Let’s be honest for a second…
Buying gym equipment isn’t cheap. It can actually be pretty freakin’ expensive.
But it doesn’t have to be.
I’m a HUGE advocate for sourcing gym equipment in the used marketplace.
Places like Craigslist, Facebook, OfferUp, LetGo, etc… can be gold mines when it comes to finding quality pieces to outfit your gym. You’d be surprised, for example, how many Crossfit boxes fail and then liquidate their equipment at steeply discounted prices on these sites.
Yes, you have to wade through some garbage at times in order to find the treasure, but once you land that one big score, you’ll be telling your grandkids about it one day.
Now, If you’ve ever used Craigslist before, you know that it’s not the most user-friendly or instinctive interface. Your searches may not yield the best results, you can’t search beyond certain distances, you’re sick of seeing Nissan Rogues in your search for ‘Rogue’, etc…
Well, I’m here to help make your job A LOT easier and MUCH more efficient. By the end of this article, you’ll be an expert on finding awesome equipment deals on Craigslist.
Let’s dig in.
#1 – Use Exact Phrase Search
One of the quickest and easiest things you can do to improve your search is to use exact phrases. You can accomplish this by simply wrapping quotes around your word or phrase.
For example, “Rogue Fitness” would return only ads that say exactly that… “Rogue Fitness.” Check the screenshots below.
In this example, I searched for just Rogue Fitness. Look how many results I got back in return (38). I don’t know about you, but I’m sure not looking for executive lockers or Life Fitness ellipticals. I’m looking for Rogue Fitness equipment.
When I search for “Rogue Fitness”; however, I only get one result… the one that actually has Rogue Fitness equipment for sale.
This is a quick way to weed out garbage posts that tag the word ‘Rogue’ in their ads even though they probably don’t have anything even available.
#2 – Exclude Search Terms
I mentioned earlier that you may be sick of seeing Nissan Rogues when you search for ‘Rogue’ on Craigslist. See screenshot below. So many cars.
This is actually very easily fixed by adding a “-” before the search term you want to remove from the search. So let’s say you want to remove Nissan Rouges from your search results. Instead of just typing ‘Rogue’ in the search bar, type ‘Rogue -Nissan’. You can see in the screenshot below that the Nissans are no longer returned in the results.
You can still see that I’m getting some results I don’t really care about, like amplifiers. The good thing is that you can exclude as many terms as you want. You can just type ‘Rogue -Nissan -Amplifiers’ and it will strip out any result with those words.
Pretty cool, right?
Well, we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.
#3 – Search for Multiple Words at a Time
This is a really nifty trick that will allow you to search for a number of individual words or phrases without having to run separate searches.
There is a character referred to as a ‘vertical pipe’ (looks like this: | ) that, when used on Craigslist, allows for such a search. You can type a vertical pipe by pressing Shift and \ at the same time.
Go ahead, try it.
Now that you have that, let’s put a search together. Let’s say you want to search for barbells and dumbbells.
In the search bar type ‘Barbell | Dumbbell’. It’s that easy.
But wait, there’s more.
#4 – Search Multiple Terms with Exclusions
You can actually combine #2 and #3 to create a more comprehensive search query. You do this by wrapping the search terms in parentheses and then adding the exclusions just as you did in #2.
Let’s say you want to search for barbells and dumbbells but you don’t care for racks or storage.
By typing ‘(Barbell | Dumbbell) -Rack -Storage’ you only include results that A) have barbells and dumbbells; AND, B) exclude racks and storage. Compare the screenshot below to the screenshot in #3.
Now we’re getting somewhere.
#5 – Use Wildcards
You can search for different forms of a word by using the ‘*’ symbol (shift+8).
– Squa* would return results like squat, squats, squat rack, squatting, squatty potty, etc…
– Barbell* would return results like barbell, barbells, barbell storage, etc…
#6 – Download ‘CPlus for Craigslist’ on Your Mobile Device
This tool is AMAZING.
It’s available for iPhone and Android devices.
My favorite thing about this app is that you can search in multiple cities at a time and simply scroll through the results. If you’re willing to drive outside of your primary location, this is a godsend. It’s so easy to do too – simply hit the ‘locations’ button and start adding places. I found my Power Lift Glute Ham Developer 90 minutes away using this app. Considering it’s my best Craigslist purchase ever, I’m thankful I had CPlus.
Another awesome thing this tool does is that it keeps track of your recent searches. If you’re like me, you search for a lot of the same things. With its easy-to-use scrollable recent search section, you can just push the ones you want to search and it pops right up.
Further, you can set up search alerts, change the view settings, add various filters to your search, etc… You can also use tips #1-5 in the app.
Seriously, this is a must-have. Go get it. It’s completely free.
#7 – Use SearchTempest
SearchTempest is basically a search engine for online classified ads. Not only does it produce results for Craigslist, but it also can fetch Ebay and Amazon results as well.
The biggest benefit of using SearchTempest is its location capabilities. Unlike searching directly on Craigslist, which limits your distance, SearchTempest allows you to quickly produce results anywhere.
You can search nationwide, you can search in certain states, certain cities, etc… It will allow you to drill down as deep as you want to go.
For Craiglist searches, you can use tips #1-5 to hone your search results.
You can also add some other filters to narrow your results even further.
I use CPlus more than SearchTempest, but that’s mainly because I’m on mobile more and I just love CPlus. Still, SearchTempest is a great tool.
#8 – Use IFTTT for Alerts and Rule Triggers
IFTTT is a really cool service that allows you to sign up for various alerts based on search criteria. This can be really helpful if you’re in a hot market with a lot of transaction activity.
Say for example you’ve really been wanting a Concept 2 rower. You can tell IFTTT to send you an email, text alert, push notification, etc… whenever a post is made that matches your Concept 2 rower search term. You can then be the first to move and hopefully get ahead of others who may also be gunning for one.
#9 – Purposefully Misspell Your Search
This one is a bit obscure, but it can really work. People misspell words when they post ads all the time. Whether they fat finger words, they don’t check for accuracy, or they just don’t know how to spell, it happens more often than you would think.
When you’re searching, think about some ways people would misspell words and then search for them. You just might find a diamond in the rough.
Take ‘Rogue’ for example. People type ‘Rouge’ ALL THE TIME.
Who knows… there just may be a ‘Rouge Reverse Hyper’ out there in mint condition for like $300… but you wouldn’t know unless you searched for it.
#10 – Set a Minimum Amount Over $1.00
Sometimes you’ll see people post ads with $1 as the price in order to take advantage of
people sorting from the lowest-to-highest price. In doing so, they will be the first ads you’ll see.
I’ve seen this a lot of times with equipment resellers who typically don’t have anything I want anyway (like executive lockers and Life Fitness ellipticals). If you sent the minimum price to say, $2, you will remove these “spammy” ads.
Next time you head to Craigslist to search for gym equipment, give these tips a try and see how much your results improve.
Since I adopted these tips myself, I’ve spent a lot less time rummaging through crap and I’ve found a lot more success finding really quality ads.
Let me know in the comments below about your best Craigslist score. Similarly, if you’re a CL pro and you want to chime in with your own Craigslist tips and tricks, please do so!
As always, I appreciate any feedback. If you found this review useful, please feel free to share it on social media!
The bar is loaded,