The past year proved one thing to me: Gyms are not merely fun adult play parks. Without gyms, I had so much untapped, unwound energy that I was running and sliding around my apartment like an uncool version of Risky Business Tom Cruise. To cope, I decided to instead spend this time finding ways to exude that extra energy in some kind of fitness-friendly way.
My problem, and probably your problem too, with self-driven workouts was the getting up and doing it. And then, hurting myself, because it turned out YouTube videos would not spot me; I injured myself trying to do home workouts in scenarios that looked like they were designed by Kevin McCallister. But these current social distancing parameters have forced me to properly learn how to use the gym gear I own, and better pinpoint ways to be fit without the help of massive machines. That’s not to mention that working out at home has kept me energized and my anxiety levels down, just like the gym used to.
Here are some of the best products, services, and subscriptions I’ve found for getting (and staying) healthy at home, covering different interests, spatial needs, and price points. And don’t worry, I have faith that you won’t almost maim yourself trying them out.
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Oculus Quest 2
Buy $299, amazon.com
The pandemic brought two things into massive mainstream focus: video games and home gyms. Here’s a chance to knock both off your list. Oculus just launched a built-in app for its Quest VR headset called Oculus Move, which tracks calories burned and active minutes through particularly physical apps. Some of its top apps for movement are Fit XR, Supernatural, and the game Beat Saber. Fit XR is a combination of boxing, dancing, and other high-intensity classes. Supernatural blends VR with workouts based on traveling, skiing, and other beautifully landscaped experiences. Beat Saber is easily the most fun, mixing Guitar Hero with lightsabers (soundtracked by music from the likes of Panic! at the Disco, BTS, and Green Day), which will keep you engaged for hours on end without you realizing you’ve burned hundreds of calories—though it’s not as effective until you get to more difficult levels. Oculus also has apps for mental health and meditation, if you’re interested in a calmer mind.
Stealth Core Trainer
Buy $149, amazon.com
Planking is good for you, but planking sucks, unless you’re a teenager circa 2008. Stealth manages to make planking fun by adding games to a screen on this board, which forces you to rotate and twist through obstacles while holding a plank. That in turn works areas of the body not normally targeted by planking. Without Stealth it was a feat to hold a plank for more than two minutes. With Stealth I find myself holding planks for upwards of 10. There are a variety of games to play, along with a mixer mode that switches the game every couple of seconds to make it even less tedious. Channel your inner teen, and get a damn good workout while doing it.
The MYX Bike
Buy $1,199, myxfitness.com
This bike is more than a regular exercise bike. With the MYX system, you get your usual cycling workouts, along with guides for strength training, pilates, yoga, and beyond. The library of workouts built into the bike’s impressively large mobile tablet is expansive, replacing all those personal training sessions and gym classes of years past. The MYX also comes with a set of dumbbells, a kettlebell, and mats to ensure you’re fully prepared for all the classes. The best part is that you can always spice up your routine with what seems to be a never-ending supply of new content.
Subscribe $9.99/month, apple.com
Apple practically owns the market on smartwatch tech, and now it’s decided to try its hand at an Apple Watch-based fitness subscription service. Fitness+ includes a ton of classes—yoga, pilates, HIIT, and more. It also integrates Apple Music to save you from the oftentimes exhausting music of workout classes. The Apple Watch itself is a phenomenal way to keep your goals in check while we live in this timeless void. You can even share your activity with friends to silently judge or enable each other. Watch paired with subscription is a fantastic tool to stay in shape, especially if you don’t have the space for equipment.
Hyperice Hypervolt Go
Buy $171, amazon.com
The Hypervolt Go is a small, quiet, and perfectly portable percussive massager. Granted, Theragun released a Mini gun last year that is truly great, but Hypervolt took that idea, remodeled the shape, and added accessories that allow this little massager to clip right on the side of a gym or golf bag. The relief you’ll get, especially if you’re just getting into percussive massagers, is unparalleled—for gym nuts and anyone stuck hunched in a chair all day alike.
FitTrack Dara Smart Digital Scale
Buy $90, amazon.com
I will start off by saying: Don’t get a scale. The last thing any of us needs to worry about is weight. With that being said, if you want a scale, this is the one. The Dara scale tracks progress, while also providing a vast amount of information about weight, hydration, muscle mass, fat levels, body age, and more to both help you figure out how to shape a diet and exercise plan, and also convince you to give yourself a break on things that are out of your control. The app does a great job of motivating, as opposed to making you feel any sort of shame. If you’re going to add a masochistic stressor to your life, and it’s a scale during a time of self-isolation and peak Uber Eats orders, then at least get one that tries to be supportive.
Bodyweight + Mindbody Streaming Classes
Download Free, mindbody.io
Your bodyweight is free. Push-ups, sit-ups, burpees—all of them you can do with just you, and that’s pretty cool. The tricky thing is staying on top of it, which is why you should find some video classes to stream. A ton of gyms and studios are doing Zoom instructor sessions, and that allows you to support local business while getting a workout in. I use the Mindbody app to connect me to my local gyms, for both paid sessions and free sessions. Some of us need an escape but are worried about finding the means of affording it. Do some digging to uncover all the free stuff out there.
Neoprene Dumbbell Sets
Buy From $12, amazon.com
Chances are you have a pair of dumbbells lying around somewhere, and if not, plenty of places are still shipping these bad boys for cheap. Toss on some music, get pumped, and do bicep curls or overhead lifts or any of the thousands of exercises you can do with dumbbells. I love these things because you literally pick them up and lift them, and with the right weight, they are heavy enough to be a workout but light enough that you won’t hurt yourself overdoing it.
Buy $31, amazon.com
Kettlebells, like dumbbells, are great. Easy to use and made for repetitions, they keep you on track with your workout without hurting you—no spotters necessary. They’re hard to mess up. I personally love these pick-up-and-go workouts, which you can do for 10 minutes or an hour, based on your free time. The kettlebell design lends itself to different moves than the dumbells, with many centered around the lower back. Since I’m working from my living room, the best thing this bell did for me was crack the ever-loving shit out of my spine after a six-hour couch session.
Fitness Video Games
Ring Fit Adventure
Buy $80, bestbuy.com
Zumba Burn It Up!
Buy $40, amazon.com
Buy $50, amazon.com
Long gone are the days of Wii Fit, but gaming can still give you a hefty, Apple Watch-worthy workout. Specifically, the Nintendo Switch has some amazing titles that utilize its infrared sensors and motion controls. Ring Fit Adventure, Zumba Burn It Up!, and Fitness Boxing all give you a shockingly in-depth workout, given the platform. The only one that may be a little challenging to buy is Ring Fit, which is hitting a shortage due to the pandemic, but rest assured the other two can be purchased digitally.
Fitness Boxing is kind of like DDR but with punching—you work combos out to modern songs (I always pick “Video Killed the Radio Star”), while the motion sensors help to correct your posture. As for Zumba Burn It Up!, I was genuinely not prepared for how much the game made me sweat. Zumba gets a bad rap, but this is some P90X stuff, with the bonus of being more interactive. Needless to say, one of these digital teachers can help you keep a regimen going.
Hyfit Gear 1 Resistance Bands
Buy $250, hyfitgear.com
Resistance training seems to be the new hip thing, and for good reason too, because the bands are portable and storable. These Hyfit resistance bands do one thing better than the rest: They actually train you, equipped with tracking technology that pairs with an app filled with workouts. One of the most challenging things about home workouts is the learning curve, but with this app you’ll be guided through everything so you don’t wind up tangled in rubber bands like a looney toon. The training videos and app UI made this an unparalleled experience for me, not only helping me use resistance bands but teaching me an easy routine that I will take with me when we’re allowed to travel again. This is hands-down the best workout on this list if space at your home is an issue. And while I fully recommend Hyfit bands, if you can’t swing it, there are a lot of options out there for cheaper bands and online tutorials, so don’t be afraid to move in a more DIY direction.
Bala Bangle Weights
Buy $49, amazon.com
Slide these on your wrists to make everything a workout. Whether I’m meditating, resistance training, or cleaning my home, wearing these one-pound or two-pound weights adds a little extra burn. Even better, they make a workout routine more effective, especially if I’m sticking to mostly yoga and bodyweight exercises. Bala is simple—just strap the bangles on and do your thing.
Everlast Evergrip Weighted Vest
Buy $90, everlast.com
Like the Bala bangles, but heavier and for more than your limbs, a weighted vest adds burn to all activities. Wearing it can make a simple bodyweight workout feel like a full lifting round. The Everlast vest isn’t as subtle an accessory as the Bala Bangles, but it’s great for those who would normally spend hours in the weight room at the gym.
FightCamp Home Boxing Membership
Subscribe From $37/month, joinfightcamp.com
I’m pissed, you’re pissed, we’re all pissed. Few things are more therapeutic than punching the hell out of something. FightCamp is an industrial-grade punching bag, with supplemental video materials and smart features to help you on your boxing journey through cardio and strength training. It is also admittedly expensive, but so are boxing classes, and it’ll serve you beyond the restricted workout era we’re currently stuck in. (FightCamp offers a basic version with motion trackers that lets you shadow box for a lot cheaper. To be honest, shadow boxing is not quite as satisfying, but it’s still an effective workout.) Of all the workout subscriptions, I found myself drawn to this one the most. It’s kind of addicting, like a game.
Sanabul Boxing Gloves
Buy $50, sanabulsports.com
Workout fashion is a whole new world. With my newfound boxing love, I wanted some cool gloves that were also comfortable. Sanabul has a ton of striking equipment, from MMA gloves to boxing gloves, and they’re all gorgeous (and all animal-free). The designs include bright translucents and retro stylings, and even some Star Wars collaborations. My personal favorite is the brown battle-forged glove that you see here, which makes me feel like I stepped out of Rocky. Listen, even if you don’t box, there are few things as fun as running around your apartment acting like a ’70s boxing champ.
CAR.O.L Exercise Bike
Buy $2,995 + $12/month, carolfitai.com
CAR.O.L is a high-intensity training workout bike that kicks my ass every day. I was skeptical of its whole HIIT promise to lower my workout time, but those qualms are long gone. It runs short sprints and cool-downs, and it even has a 10-minute option. That doesn’t mean it’s easy by any means, as evidenced by the number of f-bombs I’ve dropped while on it. Typically, I switch between the fat-burning 10-minute and 20-minute cycles, and both make me feel like I’ve sprinted three miles even though I’m not drenched in sweat. Now, CAR.O.L is a financial commitment, but the weight loss aspect worked for me, and the minimal time commitment made it a daily ritual I can keep up.
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