When opening a studio, expenses are everywhere; from lease deposits and cleaning service contracts, to toilet paper and light bulbs. When costs are high, it can be hard to assess where to invest when it comes to your workout equipment. We talked to 10 ClassPass family experts about their favorite, most effective tools—and their answers might surprise you!

CYCLING
Expert: Deborah Collard, co-owner, Ride Oakland, Oakland, California

Splurge Item: High-end Spin Bike
“It is definitely worth it to splurge on an awesome spin bike! No bells and whistles needed, but a good solid bike will be around for a while; a cheap one will break down often and drive you crazy with noisy chains, uneven resistance, and pedals that feel unstable. We love the Schwinn bikes (we have them at the studio!). They are very solid and nicely adjustable; you can get a home version for around $700 and studio models will cost about $1200.”

Save Item: Cycling Shoes
“Cycling shoes are a MUST for a great spin workout, but you don’t need to break the bank if you aren’t riding outdoors. A basic pair with SPD or LOOK cleats can run about $70 to $80. No need for super light weight ones or ones with expensive fasteners—just tie up or Velcro, and clip into that bike!”

PILATES
Expert: Carol Stephans, founder, Adrenaline Pilates, Chamblee, Georgia

Splurge Item: The Reformer
“I’d have to recommend the reformer because it is all encompassing—it gives you a head-to-toe workout, it focuses on the core, corrects postural deviations, and accommodates variations in height. There is so much you can do on this one machine, it still amazes me. The main thing is that the exercises focus on your core, breathing, range of motion (let’s face it, no one stretches enough), and elongation of the spine. You are literally getting constant abdominal contractions throughout the workout. It will correct postural deviations with consistent effort and will decompress and elongate the spine.”

Save Item: Pilates Ring
“The ring is fairly cheap, and it’s great because you can use it to enhance abdominal exercises by holding it between the knees or ankles for various exercises that focus not only on the core, but on gluteals, quads, hamstrings, abductors and adductors. You can also squeeze the ring between your hands, like a pec fly, for pectoral and abdominal contractions as well as activation through the lats, bis, tris, and deltoids. It’s easy to use and my clients both love and hate it!  They also realize after a few sessions that not only has their strength increased, but they can also see and feel the benefits of it, so they appreciate the effects.”

YOGA
Expert: Laurenn Cutshaw, vice president of marketing and branding, Yoga Six, California & Midwest

Splurge Item: Manduka’s Black Mat Pro
“For the splurge item I’d recommend a good yoga mat. There are tons of yoga mats on the market, many of which are super cheap, but a good mat will last a long time and perform better. My personal favorite is Manduka’s Pro series ($80 – $108), which you’ll have for a lifetime—literally. At 6mm thick, the mat is a bit heavier than most others, but its non-absorbing “closed-cell” surface keeps moisture out of the mat and is therefore easy to clean. Manduka also offers a lifetime guarantee on their Pro series mats. The investment pays for itself over time. At Yoga Six we use the Manduka PROlite’s for our rental mats, they wear very well and students enjoy them.”

Save Item: Hand Towels
“Generally speaking I prefer quality and longevity over savings, but I also understand the economics of running a yoga business. As a studio owner one thing I would not spend on are hand towels. Manduka’s eQua towel is amazing! At Yoga Six we used to carry these as rentals, but unfortunately many of them found their way outside the studio. At the end of the day a hand towel is a hand towel. Hand towels only need to be available to catch and wipe sweat for 60 – 75 minutes at time, and there are many good yet inexpensive options out there. My recommendation for studio owners is this—save your money and double down on a decent hand towel in a loud color.”

BARRE
Expert: Jane Brodsky, owner, Biker Barre, Washington, DC

Splurge Item: High-end Barres
“We really love having beautiful, high-quality barres, that can withstand the workout day in and day out and also look great. Investing in a both a high-end barre and the construction involved in installing them is so worth it. Cheaper barres can be grainy and will wear down after a while. Ours are maple, we got them from Alva’s Barres.” ($400+)

Save Item: Gripped Socks
“They may not be for everyone, but the socks with the grips on them are definitely worth trying out. You may find you’re able to get into position—and stay in them—more easily. We sell the Shashi and Crescent Moon brands, which both retail for $12.”

MARTIAL ARTS
Expert: Master David Herbert, owner, World Martial Arts Center, Brooklyn, New York

Splurge Item: Martial Arts Mats
“The number one thing with martial arts is that you want to have safety, and you need mats covering your floors if your students are going to be wrestling, kicking, kneeling, etc. Mats aren’t cheap, but they are a necessity. They’re roughly $250 for 1-meter by 2-meter, so you can easily need 60 or 70 mats depending on the size of your space. And the cost goes up because UPS won’t deliver them due to their size and weight, so you need to hire a private company to deliver them, and they typically charge $50, but you can get that cost down depending on the distance and the quantity. That said, you can’t teach judo, MMA, jujitsu or Aikido on a wood or cement floor, you’d get too many bumps and bruises. You have to have a mat for safety reasons and the upside is that it will cut down on your insurance costs—your liability goes down immensely. When you’ve got hundreds of students kneeling, rolling or kicking each week, many are going to wobble, slip and fall—and the difference between an elbow dropping to the wood or cement floor versus a mat, is the difference between a fracture and a bruise. Two companies, Swain and Zebra, make the easiest to move and install mats, just make sure you stress the exact size you need when ordering them.”

Save Item: Focus Pads/Mitts
“You can teach someone to swim on dry land, but none of that matters unless they’re in the water.  You can teach someone how to use a Bow and arrow, but it doesn’t  work well without a target. The same goes for martials arts—when a student is punching and kicking in the air, that’s great for a workout, however, the minute you start hitting something the student starts developing a real weapon and skill. This is crucial to learning true martial arts. And focus pads are key to the training—they are that valuable. They start at $20 to $30, but I’d recommend investing in leather; there are a lot of other materials out there, but they won’t last as long as leather if you plan to use them heavily.”

HIIT/STRENGTH TRAINING
Expert: Melissa Boyd, owner, SALT, San Francisco

Splurge Item: Plyo Boxes
“My favorite ‘splurge’ item has to be a multi-level Plyo box. This level changer can add so much variety to your workout. From plyometrics to isometrics, a simple box can make all the difference in progressing or regressing an exercise. Having a box with multi-levels allows you to switch up exercises within a circuit quickly easily. My favorite brand is Rep Fitness.”

Save Item: Mini Loop Resistance Bands
“Although I’m a huge fan of pushing, pressing and using your bodyweight as resistance, the right tools can really help clients (and myself) activate muscle groups that they may normally neglect and to bring attention to areas that may need some extra focus and control. My absolute favorite bang for your buck fitness item has to be a set of mini loop resistance bands. Small, portable and so powerful, those little bands can help up the intensity on so many lower (glutes, glutes, glutes!) and full body movements. The added resistance can be just what you need to correct form and add that extra burn out to your work out. My favorite brand is X Bands.”

ROWING
Expert: Johan Quie, co-founder, RowClub, San Francisco

Splurge Item: Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine ($900)
“I love Concept2’s rowing machines. It’s what Olympians and every elite rower in the world trains on; it’s their benchmark tool. They provide lots of metrics: pace, speed, meters rowed. Numbers don’t lie. There are cheaper rowing machines, like the water one, but they aren’t as effective, they’re more for the novelty. Out of all exercise equipment, rowing machines have the best ROI: they are cheap (under $1000) and low maintenance if you take care of them. Just oil the chain and replace a $10 bungee cord every few years.”

Save Item: Compression Shorts
“If you show up to class wearing baggy shorts, they’re going to get caught on the track under your seat. Trou is the standard in rowing. They’re like bike shorts, minus the diaper pad under your butt. JL Trou are great and cost $35. That said, they’re a little revealing. Nike makes some great 2-in-1 running shorts with compression shorts underneath that are solid—especially since not too many people are walking around in their trau.”

RUNNING
Expert: Dan Fitzgerald, co-founder, Heartbreak Hill Running Co., Boston, Massachusetts

Splurge Item: Garmin Forerunner 235 ($329.99)
“This fitness tracker is the ultimate runner’s tool that does all of the standards of a GPS watch—pace, distance, map creation, elevation tracking, plus run cadence and it has an optical wrist top heart rate sensor. It tells you when to move after you’ve been too sedentary for too long, ensuring that your desk time doesn’t work against all of that training.”

Save Item: Stance socks ($15-$36)
“Some fresh new socks from Stance will keep you looking like you deserve to be at the front of pack. The fabric is moisture-wicking and mesh venting helps prevent overheating. They are the coolest socks in the game right now.”

DANCE
Expert: Heather Adams, Uforia Studios, Palo Alto, California

Splurge Item: S’Well Bottles
At Uforia we sell S’Well water bottles to our clients, and frankly there is no better water bottle to keep you hydrated during class. The S’Well bottle keeps your water cold for up to 24 hours, or you can fill it with tea and keep that warm for up to 12. It’s perfectly adaptable to the changing weather of SF! Not to mention you’ll look crazy stylish drinking out of your S’Well as well. Price range is $35 to $45, but it’s definitely worth the splurge.

Save Item: Chilled towels
Our Uforia clients are supplied with chilled towels after every dance class.They are often the highlight and surprise for any new client who enters our doors. We want you smiling while you sweat and the chilled towel will leave you feeling refreshed and ‘uforic’ after all of your hard work!”

BOXING
Expert: Brooke Budke, Senior Director of Marketing, Title Boxing Club

Splurge Item: Title Black Gloves
“These bad boys are as good as it gets when it comes to gear. The Ingenuity To Outperform TITLE BLACK® equipment line takes you to the edge with precision ‘king cut’ double-ply full grain leathers, brilliant and luxurious patent leathers and extra deep pile suede leathers that complement each other in a rich compilation of premier quality, clout and exclusive membership. They retail for $199 and make you feel invincible.”

Save Item: Hand Wraps
Hand wraps are an inexpensive, yet critical piece of ‘equipment’ for your boxing or kickboxing heavy bag workout. They come in all colors, patterns and designs, and best of all they protect your hands when striking the heavy bag and help you to feel like a superhero, too! They range from $5 to $10, so get one of each to match your workout outfit.”