Home exercise gear that works: weighted hula-hoops, bala bangles, smart skipping ropes and yoga wheels

We rate the fitness gadgets worth buying, including bala bangles

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With exciting, unusual fitness kit selling out across retailers, we’ve rounded up the props that are going to help you achieve your fitness goals (and actually work)

Keeping an exercise routine interesting and fresh is always a challenge. And with gyms open but Omicron on the horizon, we may be doing ad-hoc home workouts for a while yet.

But as anyone who has an unused ab-cruncher gathering dust under their stairwell knows, it’s all too easy to invest in a piece of equipment that you think will augment your routine, but rapidly gets abandoned. What, then, are the fitness gadgets and new pieces of kit worth using?

We’ve been working out in our living room for eighteen months now and have spent that time trying out a myriad of fitness kit. And apart from the two obvious choices - a treadmill, and a kettlebell, these are the pieces of exercise equipment we’ve found genuinely fun to use - and have helped garner results.

As a side note, if you haven’t already updated your gym wardrobe, it may give a flagging exercise regime the shot in the arm it needs. Check out our guides to the best male gym clothing, women’s exercise clothing, gym shoes, and women’s and men’s running shoes to find the gear to help get you through your training in style and comfort.

Bala Bangles 1 Lb Weight

Bala bangles are terrific if you’re after a simple way of improving the efficacy of your daily walk or activity around the house. They’re simple: Wearable weights you place on your wrists or ankles, which add weight resistance (thus assisting fat-burning) while you move about.

Clinical trials have shown that wearing weights for as little as 20 minutes a day can result in a significant reduction in percentage body fat, hip-to-waist ratio, and waist measurement, in just six weeks.

Note, though, these are emphatically not meant to be used when running or engaging in strenuous exercise, as this may result in injury. If you’re someone who likes more gentle exercise, they’re a simple, effective investment that will help you lose weight and build muscle without having to pump serious iron.

JaxJox Kettlebell Connect 2.0

You may have flung a few kettlebells around in your time, in which case you’ll already be aware of how great they are for burning calories and building muscular strength simultaneously.

It is not, however, practical to house a full selection of Kettlebells at home, which is where the JaxJox is brilliant. This single kettlebell magnetically drops or adds weight to the main unit, depending on command, input via the Bluetooth console. Simple but effective.

Tangram Smart Skipping Rope

Bluetooth enabled, this smart skipping rope has23 LEDs and magnetic sensors to track your workouts, monitor your calorie burn and log your data in real time. A sell-out over lockdown, it’s an ideal way of tracking the effect of one of the best cardio exercises there is. 

Indeed, you burn as many calories in ten minutes of skipping as you can in 30 minutes of jogging (based on a comparative intensity of effort, too). Additionally, skipping is great for improving flexibility, balance, and coordination.

It also builds muscular endurance in your shoulders, arms and legs, and helps build bone density. There’s a reason Rocky skips in every training montage: with this tool you can track your efforts, as well.

Bala The Power Ring 10lb body weight

Weight-bearing exercise is the most effective way of building muscle, and, in turn, boosting metabolism. But if you find dumbbells or kettlebells unwieldy, this power ring by Bala is likely to provide a happy entry point.

10 pounds is hefty enough to be effective, but not heavy enough to be intimidating. This is brilliant for weight-bearing exercise - indeed, it comes complete with recommendations of 75 movements. Hold it, swing it, press it, or squat with it - it’s a cinch to hold and use, and it’ll help elevate your workout to a fat-burning state.

Yoga Bare Yoga Wheel

You can’t exercise if you’ve bad muscle pain, which means that stretching out is vital to allay the postural pain and muscular tension that accrues both from sitting hunched over a desk, and a regular exercise routine.

The Yogi Bare Yoga Wheel is a brilliant way of increasing mobility and strengthening your upper back. It’s a simple proposition to use: lie across the wheel and stretch out, which will help tackle knots in your back and undo the tension of sitting at a desk too long.

Roll gently back and forth and they’ll increase in efficacy. Simple to use and remarkably effective. If you’ve ever tried to tackle back pain with a foam roller (Check!) this is much better.

Opti Weighted Hula Hoop

Weighted hula hoops have been selling like hot cakes during 2021, thanks in part to their viral popularity on TikTok. What’s compelling about them, though, is that while we’ve all since learn that you can’t ‘spot reduce’ as you lose weight, weighted hula hoops do allow you to target the abdominal area.

A 2019 study examined the potential benefits of a weighted hula hooping program with  a walking regime for overweight individuals. The subjects in the study either performed an average of 12.8 minutes of hula hooping per day or walked 9,986 steps a day.

The researchers found that the subjects in the hula hooping group lost a significant amount of abdominal fat and also trimmed inches from their waist, compared with the walking group.

The Opti weight hula hoop is1.8kg and 100cm in diameter. It’s a challenging, but effective, way of introducing hula hooping into your exercise regime. Covered in soft foam, it’s delightfully comfortable.