Making a mark on tomorrow’s market: AJ Fitness Equipment

Worth the weight | A few days before starting their fitness equipment business in August 2020, seniors Andrew Ruiz and Jonathon Villajin pose next to their collection of free weights, dumbbells, and plates for resale. “We felt like we were taking a big risk and we did have a lot of doubts when we were trying to sell,” Ruiz said.

Worth the weight | A few days before starting their fitness equipment business in August 2020, seniors Andrew Ruiz and Jonathon Villajin pose next to their collection of free weights, dumbbells, and plates for resale. “We felt like we were taking a big risk and we did have a lot of doubts when we were trying to sell,” Ruiz said.

They say that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. But seniors Andrew Ruiz and Jonathon Villajin prove otherwise, having started their own fitness equipment business while creating a home gym within the span of a few months, all in the middle of a pandemic.

Ruiz and Villajin’s joint Instagram account, @aj_fitness_equipment, has served as the duo’s main method for reselling gym equipment. After trial and error with other various social media platforms, such as Snapchat and OfferUp (an online marketplace), they settled on making a professional Instagram page to sell their equipment. Their business venture proved successful, as they’ve earned around $3000 by selling items ranging from free weights and dumbbells to benches and a cable machine.

“I think we’ve definitely made a good impact. Some people may disagree with that and say it’s bad that we’re reselling, but we’re just taking advantage of the opportunity to do it,” Ruiz said. “We’re still having a good impact by giving people what they want to make their own home gyms.”

Inspired during the summer to stay fit while in quarantine, the two decided to create their own home gym located at Ruiz’s residency, as most gyms were closed during the lockdown. However, as they began to search for and gather the equipment they needed to make their gym, they noticed how expensive the weights they wanted were. To complete their home gym without breaking their bank, Ruiz and Villajin decided to try buying and reselling weights of their own, creating a cycle of investing and spending.

“[Our favorite memories] were mainly about making profit and just knowing that our business was working and going well. Even though we had our ups and downs, in the end, we ended up making more than our money back. We’re really happy about that outcome,” Villajin said.

They began by looking at new and pre-owned free weights on OfferUp for equipment to potentially keep or sell. Once they settled on items that they wanted to purchase, Ruiz and Villajin would negotiate with the seller to lower the prices and buy their equipment at a cheaper cost. The duo would then resell the equipment on their Instagram page, often giving their buyers a discount off their purchase. After confirming a purchase with an interested buyer, they would either drop off the equipment at a designated location or have their buyer pick up their order from their homes.

“It was just fun for us. Negotiating with different people and meeting people was very satisfying, even if it was for a brief time,” Villajin said. “We consider [our business] a success because we ended up selling everything and making more than we thought we would have made.”

Although the duo’s fitness equipment business was started in the summer — thus alleviating the burden of balancing schoolwork and transactions — there were still several challenges they had to overcome. Not all of their transactions went smoothly, and there were a few instances where they made less than what they had spent to acquire, fix and maintain an item. When the pandemic restrictions were lifted in the fall and gyms began to reopen, Ruiz and Villajin faced the problem of staying in business and competing with other resellers in the market. Because of the influx of returning fitness options, the duo decided to put their equipment business on hold until further notice.

“When taking a risk, you can lose or gain either way, but it’s all experience to help you for anything you want to do,” Ruiz said. “Make sure to do your research before buying or trying to flip something; you’re going to want to make sure that you make profit out of it. Be prepared to invest a lot of time if you want to be successful.”

Despite their obstacles, however, Ruiz and Villajin’s equipment business has succeeded in providing them with real-world business and marketing experience, as well as practice with their communication and time management skills. Though short-lived, their business has given both Ruiz and Villajin the opportunity to explore their future career interests and fulfill their original goal of staying fit during the pandemic.

“[Our business] definitely opened a lot of options to us — not just reselling weights, just in general. There’s a lot of other things that can be resold or other businesses we can start, so it gave us more of an experience of what to do if we do it again,” Villajin said. “I think there was also the relief of taking the risk to do it — the sense of relief when we made our money back and we had profit. It was like a gamble.”

By Joy Wang, Design Editor-in-chief
Photo courtesy of Andrew Ruiz and Jonathon Villajin