GymLend was created by two Sydney-siders in response to the COVID-19 crisis to enable gyms to rent their unused equipment to people who are now working out at home.
“We’ve got buckets of Australians still wanting to work out properly,” says co-founder Jordan Smith, a former executive at Anytime Fitness. “At the same time, gyms are closed, sitting there with their equipment collecting dust. This lets gyms make some money while they’re unable to charge customers, and it helps keep people active.”
Smith says more than 30 gyms Australia-wide – including CrossFit and F45 studios – have so far signed up to hire out their equipment, making up more than 660 listings. “We’ve been blown away by the response,” he says.
The platform allows gyms to list as much equipment as they like, setting pricing for items as small as resistance bands and dumbbells to as large as squat racks and rowing machines. They can also create bundles of gear, such as a package of weights, a mat and a foam roller.
Consumers then search for gear according to their location and can choose to hire on an ongoing weekly or fixed term basis. The site takes a 20 per cent cut of the payments.
Makenna Eide, an Orangetheory regional manager, says studio members had been asking to hire gear after finding it near impossible to buy at-home equipment, but the business was uncertain how to manage it. They signed up to GymLend on Monday.
“We wanted to use a platform that would be really clear, easy, concise and take care of all the logistics and legalities,” Eide says.
She says it’s been a “big help” financially as it is providing work for staff, and while her studios are only offering rentals to members first, they expect to branch out if any equipment is left over.
Smith hopes GymLend will have a role to play even when gyms reopen, believing there will remain an appetite for at-home fitness, and he plans to launch in the US and the UK shortly.
“It’s safe to say this period is going to cause shifts,” Smith says. “Gyms need to be ready to pivot and meet consumers where they want them. Nothing will ever replace a gym but with the rise of fitness apps and digital players, we need to be nimble.”
Sophie is Deputy Lifestyle Editor for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.