How To Import Gym Equipment from China to the UK

The best gym equipment manufacturers in China know that serious vendors are willing to put in a significant up-front investment to supply their business with the best gym equipment. Factoring in the size and weight of commercial gym gear, choosing how to import gym equipment from China to the UK can quickly become your business's largest and most expensive decision.

commercial gym equipment
Rachael Rands
September 9, 2022

So, you’re planning to open a gym, or simply to have the greatest home gym on the block. How do you import high quality gym equipment from China to the UK? First, plan out your order specifications. Then, link up with the best gym equipment manufacturers in China. Finally, make sure you import your gym equipment to the UK in the most suitable and cost-effective (and legal) way. 

The best gym equipment manufacturers in China know that serious vendors are willing to put in a significant up-front investment to supply their business with the best gym equipment. Factoring in the size and weight of commercial gym gear, choosing how to import gym equipment from China to the UK can quickly become your business's largest and most expensive decision. 

Starting a gym is not cheap. But it can be easy. 

Step 1: Knowing what Gym Equipment to buy. 

So, you know the difference between a Power Rack and a Squat Rack and can call a Mermaid Side Stretch from a Triangle Pose from a mile away. Does this mean you’re ready to make your first commercial scale gym equipment order?

First, make sure you buy exactly what gym equipment you want, and what can fit in your space. Look through product brochures, conduct factory visits (remotely or in-person) and read reviews from a range of suppliers. Don’t go by product name alone. One  Chinese gym equipment supplier's version of a squat rack could be vastly different from another's - check the weight and specifications carefully and consider the best fit for your space. Note: The bigger the machine, the more expensive it will be to ship! 

Make sure you follow the UK's product safety standards and know what certification to look for. For example, 

  • Gym equipment must comply with relevant product safety regulations in the UK, including the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (GPSR). These regulations require products to be safe for consumer use and include provisions for risk assessment, product labeling, and reporting of unsafe products.
  • Gym equipment imported to the UK must bear the CE marking if it falls within the scope of applicable European Union (EU) directives. The CE marking indicates that the product complies with essential health, safety, and environmental protection requirements. The manufacturer or importer must ensure that the equipment meets relevant EU directives, such as the Machinery Directive or the Low Voltage Directive.

Top Tips: 

Don’t buy in bulk until you test the machinery (yourself, or through a trusted mediary).  If in doubt, ask for verification and get samples, or get someone on the ground to test it out for you. 

Avoid counterfeit or cheap products; particularly when buying potentially dangerous machinery!

One of the final choices to make before purchasing is whether or not to customise your gym equipment. Buying from well-known Chinese gym equipment brands is one way to ensure top-quality products and provides future customers with a way to recognise high-quality gym equipment. For those wanting to put their stamp on their gear, the best gym equipment manufacturers will provide a range of customisation options, from adding logos and business names, to determining what colours, shapes and features each product has. 

Step 2. Knowing who to buy Gym Equipment from. 

Be sceptical of bargains, if it seems too good to be true… 

There’s a massive difference between a great deal and a potentially dangerous or counterfeit deal. Whilst major mistakes can often be avoided by dealing with renowned and verified Chinese gym equipment suppliers and brands, a lot of large-scale gym equipment has the potential to cause injury or even death if manufactured incorrectly.  

We give you a behind the scenes look at one of our favourite gym equipment manufacturers here

But if you’d prefer to give it a go yourself, make sure your potential manufacturer can provide the following as the bare minimum:

  • A copy of their business licence.
  • Their registration number (this will appear as an 18 digit number on the top left of the licence)
  • Their registered capital.
  • Production scope.
  • Product catalogue.

Other ways to check a company in China include regular communication, verification and references from trusted sources and previous clients, or popping over to China for a visit! 

(Read more: How to verify a supplier)

Once you’re ready to make an order,

Know how much you can buy at once. There’s risks and rewards with any approach. Smaller orders mean you can assess quality, cut down on storage space and possibly order a larger range of separate products at once, while a larger order of single product or from a sole manufacturer usually involves perks like lower CPI and better shipping deals.

Consider where you will store your equipment; even if you envision your block-to-block gym empire and have found a great deal which could keep you up and running for years to come, don’t forget your gym equipment needs to go somewhere once it reaches the UK! Measure twice, order once.


Step 3. Knowing how to get Gym Equipment to the UK. 

Getting your product order from the supplier to your warehouse or storefront isn't as easy as adding to cart and waiting by the door. You will need to determine your mode of transport with your supplier and check the required import tax codes and intercoms for shipping, 

For example; 

  • “When shipping under EXW, the supplier is responsible for making the goods available and ready for dispatch when coming out of the factory. The carrier or the freight forwarder is responsible for the shipment from the reception of the assets outside of the factory up to the final delivery location.
  • When shipping under FOB, the supplier is responsible for forwarding the goods to the port of loading and onto the vessel. At this point, the responsibility is transferred to the freight forwarder until the final delivery location.
  • When shipping under CIF, the carrier takes care of freight and transport insurance to the port of arrival.” -Incoterms® rules - ICC - International Chamber of Commerce (

Alternative options are to request ‘door-to-door’ services, or an ‘all-in’ transport solution. These cover everything, from the Chinese gym equipment factory to your front door (for a price).

Top tip: We suggest choosing either EXW or FOB for your intercoms, as this results in a majority of your shipment details being handled by local professionals. 


Once the paperwork is sorted, you’ll need to decide how to get your stuff home. 

Products coming into the UK arrive one of two ways, by sea or by air. 

‘Shipping’ products via air freight is faster (est. around 1 week for most international air freight) and has the advantage of more accurate and reliable arrival times. However, air freight is between 4 to 6 times more expensive than ocean freight.. A £150 ocean shipment can cost £1,000 by air. When factoring in the average weight and size of commercial gym equipment, most suppliers would suggest shipment via a cargo ship. 

As per most items coming from China to the UK, the expected wait time to import gym equipment from China to the UK via Sea Freight is between 40-50 days. 

Oh look, acronyms. 

Depending on the size of your order, you will want to ship your gym equipment via a:

Full Container Load (FCL) or a Less than a Container Load (LCL).

An FCL has two size options; 20 feet, with an internal capacity of 33 cubic meters or 40 feet, able to carry up to 66 cubic meters.

Less than a Container Load (LCL) allows you to tag along with other supplier's orders.

What you choose will depend on the size of your order. Benefits of a FCL include extra security, as you can guarantee your container remains sealed from the point of packaging to when it is unloaded in the UK. However, a majority of importers use LCL exclusively.

When buying gym equipment from China, our advice is to carefully verify your chosen Chinese gym equipment suppliers. Working with well-known Chinese gym equipment brands, suppliers and manufacturers often streamlines the process and allows you to source with confidence and ease. Once you’re happy with your order, talk to us for help or advice on getting it home safely.

07551 136406