The Best Home Gym Equipment, According to 26 Exercise Instructors
Do you miss going to the gym? Or, were you never much of gym-goer in the first place, owing to not wanting to brave the cold/crowds/being away from Netflix? None of that matters now that home workouts are so plentiful, wide-ranging and readily available online. All that’s standing between you and a firmer tummy might be finding the right yoga mat.
We suggest browsing the gadgets and accoutrements below to see what fitness professionals consider to be the absolute best home gym equipment to spruce up your workout space. Do you have basically next to no room? You’ll want to stock up on resistance bands. Prefer to target your arm and chest muscle groups? Get yourself a set of free weights. Have an entire half of a guest room to sweat in? Then we suggest building an interactive at-home gym. But whatever your goals, we bet you dollars to doughnuts…mmm, doughnuts…that any of these fitness instructors would tell you to “engage your core.”
1. Long Fitness BandsGymbee 3 Fabric Long Resistance Bands Set
Canadian fitness trainer Randi Kennedy leads high intensity workouts from her apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia, so she’s well-versed on the need for minimum-size, maximum-benefit fitness tools. She uses her these resistance bands for an upper-body workout that’s especially tailored to people who don’t have their own set of hand weights; we recommend getting a few resistance levels, so you can keep increasing the difficulty as your workouts progress.
2. Jump RopeSmart Jump Rope
This is not your playground jump rope—it’s way more high-tech, a lot more beneficial and actually fun. An LED readout in the handle shows your jump count and fitness data, which is also recorded via the Smart Rope app. Ball bearings in the handles allow for a smooth rotation, and it comes in three sizes, which vary according to height. Olympian runner Nick Symmonds started using the Tangram Smart Jump Rope to train when his local gym closed due to pandemic precautions and swears by it.
3. Large Exercise BallSPRI Stability Balance Ball
You’ll actually want to clean out the floor of your closet to have room to store this exercise ball. It’s a trainer’s go-to for having clients sit on while doing reps of core twists and sit-ups. It’s great as a standing arm assist as well, and Sydney, Australia-based trainer and gymnastic coach Leah Kingsley even recommends it as a hack for pushing up into a handstand without using a wall.
4. Balance TrainerBosu Trainer
For everyone who has had the experience of hitting a wall in their core or leg series, when each set of reps seems to just be, meh, no big deal…meet the Bosu Trainer. The domed stability trainer is made of thick, heavy-duty burst-resistant material with a patented rubberized, nonslip, non-marking, dually over-molded base. Our tip? Start with trying to stay balanced while doing squats and then add on from there. For example, Olympic figure skater and Manhattan workout studio owner Fleur Maxwell has her clients stand on one leg on the Bosu Ball while doing leg work.
5. Thick Resistance BandsMhIL 5 Resistance Bands
Alabama-based TikTok fitness influencer and NASM-certified personal trainer Samantha Jones places her MhIL 5 Resistance Bands at mid-thigh, for side and back leg press-squats. But one of the pluses of these bands, which come in varying resistance from extra light to extra heavy, is that you can place them anywhere on your legs to activate the muscles in your calves, thighs and hips.
6. Interactive TrainerThe Mirror
If you have two feet of wall space, you have more than enough room to install The Mirror, an interactive workout that looks like, well, a mirror when it’s not in use. However, when you sign into a live class or call up a pre-recorded one, an instructor appears on the screen. The device connects with your Bluetooth heart rate monitor, speaker, Apple Watch and more, so you can keep track of your progress, and even compete with other people taking the same class. With a plethora of workouts available, from boxing to barre to Latin dance, there’s more than enough to keep you (and up to six household members who can also sign in) busy well past the time when gyms are crowded again.
7. RebounderMovtotop Fitness Trampoline
For people who want to work up a good aerobic sweat, but don’t have the knee strength to run miles or the space for an elliptical, this 40-inch mini-trampoline is your answer. It’s the cornerstone of Los Angeles trainer Laura Kleban’s Lekfit, the cult workout that Busy Phillips loves and continues to do in quarantine. While Kleban’s fitness routine has lots of moves that don’t require kicks, squats and jumps on the mini-tramp, there’s a good chance that after you try one of her Boost classes on your rebounder, you’ll be hooked. Plus, you can just fold up this one and slide it under the bed when you’re not using it.
8. Dip BarsAkyen Dip Station Dip Bar
While this set two parallel bars, which adjust to accommodate four different heights, isn’t the most portable piece of equipment in the world—we recommend it for a corner of your workout room or your garage—it can’t be beat for its multifunctionality. Besides using it for arm dips, yogi Ashley Galvin uses a similar set-up as a stretching tool.
9. Designer WeightEquipt Ubarre
Finally! A hand weight we can leave in the living room and admire as a sculpture when we’re not sweating. This gorgeous eight-pound weight (it also comes in four-, 12- and 16-pound versions) is a sturdy, durable and conversation-starting objet that was inspired by the founder’s Pilates practice—and it’s currently used in high end resorts and the Ara Pilates + Movement studio in Indian Wells, California. (Bonus: On Equipt’s web site, you can sign up for a free month of workouts to learn all the right moves.)
10: Toe SpreadersHalfmoon Joy-A-Toes Large Toe Spreaders
Yogis love these soft little rubber contraptions, which basically are a static stretch for that most beleaguered and forgotten body part: the feet. To start, put them on for five minutes, three times a day, then work up to leaving them on a bit longer to lengthen and invigorate your feet. The effect is energizing…and you can use them for toe separation during your next pedicure. (Win-win!)
Based in England, dietician and marathoner Charlie Watson (she just published Cook, Eat, Run: Cook Fast, Boost Performance with 75 Ultimate Recipes for Runners) doesn’t exactly live in the best climate for outdoor training. So, how did she keep up her fitness level required to complete all six of the world’s major marathons? By using her treadmill. "I love being able to follow workouts, watch TV while doing easy runs and keep my workouts going year-round safely,” she says. “No excuse that it’s dark, or cold or raining!”
12. Yoga BlockGaiam Cork Yoga Brick
Think yoga blocks are just for yoga? Wrong. Just take Nike Pro trainer Kirsty Godso’s killer glutes-and-obliques-strengthening bridge sequence, done with one leg raised and one leg elevated on a block. She says the moves are her go-to way to feel the burn. Of course, if you just want to use your block to lie back and let your shoulders and head stretch, that works.
13. Core Sliders
Synergee Core Sliders
Los Angeles-based trainer Diego Calvo, inventor of the Nucleus Core Pro multi-purpose workout system, is a fan of the simplest fitness tool: a set of plastic discs. He suggests using them under your hands or feet to slide across the floor, using your own body weight as resistance. “The sliding disc is a great complement to spice up your workouts at home,” he says. “If you want to challenge your core, the Nucleus, you need to try those!”
14. Medicine BallAmazonBasics Medicine Ball
Basically a weighted basketball, a medicine ball will amp up the benefit of any movement you do while holding it. Coach Richard Rucker, head coach at the UCLA track team and personal trainer, has his athletes hold the ball while progressing through a series of lunges and hops. “The small medicine ball is used for balance and weight,” he says. “When we use it bouncing uphill, it’s developing power in the legs.” When athletes repeat a fast series of squats while holding the ball, that’s “to develop Fast Twitch, which is needed for sprinting, hurdling and jumping.” Medicine balls are available in weights from four to 20 pounds.
15. Still Point InducerHealPT Peanut Massage Roller for Craniosacral Therapy
Yoga expert Heidi Kristoffer (here she is holding a sideways pose off the edge of an NYC building, NBD) is the creator of the CrossFlow Yoga App and co-host of Off The Gram, a weekly wellness podcast, so she knows what works. And her recommendation for everyone’s home gym really speaks to stressful times: “I love a still point inducer for an extra restorative savasana or meditation, or anyone with neck pain,” she says. These hard silicone contraptions are made to put under your head while you lie on the floor, while you press down on them for as long and as hard as you need to feel your headache and neck pain dissipate—and for your sinuses to clear.
16. Resistance Band With HandlesSPRI Xertube Resistance Bands Exercise Cords with Handles Attached
Bree Koegel, a trainer on the FitOn App calls resistance bands “such an underrated workout tool.” She enthuses over their portability and versatility. “As we continue to work out at home, and access to a range of dumbbells is limited, bands can really supplement your strength training,” she says. “I love to use them as a form check—they will visually show you exactly where you’re holding tension and where you’re not, keeping your workouts more honest and more effective. Lastly, stretching! If you don’t have a workout buddy to get those extra degrees of muscle tension relief, grab a band and get to stretching.”
17. Foam RollerHyperice Vyper 2.0 Vibrating Foam Roller
Hollywood fitness expert Juliet Kaska has trained Kerry Washington, Karlie Kloss and Pink, among others, so she knows what busy women need to get fit and feel energetic, without spending hours at the gym. A good workout, according to Kaska, ends and begins with a foam roller. “Foam rolling helps to improve range of motion (ROM) for your joints which is good for overall body health and function. When your joints have full ROM, your workouts becomes more effective and efficient, and can therefore reduce chances of injury,” she says. It’s also great for releasing tension by rolling out the knots that accumulate throughout our body from stress, misuse and physical activity. And there are even more benefits: “It improves circulation,” Kaska says, “and many female clients of mine have reported a decrease in cellulite on their thighs.” We like a motorized roller, like this one, that amps up the results by just turning on its three-speed motor.
18. DumbellsDNMD 10-Pound Hex Dumbell Weights
Health coach Remi Ishizuka and her partner CrossFit and boxing instructor Nate Pontious love working out together at home so much, they’ve started a community called HomeBodies. “To us, minimal tools do not equate to minimal gains,” the pair told us, recommending that men get a 15-pound pair of Hex dumbbells, while women hoist a 10-pound pair. “There are endless ways you can use them...in different rep schemes, time domains, unilateral, bilateral movement. Pair that with your body weight and you have endless variety. We also use the dumbbell heads to implement myofascial release in tight areas on the bottom of our feet and lats to aid in performance and recovery...something we preach the importance of daily to our HomeBodies members.”
19. Percussive MassagerTheragun Elite
Aria Crescendo, a yogi who teaches online classes in English and French, uses her Theragun from her toes upward to loosen muscles tightened from her daily practice. Just two minutes a day and you can look forward to increased blood flow, decreased muscle soreness and stiffness, faster warm-up and recovery, and a better range of motion. Want to turbo-charge your recovery with this powerful tool? Rub in some of the brand’s soothing CBD recovery lotion before you massage—the arnica, eucalyptus and peppermint tingle is so satisfying.
20. Exercise MatManduka PRO Yoga Mat
Newport Beach-based Gillian Dalby runs CAZ Training Club, a rooftop fitness experience in Newport Beach, California where her clients vie to achieve a certain number of workout hours each month, with proceeds given to charity. But even while her club is shut down, Dalby’s got a home workout happening. It starts with “establishing a workout space, whether at the part or in your living room,” she says. She likes the six-millimeter thickness of the Maduka yoga mat, available in 10 colors. “It’s a great durable mat that you don't slide around on when you get sweaty. I use my mat when doing bodyweight exercises, yoga or Pilates-inspired movements, and any exercises where I'm kneeling or laying on my back.”
21. Adjustable WeightsBowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells
Dalby also wants women to stop thinking of lifting heavy weights as something that will make them bulky. “It's so important for women to increase their bone density because as we age, most of us are at risk for osteoporosis. A great way to do that is to lift heavy weights. This will increase muscle mass, burn fat and help to increase bone density.” These adjustable weights can replace 15 sets of individual weights, ranging from five to 52 pounds, so they’ll grow with your increasing strength (and work for any friends or family members who want to join in).
22. Resistance BallP.ball
The P.ball is a patented piece of equipment that looks super-weird when you first see it, but once you wriggle the two elastic bands around your thighs and start squeezing the attached inflated ball between your legs, your thighs (among other muscles) are going to understand—this is a workout, and no cheating is allowed. The P.ball one of the tools in the P.volve workout, which is a resistance-based, high-intensity and low impact program that strengthens and sculpts your bod. Austin-based trainer Celestine Atalie endorses it as “incredible to work the entire lower body with a focus on the thighs, glutes and core, since it was purposefully created to activate muscles that no other workout ball can. You can even use it to work the upper body and behind the back for some extra core work on the mat.”
23. Yoga StrapAlo Yoga Strap
Want a dual-purpose device for stretching and resistance? Trainer Heidi Kristoffer recommends the tried-and-true yoga strap. Just remember, you have to breathe into your stretches, then just stretch a little bit more (lie back and think of your hot shower up ahead). Also, Alo’s strap doubles as a yoga mat carrying strap when you’re going to and from the gym.
24. Abdominal WheelFila Ab Wheel
Ohioan personal trainer Alex Medich praises the ab roller for its ability to continually challenge the user. As your core becomes stronger, you roll the little wheeled gizmo farther away from you, eventually moving from a plank to a pike position. And don’t let the name fool you, you’ll also be tightening your back, arms, glutes and legs to do reps of these. TLDR: Ouch.
25. Wearable WeightsBala Bangles
Former ballerina Kristen Ziolko streams workouts at @corpstechnique and it’s hard not to be as mesmerized by her chic, neutrals-toned aesthetic as her impossibly long limbs. So, it’s no surprise she dons lightweight eye candy Bala Bangles for her mat exercises, since the two-pound weight isn’t going to slow down any of her flowing movements but will amp up the resulting tone.
26. Infrared BlanketHigher Dose Infrared Sauna Blanket V3
For passive detoxification, as well as soothing muscle recovery, Bec Dolan, the Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based cakemaker and fitness influencer @Sweatwithbec, curls up under her infrared blanket. It’s similar to relaxing in a walk-in sauna, except your head is left out of the wrapped, heated water-resistant blanket. Winter doesn’t have a chance at chilling you in this, and post-sweat, your skin is going to look amazing.
27. Stationary BikeThe MYX Plus
Who needs the gym when you have one piece of equipment that can do it all? That’s the story with the MYX Plus, a stationary bike that includes an interactive touchscreen, a stabilizing mat, a set of weights and a heart rate monitor, plus a membership to world-class coaches (like Garner Pilat, who is a one-woman mood-elevating machine) who are going to lead you through your paces both on and off the bike.
28. Meditation ChairHalfmoon Yoga Mediation Chair
Yoga instructors have discovered that home practitioners find periods of meditation so uncomfortable, they can’t stay seated long enough to reap the benefits. Get added back support with this low-slung chair that’s got five positions which will allow you to focus on feeling centered.
29. Portable Resistance WorkoutBoard30 Mini
This small board no larger than your to-do list whiteboard but it’s mighty powerful. The genius here is that resistance is provided by your weight as you stand on the board, so when you pull the attached straps with your arms or legs, there’s no slippage like there can be with, say, resistance straps on doorknobs. Velco ankle straps and reinforced hand loops will remind Pilates devotees of their studio reformer machines, although this device replicates that experience without taking up a ton of floor space. Master trainer Darci Bowdon uses her Mini to tone her legs, arms, back and whatever else her usual regimen lacks.
30. Wooden BoxSynergee 3 in 1 Wood Plyometric Box for Jump Training and Conditioning
Want to feel like a crazy-accomplished athlete (and grab a great social media boomerang while you’re at it)? Get into plyometrics, the bioscience of jumping, by practicing your explosive jumps onto a wooden box. (Eventually, you’ll be able to stack your boxes like steeplechase champion Colleen Quigly.) Plyometrics not only make you feel powerful, but they’re also a key to functional fitness, training your body to enable a surge of effort in superfast reaction time. This box, with 12-, 14- and 16-inch tall sides, enables you to safely build up to your maximum jumping height.