Essential gym equipment for the new academic year

Absolute Performance managing director shares his expertise to help schools acquire essential gym equipment

Strength and conditioning equipment specialist, Absolute Performance (AP), has extensive experience of designing and equipping facilities, from small private gyms to national teams such as England Rugby. They have worked with all sporting levels including elite performance coaches, personal trainers and directors of sport at many of the UK’s leading independent schools.

Managing director, Tony Buchanan, speaks to Independent School Sport and shares his expertise to help schools looking to buy essential gym equipment for this new academic year.


● Whether creating a training facility from scratch, refurbishing or needing help to source equipment or flooring, it is really important the equipment is trusted for performance and durability.

● Try to use an independent company so you get the best advice and products for your budget and use, and are not tied to any one supplier or manufacturer.

● As part of the consultation make sure that your supplier listens to your needs and, importantly, your budget. It may be possible to refurbish existing equipment while also investing in other areas such as new flooring.

For example, we supply premium brand Werksan bars and plates, but also our own ranges of AP equipment, which have grown in popularity because they are cost-effective, while also being fit for purpose.

● Bespoke branding is popular and enables schools to customise equipment and gyms with their school colours and logo, to create a welcoming and motivational training facility.

● Remember that a well-designed gym, with the right equipment, can be used by not only by students and staff, but also the wider community and sporting clubs to generate income for the school.  Indeed, we were delighted that many of the schools we have worked with are being used as training bases during the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

From experience, creating a multipurpose training facility using the following key components will always achieve the best results for all pupils and staff; depending on budget and space, schools can always add to this list of essential equipment:

Multipurpose strength and conditioning equipment

● Olympic bars and weights

● Technique bars and weights – lighter than Olympic bars and are ideal when learning the correct lifting technique before progressing to heavier weights

● Dumbbells

● Power racks

● Lifting platforms – help zone the lifting area in the gym and protect the floor and equipment

● Benches

Bench with school logo and platform, Royal Grammar School, Newcastle

Functional training equipment

● Kettlebells – great for whole body fitness

● Suspension trainers – suitable for all levels, low impact, improve cardio and core strength

● Soft plyometric boxes – can be used for a variety of exercises, by all ages and abilities

● Battle ropes

● Functional training rigs – ideal for bodyweight classes and group training

Training with the Kettlebell


Make sure that you invest in the right flooring because it needs to be able to stand up to anything a gym can throw at it.

By choosing the correct type of flooring, the facility can then be used for multiple training purposes including weightlifting, warm up sessions, fitness exercises and group sessions.

Specialist flooring solutions depend on how the space will be used and zoned for different types of training:

● Heavy-duty flooring for dropping and lifting of weights

● Multi-purpose turf for pushing and pulling. The turf can be under-laid with a plyo shock pad system enabling it to be used for both sled and plyometric work

● Rubber flooring for sprints and plyometric work

● Matting for mobility work.

To contact Absolute Performance email:


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