With many gyms closing in light of the current COVID precautions, exercising at home is the absolute safest place to be. Which means we need some equipment to build our home gym, no? Why not put them on your Christmas wish list?
We scouted out a number of exercise devices that provide women our age with the tools and support we need. Each of them focuses on the four key areas that are important for physical fitness: cardio (for heart and lungs); flexibility (to ward off pulled muscles, sprains, and tears); strength (to build muscle that forms a protective barrier around bones) and balance (to build a strong core to prevent falls).
There is no better time to make an investment in home exercise equipment. Afterall, we didn’t spend much on travel this year and we’re staying at home more than ever. Our reward? When the pandemic ends, we can look forward to a renewed level of fitness and the energy to go out and do all the things that we’ve missed this year.
Choose the exercise devices that best suit your needs and will fit in your space. You can look forward to beginning your fitness program in the New Year (and saying good riddance to 2020 forever!
This new exercise concept earned PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice for innovation. The Mirror is an interactive home fitness device that streams thousands of live and on-demand exercise classes. You see your reflection in the mirror so that you can check your form as you exercise. When it is not streaming, it doubles as a full-length mirror with a sleek and modern design. It’s ideal if you don’t have space for bulky exercise equipment. This program will enhance your cardio, flexibility, strength, and balance depending on the classes your choose. Access to classes cost $39 per month.
$1,495 plus $250 delivery and installation on mirror.co
Peloton bike is a high-end stationary bike. What makes it unique is the 22-inch touchscreen at the front of the bike which allows you to stream live and on-demand classes. In fact, it is this live video content that Peloton believes keeps its users motivated to exercise and loyal to their routine. With a Peloton bike, you have your choice of some 14 live-streamed classes each day. Both instructor and riders are real people who are taking the class in Peloton’s New York City studio.
And particularly important to gauging our fitness level, along the bottom of the display you can see stats like your resistance, output or overall exertion level, and heart rate. And if your competitive spirit is still strong, even as you’ve become more philosophical with the years, you can compare your efforts to other bikers in the class.
If you can’t tune into the live-streamed classes, you can view over 5,000 classes on-demand. You’ll have your choice of a wide variety of classes in terms of intensity, length, style, music playlists, and instructors. A word of caution: this is a sophisticated and expensive purchase that you won’t be able to set up on your own. You will need expert guidance. And remember, there is also a monthly streaming fee. With a Peloton bike you’ll get an excellent cardio workout.
Find on Peloton.com with prices now starting at $1,895 or $49/mo.
The Zwift program is another way to exercise on a bicycle. You will need your own bike for Zwift (with back wheel removed), inserted into a Zwift turbo trainer. The goal is to pedal and workout on a stationary bike.
Zwift is a game that you link up to your computer, iPad, iPhone, Android or Apple TV, and ride with other cyclists in a virtual environment. You choose an avatar that represents you, then watch yourself on the screen as you pedal. Zwift takes input from the turbo trainer and uses an algorithm to translate your input data (the speed of your pedaling) into your avatar’s speed on the virtual course. In addition to competing against other riders, you can access workouts designed by professional coaches. There is a monthly subscription fee to join virtual rides and coaching.
The turbo trainers are designed with variable resistance levels so that you feel as if you’re actually riding. When you are going uphill on-screen the resistance will increase, and when you are going downhill it will decrease. The Zwift program will enhance your cardio.
Available at Zwift.com; Turbo trainers cost around $1500-2000.
If all the noise and competition around Peloton and Zwift are not your style, but a quiet ride with ear buds in a cozy spot in the house is just your speed, you will love Body Rider. This inexpensive but well-reviewed bike will give you an excellent cardio workout. The bike’s ergonomic design with belt drive system engages your arms and upper body for a true full-body workout. You can increase or decrease your workout intensity with the built-in resistance adjustment knob. This is a durable indoor bike and an excellent value. It rates a 4.2 out of 5 on Amazon with nearly 2500 reviews.
Available on Amazon.com for $160.
Large exercise balls are a valuable part of an exercise program. They are ideal for warm up and cooling down stretching after cardio but also very important for balance. The URBNFit ball is a strong, gym-quality, inexpensive ball with an astonishing 4.6 rating out of over 16,000 reviews on Amazon. The ball comes with a pump and a free digital workout guide that features scores of exercises you can do on your ball. This program will enhance your flexibility and balance.
Available on Amazon.com. Price ranges from $18 to $32 depending on the size you select.
A classic yoga mat is a versatile workout partner. You can use it for yoga, Pilates, meditation, and floor workouts. This extra thick yoga mat comes in two thicknesses–2/5 and 3/5 inches–so it is especially comfortable when you do your routines. Yoga helps build flexibility, strength, and balance. And, this mat is eco friendly and non-toxic, making it a healthy choice for the planet. It is longer and wider than standard yoga mats and is available in two dimensions–72 x 32 x 0.4 inches or 72 x 32 x 0.6 inches. It comes with a handy carry bag and strap.
Available on Amazon.com. Prices range from $33.99 – $51.99.
Free weights play an important role in any program to strengthen your muscles. And, the Nice C Adjustable Dumbbells are perfect for a home workout. They have a non-slip grip and they are adjustable. An added bonus is that they are attractive, unlike the more typical chrome and black weights you’ll find at a gym. In contrast to most dumbbells that require you to purchase a variety of different weights, this all-in-one dumbbell adjusts to give you a versatile workout.
The basic dumbbell alone weighs 2.3 lbs. It comes with four weight blocks for each dumbbell so that you can adjust and increase their weight up to 4.5 lbs. If you are concerned that these weights will not be heavy enough or that you will outgrow them, there is no need. As your muscles build up, you simply increase the number of repetitions. Your arms will be tired. These dumbbells can be used to sculpt your arms or tone your back. The Nice C Adjustable Dumbbells are the perfect at-home weights. This program will enhance muscle strength.
Available on Amazon.com, $60 for two weights.
The Bosu Balance Trainer is one of the most important pieces of equipment that you can buy. It is low tech: you simply put it on the floor and stand on it. Not a problem, you say? Try it. This deceptively simple device is a powerhouse of muscle strengthening and core building. When you start, put it next to something that you can hold on to. Begin by standing for a few minutes a day and build up to squats. Every minute that you fight for balance, your muscles will be toning and strengthening.
There are Bosu exercises online to guide you. If you do this two to three times a day, you will be stunned at how quickly you build balance. And let’s face it: as we age, it’s all about preventing falls. This simple device is worth every single penny. This program will enhance your balance and will strengthen your core.
Available on Amazon.com, $150
The EveryMile Wobble Balance Board is a variation on the Bosu. Unlike the Bosu, it does not have a flat bottom so you can use your legs to propel the board from side to side as you twist. It may be advisable to practice on the Bosu first, since you will require a fair bit of balance to master the Wobble Board. It is every bit as beneficial for balance and strength as the Bosu.
The manufacturer explains that it provides a stable workout of rehabilitation and physical therapy for anyone trying to overcome an injury, be they adult athletes or dancers, kids playing sports, or seniors after surgery. This program will enhance your balance and will strengthen your core.
Available on Amazon.com, $92
Resistance bands are about as low tech as you can get. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t extremely effective. So in the new year, when you hear your neighbor on her new Peloton bike shrieking with competitive fervor as she tries to best her virtual fellow riders, be assured that your resistance bands are just as important to your overall fitness. And you paid about 1/32 of what her bike cost.
Resistance bands (each color signifies a difference resistance level) take the place of free weights for strength training. You can do repetitions or you can tense the stretched band until your muscles fatigue for isometric exercise. Resistance bands have been around for a long time for good reason. They are inexpensive, pack easily, and you can use them anywhere. A resistance band program will enhance your strength.
Available on Amazon.com; $13
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