Thanks to YouTube, Pinterest, guided workout apps and — if you, like us, are of a certain age — at-home exercise videos, we’re increasingly taking our health and fitness into our own hands. But for every home exercise enthusiast, there comes a time when the shine wears off sit-ups, burpees get boring, and planks...well, the less said about those the better.
Whether you’re foregoing the costly gym membership, can’t be persuaded to head out again once you’re home from work, or are simply happy to oversee your own fitness goals, it makes sense to invest in some home fitness equipment to help keep you motivated. But what are the best fitness machines and what makes good home workout equipment?
If you’re already a keen cyclist, but tend to lose enthusiasm when the temperature drops and the days get shorter, or riding a bike on the road simply isn’t feasible, a home exercise bike is just the thing to keep you moving. If you’re not wedded to a particular sport, a rowing machine (or “erg”) is a fun, fitness-enhancing piece of equipment to have in your arsenal, and offers the closest thing to a full-body workout available from a machine.
If you don’t have the space for a static machine such as a treadmill or a cross trainer at home, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out: home exercise equipment can be as simple as a skipping rope or an exercise ball, or group class favourites like resistance bands and dumbbells. Whatever your tool of choice, make sure safety comes first. Learn to use your new equipment properly to maintain proper form and avoid injuries, and remember that even the most high-tech solutions will only produce results with a bit of willpower and regular visits.
To save you the hassle of researching the best bits of kit to start out with, we have rounded-up a guide of the best home fitness equipment to kick-start your very own personal gym.
1. Concept 2 Indoor Rower
An all-round workout with progress tracking: that’s a concept we can get behind
Best for: Everyday use | Type: Rowing machine | Portable: Yes (folds up to fit in large car boots) | Size: Requires footprint of 274 x 122 cm | RRP: £859.00
While far and away the most expensive piece of workout equipment on our list, this indoor rower is well worth the investment for anyone looking to get fit and healthy at home. Working the backs, arms, and legs, it’s an almost-complete workout unparalleled by any other type of home exercise machine, and a low-impact form of exercise that’s good for anyone with problem joints. Plus, there’s no set-up time, just start rowing whenever you feel like it, and log your progress with the accompanying app and any smart device.
2. ProForm 225 CSX
Experience all the thrill of the ride in your own front room with this home spin bike
Best for: All year round | Type: Exercise bike | Portable: No | Size: Height 161 / width 54 / diameter 96 cm | RRP: £329.00
This ProForm exercise bike is quick and easy to set up, so you’ll be embarking on one of the 20 pre-set workouts in no time, and enjoying the smooth, consistent road-bike feel it offers. You can replicate real-life routes with Google Maps, track your heart rate with the EKG grips, and stay entertained by connecting your iPod to the twin speakers. An excellent, low resistance way to get your cardio on at home, with some high-tech features to keep an eye on how you’re doing.
3. BeMaxx Fitness Skipping Rope
With adjustable cables and 360 action, this ain’t your daughter’s skipping rope
Best for: A quick fix | Type: Skipping rope | Portable: Yes | Size: Length 10ft (adjustable) | RRP: £16.99
If time constraints stop you exercising as much as you’d like, clap your eyes on this. The BeMaxx Fitness Skipping Rope is our favourite at-home exercise solution for busy bees. Whenever you find yourself with a spare five minutes, you can grab it for some quick HIIT, or use it as part of a wider workout in your down-time. The length is adjustable for all heights and levels of confidence, and the stainless steel ball bearing in the handle allows for 360 turning.
4. Black Mountain exercise ball
Feel like a baller during your next at-home workout with these colourful balance balls
Best for: Stretches | Type: Exercise ball | Portable: Yes (deflates) | Size: Available in 45, 55, 65, 75 and 85 cm diameter | RRP: £22.99
This professional-grade exercise ball can be used for a range of activities including pilates, gentle antenatal exercises, and supplementing yoga practice, as well as for warming up and cooling down either side of more demanding workouts. If you work from home, it can even be a great alternative to an office chair, promoting good posture and encouraging core strength. Basically, it’s a great all-rounder — literally — the only problem is storing it when not in use.
5. Escape Fitness Deck 2.0
Reach new heights of fitness with this ridiculously adjustable step
Best for: Multiple uses | Type: Aerobics stepper (and more!) | Portable: Yes | Size: 25 (flat) or 98 (extended) / 33 / 110 cm | RRP: £156.00
With 16 possible configurations, the Deck 2.0 from Escape builds on the success of its predecessor through sheer versatility. Lovers of old-school fitness videos can do step aerobics on it, it can be adjusted to act as a three-angle weight bench, and it’s sturdy enough to take a punishing from fast-paced workouts — and that’s just the start. While you’re doing all this, the “anatomical hotspots” on its grippy surface give guidance for your hands and feet to ensure you maintain form. If you’re into your cardio, this is a versatile and storable alternative to a stationary bike.
6. Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells
A flexible dumbbell set that saves space and ups your gains
Best for: Weight training | Type: Weights | Portable: Yes (if you’re feeling strong) | Size: Length 42 cm | RRP: £418.00
If you don’t have space to dedicate to a home gym, but want to up your strength-training game, these space-saving dumbbells are a great purchase. The price might seem high, but you get a whopping 15 sets of dumbbells in one — when you want to size up or down, just click the next weight on or set one back into the stand. They’re incredibly easy to use, and are a great way to pace your own training, but trying to move the whole set at once is a heft task: you have been warned.
7. Coresteady Resistance Bands
Endlessly useful rubbery bands for all manner of core-strengthening activities
Best for: Body conditioning | Type: Resistance band | Portable: Yes | Size: Length 208 / width 3.2 / thickness 0.3 cm | RRP: £26.99
The beauty of resistance bands is how creative you can get with using them, and this medium-resistance band from Coresteady is a shining example. Use them for assisted pull-ups and dips, building flexibility for yoga practice, or looking a bit like Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man while you work your core. The premium quality natural latex is incredibly durable, but comes with a lifetime warranty to cover all eventualities.