20 Best Home Gym Equipment to Shop in 2021
There’s a tricky feeling that surfaces before committing to a home gym purchase, a nagging thought in the back of one’s mind, wondering: “Will I care to use this in two weeks, when I’m no longer riding this fitness high?” For the best options that go the distance, we tapped a handful of supermodels and fitness enthusiasts who actually use their gear outside of the studio. Think Sports Illustrated cover girls Jasmine Sanders (reveals the tiniest wearable worth your time) and Kate Bock (believes in a TRX system), and one of Victoria’s Secret’s newest faces, Yvonne Simone (loves a speed rope).
They share their favorite brands, a travel band that packs light, and some multitasking options like pilates balls and a trippy water bottle that doubles as a post-workout foam roller. Even essentials like the grippiest, safest yoga mat for advanced inversions and cool-down assists that massage away the memory of today’s burn are vetted and reported. Plus, a few newsworthy adds beyond the model spectrum, like a cult favorite that was once only accessible via group classes is now a solo experience, and the only clean, bright pilates reformer in the game is now available Stateside.
Below, the best model-sanctioned home gym gear to know and shop for long term results:
Favorite Accessories: Bala
This line has a little of everything, with an aesthetic that models love. “I love using the weights from Bala for my home workouts,” says Maya Stepper. “Not only do they work amazing for any kind of movements, especially Pilates, but they also barely look like weights! They are so beautiful and elegant, they might as well be decorations.” Candice Huffine agrees that she’s “obsessed” with their bangles for both wrists and ankles. “As a runner, this is my new favorite way to up the ante on my cardio workouts and get those arms toned while I put in the miles! They are easy to store, easy to grab, and easy to keep using over and over.” For resistance, Blanca Padilla says their bands are “really great for anyone practicing yoga or Pilates moves at home or while traveling, as they don’t take much space and are very versatile.”
Exercise Mat: Alo Yoga
“When I started doing yoga, I thought all mats were the same—just something you put down to separate your body from being on the ground. But your yoga mat is actually a crucial part of your yoga journey, and making sure that your poses and movements are proper and safe,” says Cindy Kimberly. “Having a mat that is too thick or too slippery can cause you to injure yourself even if you’re doing everything correctly. I’ve tried so many different yoga mats, and this one has truly made me feel the most safe and in tune with my body and my positions.”
Warm-Up: Jump Rope
“I can’t live without my Tone It Up jump rope,” says Sanders, who describes the old-school activity as “the best way to get warmed up before a workout, and it’s so easy to pack and bring with you wherever you go.” Simone agrees that a speed rope is “a must-have for me personally!” and calls it one of her favorite cardio options. With practice, “you can start double jumping and add in tricks that keep your brain engaged and your heart rate really high.”
Post-Workout Therapy: Theragun
Anne V calls this mechanical wonder “the perfect tool post-workout to release tension in my muscles, after a flight to rejuvenate my body, or if I feel like I need a good massage.”
Travel Gear: Bands
“My favorite workout item at home is the P.band,” says Abby Champion. “Since I often travel for work, I need something that I can squeeze into my carry-on and take with me. I’ve found that weights are always too heavy and boring to do, so when I discovered the P.band I became obsessed with it. I had never used or seen anything like this for arms before. The band makes my arms lean, toned, and is always super easy to use. There’s something about feeling the workout 10 seconds into it that just makes me feel like I’m immediately working hard. The P.band you put on like gloves really targets all areas of the upper body. For me, this band is very straightforward, and even with a short workout a day, I notice a difference.” Anne V likes First Place Travel Bands for both home use and when she goes on the road. “Since I live in New York and we don’t have much space for having extra stuff, I try to have things that are multi-purposeful. I put them inside a door to anchor them and focus on my abs and my arms. I found them through my trainer Justin Gelband and have been using them for over ten years—they are definitely a must.”
Aerobics: The Step Platform
“The list of exercise options with a bench or step is endless,” says Sanders. “They can be used for cardio, core, lower body weighted moves—I love this for a home gym because there are so many options you aren’t going to get tired of it! Step-ups, hip thrusts, lunges with your back foot elevated, plyometric jump moves—the list goes on forever. This step is great because the height can be increased all the way to the height of a bench.”
Lower Body: The DB Method
You may recognize this one from the background of Hailey Bieber’s Instagram photos, though Tracee Ellis Ross, Martha Stewart, and Ayesha Curry are also part of The DB Method inner circle. With the help of the brand’s app, classes and fitness challenges instructed by some of New York’s most elite trainers can be accessed from your phone during targeted lower body workouts. Plus, the machine even comes with a phone holder.
Favorite Multitasker: Pilates Ball
“I started using this pilates ball at my favorite pilates studio in L.A.,” says Kelsey Merritt. “I bought one for myself because I get to do so many good targeted butt and ab workouts from it!” Simone agrees, “this is the prop to buy! They are inexpensive, and mine has lasted me three years now. Whether it’s crunches with the ball right around your mid-back point, or the ball under your tailbone while doing leg lifts, this thing does wonders for your core.”
Heat Up: Higher Dose Sauna Blanket
“I love my higher dose infrared sauna blanket!” Shanina Shaik enthuses, adding that she highly recommends it. “I don’t have to leave my home to get a sweat in. I lay down and watch my favorite TV shows as I relax and sweat.”
Cool Down: Meditation Pillow
“I have this meditation pillow in different rooms of my house,” says Anne V. “I picked up kundalini yoga during the quarantine and now meditation is a daily practice for me and to make an hour class easier on my body—I love this pillow.”
Suspension Training: TRX
“I love using my TRX at home, on the road, or with my trainer in his gym,” says Bock. “It’s light and easy to pack, can be attached to a door, and you can do thousands of different workouts and moves from anywhere with minimal space required.”
Double Duty: Foam Roller Water Bottle
“This is one of my favorite things, especially when I travel,” says Anne V. “I don’t think I need to say much—but—how genius is this creation?”
Mobility Tool: Pso-Rite
“This mobility tool is absolutely magical, it releases tightness from every part of the body,” says Anne V. “My hips are always tight and this is the only tool that I found that makes them feel better when they are sore—and stretches them out.”
Smart Wearable: Oura Ring
“This is my favorite wearable!” Sanders enthuses. “It gives extremely detailed sleep data, which is paramount if you’re working hard and wanting to monitor recovery. Knowing how much deep sleep I get and how restful my sleep was helps me decide what kind of workout I do! It also tracks workouts because it is always pulling your heart rate. All in a ring that stays charged for four to six days—I’m obsessed.”
Editor Favorite: Yogi Bare Acupressure Set
Based on the ancient “bed of nails” healing technique, this acupressure mat is designed to relax your muscles just by relaxing. People believe it restores balance to your energy flow (qi) and meridians if you’re into that kind of thing, and if you’re just looking for something to chill you out on work calls, you can take off your shoes and stand on it for a boost. The sensation is softly prickly, not painful, and has a mysteriously mood-balancing effect.
Cult-Favorite: SoulCycle Bike
Requiring zero introduction, SoulCycles culty bikes are now available outside of a beat-pumping group glass and inside your own home, at your own pace, with your own music. Or, you can stream classes from their app and pretend you’re back in the studio.
Elite Import: Sportline Cadillac Reformer
Pilates Connector CEO Britanny Tober curated a group of the best reformer machines in the world for her elite clients that want a machine at home pretty enough to keep on display (since many versions look a bit… scary). The most interesting part? She’s the only retailer to provide Americans with Sportline’s clean, white, bright machines typically only found in Europe. She says they’re so popular, though, that the systems take a few weeks to source and deliver.
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