8 Tech Products To Help Achieve Your Fitness Goals In 2021
This is the year your dining room became your gym. Time to embrace it.
The problem with fitness resolutions during a pandemic is that it’s not as simple as signing up for a gym membership that you’re going to use for a week, then try to justify holding on to for another 11 months. This year, you’ve got to actually get the right gear to make your resolutions happen.
Luckily, I’ve spent a lot of time in lockdown testing and trying out a gym’s-worth of gear to figure out what works best. Whether you’re just starting your fitness journey or you’re a grizzled gym rat looking for a fix, this is what you’ll need to get your sweat on and crush your fitness goals in 2021.
Lace Up Right
On Cloud X
When choosing a gym shoe, you want something that’s not only versatile but comfortable. It doesn’t hurt if it looks good too. The Cloud X from On ticks all those boxes.
They’re light, provide excellent support for running and still have substantial lateral support for cross training. Especially now that it’s winter and I’m doing my training in my living room, I want something that easily transitions from the tread to floor workouts. Perfect for Peloton boot camp classes.
The Helion superfoam in the outer sole provides the cushioning you need for lateral movement, while the Speedboard in the center supports more intense up and down motion. The higher sidewalls give the support needed when suffering through yet another round of burpees. The mesh upper breathes wonderfully and is seamless so you don’t have to worry about your shoe failing before you do.
On makes a point of offering interesting and stylish colorways as well, so you’re not stuck with a pair of clown shoes just because they’re the only ones in your size. You have 90 days to try out the Cloud X when you purchase them from the On site, which is more than enough time to see if they’ll transform your at home workout.
At Home, The Treadmill’s Always Open
Don’t you hate it on cardio days when all you need to do is a 30-minute run and every single treadmill is filled, leaving you flailing around on the elliptical? Me too. But once you add a treadmill to your home gym, that problem disappears. The Peloton Tread+ was already one of the hottest treadmills on the market. The pandemic has only made its popularity soar. Not only does the Peloton Tread+ offer classes and interactive workouts via its giant 32-inch touchscreen. It also offers some of the best tread tech available.
The individual rubber slats of the tread deck provide a better-than-road running experience (as opposed to the harder surface of belt-driven treadmills). That tech is usually found only on treads that cost $8k or more. So while the Peloton Tread+ itself wholly deserves a “pricey” designation, it’s considerably less expensive than it should be. And it’s worth it. Just a run or two on the Tread+ and the achy knee that’s been plaguing me for weeks after every road run is better.
There are unique touches on the Tread+ that I really enjoy as well. Instead of fiddly switches or buttons, there are two handle-mounted knobs that easily rotate to let you dial in the incline and speed you’re looking for. A quick tap on the button in the center jumps you to the next speed or incline. That’s it. Other than a wake/sleep/stop button, there’s nothing else to clutter up the profile. All other controls are virtual. It gives the Tread+ a clean look that other treadmills can’t even begin to approach. That’s good since the Tread+ is a beast of a tread. You’re not going to hide this under your bed or fold it up against the wall.
But the treadmill is only part of the package. The 32-inch touchscreen is where you’ll find Peloton’s vast library of instructor-led workouts. Everything from easy walk/run routines to high intensity boot camp regimes will have you doing fast hill climb cardio intervals before hopping off for strength exercises. What I really enjoy about Peloton is that the instructors consistently recommend stretching, warming up and cooling down. It’s something that a lot of people ignore while training (even more so at home) but it’s vital to preventing injury. After every run, there’s always a recommended “next workout” on screen to help do even more or gracefully cool down.
And if you don’t want to take a class? You have options there too. In addition to just using the tread as a tread, you can hop on for a scenic run and explore running trails and courses all over the world. Just make sure you don’t get so engrossed that you try and peek around a corner and nearly fall off.
The Peloton Tread+ is more than just a treadmill. It’s a universe of trained instructors, fellow athletes to connect with via leaderboards and hashtags, and an entire gym’s worth of guided programs and live classes. If you’re going to invest in one piece of hardware to transform your home gym, this is it.
No Room For Racks? No Problem
Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell with Curl Bar
Bowflex’s adjustable dumbbells and kettlebell are exactly what you need to take your home gym to the next level. but the 2080 Barbell goes even further. While dumbbells and kettlebells are often found in home gyms, barbells require so much space to store and use, they’re rarely found in anything but the most dedicated of home gyms.
The SelectTech 2080 Barbell replaces seven weight sets, from 20-80 lbs, with an available upgrade to expand the weights all the way to 120 lbs. There’s a straight barbell and a curl bar that you can easily switch out for a full variety of exercises. Grab one of Bowflex’s stowable weight benches and you’ll have everything you need for a wide variety of exercises. No more complaining that you can’t get a proper bench press or deadlift at home.
Get One-on-One With a Trainer
While the lululemon Mirror and other products like it offer a guided workout experience embedded in a full-length mirror, the NordicTrack Vault is the only product that addresses the problem of where to store all the gear you need to make those workouts successful.
The 60” reflective screen of the Vault slides and rotates to the left or right, revealing storage for a complete home gym system. There’s room for resistance bands, a yoga mat and blocks, kettlebells, and dumbbells. You can purchase the Vault full of gear or provide your own (and save yourself $1,000).
Embedded in the upper portion of the Vault’s screen is a 32″ touchscreen that gives you access to Nordictrack’s library of workouts. The classes take advantage of the mirrored vault screen, having you mirror the proper form demonstrated by the instructors. What’s even better is that you’ll get a full year subscription to their iFit platform when you purchase a Vault. It’s an impressive system and I’m looking forward to seeing it in action once it ships in February.
Punch It Out
Fight Camp Personal
A good workout feels satisfying. But there’s something about boxing that’s different. It’s cathartic in a way that no other workout can be. Fight Camp knows this and has created an app-driven boxing workout system that belongs in every home gym.
Wrapping your hands and pulling on gloves is a ritualistic (and necessary) donning of armor. Each punch is harder than the last as you feel the release of whatever stress you’re holding on to. The workout is almost superfluous; or it would be, if it wasn’t so hard. Fifteen minutes of throwing punches leaves me more winded than running three miles. The constant shuffling, quick movement, and rapid transitions all combine to give me a workout that’s uniquely challenging.
Despite, or maybe because of, its difficulty, I find myself looking forward to new FightCamp workouts. There are several paths in the app that you can take that combine videos introducing the trainers and various techniques, benchmark workouts, and full body workouts. There are also new one-off workouts that pop up in the app every week.
My only wish is that it was comfortable to wear my Apple Watch under the wraps and gloves. I want activity credit! Sadly, The FightCamp app (that tracks your punches and power) still doesn’t sync with Apple Health months after launch.
FightCamp offers different levels of gear to accompany your training. You can get just the quick wraps and trackers and shadow box or you can go all in and get gloves and a heavy bag. If you have the funds and the room (the bag requires a lot of both) I highly recommend the latter. Shadow boxing is good, but nothing compares to actually connecting with a bag. Plus, the FightCamp bag is definitely one of the better ones and the gloves are very well made
The only thing to keep in mind is that setting up your bag permanently takes a fair amount of room and it’s heavy once you load it with sand or water (especially sand). Make sure you have the room for it! I’d also recommend picking up a Bag Ring to keep your bag from “walking” away during a workout.
Hit The Juice Bar
Hurom H200 Easy Clean Slow Juicer
The one thing about the gym, is that the juices and smoothies on display always look so incredibly good after a hard workout. With the Hurom H200 Easy Clean Juicer, you can avoid the overpriced concoctions at the juice bar and make your own at home.
The H200 is an impressive performer. The large hopper can handle full-sized fruits and veggies. The masticating juicer mashes everything you toss in and renders an astonishing amount of juice out of your ingredients. It has multiple strainer so that you can juice stringier ingredients without worrying about clogging or graininess in your juice. You can even add frozen fruits to make smoothies.
Cleaning the H200 is “easy” as far as cleaning juicers go. Everything fits together and comes apart logically. The large strainer holes mean that just about everything is taken care of with a quick rinse (instead of having to scrub tiny holes to clear them of debris). The chamber comes apart easily and there’s a convenient pulp container in the back. It’s still a lot of work for a glass of juice, but the H200 fits nicely on your countertop and gives you the results you expect without making you wish you’d never thought of juicing.
Get Some Shut Eye
Garmin Venu Sq
OK, so you wouldn’t normally sleep at the gym (at least, I hope you wouldn’t) but sufficient rest is a vital part of recovery. The latest version of Apple’s watchOS added sleep tracking, but I find it to be extremely rudimentary. For qualitative sleep analysis, you need to get a Garmin.
Other companies like Withings and Polar offer sleep tracking, but I find Garmin’s integration to be the most useful. Not only does Garmin track your sleep cycles throughout the night and generate a sleep score but they also take your recovery into account and offer training recommendations based on how well you slept the night before.
Sleep tracking is integrated into just about every device in the Garmin lineup, but if you’re looking for a dedicated workout tracker that can offer up on-wrist routines and track everything in between, the Venu Sq should be on your wrist.
One glance at the device and you can guess what the “Sq” stands for. The square screen is a departure for the Venu line, but in a market where square is the new round, Garmin is keeping up with the trend.
But whereas Apple is a smartwatch with fitness features, Garmin is more of a fitness watch with smart features. The Venu Sq is laser-focused on you, monitoring your pulse, pulse ox, respiration rate, stress level, sleep, hydration and your menstrual cycle. All of these combine to give you a holistic picture, not just of how you’re doing in the moment, but your progress over time and how the choices you make affect your overall fitness.
What’s great is that the Venu Sq is ready out of the box to help you achieve your goals. It’s pre-loaded with workouts like cardio, yoga, strength and more. You can also use it to track your running, cycling and swim workouts with underwater heart rate monitoring, something only seen in the most expensive devices.
And you can download your Spotify, Amazon, or Deezer playlists (this is the music version of the watch, after all) so that you can have your podcasts and music available wherever you roam. The smartwatch functions are solid but don’t expect an Apple Watch level of interactivity. Garmin offers smartwatch notifications and pay-by-watch options here in the hopes that you’ll make the Venu Sq your only on-wrist device. If you’re addicted to tracking biometrics, the Garmin Connect app offers a treasure trove of data, and with a 6-day battery life, it’s an easy choice to just leave it on all the time.
Revel In Your Accomplishments
Garmin Index S2 Smart Scale
I see you rolling your eyes. But I’m being genuine here! If you head into your fitness resolutions already feeling defeated, then you’re likely going to follow that line of thinking to its inevitable conclusion. A smart scale can help you track your journey.
Especially if you’re using a Garmin fitness tracker, the Garmin Index S2 Smart Scale is an essential component to your training. It tracks weight, skeletal and muscle mass, body fat and water percentage, and BMI, showing you 30-days of weight trends on the color display.
The Garmin Connect connectivity is handy, letting you keep all your pertinent data in one place. You can invite up to 15 other users to display their weight, making it great for family use. I especially like hopping on the scale before and after a run to see how my body composition changes. The Connect app will handily munch that data as well, using it to help determine your body stress and recovery scores.
The Index S2 Smart Scale doesn’t measure heart rate, which is a bit of a disappointment given that other scales in this price range do, but chances are you already have something strapped to your wrist for BPM, so the measurement is superfluous anyway. I’ve found the Index S2 to be a reliable, easy to use and helpful tool to keep track of how my decisions affect my fitness.