Equipment Hacks: Labeling Dumbbells and Racks

In our first Equipment Hacks post, we discussed labeling barbells, bumpers, and kettlebells. Today's post is a simple fix to a couple common problems in many CrossFit gyms: labeling dumbbells and racks. With a simple set of Decocolor Broad Point Paint Markers, you can easily write directly onto your equipment and create a durable and effective labeling system much to the benefit of your members and anyone with equipment OCD like myself. 

Anyone who owns a sizeable amount of rubber-coated hexagonal dumbbells knows what a pain in the ass it can be to keep them organized. More often than not, the only weight labeling on these is an indented mark on one of the small faces of the head, which becomes concealed when the weights are stacked on top of each other. This causes similar weights to be mixed together when members return dumbbells and makes it difficult to quickly scan the inventory to find the pair you're looking for—which becomes especially problematic when a herd of hungry athletes goes searching for weights at the same time. We used the handy markers mentioned above to label and color code the ends of our dumbbells, immediately making them much easier to identify and organize. It was one of those things we did and then kicked ourselves for not having done it years ago.

Step 1: Pre-paint prepping
To get started, wipe the ends of the dumbbells down with a dry cloth. If the pieces are filthy, you might need to wash chalk or dirt off with a damp cloth. 

Step 2: Labeling
To label, simply get comfortable and get to work. You'll want to coat each number two to three times—a process that can be a bit tedious, but is worth it because it makes the colors really stand out. I’ve found that the pastel version of the markers has greater contrast against the black rubber. Leave the dumbbells out overnight with the colored side facing up, so they can dry properly. Then, flip them over and do the other side.

Step 3: Storing
We store our dumbbells against a concrete wall, which means that the paint is constantly being rubbed when people put them back. Despite this, the fatigue on the painted numbers over the last few months has been negligible, and they've remained easily identifiable. To minimize eventual maintenance, make sure to draw thick numbers and take the time to double or triple coat the first time. 

Racks and Stands
We made two wall-mounted racks and own several squat stands from Rogue. Unless you've got the Monster versions of their racks and rigs, these come unlabeled. Labeling the rigs makes it easier for athletes to put the bars on the racks evenly, and to remember their height preference. There aren’t any real steps to labeling the rigs—just write numbers on the front next to the holes. These numbers may wear a bit as the J-Cups slide across them, but we've only had to do a couple touchups here and there.

What do you think is the best way to store and label your dumbbells?

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Reader Comments (4)

As an athlete, it is so helpful to have everything labeled. It's enables me to focus entirely on the workout, and not stress about the equipment. Thanks for paying attention to the details!

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

Great idea! So simple. I used different color insulation tape on our kettlebells to do the same.

February 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Is there a way to erase the markers? I painted them and feel like I want to change colors.

June 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersan


You could try painting over them with your preferred color. Apply a thick layering so that you totally cover the old number. Make sure you like the second color!!

Best of luck.

June 24, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

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