Gymnastics room, Bundesturnhalle (Turner Hall), Milwaukee circa 1900. Photo: WikiMedia

09 Feb At-Home Fitness Equipment Roundup – 2021

Time to get rolling … or spinning, rowing, stretching, pushing, pulling.

It’s New Year’s resolution time and exercise is once again the most popular one for 2021.

With many of us spending so much time at home over the past year (Yes, it’s getting close to a year!), those pounds seem to be just accumulating. COVID-19 certainly has brought this secondary health risk to many of us – an extra 10, 15, or 19 pounds or more.

With fitness center access difficult in many parts of the country, the at-home gym continues to be a priority. Deciding which piece of equipment is right for you, however, can be mindboggling.

Equipment technology is a far cry from what our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents might have tried out. Anyone remember seeing the vibrating belts and rudimentary rowing machines? What about the clothing? Not revealing or functional!

We are in a new era and there are now so many choices of what sport and equipment to use.

To break it down for you, here are some of the more popular pieces of equipment to consider.

Cycling Equipment

Cycling is considered one of the best cardiovascular exercises and provides an effective non-weight-bearing alternative to jogging or running. Pedaling 30 to 60 minutes a day can help weight loss, muscle tone, and heart health. Riding indoors has the added benefit of not worrying about the weather or traffic and allows for a controlled environment dedicated to focused exercise.

And now, thanks to the internet, indoor cycling effectively fights boredom by offering computer and “smart trainer” hook-ups for your home that add the benefit of social interaction and virtual riding experiences, without the trip to the gym for spin class.

The indoor cycling explosion now serves up everything from virtual cycling classes to riding and racing with others through simulated worlds of alpine climbs, New York’s Central Park, the French countryside, and more. Here are two of the most popular machines with built-in smart technology that can unlock the new virtual world of indoor cycling:

Peloton exercise bike. Photo: Peloton

Peloton

Peloton is considered to be a leading interactive, subscription-based fitness platform with a loyal community of more than 3.6 million members.

The eight-year-old company pioneered connected technology-enabled fitness, and the streaming of immersive, instructor-led boutique classes for its members that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Peloton’s approach is to make fitness entertaining, effective, and convenient. Inspirational coaches and music are part of the draw.

To participate, you need to buy a Peloton stationary bicycle and become a subscriber. The fitness programs are accessible through various television and smartphone apps.

A downside is you can’t ride this bike outdoors.

As of this writing, a membership is discounted at $1,895 ($2,245 regular) with $49 monthly payments.

For more information, visit Peloton.

Wahoo KICKR. Photo: Wahoo Fitness

Wahoo KICKR

If you have your own bike but want to ride indoors too, a machine called a smart trainer is a great option for avid cyclists looking for controllable at-home workouts.

The Wahoo KICKR is the cutting-edge smart trainer that gives a realistic ride feel through its KICKR Axis feet that mimic the side-to-side movement you feel when riding outdoors.

You just need your own bicycle that meets Wahoo’s requirements to attach to its professional-grade frame featuring a 16 lb. flywheel. KICKR gives you cycling metrics including speed, distance, cadence, and power. The machine’s customizable cushioned feet respond to movements as you change tempo and body position, making you feel like you are riding outside.

Want to climb the big hill? The KICKR has a grade simulator that realistically changes resistance based on the hills you traverse.

The KICKR Headwind smart fan can be controlled manually or paired to your phone via Bluetooth.

Cyclists from beginner to expert can use Wahoo’s Bluetooth pairing to sync with popular programs such as Zwift, The Sufferfest, and Trainer Road.

Price: $1,199.99

Suspension Training

TRX Home2 System. Photo: TRXTraining.com

TRX Home2 System

One of the latest training pieces of equipment involves suspension straps … a method of using your own body weight against straps (rather than lifting weights). Suspension strap training is ideal for overall body workouts and in particular the core.

The most popular and well-known is TRX … not only a great product but one with an interesting back story.

The first version of TRX was created by Randy Hetrick while on deployment as a Navy SEAL Squadron Commander in 1997 when he used a Jiu-jitsu belt and parachute webbing.

After earning his MBA from Stanford University, Hetrick developed the first version of the TRX Suspension trainer, followed by a version he sold out of the trunk of his car in 2004. The following year, the first course was created to instruct trainers on how to use the TRX in gyms.

Two years later, the system was incorporated into the Marine Corps training program. Today, TRX has grown into a world-class exercise programmer and educator.

Choose the TRX Home2 System which includes the suspension trainer, a free one-year subscription to the TRX app, door anchor, suspension anchor, and a mesh carry bag to take it with you anywhere. If you judge the quality of a product first by the quality of its packaging, this is it.

The state-of-the-art dynamic TRX app works with popular wearables and features 80+ workouts across a wide breadth of modalities, including Suspension Training, Cycling, Running, Yoga, and High-Intensity Interval Training(HIIT).

The TRX App acts as a fitness tracker and uses biometric data, audio coaching, and cueing to actually listen, adapt and interact with the individual user, providing a truly personalized fitness experience.

The app’s audio coaching delivers the experience of working out with a personal trainer while continuously tracking the effort and energy expended.

The scheduling function allows users to plan workouts on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Users can also stream music from a variety of popular digital music platforms during workouts, while the app self-adjusts volume levels to ensure that audio coaching feedback remains clear and audible at all times.

Price: $199.95

Rowing

Rowing, like cycling, is a great calorie burner and overall workout that has generated buzz from the rise of rowing studios as well as its own platforms for at-home fitness.

According to Sarah Fuhrmann, author of 101 Best Rowing Workouts, “Indoor rowing’s popularity is growing by leaps and bounds and is fast becoming a trend to truly take the international fitness world by storm.

“Once the Rodney Dangerfield of the fitness floor that got “no respect,” indoor rowing studios gym classes and home workouts are now all the rage.”

How do you get started? Check out the indoor rowers available such as:

Model D RowErg. Photo: Concept 2

Concept2 Model D RowErg

One of the best-selling indoor rowers is the Concept2 Model D RowErg. Used by competitive rowers, the sturdy rower is made to last a lifetime.

Not to be overshadowed by cycling and running apps, rowing has them too.

Every Model D includes their Performance Monitor, the PM5. The powerful PM5 provides repeatable, comparable data for every ride. The PM5 offers an automatic “Just Row” mode or allows you to set up a variety of workouts. The monitor gives you a wide range of data, including pace, watts, stroke rate (spm), and calories, and automatically stores this information in either its internal memory or an optional USB flash drive.

The Model D is currently available in black. Smartphone Cradle included.

Price: $900

NordicTrack RW600. Photo: NordicTrack

NordicTrack Rowers

NordicTrack, the company that has manufactured exercise equipment since 1975, offers several rowers for home use.

A very cool feature of the NordicTrack rowers, when connected to the iFit app, is that the rower’s resistance is adjusted automatically up and down throughout a workout to match the trainer’s cues.

iFit rowing workout image, what a user would see on their screen. Example of one of the breathtaking locations. Shown here is Lake Bled in Slovenia.

iFit is the digital, interactive, connected fitness platform that powers the connected fitness experience. The platform provides at-home rowers yet another option for smart workouts at home, like what Peloton provides for spinning.

In contrast, on other machines, a user is responsible for increasing and decreasing the resistance of their rower manually. On these iFit-powered NordicTrack rowers, all you have to do is start your workout and the resistance will take care of itself throughout the workout. And, of course, a user is able to override this feature if they’d prefer to adjust their resistance manually.

Trainer-led rowing classes can be found here via the NordicTrack website.

Three NordicTrack rower options to consider:

NordicTrack RW900 $1,599

NordicTrack RW700

$1,299

NordicTrack RW600

$999

Hydrow Rower. Photo: Hydrow

Hydrow Rower

Imagine rowing peacefully in the Thames, London, Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, or taking a “power 10” around the Statue of Liberty. You hear the sounds of your oars hitting the water, birds chirping in the background. No, this is not a travel package offer.

Rather, it’s an opportunity to get a low-impact, high cardiovascular full-body exercise while experiencing real-life rowing in your own home thanks to Hydrow, the innovative rowing machine.

Hydrow was introduced in 2018 by life-long entrepreneur and rower, Head of the Charles winner, Bruce Smith. The electromagnetic computer-controlled drag system creates the feel of being on the water. The company reengineered the rowing machine with patented technology and built an immersive experience around it.

“I founded Hydrow with the goal to help people achieve whole health by not only engaging the body physically,” Smith said, “but also engaging the mind by creating a sense of community and connectedness through rowing.”

In spite of having started just a few years ago, Hydrow has seen major success to date. With plans to build three to four times the number of Hydrow’s in 2021 than it built in 2020, the company has raised a total of $52 million in capital and is valued at over $100 million.

With funding from some of the most prominent names in the sports and tech industries, including Aaron Rodgers’ Rx3 Ventures and L. Catterton, Hydrow is continuing to gain traction with celebrities and professional athletes alike, including Kevin Hart, who joined the company as Creative Director last year.

All Hydrow workouts are led by world-class athletes and take place at a number of breathtaking waterways across the globe that can be viewed on its 22” touchscreen display with audio provided by front-facing speakers.

In addition to the live rowing instruction, Hydrow also offers a variety of customizable workouts ranging from daily rows, challenges, special events, a racing feature, and supplemental workouts like yoga, pilates, strength training, and more.

Hydrow ships nationally and is currently available for purchase at hydrow.com, BestBuy.com, and Amazon for the retail price of $2,245 and a $38 monthly subscription fee.

Digital Rowing

Sarah Fuhrmann, UCanRow2 partner. Photo: Sarah Fuhrmann

UCanRow2

UCanRow2 offers live online classes — multiple times per week to anyone, anywhere in the world.

These classes offer individualized coaching during the workout and are open to rowers of all experience levels. Just turn your camera on for tips and cues while you get in a good sweat.

Classes are only $12 ($20 for our learn-to-row classes, which are longer and include more personalized coaching) and great for new rowers as well as seasoned athletes.

See the Healthy Aging® Magazine article on UCanRow2 partner, Sarah Fuhrmann.

RowPro

Row Pro is designed exclusively for use with Concept2 Indoor Rowers and is used daily in over 40 countries.

This app helps you with training, technique, motivation, and tracking. It works by installing on your computer and connecting to the Concept2 Indoor Rower. It includes a lifetime supply of rowing plans tailored to you, a 3D coaching clinic where you’ll learn good stroke technique, a companion while you row that records every stroke, feedback to track your progress, the magic of live online rowing with people around the world and the mental stimulation of virtual on-water rowing

Live Rowing

Live Rowing is available only for Apple users but it helps you build custom workouts, participate in global challenges, follow a training program, or compete against your friends.

Unexercise Idea

Miracle Ball Method

In addition to all of these guaranteed-to-sweat pieces of equipment, we need to throw in the “unexercised” method: The Miracle Ball Method.

With over 1.5 million copies in print, the first edition of Elaine Petrone’s The Miracle Ball Method was a revolution. Introducing the unique notion of “unexercise,” which means letting gravity, breathing, and the Miracle Balls do the work, this method of pain management and stress reduction has helped thousands of people for almost two decades, all of whom rave about the life-changing benefits of Petrone’s routines.

When the book first came out in 2003, smartphones and computers were not the ubiquitous items they are now—nor were the pains that go along with their use.

Enter The Miracle Ball Method, Revised Edition: Relieve Your Pain, Reshape Your Body, Reduce Your Stress. Petrone offers exercises that target contemporary, widespread ailments such as sleeplessness, anxiety and stress, and the aches and pains that come from sitting in front of a screen.

And as work from home becomes the new normal, with makeshift home offices on couches and beds causing long-term ailments, the need for Petrone’s method is only growing. A 2-in-1 package complete with two palm-size Miracle Balls and an instructional booklet, The Miracle Ball Method, Revised Edition provides users with the tools needed to ease chronic and everyday body aches, including exercises that help readers unwind from mental stress while also alleviating any physical discomfort.

Petrone’s Miracle Ball Method evolved from her own battle with chronic pain.

A lifelong dancer, she woke up one morning to discover her right leg had gone completely numb. Over time her condition deteriorated into a state of chronic pain that brought her to the point of immobility. At a loss for a solution, she reached out to professionals with varying techniques to relieve her pain, including those who used balls, body weight, and gravity, and emphasized breathing in their practice. This began Elaine’s ten-year journey seeking to combine these techniques in a way that would be beneficial and accessible to anyone experiencing pain. The result was the Miracle Ball Method.

What to Wear

Even though you are at home working out, comfortable, functional, and good-looking activewear is a must. Here are some ideas:

Yoga / Pilates

Belcorva

Belcorva

Belcorva is the active apparel brand righting pocket wrongs with a collection of buttery soft leggings, capris, and shorts.

Belcorva was started in 2016 and continues to grow with new designs being added frequently such as the upcoming new yoga and Pilate’s line in early 2021.

The pockets previously an oversight in so many leggings on the market are a relief for where to hold your phone, keys, ID, money, and more. The fabric is so soft and does not pill when washed. The comfortable fit makes exercise a breeze.

Pearl Izumi: Men’s and Women’s Interval Cargo Bib Short. This short is perfect for hot conditions, with a super-breathable fabric with recycled mesh paneling, for enhanced moisture transfer. It also provides exceptional storage capacity, with cargo pockets on each side. A plush chamois provides excellent comfort in the saddle, and a ‘drop tail’ design makes for easy bathroom breaks. Price: $165

Indoor Cycling Wear

Spending time on the bike seat requires proper workout shorts to ensure comfort and longevity in the saddle. Make sure you purchase shorts or bibs that feature a chamois, or pad, made specifically for cycling.

As you advance on your indoor cycling programs, you may want to upgrade to your own cycling shoes and pedals that can attach to most spin bikes. The correct cycling shoes will make your indoor riding more comfortable, productive, and can ensure injury prevention for prolonged durations on the bike.

With all of these options for working out at home, what are you waiting for? Start now and be ready and fit for summer!



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