High-quality, small-footprint devices make home-based workouts an option for busy people.
By Amanda Burrill, MS
I am never giving up the gym, but, like most people, there are times when I just can't physically get there. In those instances, it's comforting to know I can hit it hard at home.
With endless choices of home-gym equipment out there, it’s easy to become a bit overwhelmed with what to buy. You may have a few home-gym products already, but do you use them? I like to keep my home streamlined—thanks NYC living— so I’ve been sifting through what makes the most impact for the space it takes up. Whether you’re looking to get shredded, muscle up, or stretch out, I’ve got some solid recommendations that enable you to build your temple at home.
Peloton Cycle or Travel Trac
Cost: $2,000 (Peloton Cycle) or $200 (Travel Trac)
Where to buy: PelotonCycle.com
Cycling increases leg and core strength, and is a glorious form of scalable cardio. After my first ride on the Peloton I was hooked. With a four-foot-by-two-foot footprint, this cycle is compact, but it’s given me some of the best workouts of my life. Whether joining a live or archived ride, there’s a leaderboard that allows for competition against other riders, adding a unique motivational angle. The price is steep for some budgets, so if you already have a bike, you can always get a trainer like the fan favorite Travel Trac Comp Fluid Trainer, which simulates the real road using progressive fluid resistance.
Cost: $90 to $120
Where to buy: WorldKettleBellClub.com
If you like the idea of packing on more muscle and getting ripped faster, get yourself some kettlebells stat. They’ve been hailed as one of the most efficient ways to burn fat and get strong. I used to think these were only for HIIT swings between sets, but since more seriously adopting them into my regimen, I have generated more power and improved balance and core stability. Spend the effort to learn the proper technique and you can get an amazing workout at home.
Ab and Core Wheel
Where to buy: AbCarverPro.com
Abs rule of thumb: quality over quantity. I’m getting bang for my buck with a truly effective ab blast that flattens out my stomach, tightens my waist, and strengthens my core. The spring-loaded Ab Carver Pro offers a touch of resistance on the way out, assistance on the way back in, and a wide-angled surface that allows you to murder your obliques in addition to your central abdominals. Unlike barbell roll-outs, you can slice left and right to stimulate the serratus and other smaller muscles of the core.
Cost: $7 to $50
Where to buy: SPRI.com
Maybe you haven’t played jump rope since grade school, but it certainly has a place in your adult life as a cheap, portable way to get your blood pumping. Jumping rope is my favorite thing to do between sets, and it’s not just a calorie cooker—as a medium-impact activity, you’ll improve bone density. Up the ante with a speed rope, double-unders, jumping one foot at a time, or using a weighted rope. Skipping rope on the balls of your feet connects body to mind and you stay balanced with tiny neural muscular adjustments to maintain coordination and rhythm. Who knew jumping rope was brain food?
Cost: $6 to $16
Where to buy: PerformanceHealth.com
Snatching up a variety of inexpensive bands and loops (if you don’t want to tie the bands, but that works, too) are a great idea for home gym and for those who travel often and need to bring fitness on the road. Using TheraBands improves strength and flexibility in glutes, knees, and hips, and helps with stability and balance. And you can perform real gym exercises like pulldowns, biceps curls, and overhead presses. There are four color-coded resistance levels, and straightforward and comprehensive online instructions that make getting familiar with the product a breeze.
SKLZ Quick Ladder Pro
Where to buy: SKLZ.com
Ladders are a great way to torch calories and work on acceleration, lateral speed, and the small “change of direction” muscles we don’t hit with straight-up weight work. This is my ladder to replace all ladders. What separates Quick Ladder Pro from others I’ve tried is that it’s tangle-free. That may not sound “huge,” but five frustrating minutes unraveling a ladder is valuable time I could be working out. Hinged side rails make for rapid-fire unfolding, folding, storage, and tiny footprint for the HIIT gains. The super low-profile edges are trip-free, which is clutch for a klutz.