protective Flooring Mat (£39), which is durable, thick, and comes in four different sizes.
- The Adidas Exercise Mat (£26.99) which is thick and rolls up with a carry strap.
- The Sweaty Betty Eco Yoga Mat (£40), which is unique because it’s free from rubber and PVC, and biodegradable.
Zipped gym bag
Last but not least, you need a gym bag strong and sturdy enough to carry your belongings. A bag with different compartments and ventilation is even better too. Plus, it must be zipped because you’ll likely have valuable items in there.
These are our top picks, featuring some reputable and reliable brands:
- The Gymshark X Series Backpack 0.3 (£55) which has a removable organiser, mesh for ventilation and padded laptop sleeve.
- The Nike Vapor Power Small Black Holdall (£34.95) which features a separate compartment for shoes and can be worn over the shoulder.
- The Under Armour Undeniable Duffel 4.0 Small Duffle Bag (£34) which has different compartments, a ventilated pocket, water-resistant coating, and hard wearing side and bottom panels. All are big enough to fit your essential items in, but not too big to lug around.
Specialist personal trainer insurance from Insure4Sport
As well as having the right equipment, you need specialist personal trainer insurance. Not only does this protect your equipment if it’s lost, damaged, or stolen, it also protects you if a client claims against you.
Find out how our personal trainer insurance can benefit you by clicking the link above, or get an online quote.