15 Fitness Gifts for the Affordable Home Gym
Including a digital kettlebell, a wearable with a cult following, and something called a Cryosphere
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Visit InsideHook’s Holiday 2020 gifting hub to find gift ideas for every person on your list this year. Also, who are we kidding? Find lots of ideas for yourself there, too.
America has had some truly bizarre COVID-related “shortages” this year. Laptops, bikes and even Dr. Pepper have all been subject to the double whammy of increased demand and broken supply chains. Only recently, as factories have opened back up, have some of these products managed to reach ports, then shelves, across the country again.
One shortage that feels like it was never truly solved, though? Fitness equipment. It’s still nigh-impossible to get a set of dumbbells. Plates and bars are back-ordered or pick-up only. On the surface it makes sense. Thousands of fitness clubs across the country are still closed, and 59% of Americans don’t plan on renewing their gym memberships after the pandemic. People are trying their darnedest to build home gyms.
The run on equipment, meanwhile, has boosted sales and valuations for brands that make new-age, big-ticket fitness apparatuses, like Peloton or MIRROR. Unsurprisingly, those companies are expecting delays on shipments for months, not just this holiday season. Earlier this fall, Peloton CEO John Foley said they’ll probably struggle to keep up with orders until July 2021.
There’s a distinct problem with all this hoopla. It’s enough to make a man believe he has two options for getting into shape over the next few months: wait for a set of adjustable dumbbells to restock, or shell out thousands for a very fancy stationary bike. In reality, there are more methods and many more products out there to get people regularly working out again. That knowledge is one of the best gifts you can give this time of year.
To that end, we’ve compiled a gift guide of well-stocked, well-priced gear and gadgets for the guy looking to get fit in 2021. You won’t spend more than $250 on any of these, and more importantly, you won’t have to call customer service six times to get any them in time for the holidays. From a $15 jump rope, to a fitness wearable with a cult following, to something called a Cryosphere, find our picks below.
Celebrity trainer and former boxer Michael Oladije Jr. said to me earlier this year that “Jumping rope is simply the most convenient, efficient and effective exercise in the game.” You don’t need a $75 jump rope to reap those rewards — especially when you’re just starting out. This is the best beginner’s rope out there, a 10-foot cord with grippy tape on each handle.
Earlier this year, the CDC officially recommended that Americans wear “cloth face coverings in public settings … especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” Meaning, even if you don’t plan on joining a gym anytime soon, it’s essential that you have a mask handy for runs, bike rides, and trips to the local track or jungle gym. Under Armour’s Sportsmask is made from “hyper-breathable polyurethane open-cell foam,” which is science-speak for a mask you can run around in without keeling over.
At least WHOOP had a good year. After raising $100 million during its latest financing round, the wearable fitness industry’s hottest new company is now valued at $1.2 billion. Pros like Patrick Mahomes, Kevin Durant and Rory McIlroy are all investors in the brand, and users of its product, a lightweight, waterproof strap that monitors the body’s strain, sleep and recovery around the clock. WHOOP 3.0 captures the most nuanced heart rate and movement data, and syncs with literally everything. The strap actually comes free with the purchase of a membership, which starts at $30.
Lululemon makes all manner of garb these days — from button-down shirts to bathing suits — but it was founded as a retailer of yoga wear. It hasn’t forgotten those roots, and actually makes some of the most dependable yoga mats in the game today. The Vancouver label’s natural rubber mat is reversible, offers expert grip for all manner of flow, and holds up well over time. Highly recommended.
It’s rare — even when gyms are open — that people regularly use ab wheels. But that’s an oversight. They’re a great way to freshen up one of the most important (yet boring) exercises known to man: the plank. SKLZ makes one of the best sets out there, which comes with a guide on deploying them for dynamic planks and hand-walks.
Injury prevention is a crucial component of any fitness journey, especially for those who are getting up there in years. The Cryosphere is an ideal companion in that process. That stainless steel ball goes in the freezer for two hours, then slips into its rolling massage port. You’re then free to press that cold against any hot spots in your back, shoulders or lower half, for easy relief. It catalyzes blood flow, encourages myofascial relief, and feels freaking amazing.
Designed in the shape of a massage therapist’s elbow, the PSO-RITE applies pressure to the psoas, an oft-ignored muscle attached to the vertebrae in your back and your hips. The psoas muscle plays a massive role in stabilization, hip joint flexing, and lifting legs up towards the body; if allowed to get too tight from sitting in front of a computer all day (sound familiar?) it could indirectly contribute to injury elsewhere in the body. Lying prone atop this one-pound hunk of plastic, invented in 2017 by a former college football linebacker, is the solution.
Say what you will about Tom Brady and his inner circle (at one point this year, I had a lot to say) they know how to make a set of resistance bands. I’ve used this set for months now, and they’ve helped me avoid dreaded 2020 atrophy. Like dumbbells, bars, and plates, resistance bands became almost impossible to acquire at one point during quarantine. But TB12 Sports has kept its kit in stock all the while. It’s well-worth the investment, as a reliable, entry-level set, with two red “medium” bands, two grey “light” bands, one grey “light” band that’s shorter, a door anchor and two carabiners.
An abbreviated list of things I’ve done in Reebok Nano Xs: run a 5K, mowed the lawn, longboarded around New York City, and walked 32,000 steps in one day. Reebok designed the latest generation of its most beloved shoe line to be a versatile “functional fitness” shoe. Fair enough — it’s definitely game for a HIIT class, boot camps, or the boxing gym. But thanks to its wide, stable foundation, weatherproof fortress of an upper, and EVA foam cushioning at the heel, it’s ready for literally any activity.
Sergio Pedemonte, the owner of a Toronto kickboxing studio, told me that if he had to choose one piece of fitness equipment, it would be a freestanding heavy bag from Everlast. Freestanding bags are ideal for kickboxing workouts, which is a great way to cross-train your muscles. It’s also an easy setup for people trying to get a different kind of workout in at the house — just add sand — and a satisfying way to release some tension during a time that doesn’t seem to be getting any easier.
Fix your posterior chain and build rock-hard abs while gliding through space with “the world’s first interactive core trainer.” How the hell does this thing work? You fire up the Stealth Core App, slot your iPhone or Android into that rectangular slot, and grab onto either side of the Stealth Core platform. The apparatus tilts back and forth as you follow the track of whatever game you’re playing, forcing your body to respond in kind. Games are set for three minutes, and by the end of them, your whole body — shoulders, abs, obliques, and glutes — should be on fire.
Cheaper than Beats, sportier than AirPods, and on a mission to save the planet? True, on all accounts. Outdoor tech brand Jaybird sent endurance athletes to some crazy places to test these headphones: the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest, the jungles of Veracruz, Mexico and the high desert of Moab. As a result, these buds actually meet U.S. Military-grade rugged compliant standards. But they also meet the basic needs of a guy working out in his garage. They don’t budge, don’t mind a little sweat, and provide a crystal-clear sound.
As revolutionary as the Theragun G3PRO was in bringing persuasive therapy to the mainstream once and for all, its makers (now operating under the name Therabody) decided they could do even better. They focused on three issues in particular — noise, size, and price — and came up with the Theragun Mini in this year’s drop. It’s possibly our favorite recovery device ever. The Mini has as much power as its predecessor, but it’s quieter, somehow $400 less than the original, and at roughly the size of a desk paperweight, far more compact and portable.
This thing makes the traditional cast-iron kettlebell look like a door stop. Ranging from 12-42 pounds, it’s a six-in-one, adjustable, digital kettlebell that syncs with JAXJOX’s official app for on-demand workouts. The weight can track your exact movements — it contains motion sensors that pick up on reps, sets, power, average volume — and will coach you to kettlebell mastery, over time.
It might not seem too sexy, but a hardy lifting bench unlocks dozens of workout routines. You don’t even need weights. All of a sudden you have sturdy support for a circuit of incline (or decline) push-ups, seated dips, single-leg bench squats, leg lowers and lateral bench hops. The best purveyor of fitness equipment in the country — the place your gym shops — is Ohio-based Rogue Fitness. Their adjustable bench is currently available, though you should expect shipping delays.
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