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- It’s likely that I’ve tried more at-home workout tools than the average person as a result of my job at Insider Picks.
- Below, I rounded up my all-time favorites, plus a bit about why I like them. If you’re concerned about versatility, storage space, and convenience, then they may be a fit for you too.
- Picks include a wide range of gear, from adjustable dumbbells to ankle weights.
For better or worse, I hate being idle. If I’m watching TV, sitting at my office desk, or on the phone catching up with my mom, I’d prefer to be moving. Call it internalized Midwestern sensibility, but repose always feels like a missed opportunity to me.
This, plus my job as a member of the Insider Picks team, has made me the unwitting tester of more at-home exercise gear than any one New Yorker has any right in owning. In all my time researching, testing, and deliberating what gets to stay in my shoe-box apartment, I’ve also become a much more discerning shopper.
Below, I’ve rounded up the eight at-home workout tools I personally believe are most worth the money, and which I use frequently. However, as with any workout, the key to finding the right at-home gear is figuring out what your own needs are, and which recurring roadblocks to staying active you can address with products. For me, my main priorities are storage space, convenience, and the versatility to go from light and mindless workouts that complement a Netflix marathon to very challenging ones.
In general, the simplest tools are the ones that reliably work the best – and they’re the ones you’ll find yourself picking up most often, which may amount to more effectiveness than what gives you the biggest bang for your buck. There are a few hidden treasures on the internet, camouflaged by cheesy photos of what look like standout gimmicks – but, by and large, the classics are what will age the best.
Below, I’ll walk you through my personal favorite at-home products, plus why I like them – and why you may too.
These are the home workout tools I personally love most, and why:
The TRX system
- TRX Training
If I could only buy one home gym system, it would be the TRX. It’s a portable, highly-effective (not to mention storage- and travel-friendly) workout that was built by a former Navy SEAL as a way to stay in peak physical condition whilst traveling without access to designer gyms. The TRX system turns your body into your own ideal workout tool, and it’s now used widely by supermodels, pro athletes, Ivy League college sports teams, and the US army.
You can find more details in a personal review here, but the idea is simple: leverage your body’s weight and a full range of motion to increase its overall flexibility and strength. All you need is a door jam, tree, wall stud, or the rafters in a garage and you can begin using it.
Plus, similar to rolling around in a pool, your range of motion is more fluid and complete, so you can build lean muscle while simultaneously gaining flexibility and mobility – like you would be able to do with yoga and pilates exercises, just a bit more drastically.
There’s also an app to help you find new and challenging workouts (free for 14 days, $4.99 per month or $39.99 for a year after).
- NFL athletes, supermodels, and the US Army all swear by this former Navy SEAL’s affordable workout gear
- This popular workout system is a lot cheaper than a gym membership – and it fits into one little bag
A great jump rope
Budget option: Survival and Cross Jump Rope, $10
It can be difficult to find room to jump rope in an NYC apartment (there was enough trouble finding room for a nightstand), but I try to use a jump rope as often as possible for a fun, effective workout.
Just jumping rope is one of the best cardio exercises, if not the best, that anyone can do. It torches calories quickly, works your entire body, and a widely-cited study found that 10 minutes of jumping rope is as effective as a 30-minute jog. The Rx Jump Rope ($47) with its multi-directional swivel has been recommended by celebrity trainers, but you could just get this $10 version with over 4,000 five-star reviews.
- A personal trainer shares 5 at-home workout tools you should own
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They may seem ridiculously expensive, but Bowflex Dumbbells are worth the hype for their versatility and efficacy. It’s basically 15 sets of weights combined into one adjustable set, minimizing your costs and storage space considerably.
Each dumbbell can adjust from five to 52.5 pounds (going up in 2.5-pound increments up to the first 25 pounds) with the turn of a dial.
You can find much cheaper dumbbells, but you’ll probably need to commit to either one stagnant weight (which may not translate to as many workouts, or which you may outgrow) or buy multiples and deal with the storage.
If ankle and wrist weights call to mind now-archaic workout videos and parents power-walking around your childhood neighborhood, then we have that in common. However, that doesn’t change how convenient they are, and I ended up ordering a pair in 2017 as a last-ditch way to work exercise into a hectic schedule. Even if you only use them in the confines of your room while you watch TV on repeat, you can still get a good workout in. They’re also helpful for upping the difficulty of favorite workouts without adding more tools you need to manipulate. They’re not stylish, but they are convenient.
An inexpensive workout app
Aaptiv gives you unlimited access to audio workouts led by professional certified trainers. It’s cheap (a free 30-day trial and $15 per month after), travels with you, and lets you move at your own pace – plus, you never need to worry about classes filling up or being charged a no-show fee.
There are over 2,500 classes at every level ranging from running, cycling, HIIT, and elliptical workouts to stretching, yoga, and strength training. There are over 30 new classes added each week. You can even use it to train for a marathon or shorter races.
For me, it’s a low-commitment way to get myself out of a slump of not working out for a while – I can do the classes at home or in a gym.
- Aaptiv, a $15-per-month fitness app, gets me unlimited access to thousands of audio workout classes
- 6 clever tools and apps to help you get around paying for a gym membership
Under Armour x Tom Brady pajamas
- Under Armour
Under Armour and Tom Brady created pajamas that help athletes recover from intense workouts while they sleep, so you can work at a higher level for longer – and wake up with fewer aches and pains. When I’ve had an especially tough workout, it’s a relief to throw them on – and not just because they’re so soft to the touch.
Under Armour Athlete Recovery Sleepwear incorporates bioceramic technology into a patterned lining inside the garments. The pattern includes special bioceramic particles that absorb infrared wavelengths emitted by the body and reflect back far infrared energy, helping the body recover faster while promoting cell growth. That means your muscles and joints regenerate faster, resulting in less soreness after intense physical activity. You can read a lot more about far infrared energy here.
- I tried the clothes Tom Brady uses to help him sleep better and recover faster after games – and they work surprisingly well
- I tried the Under Armour sheets designed to aid Tom Brady’s muscle recovery after workouts – and they actually worked
A multi-purpose resistance band
I wish this wasn’t called the “Authentic Booty-Building Band,” but that doesn’t change the fact that it works really well.
The BootyCo Resistance Band is built for targeting the major glute muscles, but, in actuality, it’s just a stretchy, efficient, and easily stored resistance band. I’ve used it for its instructed use (targeting the glutes) as well as around my arms and my ankles to engage my abs – resistance works pretty much everywhere, and having a tool that snaps back without needing to be tied to accommodate different areas of the body is appealing to me. That’s why I personally prefer this one for at-home use over those that have to be tied like the TheraBand Resistance Bands ($15), regardless of how well they work. I also like that the middle bridge piece lends some stability to my workouts.
You’ll also get access to instructional videos, which can be useful if you’re trying to figure out how to effectively use it, the proper forms, or if you’re looking for a way to shake up a stale routine.
A no-slip yoga mat
As much as I would have liked to be a dainty, “I don’t know, I just don’t sweat” kind of girl, I am not.
Manduka consistently makes the best yoga gear (like their Yogitoes Towels), and their new Grp Yoga Mat is the best non-slip mat I’ve used for home or in-class workouts where I’d prefer not to trip over a towel at any point. It’s not perfect, but it’s far better than the others I’ve tried.
The Grp has leather-like surface that stays in place, open airflow filters to jettison moisture, and a charcoal-infused rubber core to keep the mat hygienic and odor-free even as it absorbs pools of sweat. It’s the only yoga mat I’ll use without a towel, and it helps me flow through my practice without worrying about where my towel mat is.