Throughout the past year, many of us have sought solace from pandemic stress with physical activity. But if you’re now in need of something new, you’re not alone. In search of health inspiration, we put together some of the latest trends and products to help kickstart cardio, step up strength training, make muscle recovery time more productive and even increase your mental fitness.
THE GOAL: TONE FOR SUMMER
High intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts aren’t exactly groundbreaking, but exciting recent research in the British Medical Journal shows that shorter high intensity workout bursts help you get more fit, extend your lifespan and even improve your quality of life better than moderate workouts. Enter the “micro HIIT workout” trend. These abbreviated bursts of activity last anywhere from five to 20 minutes, and they can be broken up throughout the day, so you don’t have to commit to a grueling straight hour on the treadmill. “Micro-HIIT workouts elevate your resting heart rate, and they’re an incredibly efficient calorie burner to increase fitness,” says Shawn Harris, owner and personal trainer at Elite Fitness & Performance in Port Chester, NY. How HIIT works: You do a specific exercise—such as mountain climbers, jump squats, burpees, planks, skiers—for 30 seconds, and alternate that with 30 seconds of rest. Then you do three to five rounds.As you get more advanced, you’ll shorten the rest periods between activity.
THE GOAL: MIX UP YOUR WORKOUT
Looking for an addition to your Peloton? Get a low impact workout that offers both cardio and strength training with the Hydrow Rower. You can stream on- demand and live trainer-led workouts, or do an unguided row when you want to do your own thing. Sightsee beautiful global waterways while you sweat with Hydrow’s 22-inch HD touchscreen, and if you’re not in the mood for rowing? They have an entire library of workouts that include Pilates, yoga and strength training.
For a new twist on combining cardio and strength at home, try FightCamp, an on-demand home boxing gym, which comes with a free-standing punching bag, gloves, punch trackers and hand wraps. The full-body, sweat-inducing workouts— led by elite boxing trainers—track your hooks and jabs and encourage you to reach punch goals.
Or, if you’re looking for a runner’s high, try the Bowflex Treadmill 22, a new high- performance cardio machine that features voice-coached workouts, scenic worldwide destinations and a trainer-led video library when equipped with JRNY, Bowflex’s streaming fitness service.
Hydrow Rower, $2,245, plus a $38 per month subscription.
FightCamp, $1,219 for personal package and $39 per month for the membership.
Bowflex Treadmill 22, $2,699, plus $20 per month membership; first two months free with purchase.
THE GOAL: AMP UP YOUR STRENGTH TRAINING
There are several newer strength training options to help you get ripped. Tonal is an at-home digital weight system with personalized coaching—including hundreds of expert-led sessions—and artificial intelligence for dynamic weight adjustment so you can track improvement over time. Tempo Studio includes strength training equipment and virtual live and on-demand personal training, which offers rep count- ing, weight guidance and form feedback. And the new NordicTrack Vault features a 60-inch mirror for both visual feedback and to conceal equipment, a 32-inch HD touchscreen display, and iFit workouts for weight training, HIIT, full-body and muscle-specific strength workouts and more.
Tonal, $2,995, plus $49 per month membership; and $495 for smart accessories.
Tempo, $2,495, plus $39 per month membership.
NordicTrack Vault, $1,999 for the standalone model, or $2,999 if weights and workout accessories are included.
THE GOAL: SPEED MUSCLE RECOVERY
Part of any well-executed fitness program is making muscle rest time efficient. “There are four pillars of optimal health: exercise, nutrition, recovery and stress management,” says Rob Mahlman, physical therapist at Performance Optimal Health. “They all need to be in a balance. Recovery needs to be optimized in order to excel in other areas.” At Performance Optimal Health—which has locations in Fairfield County, New Haven County and Manhattan—therapists frequently use
massage tools like the HyperIce or Thera- gun, and Normatec compression boots, which increase blood flow, decrease muscle fatigue and promote healing. But a whole new set of at-home tools can aid muscle recovery and get you back at those squats in record time. One buzzed about accessory is the Recoup Cryosphere, a cold massage roller that increases blood and lymphatic flow and helps accelerate the recovery of inflamed or injured muscles. The best part: no mess from ice packs or cups. Another talked about product is the HigherDose Infrared Sauna Blanket V3, a portable, sleeping bag-like blanket that heats the body with infrared rays and initiates a temporary increase in blood flow to make your body think you’re exercising. It also aims to decrease pain and soreness and promote relaxation.
Recoup Cryosphere, $50
HigherDose Infrared Sauna Blanket V3, $499
THE GOAL: IMPROVE MENTAL FITNESS
Even with improved at-home options for fitness, there are still upsides to face-to- face training for when you’re back at the gym: “Smart strength training machines are a great secondary piece of equipment, but you should still have a good foundation with a personal trainer,” says Harris. “In- person training offers accountability and assistance correcting your form to prevent injury, and it can give you a mental push to reach your maximum effort.”
Wherever you work out, make workouts more productive by setting aside purposeful downtime. An effective tool is Cove, a wearable, stress-canceling device that has been shown to improve sleep and help reduce stress. It works by activating the part of the brain that regulates anxiety through gentle vibrations behind your ears. You wear the device for one or two 20-minute sessions per day as you read, work or commute. At Performance Optimal Health, experts use wearable technology to train your brain and reduce stress, including Oura Ring and Whoop Strap,
Cove is a wearable device shown to improve sleep and cut stress— and can be worn while doing other activities. which help gain objective data on exercise, recovery and sleep patterns, says Mahlman. “Depending on our discussions with clients and what we see in the evaluation, we will work to address various areas of imbalance.” Heart rate variability (HRV) is one metric clients might not know about. It’s “a measurement of your heart and nervous system’s overall resiliency,” he explains. “In our practice we work with clients to help optimize metrics like HRV through stress management techniques like deep breathing/mediation, use of infrared sauna and even cryotherapy. All of this with the goal to empower the client to live a better life.” Cove, $490