I Tried the 7 Most Popular At-Home Workout Equipment—And I Have Thoughts

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Woman working out

The self-isolation, and business closures that defined 2020 have had many of us turning to at-home workouts. While gyms and fitness studios in most cities are now largely open (though often with some restrictions), there are still many reasons people are opting to steer clear and get their sweat on at home.

According to Statistic Brain’s analysis, the average monthly gym membership fee in the United States is $58, though fees can be more than two to four times this in many urban centers and coastal states. Even if your local gym falls right around this average, that’s still a yearly price tag of nearly $500, and for many of us, the total is well over $1000.

In addition to sparing your wallet from the monthly drain of a gym membership, there are other benefits of forgoing a gym membership in favor of at-home workouts. Gyms are often crowded, and even when best practices for cleanliness are practiced, communal workout facilities are still common sites of viral and bacterial transfer. Some gyms only offer limited hours, or cap the number of members allowed inside at any given time. This means that you might not be able to exercise when you want, or on the equipment that you would like to use. You may have planned for a HIIT workout on the elliptical, only to get there and find them all in use.

Additionally, you have to actually get to the gym to benefit from having the membership. Even a nearby gym with a short commute and easily accessible parking will never be as convenient as popping into your living room, basement, or home gym area. Lastly, the social environment of some gyms can be intimidating and you are certainly not alone if, like me, you find yourself feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable working out in the presence of strangers. Feeling confident and empowered is one of the greatest benefits of working out, and for many, at-home exercise is the fast track toward this goal.

Even if you’re not a germaphobe like me, and your gym is open, the privacy and comfort of at-home exercise is really attractive to many. I love that I can listen to the music I want to, people aren’t looking at me or my mismatched outfits, and trainers aren’t approaching me trying to adjust what I’m doing or try to urge me to sign up for private sessions. So, if you’re hopping on the at-home exercise train, consider funneling your gym membership savings into some of the following pieces of exercise equipment to use at home.

Best Overall: The DB Method The Machine

db method machine

This is my new favorite thing. It’s compact and won’t take up your whole apartment or living room. You may recognize this at-home squat machine from the background of practically every one of Khloe Kardashian and Hailey Bieber’s mirrored gym selfies. The DB Method easily becomes an obsession; it literally promises to give you a "better" butt in 30 days, and what makes it even more lovable is that the brand’s workouts are only 10 minutes long. The DB Method also sells bands and weights for you to wear during workouts if you’re looking to work your arms and legs as well. Now, I’m not saying the workouts aren’t hard. They are. But you will absolutely love how your butt and core look after using this.

Best Subscription Service: P.volve At-Home Workouts

pvolve bundle

P.volve’s method aims to create lean, elongated muscles—adding shape without bulk. You won’t be hurting or sore after a P.volve routine, and that’s what the founders hoped for. P.volve offers its community a free 14-day streaming trial, which gives access to hundreds of different workouts like morning stretches, burn and sweat programs, and focus sessions on their online platform. I love this system. The Ultimate Bundle includes a weighted ball, gliders, two-pound hand weights, light ankle band, heavy ankle band, ankle weights, and a proprietary band, and they’re all really compact. 

Best Investment: Peloton Bike

peloton bike

This at-home spin bike is a totally immersive experience, thanks to the built-in 21.5" HD touchscreen where you can stream live and on-demand online cycling classes from the Peloton app. You can also always ride as you please. If you love spin classes, you’ll be really happy you bought a Peloton. The bike is sleek, compact, and adjustable, meaning you can get the right fit on the bike and fit it into even the tightest studio apartment or living room. It has a whisper-quiet belt drive power mechanism, so you can get in an early morning sweat session even if everyone around you is trying to sleep. The bike has 100 levels of magnetic resistance so that you can customize the workout precisely to your needs. It also comes equipped with hand weights to add some upper body work. What’s nice is that the Peloton bike comes with free home delivery and assembly; you can also try it for 30 days. Do yourself a favor and try it.

Best Full Body Work-Out: Water Rower Club Rowing Machine with S4 Monitor

waterrower club

Like the Peloton bike, this is also a pricier product, but it’s uniquely amazing. This rowing machine actually mimics the dynamic full-body feeling of rowing in real water. Connection to nature is something we all need right now and since it’s not always possible to dip your paddle in a real body of water, this machine can help you imagine that you are. You control the resistance by the amount of water you put in the tank. The sound of water is also very meditative, and can really wash away some stresses of the day.

Best Mood-Lifting: Fluidstance The Level Balance Board for Standing Desk

Level Balance Board

This is less of a full-body workout, and more of a way to keep yourself from getting stiff and sore sitting at a desk all day. This ergonomic board makes it so you’re sort of working out while standing on a conference call, or standing at your desk returning emails. It’s sneaky, in that your natural body’s micro-movements while standing on the board burns calories, strengthens your body, soothes stiff joints, and keeps you alert and awake. Level’s trials report that 83 percent of users felt happier when using the balance board. Sign us up.

Best Cost-Efficient: Jade Yoga Level One Mat

jade yoga matt

A yoga mat is the only accessory you need to do yoga. Jade makes eco-friendly mats made in the U.S. with natural rubber. The brand is also sustainable; they plant a tree with each purchase. In my professional opinion, this is the best non-slip, full-grip mat. This is my go-to mat for my daily yoga workout.

Best Free Weights: Sunny Health & Fitness Neoprene Dumbbells

weights

Whether you’re using free weights to add resistance to your lunges, improving your squats, or just doing bicep curls, these are the best. Always go for a neoprene coating; these have a non-slip grip, and they won’t give your hands calluses or make them red like regular chrome weights will. These are small and compact enough that you can store them in your closet until your next home workout.

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