Most people faced with chilly weather, take their workouts indoors, but that decision might not sound too glamorous if you appreciate your time outside. While indoor workouts might not match up to the experience of running your favorite loop in the summer at sunset or cycling through leaves in the fall, there are some things you can do to make indoor workouts more bearable—and maybe even enjoyable.
One of the biggest factors in improving indoor workouts has to do with technology and tools. When you have the right gear (and apps), you’re more likely to enjoy your workout, have a more effective workout and you might even find more motivation to start your workouts. Check out these 10 tools that will help you take your workouts indoors.
You’re likely familiar with popular wearables like Fitbit and Jawbone that track steps, calories and other metrics, but those trackers aren’t exactly helpful when it comes to strength training—that’s where the Atlas Wristband comes in. This new fitness tracker is designed specifically for strength training and its algorithm automatically recognizes the exercise you’re doing, counts your reps and analyzes your form in real time. That means no more pressing buttons and changing settings mid-workout, Atlas tracks it all and connects to an app. There are many fitness trackers out there, but none quite like this. Atlas has been funded on Indiegogo and is currently accepting pre-orders that are set to ship in late fall or early winter.
Avid cyclists and hardcore mountain bikers don’t stop pedaling when winter comes knocking—when the weather gets bad, they take their workouts inside. Bike trainers work with your normal bike, so you can continue training on the bike you know best and you don’t need to spend $1,000 or more on a separate cycling machine. There are four types of trainers and price ranges that correspond with each type, so you’ll want to do some research, but the CycleOps Fluid2 Bike Trainer shown is an excellent, no-frills option at a great price.
While many people manage to leverage their body weight for an awesome indoor workout, some simply need the challenge of added weight, but several sets of dumbbells can take up a lot of room and you might not have what you need when it’s time to progress. That’s the beauty of the SelectTech Dumbbells, which adjust from five to 52.5 pounds at the turn of a dial. These dumbbells make smooth progression possible even at home and they also come in a larger size with weight that ranges from 10 to 90 pounds.
bowflexselecttech.com; from $349
When you’re seriously strapped for time you’ll appreciate an app that walks you through a workout routine that’s just seven minutes long. This free app challenges users to complete a seven minute workout each day for seven months and all you need for the workout is your body weight, a chair and a wall. The routine, which has been featured in the New York Times, is simple and effective and the app incentivizes users by granting them three “lives” per month. Just like a video game, once those three lives are up, you’ve got to start from scratch. If you’re looking for more great fitness apps, check out our fall and winter guide.
Medicine balls can up the ante on a ton of different indoor workouts, but if you want to take it a step further, the Kamagon Ball is your go-to tool. Instead of being weighted traditionally, the Kamagon Ball fills with water. Not only does that help you control how much weight you’re working with, but controlling the momentum of the water adds a challenge that will help make your workout more effective. The ball is available in two sizes—the 9-inch, which holds 14 pounds of water and the 14-inch, which holds up to 45 pounds.
This isn’t your ordinary floor mat. The Airex Balance Pad adds the challenge of instability to your workouts, strengthening those stabilizing muscles and helping you make the most of every move. Also available in a size XL, for exercises that require more space, the pad does not absorb water and is easy to wash.
performbetter.com; from $60
If you have yet to include a jump rope in your workout, you might be surprised to learn that this flashback from childhood can actually be an effective workout. This weighted rope from Nike tacks on a strength-building benefit for your upper body, on top of the killer cardio all jump ropes offer and at just $15, it’s one of the less expensive tools that can take your indoor workout up a notch.
Resistance bands are one of the best portable tools for strength training and while there’s nothing flashy about this classic set, it comes with a few extras that will come in handy. On top of the bands, which can be stacked for up to 75 pounds of resistance, it comes with handles, a door anchor, an ankle strap and a carrying case. This set will make it easy to build strength, even when you don’t want to leave the house.
Virtual reality is the key to taking the “dread” out of “dreadmill.” This app not only links you with a running community from around the world, but its virtual reality feature allows you to see running courses from around the world on your iPad. It’s tough to beat the motivation of virtual travel and the social support is a big help too.
On top of stretching, foam rolling is a crucial post-workout step you shouldn’t skip. The process has been shown to reduce soreness, which will help get you back to your workouts faster. When it comes to choosing a foam roller, there are plenty of options out there, but the TriggerPoint Grid has received rave reviews.