At one point or another, most of us have resolved around January 1 to exercise more, eat better or focus on our health somehow. Though it’s a tricky resolution to start — and even more challenging to keep up — some preparation and the right tools can help set you up for a year of healthy exercise.
Whether you’re looking to start exercising or to take your routine to the next level, you need the right at-home workout gear to motivate you to move frequently and consistently. If you need some extra motivation to head to the gym, treat yourself to some new sweatproof Bluetooth headphones like the AirPods Pro. And if you’re trying to improve your diet? Kitchen gadgets like a Vitamix blender make meal prep quicker and easier, and the results yummier.
To help determine the best products to invest in heading into 2021, we’ve chatted with health and fitness experts to uncover their secrets. After all, if the professionals swear by them, you know they’re good. Below, find our favorite picks to meet whatever wellness goal you’re focusing on for the next lap around the sun.
For the person looking to make exercise part of everyday life
Trx All-in-One Suspension Training: Body Weight Resistance System ($149.95; amazon.com)
If you don’t have a ton of space but want to work up a major sweat, personal trainer Miriam Fried recommends this TRX suspension training kit. As she explains, you can easily work out your entire body without building out an entire gym. Win-win!
Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Exercise Bike ($228.33; amazon.com)
Building out a home gym or investing in substantial at-home fitness equipment doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg either. If you’re looking for a super-solid bike option that won’t take up too much space, this editor-favorite option has 14,000 reviews on Amazon.
Ativafit Yoga Wheel ($45.99; amazon.com)
Regardless of whether or not you’re a yogi, this wheel will increase your flexibility and range of motion and release minor aches and pains, according to Dani Schenone, a holistic wellness expert for Mindbody.
“What I love most about it is the support it offers in spinal extensions, giving my heart center all the expansion it needs,” she explains. However, it’s not just for the spine. The yoga wheel is excellent for developing better balance, improving inversions or amplifying any pose too. “I pull out my yoga wheel weekly, and it has transformed my yoga practice,” she says.
Everlast Pro Style Training Gloves (starting at $27.04; amazon.com)
Sometimes — say, every week of 2020 — you just feel the need to punch something. If you have a boxing bag at home, you need gloves that allow you to cross, hook, jab and uppercut your stress away. Travel and fitness guru Cacinda Maloney recommends these lightweight training gloves. They wick moisture, so your hands won’t feel sticky and you can keep moving.
Bala Bangles ($49; dickssportinggoods.com)
You’ll be impressed by how adding a little more resistance to your daily workouts or chores can shape your stamina and overall fitness level. Danielle Cote, the director of training operations at Pure Barre, recommends these functional and fashionable bangles that fit snug on your wrists or ankles.
“Whether you are wearing them during your favorite sweat session, while you’re out for a walk or cleaning around the house, these 1-pound or 2-pound weights pack in a sneaky punch to your day,” she says.
Gaiam Yoga Mat ($23.98, originally $29.98; amazon.com)
“My favorite features include the cushioned rubber backing for joint support and stability, the dry-wicking surface that absorbs moisture and prevents yogis from falling during a mega sweat sesh, and the thick backing that adheres to the floor so that the mat doesn’t crinkle, curl or move across the room while flowing,” she explains.
Plus, it’s made with natural rubber, so it won’t peel like a synthetic mat.
TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller ($44.96, originally $59.99; amazon.com)
Foam rollers are a real game changer when it comes to post-workout recovery. They work to loosen up muscles and act as a massage after a trying session, plus you’ll be able to work on your quads, calves, lats, back and much more with this top-rated option.
BalanceFrom Neoprene-Coated Dumbbell Set ($45.24; amazon.com)
This set of classic dumbbells is available in two weight levels, a 32-pound set with weights of 3, 5 and 8 pounds or a 50-pound set with weights of 5, 8 and 12 pounds. Each set features six weights coated with neoprene (which prevents slipping) and a convenient storage stand.
Buddy Lee Aero Speed Hyperformance Jump Rope ($39.95; amazon.com)
Jump rope: It may be one of the simplest workouts, but it’s an effective one. Fitness and wellness coach Gideon Akande says this is an ideal product for anyone who wants to turn up their cardio speed. Thanks to the weight of the rope, the ergonomics and comfort of the handle and the swivel-bearing technology, he says you’ll have a perfect turn each time you hop.
“This high-quality rope takes a beating and lasts! This is a must-have in any home gym or fitness traveler’s luggage,” he says.
Dynamax Soft-Shell Medicine Ball Standard (starting at $85; amazon.com)
If you’re looking for a medicine ball, Akande says to look no further. “It’s perfect for core work and sport-specific training,” he explains. “These medicine balls are impact-absorbing, built to handle high velocity. Plus, they’re just fun to toss around.”
AmazonBasics Medicine Ball ($34.99; amazon.com)
This cheaper medicine ball option is a classic, featuring a textured finish that’s easy to grip and a rubber build so you can bounce the ball off hard surfaces.
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Mini Exercise Bike ($116.90, originally $155; amazon.com)
As a podiatrist who frequently works with athletes, Dr. Velimir Petkov knows what aids a workout routine and what can cause injury. If you’re a fan of indoor cycling but don’t have the space for a Peloton, he says to try out this at-home bike.
“It is relatively light and portable but also sturdy enough to stay in one place while being used,” he continues. “It does have a digital monitor and various levels of resistance in order to make even the most passionate exercise aficionados happy.”
Ab Roller Wheel ($21.97, originally $24.97; amazon.com)
The ultimate tool for building up ab strength, this roller is well loved on Amazon for its high quality and low price point. It comes with a knee pad and two bonus e-books that cover everything from ideal diets to different types of ab workouts.
Hyperice Hypersphere Mini ($99; amazon.com)
Since you only have one body, it’s vital to protect and nurture it, which is why a vibrating massage ball like this one is so important. As fitness manager for Red Mountain Resort, Kim Watters says using this before a workout can help prepare muscles and soft tissue around the joints, and after a workout it helps in the recovery process.
“It fits easily around/close to joints like in the pocket between the chest and the shoulder joint or in the hip crease. It’s also handy in those hard-to-reach areas like around the shoulder blades or SI joints,” she explains.
Gruper Thick Yoga Mat (starting at $33.99; amazon.com)
Whether you’re going through a vinyasa yoga flow or doing a 10-minute core series, you need a sturdy mat to keep you in place and focused on movement — not slipping. That’s why Jeremiah Maestre, a certified personal trainer for Performix House, recommends this thick mat. Not only can you use it indoors, but it’s suitable for outdoor workouts too!
For the person resolving to eat cleaner, cook more or start meal prepping
NutriBullet 1,200-Watt Full-Size Blender ($99.99; nutribullet.com)
Tommy Duquette, the co-founder of FightCamp and a former USA National Boxing Team member, reminds us that nutrition is one of the essential components of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, you could work out all day, every day, but if you don’t focus on a balanced meal plan, you won’t see the results you’re hoping to achieve. For those times when you don’t have the time or energy to dedicate to meal prep and cooking, Duquette recommends this blender.
“If I know that I have a full day of meetings after filming my workouts, I will blend up organic fruits and vegetables, coconut water and protein powder for an easy-to-drink smoothie,” he explains. “This NutriBullet is big, so I put it in the office fridge and keep refilling my glass until I can get a full meal.”
Spiralizer 5-Blade Vegetable Slicer ($25.97, originally $27.99; amazon.com)
Healthier eating resolutions often call for few to no carbs. The Spiralizer vegetable slicer enables you to turn vegetables into noodles for your next spaghetti dinner and stay true to that keto or paleo diet. The Spiralizer’s revamped blades are even stronger than before and can cut through hard root vegetables like sweet potatoes and turnips for unlimited vegetable-noodle possibilities. Check out our full review.
Dash Rapid Egg Cooker ($16.99, originally $19.99; amazon.com)
For the egg lovers out there, there’s no easier way to scramble, hard boil, soft boil or poach eggs than with this Dash egg cooker. It has an auto shutoff function, so your eggs will never overcook and you won’t have to babysit them if you’re short on time. Whether it’s for a quick breakfast or a protein-packed snack, cooking eggs has never been this over easy.
Cosori Air Fryer ($119.99; amazon.com)
There are plenty of rave reviews for air fryers — and many loyal fans of the devices, like Cote. In fact, she says she uses this for everything: frozen food, fresh produce, creative recipes or go-to basics. It provides a necessary crunch to healthy food while using little oil, ultimately resulting in 85% less fat than deep-fried food.
“Until I bought this, I had never considered all of the things that you could use it for,” she says.
Utopia Kitchen Glass Food Storage Container Set ($32.99; amazon.com)
When it comes to food prep, storage sets like this option from Utopia Kitchen are a must-have.
’Anti-Diet’ by Christy Harrison (starting at $14.99; amazon.com)
Schenone says this one read changed not only her understanding of health and wellness but her life. If you’re someone who has struggled with body image, yo-yo dieting and weight loss, this can provide the fundamental shift you need.
“It provides a historical look at the diet industry and uses scientific research to combat common beliefs about the body and health,” she explains. “It also offers usable strategies to reclaim your life and find true personal health and wellness.”
Vitamix E310 Explorian Professional Grade ($349.95; amazon.com)
Hands down, Schenone says, a Vitamix is the best kitchen investment she’s given herself. “I love being able to make myself a nutritious smoothie in the morning, some nut butter on sourdough toast for lunch and a hot, hearty vegetable soup for dinner — all with the same appliance,” she says.
Besides coming with a plethora of recipes and active Facebook groups you can follow for advice and secrets, it’ll also allow you to easily cook good-for-you meals. And it self-cleans, so you can spend less time scrubbing and more time focusing on your health.
SodaStream Jet Sparkling Water Maker ($79.99; amazon.com)
Though we all know how vital it is to drink plenty of water, sometimes good old-fashioned H2O gets boring. To spice it up and still remain hydrated, Perz recommends this sparkling water maker. You can add natural flavors or fresh fruit to create yummy and healthy beverages.
“Also, you can feel good buying this because by creating sparkling water with this product you’ll be limiting plastic waste,” she adds.
’The New Health Rules’ by Frank Lipman and Danielle Claro (starting at $9.99; amazon.com)
When this book first came out, board-certified nutritionist Jonny Bowden purchased 12 copies and gave them out as holiday gifts. He says Frank Lipman is one of the great integrative and functional medicine doctors of our time, and this is one of the easiest-to-understand books on health he’s ever seen.
“Each ‘rule’ is less than a page, easy to understand and absolutely up to date as far as the latest thinking goes. You can’t go wrong with this book,” he adds.
32-Ounce Hydro Flask With Straw ($49.95; hydroflask.com)
Since chronic dehydration is a common problem, one of the first pieces of advice registered dietitian Laura Burak gives her clients is to purchase a high-quality water bottle that’s at least 32 ounces and comes with a straw.
“This way, you can easily track your water and aim to fill up the bottle at least twice a day instead of trying to estimate and losing track with little cups or bottles. The less thinking, the better,” she explains.
Why the straw? She says it works to increase your intake since it makes it easier.
Simple Modern Classic Insulated Tumbler ($20.99; amazon.com)
If you ask Petkov, this is the most amazing iced drink holder that exists. Because it’s insulated, it’ll stay cold as long as you’d like. “You’ll be wondering why you finished your drink quicker only to find out that the ice is still there and begging you to pour more drink into that tumbler,” he says.
And if you’re more of a warm beverage fan, it’ll keep your coffee or tea toasty too.
For the tech lover who wants to track fitness progress and stay focused
Apple Watch Series 6 ($339, originally $399; amazon.com)
The latest Apple Watch hasn’t changed much with design, but it does something big with the display. It’s now always on, so whether you’re holding that yoga pose at the gym or riding a bike, you don’t need to take an extra action to monitor your workout. It’s a big change that doesn’t decrease the daylong battery life. The watch can still take an electrocardiogram, and it looks sporty in the aluminum variants. We have a full review you can check out to learn more.
Garmin HRM-Pro ($125.44; amazon.com)
Recently, Duquette has started to wear a heart rate monitor while doing roadwork training outdoors. “Monitoring your heart rate is a concrete way to see if you are improving your overall performance,” he explains. “In addition to your heart rate, this device gives you information on running power so you can determine your output and make adjustments to fine-tune the efficiency of your workout.”
Apple AirPods Pro ($216.98, originally $249; amazon.com)
Apple’s AirPods Pro are a great way to tune out distractions when it’s time to zone in on your workout. These compact true wireless buds come with active noise-canceling technology, plus they’re sweat- and water-resistant, so there’s no need to worry when you’re killing it in the gym. For a complete breakdown of why we think these are such a great all-around option, be sure to read our full review.
Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch ($149.95, originally $179.95; amazon.com)
In addition to tracking your heart rate, sleep and other activity levels, this fitness tracker can play music too. As a bonus, it’s waterproof, so if swimming is your sport of choice, it’ll help you improve your technique. Don’t forget about the built-in GPS, so you can go for long runs without worrying about getting lost on the trail or city streets.
For the person who wants to invest in overall health and wellness
You may be wondering what a DNA kit can tell you about your health or fitness abilities. Well, 23andMe’s Health + Ancestry Service actually provides incredibly detailed information on how your DNA can affect your diet, exercise and even sleep habits. You’ll receive reports on things including your genetic muscle composition (like whether yours is similar to that of elite power athletes) and your genetic weight, to let you know if you’re predisposed to weighing over or under the average. It’s a great starting point to better understand how your DNA may impact your fitness or health goals.
Theraguns aim to help you unwind, take care of your body and recover from everything from injuries to workouts. We love the mini version because it’s ultra-portable and cost-effective. You can check out our review of the device and other Theraguns here.
Melt Hand and Foot Treatment Kit ($49.99; amazon.com)
For two years, Watters tried everything in her search for something that would relieve her back pain. It wasn’t until she stumbled upon this hand and foot treatment that she realized the connection between her limbs and her back. “I noticed a difference in mobility and inflammation right away,” she says. “This little kit also reduces bunion pain, plantar fasciitis, neuromas and stiffness and tightness through the whole body.”
When used on the hands, she says, it reduces arthritis pain, carpal tunnel issues, neck pain, stiffness and tightness in the shoulder girdle.
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo (starting at $14; amazon.com)
Cote tried a handful of dry shampoos but could never understand what the hype was all about. But then she tried Living Proof — and she became a believer.
“This dry shampoo leaves your hair feeling, smelling and looking great. It quickly absorbs sweat and oil and is free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates and silicone,” she explains.
Registered dietitian Leah Kaufman reminds us masks are our new normal. And since many people struggle to find the right mask that they can exercise with, consider this one that she uses herself. “This mask is designed to sit away from your face to add breathability. It comes in a range of sizes and colors, so there are plenty of options,” she explains.
Dagne Dover Medium Landon Carryall ($155; dagnedover.com)
This gym bag is sure to garner compliments. The neoprene material is extremely lightweight and a breeze to keep clean. Simply throw it in the wash whenever it’s starting to smell less than optimal. There are lots of useful pockets and zippers to make organization easy, and the range of colors makes it a great option for everyone.
Nike Sportswear Club Fleece ($50; nike.com)
This iconic unisex fleece hoodie is a staple of athleisure, but it was designed with more than just style in mind. Super comfortable with a relaxed fit, this hoodie is perfect for the gym and for sporting around town.
Quay High Key Sunglasses ($69.99; amazon.com)
Perz is a fan of not only the style but the functionality of these cool shades, which come in a variety of colors. She uses them during outdoor workouts, hikes and anytime she needs to protect her eyes.
Balega Hidden Comfort No-Show Running Socks ($14; amazon.com)
Maloney says for comfort and style during workouts, these socks are the best. Plus, they remain smooth and cozy, no matter how many times you put them through the workout, wash and rinse routine.
New Balance Women’s NB Tech Short ($29.99; newbalance.com)
When she needs a great workout, Maloney swears by these shorts that check all of the boxes. “I work out hard and need a short that will cover my tush yet gives me the material I need to keep cool,” she says. “They are the right length and fit with a classic style!”