Buying second hand Pilates apparatus: weighing up the advantages & disadvantages

Moving abroad, Pilates studio closing, Upgrading Apparatus, Apparatus unused and gathering dust, Ex Showroom or Ex Exhibition are all headlines on adverts or reasons given for owners selling their Pilates Kit. In this blog I look at the advantages and disadvantages to consider when buying a second-hand bargain.

Commercial Pilates Apparatus, in comparison with commercial gym machines like Cross-trainers, treadmills steppers etc, is low-tech with springs rather than motors and relatively light loads on substantially built frames. It is therefore not unrealistic to expect well manufactured kit to last multiple decades. This means that Pilates Apparatus holds a high second hand value and the majority of the depreciation is in the first year after purchase. However, buying Second hand machinery is not risk free.

Consider Warranty: Manufacturers of Pilates Apparatus will often offer long warranties on the frames of their kit. They know that their frames are engineered to last for decades and so frames will usually have 10+ years of warranty. Manufacturers typically will only offer their warranty to the customer named on the original Invoice they hold. As a result of this, however new the machine, Second hand machines are usually sold with no warranty.

Consider Spare Parts & Availability of Accessories: The very fact that older Apparatus can last for decades and can still look great – does not mean that wear and tear parts and standard accessories will be available from the manufacturer when you need them. You should therefore do your homework before purchasing a second hand machine – even if the item looks like a total bargain. The reason for a 50%+ discounted may very well be because you can no longer get spare parts for the machine or the manufacturer has announced that a machine has been substantially upgraded and that key parts of the new machine are no longer compatible with the old range. A telephone call to the manufacturer to ask some key questions may tell you quickly if the machine being sold at bargain price really is a bargain!

Consider Cost of Carriage: When you purchase a new Pilates machine it will normally arrive to you, with some assembly required, on a single or often double pallet. When a seller offers you second-hand they will virtually always ask for a price that does not include the cost of delivery to you. Unless you own a suitably sized vehicle (a Pilates Chair or ladder Barrel will typically fir into an estate car boot space with back seats folded –  but a Cadillac or reformer will often require disassembly and then carriage in a long wheel base vehicle) – you are likely to need to pay for a dedicated courier delivery. Manufacturers negotiate deals with freight companies to deliver their pallets with properly packed machines. It is not unusual to see quotations of £200 – £400 in the UK – dependent on distance to be travelled for the movement of second hand machines.

If you genuinely cannot afford to buy new – buying secondhand may be your best option, in which case buying direct from a locally based manufacturer an ex exhibition or ex Showroom Pilates machine with full warranty with a known price for delivery organised and insured by the seller may represent excellent value and provide you with a machine which depreciates very little over the remainder of its working life. Beware offers that appear too good to be true, the second hand market for Commercial Pilates Apparatus is typically a Sellers market with high second hand prices compared to many other products – investigate carefully the reasons for exceptional bargains of 50% or more before buying!

 

About the Author
Chris Onslow has been in the Pilates industry since 1999. He has sold or distributed Balanced Body, Stott-Pilates and Align-Pilates equipment in the UK and Europe and has owned Pilates Studios ranging from 600 square feet to 6000 square feet in size, with studios in Oxford, London and Witney. Chris brought Stott Pilates education to the UK in 2006 and now runs Mbodies Training Academy. He is a consultant for several Pilates studio operators and owners seeking to use his experience in the industry to ‘launch’, ‘develop’, and ‘refocus’ their Pilates focussed companies.