Consumer Reports’ choices for top exercise equipment are getting harder to discern–not just because the type size is now small and hipster, of all things, but also because the actual magazines (one of three I still get hard copy) is buried under a serious mound of partially read New Yorkers (the second of the three, and also recently afflicted by typeface shrinkage) on my bedside table.
For the record, the third magazine I get hard copy is Wines & Vines, which is really terrific, scientific, well-produced and completely legible.
But I did manage to winnow the wheat from the chaff in fitness, combo Consumer Report and AARP (discerning, again, and easy to read) choices with my own experience and that of my patients’ and colleagues, to give you this list of exercise equipment that you should consider in the new year.
None of it will exercise for you, but all of it will make exercise easier and more fun. Because all of these choices work well, are well-built, are widely circulated and let you work on you instead of on the machine. Which is, after all, a great reason to work out and to achieve personal bests.
Aftershokz AS500 Bluez 2 Open Ear Wireless Stereo Headphones, Black
Not technically exercise equipment, I know. But conducts sound directly to your inner ear and cheekbones, wirelessly, comfortably, and in stereo. Allows you to be aware while exercising and listening to music or video, and not shut out to the world. Amazing and probably sold out.
Black Mountain Products Resistance Band Set with Door Anchor, Ankle Strap, Exercise Chart, and Resistance Band Carrying Case
One of my two favorite, inexpensive, sturdy and well made band sets, especially for home and home gyms. Five stackable resistance bands, two handles, door anchor, carrying bag, and exercise manual included, but what makes this exceptional is that you can substitute it for free weights, do it with DVD programs,and stack (simply add) the bands to improve resistance. Very good for people fighting arthritis, and for those who want to restore tone.
If you need the best but want to pay less, Diamondback is for your. The highest rated elliptical, but not the most expensive in the Consumer Reports assessment, it includes a Polar-compatible heart rate receiver, can take 325 pounds, gives you tons of feedback, a personal trainer function, heart rate programs, and all the bells and whistles you wound get at a 4 star hotel’s ellipticals…which, by the way, are rarely used. This machine will never outsell the Schwinn, below, because it costs 3x as much. But it is more sturdy, much easier to assemble, and is a best buy 6 years in a row.
Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband, Black, Large
I am a fan, and wrote a blog for Fitbit about Refuel last year. This model is not the one getting the most press, which is called Charge without the HR, but has caused rashes in some people. Charge HR is made of a different plastic, but gives the same, wear-it-and-forget-it experience for display of workouts, sleep tracking, call notifications and Heart Rate, which can be very useful if you track your current pulse. Syncs with iphone, Android…and displays Caller ID. Really. For the active who want to kick it up a notch.
JumpSport Fitness Trampoline Model 250
Serious, sturdy, low-impact, takes up to 250#, includes DVD and stabilizer bar. Not just for kids, at all. Lifetime warranty.
Polar Loop Activity Monitor with H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Transmitter
AARP recommended, for a reason: straightforward, and good value: counts calories, displays hear rate, wristband pedometer. Also, waterproof: wear swimming in the pool, doing aqua aerobics, taking a bath. iphone, Android sync.
Consumer Reports’ top budget elliptical, outperforming others 4x its price: Two LCD windows, goal tracking, 25 resistance levels, USB port. Vary incline and resistance mid-stride. 300# limit.
SPRI Xertube Resistance Band Exercise Cords with Door Attachment (Sold Individually)
My first exercise physiologist, in the late 1990s at Chef Clinic, recommended these, and I have since purchased them for patients multiple times. They travel well, are light and flexible, and isolate muscles well. Perfect.
Protect your floors! Stationary bikes, elliptial trainers, rowing machines, free weight benches. It’s nice not to shatter tile or dent finished wood. Cleans up well, with a spritz and a towel, folds easily, and not heavy.
UP 24 by Jawbone – Bluetooth Enabled
Excellent activity tracker, app and coach, reporting calories burned, allowing food and drink logging and sleep tracking. Great motivator, beautifully designed, syncs with Bluetooth, and well made. Android or iphone.