Everyone has been in lockdown for months, probably watching a little too much Netflix and eating far too many processed foods out of a box, can, or bag. If you’ve lost your routine and are struggling to find your new quarantine normal, it’s never too late to reset.
Those of you who want to figure out ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance should create a dedicated space in your house that serves as an at-home gym. It’s a bit of an investment. But, rather than continually rotating between couches and screens all day long, you can break up the hours at home by squeezing in some much-needed time to sweat. In the end, you’ll be able to live, work, exercise, and hopefully stay sane and healthy, all from the same house.
Here is a selection of top-notch fitness gear to consider — many of which are smart or internet-connected. We’ve also included some accessories to help flesh out your home gym.
Disclosure: ZDNet may earn an affiliate commission from some of the products featured on this page. ZDNet and the author were not compensated for this independent review.
Did you really think we would start this guide with anything else? Peloton’s $2,245 indoor spin bike features an adjustable seat, handlebars, and a 21.5-inch touchscreen display. You use the display to participate in live and on-demand cycling classes from home — a subscription feature that costs an extra $39 per month.
If you love to cycle or simply want the hottest, trendiest gym equipment you can buy right now, look no further than Peloton’s bike. The best part is it’s great for all fitness levels, so if you’re a total newbie to spin bikes, you’ll catch on quickly and be able to burn a ton of calories in a relatively short amount of time.
The NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle is purely a Peloton Bike alternative.
It’s slightly cheaper, but still a really comparable spin bike. It costs $1,999 and offers a 22-inch interactive touchscreen that tilts and lets you stream high-energy studio sessions with trainers (who can uniquely control your machine’s decline, incline, and resistance in real-time — something Peloton trainers can’t do).
Plus, a one-year membership to the iFit classes is included.
The $4,295 Peloton Tread is a smart treadmill with a 32-inch touchscreen display. It requires a $39-per-month subscription to access Peloton’s live and on-demand running classes. You can use these classes to train for a beginner 5K or participate in more advanced sessions designed to improve your running game.
Yes, there are cheaper treadmills, but if you want a premium piece of kit that guides you on your journey to becoming a seasoned runner, then the Tread is an easy buy. It’s a top-of-the-line treadmill with all the bells and whistles. It has that Peloton name, too, it’ll get lots of oohs and aahs from your friend and loved ones.
This is basically a Peloton treadmill alternative.
You get a 32-inch touch screen, streaming classes through the iFit app, and the option to run worldwide trails with beautiful scenery. Perhaps most interestingly, it offers a 40% incline, compared to the 15% incline on the Peloton Tread. This allows you to really feel like you’re hiking the Swiss Alps.
It’s a great form of HIIT training and helps you burn more calories over time. Even better, it’s $3,999 — $300 less than the Peloton. If you want something cheaper, but with a smaller screen, the Nordictrack X22i is $2,999. Wither either of these treadmills, you’ll also get a free 12-month subscription to iFit included.
Indoor rowing is a great way to improve your core and your upper body strength while engaging in low-impact, high-intensity cardio. It’s truly a fantastic calorie-burning exercise.
The Hydrow is a high-end smart rower that costs $2,199. It features a 22-inch full HD screen, electromagnetic resistance, a cushioned seat, and adjustable pedals. It also works with a $38-per-month subscription that offers on-demand and live workouts, including classes with “Olympians and world-class rowers.”
Initially, we were split on whether to recommend the Hydrow or the NordicTrack RW900 rower. The latter is cheaper and has just as many positive reviews, plus it works with the iFit app, which you can use with other workout equipment. But it only has a 250-pound weight limit, whereas the Hydrow supports 375 pounds.
Still, NordicTrack is an established name. Its $1,699 RW900 rower offers a 22-inch HD screen with one year of free access to the iFit live and on-demand access. The machine itself offers 26 digital resistance levels, an inertia-enhanced flywheel, pivoting pedals, and the entire thing is foldable from the get-go.
Now, we’re just getting fancy. The $1,495 Mirror is a total luxury purchase.
A full-length mirror that doubles as an LCD screen, you can use it to check your form while taking live and on-demand fitness classes ($39-per-month membership required). There are classes for a broad range of activities, such as yoga, strength, and cardio — all with different lengths and fitness levels. It even offers one-on-one personal training, which takes advantage of the built-in camera so that your trainer can interact with you in real-time. The mirror comes with a Bluetooth heart-rate monitor and six fitness bands, too.
Our sister site, CNET, said the Mirror is the best personal training system it’s tested.
FightCamp’s in-home boxing bag is perfect for those of you who want to encourage your inner Rocky.
The whole system uses sensors (which go into the boxing wraps that go under the boxing gloves for your hands) to track your punches. With these sensors, you can tell you how hard you’re hitting and how many punches you’ve thrown or landed in real-time to see how you’re improving
The base FightCamp package with just the wraps and sensors costs $439. The full package – complete with the gloves, an exercise mat, and a punching bag – is $1,219. As for FightCamp’s classes, those are part of a $39-per-month subscription. You can watch hundreds of on-demand sessions with guided boxing techniques, but there’s no screen included. You have to use your own TV or a mobile device.
Ellipticals are stationary exercise machines that don’t cause excessive pressure to the joints. They’re best for those who want to stay fit with a low-impact activity, such as people with injuries.
The $899 Schwinn 470 isn’t as smart as a Peloton, but it’s a trusted fitness brand, and with this elliptical, you get 25 levels of computer resistance, 29 different programs, and four different user settings for each family member. It also has a USB charging port so you can charge your phone, and it is Bluetooth-enabled.
The NordicTrack FS10i is described as a “FreeStride trainer” based on the swing/rotational motion of an elliptical trainer. Nordictrack claims it’s an elliptical, a treadmill, and a stepper all-in-one machine, offering a range of workout options with adjustable stride and incline. We think it’s like a cross-country ski trainer.
Again, this is a low-impact piece of fitness equipment. If you’re looking to stay in shape without really stressing your joints, look no further. It costs $2,999, has a 10-inch HD touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity, and works with the iFit platform of live and on-demand classes.
Last but not least, you should check out a stair stepper. This is an extraordinary machine that provides an exceptional workout. It offers independent foot treadles that simulate a climbing motion, but it can also be set to move “forward” as well as up and down to offer either a treadmill-like or elliptical effect.
This $1,899 Bowflex, like all of the exercise machines that the company sells, is well-built and can support a weight limit of up to 300 pounds. You get 12 adjustable resistance levels, can go up to four miles per hour, and there’s an LCD screen that tracks all the usual stats and shows you a weekly goal.
Best home gym accessories
OK, so now that we’ve discussed the core equipment you could buy, let’s talk about accessories. These are products that really transform your workout space into a full-fledged gym. They’re not necessary, but they’re handy, and they’re perfect for those of you who prefer to do body workouts without the aid of bulky machinery.
- Resistance bands: Black Mountain set for $30 at Black Mountain
- Yoga mat: Manduka Pro for $120 at Amazon
- Suspension training system: TRX for $170 at Amazon
- High-density roller: AmazonBasics roller for $13 at Amazon
- Vinyl-coated kettlebells: Yes4All bells start at $15 at Amazon
- Pull-up bar station: Citybirds for $205 at Amazon
- Adjustable bench: Bowflex SelectTech for $229 at Bowflex
- Adjustable dumbbells: Bowflex SelectTech 552 for $329 at Bowflex
- Jump rope set: Crossrope for $99 at Amazon
- Gym mats: BalanceForm mats start at $28 at Amazon
- Punching bag: CenturyOriginal for $179 at Amazon
- Fitness tracker: Fitbit Versa 2 for $150 at Amazon
We recommend you get some gym mats, for starters. Maybe also a yoga mat. From there, pick up some “dumb” exercise kit, such as resistance bands, pull-up bars, jump ropes, punching bags, and weights. Finally, get yourself a roller to soothe your sore muscles, and a fitness tracker like the Versa 2 to ensure you’re meeting your fitness goals.
Everything we chose above is well-reviewed across Amazon and other retailers. Just keep in mind some of these items are selling out fast during the pandemic.