Smart Home Gym Fitness Technology

Smart Home Gym Fitness Technology

The Tech Wrangler is a bi-weekly column in which Forbes Vetted Associate Editor Dave Johnson explores the best values ​​in consumer tech. They’re not necessarily the cheapest products in their class, but they represent the crossroads of price and performance, meaning money well spent.

The pandemic has been a catalyst in encouraging many people to work out at home, but it doesn’t take social distancing and fear of illness to convince me to avoid the gym. I’ve enjoyed a simple home gym for years, but it’s only been in recent years that smart and affordable home gyms and fitness technology have finally become mainstream. If you want to work out at home before you start your workday, now you have some great options.

But not all options are created equal, and I’ve encountered plenty of duds in my home fitness adventures as well. Much equipment is unnecessarily expensive, for example, while other options are large, heavy, cumbersome, difficult to install and difficult to maintain. Case in point: I owned two different elliptical machines that failed catastrophically right after the warranty expired. And the third one I bought – no doubt overcompensating – was so big and heavy that it was almost impossible to take it with me when I moved.

So there is a middle ground, right? Yes there is. I’ve put together a great collection of smart home fitness equipment that’s reasonably affordable, apartment-friendly, and very effective at keeping you in shape. In fact, the products in this article are literally my personal home gym. This list is not a bunch of assumptions; everything here is in my apartment (in the room that most people would say is supposed to be my dining room).

An unexpected choice: fitness in virtual reality

It might sound strange, but a virtual reality headset and a subscription to a great VR fitness app is by far my number one recommendation for most people looking to get into a daily workout. Specifically, I recommend the Oculus Quest 2which is available for $300, and Supernaturalthat you and up to three other family members can use for $15 per month.

There are plenty of reasons to recommend the Quest 2 – check out my Forbes Vetted review of the headset for more details – but in a nutshell, it’s completely wireless and usable in almost any indoor space, from your living room to a corner of bedroom .

But it’s when you combine Quest with the Supernatural app that all the pieces fall into place for fitness fans. It has two main modes: you can train on a Flow, which is like a rhythm game where you hit incoming targets with a pair of lightsabers for a full body workout, or you can box. There are also meditations and stretching, incidentally.

Each workout is guided by one of five human coaches (I recently met Coach Raneir in real life, and he’s as energetic and friendly in the flesh as he is in the virtual world), unfolds in a breathtaking panoramic view of the real world and is backed by a huge library of popular licensed music.

I love Supernatural because it has a wide range of full-body workouts that range from easy cheats to hard exhaustions, and you can train more or less anywhere; even if you are very limited in a small apartment, you can train deeply without ever getting bored.

Add some low-impact cardio with a Mobi Spin bike

Having trained on an elliptical trainer for over a decade, in recent years I’ve decided that I prefer an indoor exercise bike – although it’s still a low impact workout, I can work much harder on a bike than on an elliptical. And since I live in an apartment these days, the small footprint of a bike is also much appreciated. Ellipticals, like treadmills, can be gargantuan,

which brings me to the Mobi Fitness exercise bike. Spin bikes can vary wildly in price. I’ve tested a lot of bikes over the past few years, from the $1700 high-end Bowflex VeloCore to a folding exercise bike very similar to this model, so I know the best and… let’s say… the most modest models have to offer. The bottom line? I suggest the Mobi Fitness, which offers a much closer Bowflex experience than a simple budget model, but is typically priced at $600 thanks to a lingering $300 discount.

The Mobi offers 32 levels of resistance via a rotating dial with a color digital display. The 26-pound flywheel is controlled by a quiet magnetic resistance drive, and every part of the bike is adjustable for the perfect fit and the most comfortable shape while riding. The pedals have sturdy toe cages and there’s a stop button you can mash to quickly stop the flywheel.

It’s not perfect; there’s no giant built-in screen, for example. Instead, you get a stand you can set up your own phone or tablet on, and Mobi offers an app that can guide you through workouts, which is a surprising addition in this range. The app doesn’t have much to say at home, though, and I’d suggest just watching Netflix and spinning the resistance dial manually to vary the intensity throughout the workout. Nonetheless, it’s $600 well spent and what I recommend for an affordable and efficient spin bike.

The final piece of the puzzle: Tempo Studio

Tempo Studio is the final piece of my home gym puzzle. One of many “fitness mirrors” like Mirror, Tonal, and Echelon Reflect, it has some huge benefits that make it the one I recommend. Like all mirrors, you stand in front and follow a trainer-led workout class on the big screen. But what sets the Tempo apart is that it incorporates a 3D motion capture camera system. Tempo can monitor your training, track your reps, and identify when your form is off, giving you feedback to correct your posture as you go. It’s exactly what I need – not just a device that tells me what exercises to do, but a device that tells me how to do them and corrects me when I’m wrong.

Tempo is also suitable for apartments. Unlike some fitness mirrors (like Tonal), you don’t mount this one on the wall. It stands on its own and has a cabinet under the screen to hold all the weights you’ll need for lessons.

Do you need a fitness mirror like the Tempo? Of course not. What if all you had was a spin bike and a VR headset, you could train every day and probably stay in shape. But Tempo adds strength training to the equation, along with a huge variety of exercises and workout styles. Armed with these three devices, I feel like my workouts will always feel fresh, and at least for me, that’s key to committing to keep doing them.

What do you think? Let me know if you agree with my opinion, and what other essential technology I should write about by nudging me on Twitter at @davejoh.