Best home fitness accessories and workout gear, from resistance bands to dumbbells – Evening Standard

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While we often see January, September or spring as a time for new beginnings and fresh starts, you don’t need to wait until one of these big calendar moments to build new habits and focus on your health and well-being. You don’t even need to wait for Monday.
Achieving your fitness goals can happen at any time – and there’s no time like the present.
This doesn’t need to mean a costly gym membership. If lockdown taught us anything, it’s that we really can do anything from the comfort of our own homes, even and especially exercise.
Gymtimidation is rife when you’re just starting out but with the right tools, a positive mindset and an internet connection, you can start or build confidence in working out and overcome any gym anxiety. You may even view the practice as it should be; empowering, energising and transformational in mind and body.
Progress takes time and consistency is key, but the latter is far easier when you can slot it into your busy lifestyle and there’s no travel involved. But can you really get a good workout from home? We reached out to Justin Knussi, coach and lululemon Ambassador to find out.
He says, “It is a common misconception that you need access to a gym to get a good workout and see results. Training at home is a great alternative if one doesn’t have access to a gym, and if consistent, it can be very effective. Home workouts are a great way to move the body and stay active when you can’t get outside”.
Whether you’re a yogi, pilates obsessive, weight trainer or cardio enthusiast, you can exercise at home with ease. “There are a variety of home workouts to suit all styles of exercise, and many online resources to help you plan your at-home routine, all of which are a great way to get moving or start your training journey”, Knussi confirms. “Whether you choose to invest in weights or not, it is important to target movement patterns that address the whole body”.
He lists the following:
As you start on your home fitness journey, you may find bodyweight movements challenging enough but to progress, equipment is needed and it’s far more cost-effective than you may think. “The equipment you need depends on your ability and the type of training you want to do”, Knussi reveals. “The newer you are to training, the lighter the weights but the more experienced you are, the heavier you can go with your load”. Keep it simple for beginners and invest in just “A light pair of dumbbells (ones you can lift overhead), a heavier set of dumbbells for lower body movements and a mat for floor movements”, says the specialist online coach.
We’ve gathered the best workout accessories for home workouts below.
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Invented back in the late 1890s, vibration plates have been popular in the fitness world for a while now with claims of enhancing weight loss through high-vibration shaking. Benefits are said to range from strengthening muscles to improving recovery as well as a speedy way to warm up or cool down by stimulating the muscles at a higher rate. At the very least, it encourages circulation and reduces stress on the joints. This model available at Home Fitness Code has an LED display that monitors time, speed and distance.
FITTLE is on hand to make your dreams of a home gym a reality. Housed within the minimalistic, premium and sustainable wood exterior is all the equipment you need for an effective workout from the comfort of your own abode. There are loadable dumbbells, a barbell and weight collars all neatly displayed within the bench. Once you have retrieved the weights you need, you can use the top of the bench that is padded for your chest presses, abs or other strength and conditioning exercises.
Resistance bands will take your training to the next level, but they’re also helpful for stretching. These elasticated straps will keep your form in check, encourage you to feel the burn on muscles you didn’t know you had and best of all, they take up next to no space. This set from Lululemon has three in the pack with varying increases in resistance – low, medium and high, which are ranked through solid dots.
Whether you are taking part in a virtual Pilates class, yoga or simply want to add more weight to your training, ankle and wrist bands will encourage you to push yourself. You could even just wear them on a walk to get your heart rate going, especially when they’re as chic as these blush, charcoal or sea blue options from Bala.
Recreate the aesthetic of your favourite gym with this dumbbell tree set from Opti. There are three sets of weights at 1.1kg, 2.3kg and 4.5kg that you can use for arm, leg and core exercises, improving strength and balance. They are crafted from soft, latex-free vinyl to protect your hands.
If you have attempted to skip for over a minute, you will know how challenging it is as a form of cardio. The calorie-shedding exercise is one of the most effective workouts in the game but it’s hard to measure your progress, until now. This smart skipping rope from Tangram connects to an app to track jumps and timings so you constantly push yourself for longer and further. It comes in playful colourways too that you’ll be proud to display in your home.
Work the core like you have never before by incorporating gliding discs into your workout. They can be used in movements like mountain climbers to burn muscle, and fat and build strength. This option from Beast Gear is doubled-sided to suit all surfaces so you can use them on carpet or hard floor alike.
A fixture in Reformer and mat Pilates, the resistance ring works to tone and strengthen muscles and encourages better form. It’s a versatile piece of kit that you can use to target thigh, abs, glutes and lower back muscles with grips on each side for improved comfort. Core Balance’s iteration prioritises functionality with a lightweight construction and the ability to be laid flat for ease of transport.
It’s a classic for a reason – the Apple Watch is a great lifestyle all-rounder and highly coveted among technophiles. The brand’s flagship watch is unisex, but there are lots of lovely straps to coordinate with your style.
The Series 9 is the latest watch that you can buy right now. Building on past efforts, the display is twice as bright, meaning you can see it clearly, even on a very sunny day. We found it had the most intuitive and simple menu to get to know and marvelled at the gesture-trigged Double Tap feature, which allows you to use the watch without touching the screen.
Fitness-focused? From pedalling in a spin class, feeling the burn with wall Pilates, or going hell for leather in a HIIT session, the Watch will keep up with you effortlessly – and it can also do clever extras such as track your monthly cycle and even connect with compatible gym equipment, taking your workout to the next level. We like the ‘three rings’ display, which motivates you to hit Move, Exercise and Stand targets daily.
From a safety standpoint, the Crash Detection feature is a genuine life-saver. Designed to notify the emergency services in the event of a high-impact collision, it uses satellites to send your exact location, so help should arrive even if there isn’t any signal.
Like all John Lewis electricals, this comes with a two-year guarantee.
A sleek vision of chrome and grey, Garmin’s smartwatch lives up to its name in more ways than one. The elegant design is just for starters: inside sits a wealth of helpful features that feel very much geared towards active types – swimmers in particular.
This is because the watch can cope with depths of up to 50m while tracking metrics like stress, heart and blood oxygen saturation rates, blood pressure and so on, giving you an accurate, sports coach-like assessment of your workout. Add to that the usual smartwatch trappings of contactless payments, message notifications, diary reminders and more, and you can see how it quickly goes from being nice-to-have to a can’t-live-without sort of accessory.
Oh, and did we mention the battery life? Five hours. We’re sold.
Best for: Fitbit fans
Where exactly is the line between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch? The Inspire 3 displays the time and lives on your wrist, so that makes it a watch… right? Perhaps there’s something about the elongated lozenge-shaped casing, rather than round or square, that rules it out. Whatever it is, the Inspire 3 is a bargain-priced way to keep an eye on your heart rate, including the detection of irregular cardiac rhythms, and blood oxygen monitoring.
There’s a six-month trial subscription to Fitbit Premium included, but after that, you’ll need to pay if you want to keep using the added features, which include guided workouts, a daily readiness score that collates heart rate, sleep and exercise data, and even recipes for a healthy lifestyle. With a ten-day battery life and priced well under £100, the Inspire 3 is a great watch even without the subscription.
Theragun is arguably the best-known massage gun brand on the market and the Elite is its quietest device with extra built-in sound insulation for discrete pummelling either from home or the gym – though as this is a relatively large device you may want to look for something more compact if portability is a priority (the brand’s Mini, £155, may work if this is the case but more on that below).
With an amplitude of 16mm, this offers the deepest tissue massage of all its competitors, it also comes with five head attachments and five speeds, which are customisable either in the Bluetooth-enabled app or on the device’s screen, and a triangular ergonomic multi-grip handle that offers less strain when targeting hard-to-reach areas this is no doubt a powerful tool, yet feels gentle on the skin.
It is ideal for IT band stiffness as well as aches and pain at the lower back and all over the leg – including the knee.
The Therabody app hooks up to Apple Health and Google Fit to suggest recovery routines post-workout, which is a nice extra touch.
Deemed “indestructible” by the retailer, these matte black leather boxing gloves from RDX feature a trademarked mould that is designed to disperse force equally, while an EVA padding absorbs shock.
The nylon mesh at the palm offers good ventilation and an interior microbial sweat-wicking lining keeps bad odour at bay. The hook-and-loop strap keeps your hand and wrist secure and protected, while also being easy to take on or off.
Enter beast mode with the help of this aptly named brand. These quality cotton wraps will see you through boxing as well as any martial arts with their elastic construction. Beast Gear has doubled down on the knuckle support with extra thick gel but there’s still stretch and an emphasis on comfort. Secured with Velcro, as an inner layer, they will stay firmly in place and they’re durable too.
Exercising is always more motivating when you’re with a friend so practise your accuracy, speed and timing with the help of these pads from Everlast. They are complete with a layered foam construction to protect hands and for shock absorption.
Channel your inner ballerina with these pink mauve socks from Alo Yoga. They have a uniquely designed grip pattern as well as crossover straps that look and feel very professional.
Blocks are helpful for supporting and aligning the body during Pilates, and this one from Lululemon is great for assisting with standing stretches and deepening spinal mobility. Standard in size, it can be used in three different positions, depending on the level of length you need. Made from a dense foam, the yogi brand has put lots of attention to detail in each product with the chic marble print you’ll be proud to display.
Fitness balls are great for activating the core muscles and this one from yoga giant Gaiam is one of the best on the market.
Made from an anti-burst PVC, we felt completely comfortable performing press-ups and sit-ups while balancing our body weight on its surface. It was easy to inflate with the supplied pump and we were impressed to find it didn’t need topping up with air, even after a 45-minute Pilates workout. The ridged ring design is also really helpful for keeping the ball in place while you’re working out.
It comes in a 55cm size, as well as a 65cm option.
Domyos prides itself on its affordable and practical fitness equipment and this cheap but effective balance board is no different. If you struggle with wobbles during your Pilates practice, this is a great bit of kit for improving your stability over time.
The circular, wood platform is robust enough to hold up to 110kg of body weight, and it’s fitted with a rough, grippy material that stops your hands and feet from slipping. You can use it to add an extra challenge to your press-ups or lunges, or you can simply try to balance on the surface with both feet.
The plastic dome underneath can be quite slippery on hardwood floors, so we recommend laying down an exercise mat before you attempt to use it.
Size: L183cm x W68cm x D0.5cm
As far as fitness mats go, you can’t deny that this is an attractive one. But the design isn’t just for aesthetic purposes. The pattern gives an indication of where you place yourself to improve balance and posture.
The mat itself is crafted from a grippy rubber blend with a 5mm thickness that makes it a supportive and stable padding for Pilates but also for barre and yoga, even hot yoga. It comes in the Wisteria Purple shade pictured, Glow Pink or Black but is quite heavy, at 3kg, so is not one for travel.
Size: L183 x W60cm x D0.8
The seemingly endless five-star reviews almost speak for themselves. This is one of the most popular Pilates mats on Amazon and for good reason. It has a solid level of cushioning that absorbs impact and puts less strain on your joints and the balls of your feet.
The mat provides a stable surface that is non-slip and sweat-proof so that nothing interferes with your movements – and it’s durable too with a tear-proof construction. Best of all, for ease of travel, it comes with a free carry handle so you can seamlessly take it from studio to home and back. There’s a one-year guarantee for peace of mind.
Material: Natural sourced sustainable rubber
Thickness: 4.2mm
Made from natural rubber, these mats feature Liforme’s specially designed eco-friendly foam, eco-polyurethane, which means they are crafted without the use of any toxic materials, or PVC either. Furthermore, not only are they biodegradable, but Liforme actually reveals how long they will take to decompose: between one and five years in a landfill.
Determined not to use toxic inks, Liforme’s alignment lines are not painted onto the mats but etched, and through the use of ‘an innovative heat-bonding process’ – to stick top and bottom together – no toxic glue has been used in their design.
Offering fantastic grip, they are fully recyclable and not dressed in plastic on arrival – so if it’s a totally eco-friendly mat you’re looking for, this should be a hot contender.
This innovative dumbbell can be adjusted from 2.5 to 24kg so you can gradually build up the weight without having to constantly invest in new bits of equipment. It is ideal for space-saving for those with less storage options and helps you add intensity to any upper, lower or core workout. You can use it for bent-over rows, deadlifts, arm swings, bench presses and many more.
Shop more dumbbells here
The TRX band will be your first step to a strong core. Just attach it to a door with the mount (close the door with the rectangle pad on one side and the straps on the other) for a convenient, pop-up gym anywhere. The versatile piece of kit works to tone your abs, and upper and lower body with an endless amount of exercises.
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