As with most aspects of red-blooded American life, the pandemic stopped most people’s fitness routines cold by kicking exercise right where it hurts: the gym. Fortunately for gym owners, that’s easing up as people become less terrified of sweating near each other. But there will never be a 100 percent return to the gym because so many people have come to enjoy staying healthy at home.
COVID aside, the home workout has a lot going for it. It’s a much shorter drive, no one sees you huffing and puffing or breaking wind while stretching, and best of all, you get to shower in your own bathroom. You can build personal routines or follow one of the thousands of new workout videos available on streaming channels. They cover everything from getting your butt off the couch to advanced body sculpting. All you need is some fitness equipment.
That’s where this edition of Worth It comes in. Here you’ll find a list of ten tools to turn years of couch sag into the healthy body you know and need.
You’ve no doubt heard the Peloton name, but probably only in conjunction with a very smart exercise bike. The Row is a newer device that applies the same style of workout to a rowing machine rather than a bicycle. It’s a different kind of workout and that might be very attractive to users who have become bored by the bike.
While the actual rower is pretty standard, what sets the device apart is the Peloton display. Just like the bike, the display accesses a subscription service with loads of available workouts from 10-minute introductory workouts to some really intense sessions focusing on strength or endurance. What’s nice is that just like other Peloton devices, the screen swivels, which means you can use it to show other kinds of workouts, like yoga classes or even meditation sessions.
The only downside is that you’ll need some space to use this device. The rower is over seven feet long and even though you can store it on a wall, that means drilling a hole so you can attach the dedicated mounting bracket. And even there, the device doesn’t fold up much, so its four-foot height still winds up taking significant floor space even when wall mounted.
That said, if you’ve got the floor space, the Peloton Row could be the perfect full and upper-body partner to the lower-body workout provided by your Peloton bike.
Apple pulls to the top of fitness watches with an attractive new design and a slew of new features aimed at health, endurance, and outdoor activities in the new Apple Watch Ultra.
The Ultra’s aerospace-grade titanium case is practically bulletproof and a sapphire crystal protects the brightest Retina display Apple’s ever offered in a watch. Ultra also offers a low-power mode which can keep it ticking for multiple days, unlike its predessors.
The new Wayfinder face, made specifically for the Ultra, includes a compass and up to eight customizations that can sport features for workouts, waypoints, or GPS data.
Apple’s new watchOS 9 also has a load of new features, including new running metrics, workout views, and a new wind noise-reduction algorithm for clearer sound on the go.
These new features combined with three new watch bands explicitly aimed at any endurance athlete, makes the Apple Watch Ultra the new standard in wearable tech.
If you’re thinking about getting back into cycling after a lengthy sojourn on your couch, you might be worried about suddenly clutching your chest while pedaling uphill. One of the best ways to make sure that doesn’t happen is by starting out with an e-bike. And one of your best options was just introduced at CES 2023, the Heybike Tyson.
Unlike many other e-bikes that skimp on solidity and ride comfort, the Tyson is a full-suspension bike built on a light, one-piece magnesium alloy frame. Tyson says this unibody construction is a first in the folding e-bike category, increasing both durability and longevity, both of which are known problems for current e-bike entries. The Tyson’s spokeless wheels hide a powerful 750-watt electric motor with seven gears, which should make daunting hills a lot easier. As with most e-bikes, you control the motor with a thumb throttle and Heybike claims the Tyson will let you range for 55 miles on a single charge.
Heybike also touts Tyson’s hydraulic disc brakes, a great feature for when you spot that Starbucks on the corner and want to quick-stop for a coffee. And once you gasp your way home, you can fold the Tyson for easier storage. If you’re worried about it getting stolen while you’re drinking your latte, you can stop since its GPS tracking tech also works as an anti-theft device by sending you push notifications when the bike moves anywhere from 10 to 50 meters (your choice).
The Hock Diskus dumbbell set may represent the pinnacle of home gym fixtures. With it, you get six pairs of steel dumbbells with weights ranging from 4 to 18kg (about 8 to 40 pounds), but you can buy other weights for the set. It comes in either metric or U.S. pound designations.
The weights rest on a sturdy, attractive stand made from sustainably-grown and highly polished walnut. That stand also has specially crafted holders Hock has dubbed “Safeglides” designed so you can remove and replace the weights without accidentally crushing your fingers.
Thanks to the COVID-induced home fitness movement, we now have the Studio. Originally known as MIRROR, before it was acquired by Lululemon. The Studio is a device that combines online connectivity with an expansive high-def display to give a unique in-home fitness experience.
The Studio is fairly compact, measuring 56 by 22.4 inches and weighing in at 70 pounds. You can mount it on the wall or rest it on the included stand. But the magic starts when you connect your Studio to the internet and gain access to its over 10,000 live or recorded classes through a subscription.
Bluetooth connection lets your Studio talk to your other devices to track your heart rate and workout intensity. Through the mobile app, you can take classes while on the road and share your subscription with up to six people. For music, there’s an internal playlist feature, or you can sync up your own through Spotify or Apple Music.
Since it’s narrow, it’s probably one of the most space-efficient, at-home exercise options. While the subscription means an ongoing cost rather than a one-time charge, you can’t deny the value and supreme flexibility it provides. And if you don’t like it, you’ve got 30 days to send it back.
The Skillmill is to a standard treadmill as a 2023 S-class is to a 2000 Corolla. If you want a serious workout, and have the space, these things rock. You’ll pay more, but Technogym has made that price bump worth it with new features and a design that you won’t get with other treadmills.
For one thing, it’s not motorized. You’ll power the Skillmill yourself, which means it auto-adjusts to whatever pace you’re comfortable with, though there’s also a single resistance dial for more customization. So right out of the gate, you’re more engaged with the Skillmill than a standard treadmill since you need to pay attention to your pace to keep the machine moving.
The curved shape of the platform is also very different from a standard, flat treadmill, and that’s also by design. Because it’s curved, you’ll run more naturally and consistently, meaning you can’t get away with sloppy shuffling while you check your texts. And even better, you’re not restricted to simply running. Add handlebars or straps and you can use the Skillmill for resistance pulls or sled pushes in addition to your morning jog.
A small display comes standard with the Skillmill and shows your primary workout data—how fast you’re going, how long you’ve been running, how far you’ve gone, and your heart rate if you’ve got a compatible Bluetooth device. You’ll get some more features if you use the mobile app, which has an in-depth performance tracker and gives you access to both canned and custom workout routines.
If you’re looking for a serious and flexible workout partner, you’ll find it with the Skillmill.
Okay, this one isn’t an exercise entry, but it’s certainly one of the most innovative wellness products you can find. Introduced at this year’s CES show, the U-Scan urine analysis device does exactly what it says, namely, test your pee. But unlike your doctor who’ll do it once a year at your annual physical, the Withings device will do it every time you go to the toilet. That means you’ll get an immediate and wide-spectrum analysis of a long list of health markers on a constant basis and in the privacy of your home.
The solution is based on a replaceable smart cartridge that mounts inside your toilet, an easy process. Once it’s in there, it sends data to a mobile app and that data is both vast and customizable. A standard cartridge will measure up to 100 markers for up to three months using the Withings app. And those markers can be customized depending on what you need.
For example, women can use it to track hormonal fluctuations. Both sexes can use it to track nutrition and hydration and the app will even provide suggested recipes to help improve these markers if they’re below average. Withings is also promising a cartridge for healthcare professionals, so one day your doctor might prescribe a U-Scan and be able to track even more detailed health data without you ever needing to leave home.
But while the Withings U-Scan was shown at this year’s CES, it’s still not available in the U.S. since it’s pending FDA approval. The company says this process is well on its way, however, and is promising a U.S. launch in the second half of 2023.
If you’re looking for a complete workout, you’ll want kettlebells. Though they’re classed as free weights, kettlebells have a spherical shape with a top-mount handle. That means a different lifting motion with the weight more evenly dispersed between each side if you’re lifting it with two hands. With a kettlebell, you can access a broader spectrum of motions, including swings and routines that isolate different muscle groups than dumbbells.
If all that sounds attractive, then just like Hock’s dumbbell set, LOVA kettlebells from Pent Fitness represent the highest and most luxurious end of this equipment category. Unlike standard kettlebells, which tend to be all metal and painted in a pretty hideous matte black, LOVA kettlebells are constructed from steel and well-oiled American walnut, which means they feel nicer to the touch and look better in the den. They come with a standard wooden platform (also walnut), though these hold only individual kettlebells. So if you need more than one, you’ll want to look at one of several optional stands that can hold between four and eight kettlebells each.
And if you like that steel-and-walnut look, know that the company also makes other, equally attractive, matching exercise equipment including jump ropes and fitness mats, so you can build a very pretty home gym from a single manufacturer.
The WalkingPad X21 was one of the most popular exercise devices displayed at this year’s CES show. It garnered popularity because it folds, making it the most space-efficient treadmill on the market. And it doesn’t just fold once; it folds twice. First, on the horizontal axis to reduce the size of the actual treadmill, but then on the vertical so it can be stored either stood-up or easily slid under a bed.
But it’s not just compact; it’s smart, even by advanced treadmill standards. A single knob on the central crossbar lets you control speed and resistance. NFC intelligent sensors let you connect to various devices to track your fitness data in real time. There’s also a phone rest on the crossbar so you can follow your tracking info or watch online workout videos.
You can get other WalkingPads, which are differentiated mainly by their top speed, but the X21 is the top of the line because of its double-fold feature and top speed of 7.4mph. Finally, there are several accessories you can get, the neatest of which is a height-adjustable desk so you can walk and work simultaneously.
If you need a total home gym in one device and have the budget, check out Tonal. At first glance, it looks like a slightly different version of the lululemon Studio, and that’s an accurate assessment—for the most part.
But, the Tonal has a few things you won’t find with the Studio. For one, it comes with two pull arms that provide up to 200 lbs of resistance. These work independently or in sync with specific on-screen workout routines. But the sexy feature is Tonal’s use of artificial intelligence (AI).
The AI uses 17 different sensors built into the Tonal that give insight into your strength levels, form, and range of motion, providing real-time feedback while learning. The AI tracks everything from what resistance you should be using (including upping it if it feels you’re ready) to how many reps you should do.
The display and the monthly subscription give access to a wide array of classes but also let you opt for individual coach-guided workouts or partner workouts if you’ve got a friend that also has a Tonal. There are also several accessories you can buy, like a pull-down bar, weight bench, ankle straps, and handles. Some of these are Bluetooth enabled so you can turn the digital weight feature on or off with the press of a button.
You’ll need WiFi to work the Tonal, which is true for the Studio and most similar devices. But you’ll also need professional installation with this one, which some won’t need with the Studio.