The 4 best exercise balls we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • An exercise ball is perfect for working on stability and flexibility and makes bodyweight exercises harder.
  • The best exercise balls have a durable exterior, are mild flexibility, and retain air well.
  • Our top pick, the TheraBand Exercise and Stability Ball, has thick walls and holds air even if punctured.

Exercise balls might seem like a boring piece of workout equipment that sits in the corner of the gym with no one using it. But that’s only because it’s an overlooked dark horse – the benefits of adding one to your workout far outweigh any perceived dullness. In fact, as a part of a home gym setup, an exercise ball has the ability to greatly improve one’s core strength while also helping hone balance and flexibility.

Whether it accompanies a daily workout routine or becomes the central focal point, an exercise ball can be an important part of anyone’s plan to keep fit and healthy. (For what it’s worth, while many used to think using an exercise ball in lieu of your home office chair was better for your spine, experts actually recommend against it now.)

To find the best exercise balls worth using, I tested an assortment of models from brands like TheraBand, DynaPro, and Wacces. The goal was to find those that fit a variety of use cases, like being portable or constructed of a thicker material that increases its durability. After spending the last several months using exercise balls as both my office chair and main workout partner, I narrowed the list down to my four favorites listed below.

At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some insight into what to look for in a quality ball, the exact benefits of using one, and why they’re an important part of anyone’s home gym setup.

Here are the best exercise balls:

The best exercise ball overall

exercise ball

The TheraBand Exercise and Stability Ball holds air better than most exercise balls — even if it’s punctured.

Pros: Maintains its shape and holds air better than other exercise balls, includes a slow deflate technology if the ball is punctured, extremely firm, has a good surface for just the right amount of grip, offered in four sizes

Cons: Takes a long time to inflate, no inflation pump included, only one color per size

One common complaint among exercise ball fans is the inability of the ball to hold air over time. As air leaks out of the ball, it loses its firmness and becomes difficult to use. The TheraBand Exercise and Stability Ball, though, is one of the thickest-walled balls you can buy, and it holds air longer than most of the competition.

Even if it’s punctured, the ball will deflate very slowly, allowing you to finish your workout. Because the Theraband Exercise Ball retains air so well, you won’t have to reinflate it that often, which is a very good thing because this ball does take quite a bit of time to inflate in the first place.

The exercise ball is available in four sizes from 45 cm to 75 cm and it comes in a few colors.

The best portable exercise ball

DynaPro Exercise Ball

The DynaPro Exercise Ball is extremely durable and will hold its air pressure nicely, but it’s also portable, thanks to its easy-to-carry hand pump.

Pros: Good price point, easy to fill while on the go because of an included hand pump, very durable material in the ball, prevents fast leaks when it suffers a puncture, available in four sizes and four different colors

Cons: Cannot fully inflate the ball the first time you use it, firmness level of the ball seems below average

When you’re looking for an exercise ball you can take with you anywhere, the DynaPro Exercise Ball is a good idea. It ships with a hand pump and inflates faster than many other balls, so you can be ready to use it within several minutes.

The ball is available in four sizes, ranging from 45 cm to 75 cm, and it features slight ribs around the circumference of the ball to ensure a steady grip. You can get it in a few fun colors, including pink, blue, silver, gray, and black.

Like many exercise balls, you can also use it for active seating in your office. Unlike most exercise balls, it’s available in gray or black, which fits in better with an office setting than a brightly colored ball. 

This is a tough, durable exercise ball, featuring a 2,000-pound burst rating. The ball also slowly deflates if it ever suffers a puncture, allowing you to finish your workout safely.

However, the ball cannot be inflated fully the first time you use it. You’ll have to inflate it fully after it’s had 2-3 days to stretch out.

The best exercise ball for bigger bodies

tall man exercise ball

The Live Infinitely Exercise Ball receives high marks for its durability and ability to stand up to tough workouts.

Pros: Excellent price point, durable and tough exercise ball that can withstand 2,200 pounds of weight, available in as large as 95 cm diameter, five color and five size options, includes a large library of online exercise guides

Cons: There is no 45 cm diameter size option in this model, difficult to fully inflate this ball

We’re not here to say what an average-sized body is or who is bigger-than-average. But if you’ve ever sat on an exercise ball before and felt like it couldn’t support your height, width, weight, or frame for whatever reason, you need a ball that is bigger and more durable so you aren’t worrying about it popping or slipping out from under you.

In fact, you want your exercise ball to correspond to your size for a few reasons: When you’re sitting on it, you want it to be durable enough to hold your weight and wide enough to hold your buttocks. When you put it underfoot in plank or, say, Bulgarian split squats, the height of the ball influences your form; too small of a ball and your feet are below your hips which can compromise the integrity of your movements, for example.

Because of this, a ball that’s right for someone who’s 5’3 isn’t going to fit someone who’s 6’8, and someone who is 350lbs needs a more durable construction than someone who is 150lbs. (Learn more about What to look for in an exercise ball.)

The Live Infinitely Exercise Ball is one of the few options that comes in five sizes ranging from 55 cm to 95 cm. You can also choose between five colors, including blue, green, gray, purple, and silver.

What’s more, it can hold up to 2,200 pounds of pressure. So while we doubt you’ll ever max out its capabilities, the Live Infinitely Exercise Ball allows you to feel comfortable and secure putting all your weight and force onto it, regardless of your size.

The best budget exercise ball

exercise ball 5

If you want an affordable exercise ball that’s also durable, the Wacces Fitness and Exercise ball is a great option.

Pros: Extremely low price point, good build quality versus similarly priced exercise balls, surface has just enough grip to prevent slippage, ribs around circumference of ball provide extra grip, offered in eight colors

Cons: Only available in three sizes, difficult to fully inflate it first time you use it, doesn’t hold air pressure as well as some models

With some low-priced exercise balls, you may feel wary about placing your full weight on them for fear of an exploding ball that leaves you crashing onto the floor. But the durability of the Wacces Fitness and Exercise Ball gives you the peace of mind you’ll need to use this inexpensive ball to its fullest.

Even though it’s less expensive than other options, this ball is still quite durable and has a good grippy surface. The biggest downside is that it doesn’t support as much weight as more high-end exercise balls.

You can pick between three different sizes, ranging from 55 cm to 75 cm. It’s also available in eight colors, including black, blue, gray, green, pink, purple, red, or yellow.

What to look for in an exercise ball

Yes, an exercise ball is a simple, large round ball that looks like every other exercise ball at first glance. There are still several key differences you can pay attention to when looking to find the right exercise ball to meet your needs.

  • Ease of adding air: Some exercise balls include an air pump, however, most of these pumps work very slowly. If you want a faster option, you should be able to use almost any type of pump to inflate your exercise ball, such as an air mattress pump, a bicycle tire pump, or even an air compressor. To determine when the ball is properly filled with air, measure its diameter.
  • Extras: Depending on the model of exercise ball you pick, you may find the ball ships with an air pump, exercise bands, a stability ring, stability legs, a measuring tape, an exercise tip guide, or handles built into the ball. 
  • Size: The size of a stability ball is determined by its diameter. Common sizes of exercise balls range from 45 cm to 85 cm in 10 cm intervals. (Ten centimeters is roughly 4 inches.) People shorter than 5 feet will have the best results with sitting on a 45 cm ball, 6-feet-tall people will want a 65 cm ball, and those 6-foot-8 and taller will want an 85 cm ball. 
  • Supported weight: Exercise balls should offer supported weight limits for static weight and body weight. Static weight refers to the weight the ball supports without bursting when the user is not moving. Bodyweight refers to the weight it can support when the user is exercising. High-end balls may support static weight limits of 2,200 pounds and body weights of 500 pounds. A stability ball placed under too much weight or stress could burst.

Exercise ball benefits

man family exercise ball

People use an exercise ball for two main reasons: to workout with and to sit on. While we fully support using this accessory in your workout, most chiropractors and physical therapists actually recommend you don’t trade your office chair for a ball. Studies have found it not only makes prolonged sitting more uncomfortable, but it doesn’t actually activate your muscles better and may in fact contribute to spinal shrinkage (aka slumping). This is all because you must keep your core engaged for optimal spinal alignment, and it’s incredibly hard to maintain perfect posture when sitting for a long time.

That being said, an exercise ball is safe and a great challenge to your body during a workout, where you’re only stabilizing against it for a few minutes at a time. Here are some of the primary benefits exercise balls provide during a workout:

  • Improved balance: You’ll naturally strengthen your abs and back muscles while using an exercise ball because you must subtly shift your weight to remain balanced. As these muscles strengthen, your overall balance improves.
  • Core strength: Athletes constantly talk about the importance of having core strength in the body, as it gives you great balance and coordination. Using an exercise ball increases core strength.
  • Muscle work: Because you have to continually adjust your weight slightly to maintain your balance on the ball, you’ll be using different muscle groups, which benefits your whole body.
  • Rehabilitation and flexibility: You’ll stretch muscles and joints while moving around. Physical therapists sometimes assign a set of exercises using an exercise ball for people to follow as part of rehabilitating a specific joint or muscle group to gain more range of motion.
  • Specific exercises: If you enjoy exercises like Pilates or yoga, you’ll gain some additional benefits by incorporating an exercise ball into the routine.

Why exercise balls are an important part of a home gym

Despite their inherent value, exercise balls aren’t typically the first piece of gear you think of when piecing together a home gym. The truth is in the application, as they work for a host of exercises requiring flexible support. Even though an exercise ball is round, it gives you a base that’s more solid than you might think and provides impressive stability.  

The balls compress when weight is put on them to create a flatter, more stable edge. It won’t be as stable as a normal chair but it’s far more solid than you’d expect — which is what makes them great for everything from active seating to working out.

An exercise ball is an amazing addition to any ab workout, as you can hold it between your feet to bump the challenge of leg raises or prop your feet on the ball during plank for more of a core challenge. You can also sit on the ball instead of a bench to activate your core during simple exercises like chest flys and overhead presses. (Learn more from our guide on the best at-home exercise ball routines.)

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 4 best spin shoes we tested in 2021, compatible with exercise bikes like Peloton

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The right cycling shoe can mean the difference between a great ride and terrible foot pain.
  • I tested 11 pairs and consulted a SoulCycle instructor and a podiatrist to find the best spin shoes.
  • Our top pick, the Giro Cadets, deliver superior breathability, support, and comfort.

Whether you’re the proud owner of a new Peloton or you’re tired of sweating in rental shoes at a studio, a great pair of cycling shoes is an integral part of enjoying your spin class and getting a great workout. The wrong pair of shoes could lead to cramping, discomfort, or blistering, and the best cycling shoe is the one you don’t have to think about at all.

But the cycling shoe market is broad, and Olympic road cyclists, mountain bikers, and SoulCycle lovers all have different needs. This means there’s not exactly a one-size-fits-all spin shoe designed to tackle it all.

For help narrowing down what to look for, I consulted with two experts: NASM-certified personal trainer and spin instructor, Nicky Swierszcz, who spoke on fit, sizing, cleat styles, and shoe designs, and, Dr. Ryan Minara, D.P.M., Chief of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai Beth Israel and former Podiatry Captain for the New York City Triathlon.

My actual testing comprised 11 separate pairs of cycling shoes worn over hundreds of miles worth of spin classes. The intent was to find a pair capable of providing the most supportive and comfortable ride in both an at-home and in-studio spin setting. My top picks balance value and comfort to ensure you get the most out of your workout.

A note on gendered shoes

Athletic shoes tend to be gendered not because of style but because of slight differences in the typical morphologies of male and female feet. Male feet tend to be slightly wider in both the toes and the heel, but according to Dr. Minara, this may not be true across the board. He stressed the importance of trying any athletic shoe on – regardless of whether or not it’s designed for men or women – before you use it in order to ensure you’re getting the right fit for your foot shape and size.

Several of the shoes we recommend come in both men’s and women’s sizing, but individual comfort and fit matter much more than the gendered label on the shoe.

Here are the best spin shoes:

How we test cycling shoes

After consulting Swierszcz about what criteria to look for in a well-made cycling shoe and top brands on the market, I narrowed my picks down to several pairs of shoes in a variety of styles. I received samples from the brands and tested 11 pairs of cycling shoes at low- to mid-range price points that still offered the durability and high-quality construction of a good cycling shoe. I wanted to test the difference between BOA closures and Velcro, and I threw in one that laced up for good measure. 

Here’s everything I considered while testing:

Value: Cycling shoes come in a wide range of budgets, and serious road cyclists may spend upwards of $500 on a pair of shoes made from top-of-the-line materials that can give them a competitive edge on the bike. But if you’re only clipping in to ride a stationary bike in a spin studio or at home, there’s no need to drop so much cash.

I limited my selections to shoes that cost, at most, $200. Swierszcz said to expect to spend at least $100 on a pair of cycling shoes. Shoes below that price point will start to suffer in the quality of materials used to construct the shoe.

Ride test: I wore each pair of shoes for at least three 45-minute spin classes — a combination of pre-pandemic in-studio classes and rides on my SoulCycle at-home bike — to test for fit and comfort. My top picks were worn for several more rides to test beyond the break-in process. Throughout my rides, I took mental notes of any hot spots or discomfort I felt with each shoe. The best shoes were ones I didn’t have to pay attention to at all. Getting lost in my ride — and not worrying about foot pain — was the best marker of a good shoe. 

I also noted how easy they were to take on and off and how easily I was able to walk around in them off the bike.

My top picks are the shoes that best balanced quality, comfort, and value.

Long-term testing: We acknowledge that issues may crop up with long-term use, and we want to test these shoes for their longevity and ultimate value for your investment. We are continuing to test each of our top picks, and we will update this guide with any issues we encounter.

The best spin shoes overall with BOA

Giro Cadet Shoe

The Giro Cadet cycling shoe comfortably cradles your foot as you ride thanks to the combination of a BOA closure and comfortable ankle padding that doesn’t make the shoe feel bulky.

Pro: BOA closure tightens uniformly, Velcro straps stops toe shifting, nice padding around ankle, split tongue, breathable, very lightweight

Cons: Slippery when walking around off the bike, runs slightly small

After testing 11 pairs of cycling shoes, you might think they’d all start to blend together, but the Giro Cadet shoe very quickly set itself apart. The BOA closure allows for uniform tightening across the shoe which led to an exemplary feeling of security, and the added Velcro strap ensured that my toes didn’t shift back and forth as I rode.

It’s the shoe I favored for personal use, so it’s also the pair I clocked the most miles with. There’s no considerable break-in process, so I was able to have productive rides right out of the gate, and the shoe has done nothing but get more comfortable over time. Where lesser shoes caused pinching, hotspots, and occasional numbness, I was able to all but forget about the Cadets and get lost in my ride — a surprisingly tough metric for some of these shoes to hit. 

I have a high instep, so where other shoes would cut into the front of my ankle, the Cadet compensated for it with a flexible tongue that has a slit cut down the middle of it to account for the tendons that flex in that area as you ride.

The Cadets are lightweight and breathable and have enough padding in the ankle to keep you comfortable without adding considerable bulk to the shoe. I did find that the Cadets ran about a half-size small, so size up if you’re between sizes.

Giro Cadet Men’s: 

Cadet (Men’s) (button)

Giro Cadet Women’s:

The best spin shoes overall with Velcro

Pearl Izumi Quest Studio cycling shoes

Engineered specifically for a high-heat, high-humidity spin class setting, the Pearl Izumi Quest Studio shoe is exceptionally breathable and sweat-wicking. 

Pros: Developed for studio use, antimicrobial mesh upper stays breathable, familiar fit for SoulCycle riders, three Velcro straps make shoe highly adjustable, good grip when walking around off the bike

Cons: No split tongue, long Velcro straps may hang over side of shoe slightly, runs small

If you’re a frequent SoulCycle rider, the fit of the Pearl Izumi Quest Studio will likely feel quite familiar. The cult-favorite spin studio pairs with Pearl Izumi to create the rental shoe you’ve likely used many times. While the Quest Studio isn’t exactly the same, it’s similar enough that when I first slipped my feet into them, I recognized it immediately. SoulCycle fans making the first leap to their own pair of shoes might want to choose this one for the familiarity alone.

Aside from a familiar fit, the Quest Studio still stands out as a great shoe on its own. Many cycling shoes that spin class enthusiasts opt for were originally developed for road cycling, but the Quest Studio — as its name suggests — was developed specifically for a studio setting. Increased breathability and sweat-wicking take the fore to compensate for a hot, sweaty indoor environment thanks to an antimicrobial mesh upper.

Three Velcro straps make for a highly adjustable shoe with plenty of room for those who may need to keep one section looser to adjust for wide feet or a high instep. I did find the straps were pretty long, so if you’re tightening them all the way, there might be some overhang, but nothing that gets in the way of your ride.

My one complaint is that many cycling shoes have a notch in the top of the tongue to account for the tendons at the front of your ankle, and the Quest Studio is missing that. If you’re sensitive to pressure in that area, it might cause some discomfort. I found myself noticing it a bit during sprints.

Pearl Izumi Quest Studio Men’s:

Quest Studio Shoe (Men’s) (button)

Pearl Izumi Quest Studio Women’s: 

The best budget spin shoes with BOA

Specialized Torch 1.0 cycling shoes

A BOA closure automatically ups the cost of a cycling shoe, but the Specialized Torch 1.0 manages to keep it affordable without compromising on quality or comfort.

Pros: More affordable than a typical BOA shoe, added padding under tongue, fits true to size, lightweight, comes in bold colors

Cons: Velcro strap at toes is thin, no specialized women’s/men’s fits, compatible with Look Delta cleats only

Where many cycling shoes limit their color palettes to black and white with the occasional pop of color, the Torch 1.0 shoes from Specialized go bold with offerings of neon red, green, and blue. Of course, you can still get a black or white pair if you want to keep it simple, but those bold colors — along with the very friendly price point for a shoe with these features — were what first attracted me to this pair.

The shoes back up some flashy presentation with a very similar closure style to the Giro Cadets. A BOA closure gives you excellent uniform support, while a Velcro strap towards the toes aims to prevent toe shift. The Velcro strip on the Torch 1.0s isn’t as robust as the one on the Cadets, so I’m not sure it does a ton of work, but it does add some peace of mind.

A unique feature of the Torch 1.0s is some additional padding under the tongue, which gives you a bit more comfort on the upstroke as you pedal. It’s nothing that affects the fit of the shoe too drastically, and it doesn’t add any bulk, but it’s a nice touch on a part of the shoe that is often neglected.

Though Specialized sees the Torch 1.0 as a beginner road cycling shoe, it checked all my boxes for a great shoe for spin class — supportive fit with no pain points or hot spots, great ventilation, and my mind wasn’t on my feet while I rode.

The main shortcoming here is that Specialized doesn’t offer a specific men’s or women’s fit, so if the construction of the shoe doesn’t work for your foot’s anatomy, there’s no alternative fit to try. The Torch 1.0s are also the only shoe we recommend that isn’t compatible with SPD cleats, though we recommend Look Deltas for spinning anyway.

The best budget spin shoes with Velcro

Shimano RP1 cycling shoe

The Shimano RP1 is outstandingly comfortable with an upper that’s plusher than many other cycling shoes, but with only two Velcro straps, the fit isn’t quite as adjustable as other pairs.

Pros: Excellent padding makes for a comfortable ride, fits true to size, good grip when walking around off the bike

Cons: Only two Velcro straps, no specialized women’s fit

Many cycling shoes are incredibly streamlined for increased aerodynamics and therefore aren’t always the cushiest. A few of the shoes I tried had so little padding that it affected my ride in a negative way, but the Shimano RP1 shoe has plenty of padding — probably more than a road racer would want. But their loss is the spinner’s gain. The RP1 really cradles the foot for a comfortable ride.

It’s also the most budget-friendly shoe I tested, but it’s still constructed from excellent materials including nylon mesh panels for breathability and a ventilated glass-fiber-infused sole. Shimano is also one of the most trusted players in the cycling market, producing cycling gear for a century and cycling shoes in particular since the ’80s. 

The concession you’ll have to make with this shoe lies mainly in adjustability. The shoe’s closure consists of only two Velcro straps, and the top one does the bulk of the work. I found this shoe felt less secure around the middle part of my foot unless I really tightened the top strap. In doing that, I found it created some hot spots in my instep if I overtightened. With some practice, I was able to find the sweet spot for a comfortable ride, but you simply won’t get the same custom fit of a three-strap shoe.

The RP1 also only comes in a men’s fit. I didn’t notice any major differences in how the RP1 fit me when compared to a women’s engineered shoe, but it does have a bit of a wider toe box than a women’s fit. Regardless of your gender, this is going to be a great option for those with wider feet.

What else I tested

Cycling shoes - what else we tested

Giro Trans BOA ($160): The Giro Trans BOA was this close to being the best overall BOA cycling shoe in this guide. It’s got excellent support thanks to the BOA/Velcro closure combo, is breathable thanks to mesh ventilation panels, and I think it just looks cool. 

But Giro is slowly phasing it out in favor of new models. It’s also only available in a men’s fit starting at a size 39, so those with smaller feel could be out of luck. The Trans BOA only supports Look Delta cleats, while the Cadet supports both Look Delta and SPD, so the Cadet is the more versatile shoe all around.

Tomasso Pista ($125): The draw of the Tomasso Pista is that cleats come included and pre-installed on the shoe, which is great for beginners. But recently, the price jumped up by nearly $40. It was previously available for around $85, which would have made it a great budget buy. 

The quality of the shoe itself is lesser than some of the other equivalently-priced models I tested, and the fit felt bulky in a way that other shoes didn’t, so it’s just not worth it at the increased price.

Giro Empire E70 W Knit ($160): I was first intrigued by this shoe because it had laces — a rarity in the cycling shoe market. And those laces ended up being its downfall, not because they performed poorly but because I was constantly worried they would get caught in my pedals or come untied during my ride. They never did, but the stress wasn’t worth it. 

I did appreciate how lightweight these shoes were, though, and the breathability provided by the knit upper was top-notch.

Fizik Tempo Powerstrap R5 ($120): The Velcro closures on this shoe are unique in that the bottom one crisscrosses the shoe to pull it tight in a more uniform way than a strap that merely crosses over the top. But the upper was much stiffer than other shoes I tested and lacked the padding around the ankle I had hoped for. The lack of flex led to cramping for me. I had high hopes for the unique design, but was ultimately disappointed.

Shimano RP4 ($94): The Shimano RP4 takes a unique approach with its BOA closure. Instead of having the wire tighten the whole shoe, it pulls a wide strap over the instep closed. I had a problem with how far up the strap came on the shoe, causing it to dig into my ankle and make for a very uncomfortable ride. I think a BOA closure is better suited to securing the shoe itself rather than a single strap.

Giro Techne ($100): The Techne is Giro’s version of the classic three-strap Velcro cycling shoe. The fit and the ventilation were pretty baseline, but the three straps created a lot of bulk on the shoe that made it feel more unwieldy. Pulling the straps tight led to a lot of overhang. While none of this affected the ride, the shoe was simply beaten by better performers in the space.

Pearl Izumi Select Road v5 ($82.50): This was another shoe I really liked that fell victim to being phased out by the retailer. Another offering from Pearl Izumi, it felt very similar to the SoulCycle rental shoe I’d grown accustomed to. But at this point, it’s only available in very limited sizes. If you can snag it in your size on sale, it’ll be a great budget buy. 

How should a spin shoe fit?

Both Swierszcz and Dr. Minara repeatedly emphasized that the most important fit factor in choosing your cycling shoes is an adequate feeling of support for your entire foot. You want the shoe to fit snugly so your foot doesn’t slide back and forth as you pedal. Friction from loose shoes can cause blistering and a general feeling of instability on the bike.

A shoe that’s too tight can cause cramping, numbness, or tingling in your foot as you ride. Numbness is the most common problem Dr. Minara sees in cyclists who wear ill-fitting shoes, especially in those who have wide feet. “Many cyclists will also develop a very specific problem called a Morton’s neuroma,” Minara told Insider, “Which is inflammation of a very specific nerve called the common digital nerve.”

Swierszcz often sees riders overtightening their shoes. “It’s a psychological thing,” she said. “People think the tighter their shoe is, the more secure their foot will be and they won’t fall off the bike or whatever their fear might be. You want something that feels supportive and stable but isn’t squeezing your foot. The less you have to think about your feet as you ride the better your experience is going to be.”

As with any shoe, the more you wear a cycling shoe the more it molds to the shape of your foot. Some tightness can be overcome by breaking the shoes in, but don’t continue to ride with a shoe that’s exceedingly uncomfortable or takes away from the quality of your ride. 

“Don’t take it for granted if your foot hurts. There’s usually a reason for it, and that reason usually can be addressed,” said Minara. Ignoring pain can lead to prolonged issues both on and off the bike. If you’re having trouble finding a shoe that fits properly, Minara also suggested consulting a podiatrist to discuss a custom orthotic — and bring your cycling shoes with you when you do.

One of the hardest parts of shopping for a cycling shoe is navigating different brands’ sizing charts. Cycling shoes are measured in European sizes, but each brand’s sizing scheme deviates slightly. Some brands also don’t offer half sizes. In that case, Swierszcz recommends sizing down. The best advice we have for ensuring you get the right size is to simply try them on. All the retailers we link to have a buyer-friendly return policy so you can exchange for a new size if necessary. For each of our picks above, we explain how sizing tends to run.

BOA vs. Velcro

A BOA closure employs a ratcheting dial that tightens a stainless steel wire to close your shoe. Twisting the dial clockwise makes the shoe tighter and pulling the dial upward releases the mechanism.

BOA closures have two distinct advantages: speed and uniform tightening. With the simple twist of the dial, your shoe is perfectly tightened and you’re ready to hop on your bike. Releasing the dial allows you to slip the shoe off your foot in one swift motion. In a triathlon, every second counts — just as it does when you’re late to spin class.

All the BOA shoes we recommend in this guide have just one dial, and therefore one wire that’s doing the work of tightening your shoe. That wire adjusts uniformly as you tighten it, meaning your entire shoe will be adjusted proportionally, providing immediate support for your entire foot. This is important for preventing hotspots or pain points. The disadvantage, though, is that you can’t personalize the fit quite as much.

Velcro closures use the same technology you sported on your light-up sneakers as a kid, but that doesn’t belittle their effectiveness. It’s one of the simplest ways to secure a shoe when laces are going to get in the way. A shoe that features multiple Velcro straps also allows for a more personalized fit — simply pull as tightly as you need for each section of your foot to feel supported and secure. Those with higher insteps or wider feet can choose to keep one section of the shoe looser for more breathability or to mitigate uncomfortable tightness. Swierszcz has a wide foot, so she takes advantage of this flexibility. “If I’ve been teaching a lot, I’ll keep the center strap a little bit looser, just so my foot can breathe doesn’t start cramping.”

Look Delta cleats vs. SPD cleats

Almost every top spin bike on the market requires you to clip your shoes into the bike pedals in order to ride — that’s why you’re shopping for special shoes for spin class, after all — but the mechanism by which your shoe attaches to the pedal varies. The piece that clips in is called the cleat, and there are several styles on the market, but the two most prominent ones are SPD cleats and Look Delta cleats.

SPD cleats, or two-bolt cleats, attach to the sole of the shoe at two points. They sit at the center of the ball of your foot and provide a localized point at which the power transfers from your foot to the pedal. 

Clipping in and out of the pedals is a bit easier with SPD cleats than Look Deltas and so are favored by mountain bikers and those who ride in traffic who may have to react quickly to changing conditions. SPD cleats are also considerably smaller than Look Delta cleats and are therefore easier to walk around in off the bike.

SPD Cleat Set (small)

Look Delta cleats, or three-bolt cleats, attach to the sole of your shoe at three points in the shape of a triangle. One point reaches toward your toes and two points sit at the ball of your foot. This provides a much larger surface area that attaches your shoe to the pedal creating a most stable base for your foot.

Swierszcz prefers a Look Delta cleat because of the increased support they provide. Because of the larger clip-in mechanism, Look Deltas can be more difficult to clip in and out with, especially for beginners. This leads to a disadvantage if you need to unclip quickly, but in a class setting, you won’t have to worry about accidentally coming out of your pedal and losing your rhythm.

All the shoes we recommend in this guide are compatible with Look Delta cleats — and if you’re just using your shoes for spin class, that’s the type we recommend. Both Peloton and SoulCycle use a Look Delta cleat system as do many smaller spin studios and home bike brands. In fact, Peloton supports only Look Delta cleats unless you were to swap out the pedals entirely for ones with an SPD hookup. Both the At Home and in-studio SoulCycle bikes have dual-sided pedals — one side supports Look Delta cleats and the other supports SPDs, so you can ride with whatever cleat you prefer.

Look Delta Bike Cleats (small)
How to attach Look Delta cleats

Most cycling shoes don’t come with cleats included, so you’ll need to buy them separately and therefore attach them yourself. Look Delta cleats are easy to install — simply screw the three bolts into the bottom of the shoe. The cleats have some vertical allowance so you can position them closer to your toes or closer to the arch of your foot depending on your preference and riding style. 

Swierszcz recommends beginners centralize their cleats over the bolt holes and allow them to adjust themselves over time as you ride. “Everybody’s physiology is set up slightly differently. Range of motion and pedal stroke are going to be different from person to person, so start with your cleats in a neutral position and let the repetitive motion break them in over time as you ride.” 

That said, you shouldn’t notice too much movement in your cleats from ride to ride. That’s likely a sign that you didn’t tighten the bolts enough. If that happens, reset them to center and make sure to tighten down your cleats a bit more.

Read the original article on Business Insider

See the first images of Peloton’s upcoming game, where riders pedal to music to compete for the highest score

Peloton bike class
Peloton is expanding its content to include workout games.

Peloton is introducing a new fitness experience with an in-app game, the company announced in a press release this week.

Peloton’s Lanebreak is a gaming feature that transports the “player” to a virtual track to guide a wheel-shaped avatar through obstacles and challenges synchronized to musical beats, with a similar aesthetic to the popular VR game, Beat Saber. The player has the option to choose from a variety of playlists, workouts, and difficulty levels.

Peloton game

Peloton grew in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic, while people socially isolated, with its popular trainer-led Peloton classes. Lanebreak is taking the next step in Peloton’s effort to broaden its content for users looking for a different fitness experience.

Players can earn points through staying in the virtual lane, staying within the cadence of the song, and through the energy output during the session, according to The Verge. The longer a player is able to stay on the beat, the more points they can accrue. Riders can later challenge their friends to beat their high score.

“Just like Alex Toussaint would challenge you to finish the last 30 seconds of a tough interval, games offer a way to not only cue you to do so, but to reward you in real time for your actions,” David Packles, senior director of Product Management at Peloton, said in the press release.

The game is currently in the beginning stages of development, but there have already been early play-tests with individual Peloton riders at their homes. A full-beta test is expected to be available to riders later this winter, CNBC reports.

peloton game 2

Playpulse, a competitor to Peloton, has already come out with similar gaming features on its bikes with a variety of games already available to its users, but full versions of its games are limited to its premium subscription service.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Peloton drops as Wedbush downgrades the fitness company on concerns gym reopenings will boost competition

bike plus cody
  • Peloton shares pulled back 5% on Wednesday after a downgrade to neutral from Wedbush.
  • The company is facing headwinds from gym reopenings and further competition from at-home fitness companies.
  • The 12-month price target was cut to $130 from $115.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Peloton shares fell Wednesday following a ratings downgrade to neutral at Wedbush, which sees the company facing slower demand as more options for exercise become available with the economy reopening.

Shares of Peloton lost as much as 5.4%, hitting $113.33 before paring the decline to 4.4%.

The rating was dropped from outperform and a 12-month price target was lowered to $115 from $130, implying a potential decline of more than 11% in Peloton’s share price.

The high-end fitness equipment and services company is heading into the next leg of its growth story and it will need to stoke business through savvy marketing and by offering compelling new products to combat competition from other companies, said Wedbush in a Wednesday note.

After the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, gyms are reopening and people have more choices in how to exercise outside of their homes including free options such as running.

“During this transition, we think a neutral rating makes sense until (1) we have better visibility on where underlying demand growth will shake out in the post-pandemic environment and (2) we have better visibility on what investors will be willing to pay for this growth,” said James Hardiman, a Wedbush analyst covering the leisure sector.

The stock year-to-date has dropped about 24% but remains higher by 81% over the past 12 months. Peloton’s business has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic as mass lockdowns forced millions of people to work and exercise at home.

Wedbush has been tracking customer engagement data from social media platforms, Google trends, and Peloton’s own metrics, and in the June quarter, year-over-year growth has substantially decelerated, it said.

That “should not be surprising given seasonal and reopening headwinds, but nonetheless would seem to mark a turning point for a company that has continually defied gravity since its IPO, and presents evidence that the law of large numbers is finally catching up,” said Hardiman.

Peloton in late June said it would offer discounted products and services through a new corporate wellness program, an announcement that propelled the stock to build on gains following a Bloomberg report that the company was pushing into the wearables market.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best sets of dumbbells of 2021 for your home gym

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Dumbbells are an effective fitness tool for anyone looking to build and maintain strength.
  • The best vary in style, with some allowing for quick weight adjustments while others are compact for easy storage.
  • Our top pick, the Powerblock dumbbells, essentially replace 28 pairs of weights and adjust from 5 to 90 pounds.

Dumbells are among the most common and sought-after pieces of workout equipment, no matter if you’re at an actual fitness center or working out in your own home gym – and it’s not hard to see why. Not only can they be effective when used correctly but they’re highly versatile, too, capable of sufficing for a number of workouts like curls, presses, or rows.

It’s because of that multi-purpose use, however, that finding dumbbells typically goes one of two ways; either it’s far too expensive to buy multiple weights or they’re just entirely out of stock. This sort of Catch-22 makes actually shopping for dumbbells a much more arduous task than it needs to be.

But within that problem came a reasonable solution: more brand competition. And while the influx of brands dukes it out to develop the next great dumbbell, the true winners are those looking to buy them. Now, this doesn’t mean the market is flush with options but it does mean there are few more quality choices on the market (of which are, hopefully, in stock and available for purchase).

Take Powerblock, for instance, a brand that’s been around for several years but is finally starting to gather more attention thanks to a highly innovative take on the standard dumbbell. In essence, one Powerblock dumbbell takes the place of up to 28 different pairs of weights. Not only is this efficient but it’s also cost-effective as it’s not anywhere near the price of buying those 28 sets of weights on their own.

Powerblock is but one of dozens of companies trying their hand at offering a worthy dumbbell, and I saw to it to try as many of them as I could. Below are my five favorites across categories such the best budget-friendly option, the best app-connected dumbbell, and even the best traditional set.

At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some tips on how to properly use dumbbells, insight into what to consider while shopping for dumbbells, and the specific testing methodology I used in choosing which weights to feature.

Editor’s note: Due to the constant fluctuation of online inventories, we’re doing what we can to keep up with out-of-stock items or those available in limited supply. We review each product’s availability weekly to assure the guide is properly updated, though sometimes this means one or more of the included items may be sold out, or available via a third party.

Here are the best dumbbells:

The best dumbbells overall

Best dumbbells

Powerblock’s dumbbells are highly versatile in that they offer a wide range of weight variation in just one, easy-to-stow form factor — if you can find them for sale, buy them.

Pros: Max weight of 90 pounds, relatively affordable, sturdy and natural feeling

Cons: Slightly awkward weight-changing mechanism, may be a little long at max weight

The first time I saw these sitting in a weight room, I figured they’d be horribly awkward to lift. The rectangular dumbbells appear large and clunky, but I was surprised by how well they moved during workouts like Romanian deadlifts or chest presses. 

Like the Fatbells below, Powerblock dumbbells feature a handle that’s more centered in the apparatus. The weight surrounds your hands on all sides and as a result, they feel comfortable to move. They’re also constructed from steel, making them feel stronger and sturdier compared to other options built from plastic.

My favorite aspect of these dumbbells is that they’re able to load up to 90 pounds, which is enough to ensure you get plenty of mileage out of them as you get stronger. I’ve used these sparingly but they will, without a doubt, be my first purchase when I start building my ultimate home gym. 

To be finicky, I’d say the selecting mechanism isn’t as efficient compared to Bowflex’s dial system. With Powerblock, you select the weights directly on the bell with a vertically-set pin. Changing the weight requires you to pull the pin from the side of the bell and move it either up (lighter) or down (heavier). While it’s not as smooth to use as a dial, it’s not a complete dealbreaker.

The weight plates still sit on either end like a standard dumbbell, so despite looking foreign, they feel familiar and aren’t any more substantial than a heavy pair of dumbbells. Overall, these will save you from buying 28 pairs of individual dumbbells — or roughly 2,565 pounds of weights. That’s thousands of dollars of savings on its own.

Powerblock’s Home Rack Stand, which the brand sells for $179, makes it far easier to hoist the weights onto your lap or shoulders for presses. It’s not a necessity but having used the stand myself, I recommend it.

The best app-connected dumbbells

Best dumbbells

If you’re a techie, or simply meticulous about tracking sets and reps, the Bowflex SelectTech 560 app-connected bells are for you.

Pros: Tracks sets and reps via a companion app, space-saving, easy to change weight

Cons: Max weight of 60 pounds

These dumbbells pair via Bluetooth to the Bowflex app which allows them to automatically record lifted weight, as well as all sets and reps per exercise. This is useful for tracking total volume, especially when your progress is smaller.

Other than the Powerblocks, these are the only other adjustable dumbbells on our list. They’re not as sturdy as our overall pick, though they’re a solid pair of dumbbells that look sleek and save a ton of space. They also come with a floor stand for better storage.

The knurled handle provides plenty of grip and the square plates on each end feel secure for even more dynamic movements like snatches and cleans. Also, the squared-off shape of the weights keep you stable while doing pushups.

Compared to Bowflex’s SelectTech 552 dumbbells, which only go up to 52.5 pounds, these adjust to an even 60 pounds. That’s a decent amount of weight for most people and should serve you well for almost any exercise. Do keep in mind that as you get stronger over time, there’s a decent chance you’ll outgrow these weights and need more than 60 pounds in a dumbbell.

The best dumbbells for comfort

Best Dumbbells

You won’t find these in any commercial gym but the Thompson Fat Bells are an innovative take on the classic dumbbell.

Pros: Very comfortable, more natural to lift, made from durable cast iron

Cons: Expensive, have to buy multiple pairs, not space-friendly

The handle is inside a spherical weight, which centers the load entirely and evenly around your wrist. This allows the dumbbell to feel more comfortable and natural.

Invented by powerlifting legend Donnie Thompson in 2006, Fat Bells are a unique take on the kettlebell — though, to me, they’re interchangeable with dumbbells, too. As Thompson explains on Rogue.com, “it’s a perfect geometric shape for maximizing optimal performance.” Your hand is an equal distance away from every portion of the sphere for a perfect geometrical design.

What I like about these is that you’re able to become one with the weight. Instead of holding a clunky piece of iron, you have a compact load you’ll hardly notice —other than the fact it’s heavy. They do feel slightly off at first due to the fact you’re not used to where the weight is centered but you’ll get over that quickly. I like to use them for moves such as chest presses and rows, since I typically go heavier, and these feel more secure.

Fat Bells aren’t cheap and you’ll most likely need to buy more than one pair. If you’re looking to splurge on your home gym, I’d say opt for one moderate pair (35-50 pounds for men and 15-35 pounds for women) so you have the most versatility with them. 

The best budget dumbbells

Best dumbbells

Though these dumbbells from Titan Fitness require you to buy weight plates, the handles themselves are one of the best deals you’ll find.

Pros: Inexpensive, can handle as much weight as you own, great grip, space-friendly

Cons: Requires weight plates, not as easy to load as adjustable dumbbells

I’d never used this brand personally but the loadable handle on these is very similar to the pair I own. The biggest plus is how affordable they are compared to other options. Of course, you’ll have to buy weight plates but if you’re a home-gym owner, there’s a good chance you have some sitting around already. If that’s the case, these are your best bet. We also recommend investing in a set of barbell collars to stop the weights from sliding off of the handles.

The sleeve, or end of the dumbbell, fits standard Olympic weight plates. If you already own a squat rack and a barbell, then the plates you have should suffice — though it’s worth it to double-check before purchasing. Another plus is that these handles from Titan Fitness are 20 inches, meaning you’re able to load them with a lot of weight. If you’re a stronger lifter, then you won’t be limited to just 90 pounds for moves like rows and chest presses. For reference, many powerlifters and bodybuilders can press and row weights well over 100 pounds.

Lifting dumbbells loaded with Olympic plates can make some exercises awkward. The plates are large enough in diameter compared to typical dumbbells they’re able to disrupt your range of motion. This tends to be problematic for moves like curls, lateral raises, and extensions while chest presses and rows should be unaffected. Another minor nitpick is that having to manually load plates manually isn’t as easy as using adjustable dumbbells. 

The best traditional dumbbell set

Best dumbbells

The CAP Barbell 150-pound Dumbbell set (with rack) is a great starter set for beginners and feels (and looks) the most familiar. 

Pros: Feels familiar, great grip, stable when lifting

Cons: Have to buy multiple pairs which can get expensive, takes up a lot of space, included weight only goes up to 25 pounds

Practically speaking, these aren’t the best dumbbells you can buy but, as the saying goes, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. These dumbbells don’t offer any sort of fancy weight mechanism or require a complicated method for use —and that’s their major appeal.

The handles are nicely knurled (i.e. they feature a pattern of angled lines etched into the steel of the dumbbell) so they won’t slip out of your hands, and the hexagonal rubber ends won’t roll around on the floor. From personal experience, I like using this type of dumbbell for heavy chest presses since they feel stable in my hands and the weight is more evenly distributed compared to the modern models in this guide.

Now, the downsides: You have to buy multiple pairs to have access to a variety of weight. This means the cost adds up rather quickly. Plus, the more dumbbells you own, the more space it’ll take up, so you’ll likely have to buy a dumbbell rack to hold your increasing collection.

Many of the most affordable sets, like our pick here, only go up to 25 pounds. This is great for exercises like curls, light presses, or squats, but it’s likely you’ll graduate from that weight quickly. But if it’s familiarity you seek, this is the set for you. 

How to properly use dumbbells

Best Dumbbells

Getting that toned look most people covet comes down to reducing body fat percentage and gaining muscle mass. The former comes down almost entirely to your diet while gaining muscle involves a balanced weight-training regimen in addition to the diet.

You’ll want to focus on two things:

  1. Placing tension on your muscles by lifting weight
  2. Increasing the total volume (or, amount of weight lifted) over time

To find this, multiply your total reps for one exercise by the amount of weight used. For example, if you do dumbbell chest presses for three sets of 10 reps with 50 pounds, multiply 30 (sets times reps) by 50 to get 1,500 pounds for that exercise. If you were to lift 55 pounds for just one of your sets next week, you’d increase your total volume to 1,550.

Your goal for each workout should be to slightly increase your volume for each move. Add volume by adding weight or increasing your total reps. 

A general rule of thumb is to find a weight you’re able to use for three sets of eight reps. Add one rep to each set each week and once you reach 12 reps, add five pounds and start back at eight reps.

It’s good to have a light, moderate, and heavy pair of dumbbells if this is your primary source of exercise. That way, you can increase your total volume without having to pump out an insane amount of reps with a lighter pair.

How to shop for dumbbells

Before you start the process of finding a set that’s right for you, it’s important to know what a dumbbell is and why they’re an important investment for your home gym. Put plainly, a dumbbell consists of a central handle with weight on either end capable of ranging anywhere from 5 to 100 pounds.

Dumbbells are a versatile foray into weight training for beginners, too. Anything you’re able to do with a barbell, you can do with a dumbbell — albeit with lighter weight. Lifting dumbbells is a great way to teach yourself moves like the squat, overhead press, and row before graduating to the heavier weight a barbell often affords. They’re also less cumbersome than barbells and much easier to store in your home or apartment. 

More advanced trainees benefit from the fact dumbbells allow you to better isolate your muscles unilaterally (one side at a time), as your right and left sides need to work independently to balance the weights. In turn, you’ll strengthen your weaker side, which translates to stronger and more efficient lifts overall.

According to personal trainer, Chris Parnell, lifting with dumbbells is also a great way to give your abs extra attention. He asserts that, compared to barbells, dumbbells challenge your body’s stability more. With a barbell, you work with a singular mass versus the dumbbell that uses two separate masses.

“Dumbbells provide the beginner or advanced lifter with an opportunity to exercise using compound movements [moves that move more than one joint at once] with low to high intensity using two separate masses,” Parnell told Insider.

Our testing methodology

Each set of dumbbells in this guide went through a series of tests to see how well they compared across these four categories: Design, quality, portability, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which dumbbells made this guide:

Design: Dumbbell design is mostly straightforward, though unique innovations from brands like Powerblock and Bowflex have turned the humble dumbbell into a versatile all-in-one gym. What I mean by this is that both of the dumbbells featured in this guide from those brands are designed to be several sets of dumbbells in the form of just one set.

This means you don’t have to buy a set of 5 lb weights, a set of 15 lb weights, and a set of 25 lb weights. You buy either of those and you have the adjustability to hit any weight you’d need. The design choices I looked for in standard dumbbells were how well they felt while holding and if they were versatile for a variety of lifts. 

Quality: Most steel dumbbells feature a quality that allows them to last literal decades (if taken care of) before you’d even need to think about replacing them. Because of this, it’s easy to spot a dumbbell that’s made of anything other than quality metal. Thankfully, this never was an issue during testing. This category was useful when judging how well the adjustable systems of the Bowflex and Powerblock dumbbells would hold up over time. 

Portability: Yet another category where praise heaps onto the adjustable dumbbells are portability. When you’re forced to buy multiple sets of dumbbells in different weights, the problem of how to store them can add up quite quickly. Though some come with their own stand like the traditional set from CAP, not all options are that convenient. 

Value: Considering how expensive dumbbells can get when buying multiple sets (and especially when stock is low and demand is high), value is a key component. But it’s also important not to buy an inferior set if it’s your only option. I view value as the combination of the categories listed above as well as its final sticker price — and feel that spending more on a quality product is better than spending less, more often on something that’s second-rate.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 8 best places to buy workout clothes for women

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Wearing the right workout clothing helps keep you cool, comfortable, and prevents chafing.
  • The best apparel should use performance materials, feature a smart design, and have a versatile style.
  • We recommend Nike‘s activewear for women overall, as it’s the best blend of price, performance, and variety.
Best activewear for women 4x3

Even though all of us own workout clothes, it’s rare to come across a top or shorts that you truly love. But comfortable, well-fitting women’s workout clothes can make or break your motivation to go for a run, hit the gym, even just take your dog for a walk. And if that workout clothing is flattering and makes you feel good, well, that’s just the holy grail.

Well-designed workout clothes for women should be made of technical fabrics that wick sweat away, dry quickly, and potentially provide a slight compression to help your body feel supported. It should also be well-designed so that nothing rides up or falls down, and it doesn’t make you chafe.

As a fitness editor for nearly a decade and a woman, I’ve not only tried a lot of women’s activewear brands but I also know the struggle of finding workout clothes that actually fit your body correctly. Whether you’re looking for cheap workout clothes to just get you to the gym, athletic wear that looks flattering in photos, or simply the best place to buy a new pair of shorts for the summer, I’ve got you covered.

Below, I’ve ranked the best workout brands to shop based on my personal testing, as well as input from the countless women I quiz about the athletic wear they’re wearing. The brands featured here all hit the sweet spot of price for the quality and offer inclusive sizing and fits.

The best places to shop for women’s workout clothes:

The best workout clothes for women overall

sportswear windrunner hooded windbreaker qJlX5L

Nike caters to pretty much every sport with a variety of inclusive styles, making it our top pick for high-performance workout gear. 

Size range: XS-3X, short and tall

Nike has the best balance of price, performance, and variety in its workout gear. A pair of leggings can go for upwards of $70, but you can find plenty of $40-$60 options, and the site semi-frequently offers discounts. Nike items also have a good price-per-wear breakdown thanks to an expert handle on performance engineering and technical materials across categories.

There’s something for athletes of pretty much every sport: running, golf, soccer, training, tennis, basketball, softball, skateboarding, swim, and lacrosse — and all different types of gear, from women’s running shoes to swimwear and compression layers. And they’ve expanded their activewear to have more inclusive sizes (from XS to 3X) and styles (for example, high-performance hijab options). That being said, its sizing can be hard to nail down, especially for sports bras that notoriously run small. –Mara Leighton

What to buy

Pro Shorts (small)

One Icon Clash 7″ Shorts (small)Icon Clash Tank Running Tank (small)
The best budget workout clothes for women

Amazon’s Core 10 brand makes cheap workout gear that fits and stays put.

Amazon’s Core 10 makes workout gear that is comfortable, sweat-wicking, and well-designed for around $25 per item.

Size range: XS-XXL; some styles go up to 3X

Good budget workout gear is incredibly hard to find. While we love the price point, size range, and accessibility of brands like Old Navy Active, performance fabrics and thoughtful design features like light compression and phone pockets will make your workouts far more comfortable, especially if you’re just starting out.

We really like Core 10, one of the uber-popular Amazon-owned fitness brands that makes surprisingly reliable workout gear. In our experience, its bike shorts stay put on runs and do a good job of wicking away sweat. The company makes everything from yoga pants to running capris to sports bras to workout tanks, all usually between $18 and $35. You can even customize your own leggings, choosing the waistband, length, style and color. The brand also just partnered with Reebok to make an exclusive line with the fitness giant.

The fabrics, obviously, aren’t going to compete with the quality of the higher-end leggings or tops. But to supplement your workout closet with a few cheaper pieces or get you into something until you see if your new running hobby is here to stay, Core 10 has you covered.

What to buy

Muscle Tank (small)All Day Comfort High Waist Yoga Short with Side Pockets (small)Longline bra (small)‘Build Your Own’ Flashflex Run Capri Legging (small)

The best women’s workout clothes for runners

Athleta running

Athleta’s running apparel is comfortable, moisture-wicking, reasonably priced, and comes in a wide range of sizes and styles to fit different body types.

Size range: XXS-3X

Among all the running brands on the market, Athleta is our top pick because it nails the sweet spot of price and quality and has a huge range of offerings for runners. When it comes to its running gear, we love that nearly all the tops and bottoms are moisture-wicking and lightweight to keep you flying through your miles.

Its gear is well-designed too, so the majority of the shorts don’t fall down or ride up, and reasonably priced, with most tops falling between $40-50 and shorts $50-60 (its leggings and sports bras are on the pricier end at $70-100 and $50-60, respectively).

In addition to price and quality, we love the fit of Athleta’s clothing. For starters, the brand offers a wide range of sizes on 70% of its portfolio, from XXS to 3X, and plans to offer extended sizing across all categories by the end of 2022.

What’s more, everything tends to run at least one size bigger compared to how other athletic brands are sized, which is refreshing in a world of sizing that makes you feel bad about yourself. Overall, this fosters a more positive and body-inclusive running community.

What to buy

Phenomena Bra B-DD (small)Vapor Scoop Tank (small)Ultimate Stash Pocket 7″ Short (small)Accelerate Shortie (small)

The best workout clothes for women that’s worth-the-splurge

The best worth-the-splurge women's workout clothes - Femme people standing in workout gear by a mountain

Lululemon gear fits well and flatters most figures, performs for all types of workouts, and holds up through many washes, making it worth the splurge.

Size range: 0-20

You don’t have to drop tons of money to get a good workout in, but, if you choose the right brand, smartly investing in $100+ leggings or $60 workout shorts can deliver not only more luxurious and comfortable fabric but also more nuanced and thoughtful designs that make your workout (or errands) more comfortable. Lululemon is the apex of that worth-the-splurge market.

People from our team have tried tons of different items from Lululemon, and I have personally worn an array of tops, bottoms, bras, jackets, even scrunchies from the brand (the perks of seven years as a fitness writer).

For starters, all its gear just looks higher quality and more put together, which is a priority for some people. But moreover, everything is pretty well designed and stays put whether you’re moving through a yoga flow or hitting box jumps at CrossFit.

Its leggings and shorts come with small nice-to-haves like phone and key pockets, strategically-placed reflective features for dark runs, and, most notably, adjustable ties on the inside of the waistband so you can synch the bottoms tighter for a more flattering fit and comfortable workout. Most of my leggings and tops from the brand have been washed dozens and dozens (and dozens) of times and still have a rich color and sleek look (although the Align leggings notoriously pill inside the thighs).

To top it off, its cuts and styles are very flattering for pretty much every figure (although everything fits small so the sizing is frustrating for most women).

What to buy

Fast and Free Tight II 25″ Non-Reflective Nulux (small)All Tied Up Tank (small)Enlite Bra Weave High Support (small)Align Super High Rise Short 10″ (small)Speed Up Shorts (small)

The best sustainable workout clothes for women

Girlfriend Collective - femme people standing in a row in workout gear

Girlfriend Collective’s workout clothing is thoughtfully designed with buttery-soft fabric for a wide range of sizes, and everything from its fabrics to its packaging is mostly or 100% recycled materials.

Size range: XXS-XXXL

The cult-brand Girlfriend Collective is one of our favorite women’s workout brands, and they just so happen to be sustainably made. Let’s start with the fact that the brand designs its activewear to fit a huge range of body types and its leggings and sports bras are beloved by everyone from a size small to a size XXXL for their comfort and cuteness.

Then, the brand uses recycled materials for everything, most often post-consumer water bottles that have been turned into soft, recycled yarn, but also sometimes the factory-floor scraps of that fabric.

Mostly though, we love Girlfriend collective because of its minimalist approach to its designs, offering all the basics, but designed near-perfect and in a range of coordinated colors. Its classic leggings are actually the perfect pair: high-waisted, slightly compressive, squat-proof, and made with super soft fabric crafted from 25 recycled post-consumer plastic bottles (79% recycled polyester).

Its low-impact sports bras are made from the same recycled polyester (from 11 bottles), while they probably won’t support you through box jumps and jump rope, they are cut with a wide rib band so you can wear the set sans shirt to rock that uber-cute monochrome kit look during yoga, hikes, weight-lifting days, or just running out for coffee.

The brand also makes bike shorts, fun (and functional) unitards, and a bunch of loungewear like joggers and fleeces, all of which are made from mostly or entirely recycled materials. The activewear runs on the pricier side (although still cheaper than a lot of its competitors) but you’re paying for higher quality and better sustainability practices.

What to buy

Paloma Bra (small)High Waist Full-Length Leggings (small)Bike Unitard (small)R&R Lightweight Jogger (small)

 

 

The best plus-size workout clothes for women

Superhero Fit - femme people standing in a row in workout gear

Superhero Fit uses soft fabrics, flat-lock seams for minimal chafing, and specifically designs its apparel to support and move with sizes Large and up.

Size range: L-7XL

Despite the fact that the average woman is a size 16 or 18 (XL-2X), it is incredibly difficult to find many options for great workout gear above a size 12, let alone, say, a size 24, which is when the fashion industry ventures into “plus-size” or “extended sizing.” However, there are a few plus-size athletic apparel brands that excel at what they do.

One of the newer darlings on the block is Superhero Fit, a brand of high-quality, sweat-wicking activewear designed specifically for people sizes L thru 7X. It doesn’t have a huge selection, but the brand makes one awesome sports bra, one legging, one Capri, and one bike short, each in a variety of colorways (and the option to go monochrome, which we love).

Each piece of activewear is designed using ultra-soft, sweat-wicking, quick-dry fabric with slight compression, strategic gusseting for mobility, and flat-lock seams to minimize chafing. The sports bra supports medium-high impact activities.

When we talked with a group of plus-size outdoor adventurers on what gear they can’t live without, multiple women said they’re obsessed with how comfortable and supportive Superhero Fit is.

What to buy

Superhold Pocket Leggings (small)Superhold Pocket Capris (small)Superhold Sports Bra (small)Superhold Pocket Bike Shorts (small)

The best outdoorsy workout clothes for women

The best place to buy outdoorsy clothes for women

When you need technical fabrics with UPF, merino wool, and abrasion resistance, Title Nine has some of the best clothes to move in without breaking the bank.

Size range: XS-XL, 4-12

Finding technical clothing that actually fits American female bodies is one of the biggest gripes in the outdoor industry. Title Nine makes outdoor gear specifically designed for hips, booties, and any curves you’re rocking.

What’s more, it has every type of outdoorsy woman covered, whether you like to hike in super technical pants with a ton of pockets, or you prefer form-fitting leggings; whether you like your adventure gear to be loose and breezy or more curve-hugging and flattering.

All of its gear is designed to hit that sweet spot of fashion and function. Its hiking shorts are the perfect length to flatter and prevent chafe, and they hold up against the elements; its sun shirts are quick-dry, offer UPF 50, and come in an array of necklines in case you want something a little showier; and the brand even makes girly gear like sweat-wicking, move-with-your-body dresses, skirts, skorts, and rompers.

To top it off, its prices are in a reasonable category considering not only the technical fabrics and thoughtful features used in the designs, but also the sky-high prices across competitors in the outdoor apparel industry.

What to buy

Sunbuster 2.0 Full Zip Hoodie Sun Shirt (small)Indestructible 2.0 Hiking Shorts (small)Level Up Dress (small)Clamber Pants (small)

The best-looking workout clothes for women

The best place to buy cute women's workout clothes - people running wearing Outdoor Voices workout gear

Outdoor Voices is The Brand for Instagram-worthy workout sets, and the quality and fit of its activewear make it well-worth the buy.

Size range: XS to XL, sometimes XXS thru XXXL

Perhaps the original Instagram darling, Outdoor Voices is well known for its flattering designs, bright colors, and matching workout sets. Its leggings, shorts, sports bras, and tops are all made from high-quality, sweat-wicking material that keeps you cool and comfortable everywhere from the gym to a hike to running errands.

What really sets Outdoor Voices apart from competitors are its on-trend colorways (this season is full of pale lemon and bright pink) and its flattering fits. The best-selling Hudson shorts, for example, are high-waisted and cut in a way that lifts and flatters your booty. Its shorts never cut in at the waist or give you chafing between the thighs. Its best-selling Doing Things Bra has a super comfortable rib band, flattering scoop neck, and a stylish back to help provide medium support.

Perhaps the most noteworthy option among OV’s collection is its cult Exercise Dress (I own three colors), which has a lightweight, onesie spandex under layer and with a looser overlay so you can run, jump, play, and sweat without worrying about anything falling out, all while looking ridiculously cute.

The brand isn’t the most size-inclusive with the majority of its line only running from XS to XL. But if that is your size, we love that you can mix and match OV pieces to create eye-catching, monochrome kits.

What to buy

Hudson 2.5″ Short (small)The Exercise Dress (small)Rectrek Shorts (small)Move Free Tank (small)

Read the original article on Business Insider

Yoga experts debunk 12 yoga myths

  • Two yoga teachers debunk 12 myths about yoga. They explain ways pregnant people can safely practice.
  • They also debunk the idea that yoga is a religion and isn’t a way to convert people to Hinduism.
  • They even mention how you don’t have to be flexible to do yoga. It’s something everyone can do.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Tejal Patel: “You shouldn’t do yoga if you’re pregnant.”

Jesal Parikh: Ugh. Really?

Parikh: “Yoga is a religion.”

Parikh: Ooh, this is a controversial one.

Patel: “You have to be flexible to do yoga.”

Patel: Eh. Can we just, like, rip that up, throw it away, and never remember that was ever said, ever again?

Patel: My name is Tejal Patel. My pronouns are she, her, and hers. I am a yoga teacher, I’m a community organizer, and I’m a podcaster. I started learning about yoga my whole life, and I’ve been teaching for about seven or eight years.

Parikh: Hi, my name is Jesal Parikh. My pronouns are she, her, and hers, and I’m a yoga teacher, a podcaster, and an industry disruptor. I’ve been doing yoga since I was a kid, but I started teaching about 10 years ago.

Patel: Yoga is an ancient living tradition, and it’s also a spiritual practice.

Parikh: But it’s become a fitness program and a fad.

Patel: We’re trying to change that by dispelling some myths about what people think is yoga and what yoga really is.

Parikh: “Yoga is just exercise.”

This is the biggest myth of them all, I think, for sure. This is the change that’s come with time and translation over to the Western hemisphere. It’s definitely not just an exercise, it’s a spiritual practice with ancient traditions. It’s an eight-limb path.

Patel: Yoga can include breath work. It can include learning how to meditate. It can include being better towards yourself, being better towards others. There’s so many things that yoga practice can teach us that calling it “just exercise” is a huge disservice to the actual practice, the culture it came from, and to you as a person practicing yoga.

Parikh: “This pose is Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward-Facing Dog).”

Patel: So, many people know this pose translated to be Downward-Facing Dog Pose, but you can also translate this pose to be Mountain Pose. You can explore so many different lineages in yoga. And when you do that, you’ll find that different poses or poses that look the same have different names depending on the lineage. And that’s kind of the beauty of yoga.

Patel: “You should try to keep your back straight.”

Parikh: I see this cue given all the time in Seated Forward Fold, so Paschimottanasana. I see it given in Uttanasana, Standing Forward Fold. I also sometimes hear it in Downward-Facing Dog as well. Unless you have an acute back injury that prevents you from rounding your back, I would say try it both ways. Try it with a straight spine and a rounded back, because both skills are valuable. The straight spine is often equated to the hip hinge, which a lot of people don’t necessarily understand how to do in their body. It allows you to use some of your inner core muscles to stabilize, and that’s a good thing, but it’s also a really good thing to learn how to use flexion in your spine and also start to load that over time so that when you do bend over to pick up your groceries and your back is rounded, you don’t throw out your back. The only unsafe movement or alignment for your body is the one you’re not prepared for.

Patel: “Your shin should be parallel to the mat in Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose).”

You can take this pose in any variation, in any way that feels OK for you. When I cue this pose, I offer as many props as possible, and you know what? You don’t have to lay forward in this pose. You don’t have to turn, you don’t have to backbend. You can do what feels right to you.

Parikh: What is this pose supposed to accomplish? For some people, that might mean finding some flexibility in their hips, and for others, it’s more of a spiritual, deeper practice, in which case it doesn’t really matter what the pose looks like.

Parikh: “You should twist as far as you can in Parivrtta Utkatasana (Revolved Chair Pose).”

You’re not gonna reach nirvana just by twisting as far as you can. This pose, in the way that it’s cued, going into the twist as much as you can is definitely not going to be appropriate for people who are experiencing SI joint pain or for pregnant women, but for everyone else, it’s OK. It’s just a matter of, you know, what’s their history with their spine?

Patel: This is a really complex pose. Asking someone to do a more complex pose that has a lot of different actions to it, for the hips, for the spine, stabilizing in the legs, you’re going to want to know what those students are working with. And generally in flow classes, you don’t get all that information before you start. So what I would say to teachers is to be cautious about how you cue this pose, give all the options you can, give everyone the out if they need it, and also create some space for people to come in and out of this shape if they need it.

“When your legs are straight (in a pose), your knees should be locked.”

Parikh: You can lock your knees. It’s more muscularly engaging to not lock your knees and to keep them a little bit bent, but for those people who lack strength, maybe, in a pose and need to rely a little bit more on their joint position, locking the knees can really make the pose a little bit easier for them.

Patel: I hear this cue given a lot when people are being asked to forward fold. And I would say in that pose in particular, definitely micro bend or just go ahead and really bend your knees.

Parikh: It’s just a better idea to start with bent knee and then see how it feels if you want to move towards a straighter leg.

“You should keep your knees stacked over your ankles.”

Parikh: Ah! I loathe this cue so much! It’s one that’s given for “safety reasons,” which, there’s a really backward logic to this.

Patel: I find it puts people back into the mindset of doing something perfectly or poorly, with nothing in between, and when, really, everything in between is where you want to be, in the exploration of it. Some poses you hear this cue used a little bit too often, in my opinion, are any of the standing poses, like Warrior II, Side Angle Pose, revolved variations of any of those poses. I think we can definitely move into more exploration within these poses and in more mobility and more testing things out, because that’s what we do in real life anyway. Like, when we walk up the stairs, we’re not conscious of keeping our knee stacked over the ankle, are we?

Parikh: Yeah, and if we look at pictures of other yoga masters doing this pose, their knee goes way past the ankle, so I don’t know where this cue came from or why, but it’s just wiggled its way into the yoga industry.

Patel: “You shouldn’t do yoga if you’re pregnant.”

Parikh: There’s a whole genre called prenatal yoga filled with great low-impact asana, poses, that you can do if you’re pregnant.

Patel: I think this myth might be around because in certain elements of a yoga practice, you can hold your breath for some of the breath work, or pranayama, practices, and in prenatal, it’s kind of advised not to hold your breath.

Parikh: So, poses to avoid might be deep spinal twists, laying flat on your back, inversions, any breath retention that is vigorous or too aggressive.

Patel: Poses that might feel really nice could be Cat and Cow, in the way that your spine can move. It could be a wide-legged forward fold. Also supporting yourself with a wall, supporting yourself with props in poses, squatting, because that helps you prepare for labor and delivery. Also being in Tabletop and just circling and swaying your hips. Loud breathing, exhalations and sighs. You can, if you want to, ask someone in the medical field whether starting a yoga practice during your pregnancy is a good idea. Maybe some things you haven’t tried before in your yoga practice you might not want to implement while you’re pregnant.

Patel: “You have to be flexible to do yoga.” Eh. Can we just, like, rip that up, throw it away, never remember that?

Parikh: This myth comes from the idea that yoga is just a bunch of poses and that it’s just a fitness practice, when the reality is you can do yoga every day without doing a single pose ever.

Patel: It’s also assuming that you did some prep work to start your yoga practice. Yoga is the entry point. And I think it just prevents people from thinking that yoga is for them, when the reality is yoga is for everybody. You can start at any point, at any age, and you can keep going, no matter what your flexibility level is.

Patel: “Sukhasana, aka The Easy Pose, is easy.”

Parikh: Definitely not an easy pose, definitely misnamed pose, I think in many people’s opinions.

Patel: People use their bodies really differently. They might be sitting on the floor to eat, they might be squatting to sweep, and, culturally, we just don’t do that as much. So I recommend a lot of support and a lot of preparation before attempting this pose.

Parikh: “The more advanced the pose, the better it is for you.”

Patel: You might see on Instagram, all over the place, “handstand yogis,” quote, unquote. All they’re doing is very strong, muscularly focused posturing. If that’s your cup of tea, great. But it doesn’t make you a more advanced yogi. Sorry to burst the bubble on that.

Parikh: The most advanced yoga pose is sitting quietly and meditating. So if you can manage to block out your thoughts and focus inward and just breathe and sit without anything going through your mind, that, I think, is like, all hail to you if you can do that.

Parikh: “Yoga is a religion.” Ooh, this is a controversial one, with lots of opinions out there. Yoga itself is not a religion, but it is a spiritual practice.

Patel: Everyone wants to know if yoga is Hindu or not. And the answer is yes and no.

Parikh: Hinduism and yoga are both rooted in the Vedas. And so the relationship between the two is that they both have a Vedic lineage.

Patel: And, yes, modern-day Hinduism includes yoga, but modern-day Hinduism is also very different from Vedic Hinduism. It has evolved. And so has yoga. Yoga exists both within Hinduism and outside of it. Basically, it’s both Hindu and non-Hindu.

Parikh: So if you’re not choosing to be Hindu, you can still respect the culture from where this comes from, which is the Vedic culture, which is the Indian culture.

Patel: Just because you’re chanting “om” or sitting in a cross-legged seated position, that doesn’t make you Hindu. I think to be a good yoga teacher, there has to be relationship building with the community that you’re giving the yoga practices to. And I also think to be a good yoga teacher, you have to remember that yoga is a rich cultural tradition and a spiritual practice. Learning about the practices that come from South Asia can look like taking classes with teachers who are South Asian. It can look like starting to diversify your yoga bookshelf by seeking out authors that have South Asian heritage or backgrounds. It could start to look like thinking about the music you might play. If you play music as a teacher in your yoga classes, can you start to diversify your playlist? We have a lot of options, and we’d love for you to take us up on the workshop to learn more.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Echelon’s Connect Sport exercise bike is discounted for Walmart’s Deals for Days sales event – save $100 and get a free month of Echelon United and FitPass

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Walmart Deals for Days 2021 discount Echelon Connect Sport exercise bike
Echelon’s Connect Sport exercise bike is $100 off during Walmart’s ‘Deals for Days’ event

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

If you’ve had your eye on an exercise bike but have yet to pull the trigger, let this be the nudge you need: Right now during Walmart’s Deals for Days event, a competing Amazon Prime Day sale, the Echelon’s Connect Sport exercise bike is discounted by $100, bringing its price down to $497 – which is one of the best deals we’ve seen on it since Black Friday.

Not only is that one of the lowest prices we’ve seen on the bike, but Walmart’s also throwing in a free 30-day membership to Echelon United and FitPass. With Echelon United, members have access to a growing library of live and on-demand spin classes, while FitPass is the brand’s off-bike service, offering HIIT, yoga, and strength training classes (among many others).

While we’re big fans of Echelon’s high-end exercise bike, the EX5S, the Connect Sport is actually a far better deal – especially now considering it’s discounted during Walmart’s Deals for Days event. The Connect Sport features an easy-to-use resistance dial that spans 32 different levels, a comfortable, ergonomic design, and adjustable toe cage pedals (so you won’t need to buy spin shoes).

Connect Sport Exercise Bike (medium)

Is the Echelon Connect Sport a good exercise bike?

Though it may not have as many bells and whistles as, say, the Peloton Bike+ or NordicTrack’s S22i, the Connect Sport is a great entry-level exercise bike that delivers an effective cardio workout. There’s no touchscreen display or automatically adjusting resistance (even the original Peloton didn’t have this), but the rest of the Connect Sport, like its design, ride experience, and durability, put in on par with many higher-end bikes.

And don’t let the lack of that touchscreen sway you; the Connect Sport’s handlebars feature dedicated space for you to use a screen of your own, be it a smartphone or tablet.

The fact this bike’s on sale for under $500 while also coming with a free month of unlimited access to streaming classes makes it that much more of an attractive deal.

EX-15 Smart Connect Fitness Bike (medium)

Can I stream Peloton classes with this bike?

Since the Connect Sport doesn’t have its own onboard touchscreen, you’re able to freely stream any fitness class or service you like, so long as you have something to stream it on (e.g., a smartphone, tablet, computer, or streaming device). This includes Peloton’s Digital Membership, NordicTrack’s iFit, or any other brand that offers on-demand classes.

Do keep in mind that Walmart’s Deals for Days discount does come with a free 30-day membership to Echelon United, the brand’s streaming library of live and on-demand classes. This means that you’ll have at least one free month of unlimited content before needing to pay for access (which is $40 per month).

Will Walmart hold a sale during Amazon Prime Day 2021?

Walmart will hold its own Deals for Days event from June 20 to 23, an entire day before and outlasting Amazon Prime Day 2021. Some deals are already live, so you can start saving now.

If this sounds familiar, Walmart did the same thing last year. Walmart’s Big Save Event in 2020 ran from October 13 through 15 – a full day longer than Prime Day. The event featured a wide variety of deals available around the clock, with many going out of stock well before the sale ended.

Are Walmart’s Deals for Days worth buying?

If prior sales events are any indicator, many of Walmart’s Prime Day deals are worth buying. Many tend to directly compete with the sales we see via Amazon and retailers like Target and Best Buy during the event. Some may even be the best prices we’ve seen for certain products. Check out our guide to the best deals from the event happening now.

What deals should I expect from Walmart during its Deals for Days event?

Along with announcing the date for Walmart’s Deals for Days event, Walmart provided a sneak peek at some big discounts you can expect from the event.

We also expect Walmart’s sale to feature many of the same product categories it has in the past. This includes entertainment, tech, kitchen appliances, robot vacuums, upright vacuums, and video games.

Do I need a Walmart Plus membership?

Though Walmart hasn’t mentioned what event-specific perks Walmart Plus members get during Deals for Days, they’re still able to reap the same benefits they do year-round when shopping the sale. That includes free same-day delivery, two-day shipping, next-day shipping, and the newly-added Rx for less.

If you’re interested in sampling the membership, you can try it out for 15 days, free. If you sign up now, you’ll be covered during the Deals for Days event on June 20.

15-Day Free Trial (small)

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 7 best fitness trackers we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Fitness trackers do more than log workout data – they provide wearers in-depth analysis of their overall health.
  • Today’s trackers offer everything from sleep and recovery tracking to advanced training feedback.
  • Our top pick, the Suunto 7, is a full-featured smartwatch slash fitness tracker that tracks more than 70 activities.

Fitness trackers have come a long way since Fitbit introduced it’s first clip-on wearable in 2008. Though essentially a glorified pedometer, it pales in comparison to what’s available today, despite how inherently innovative it was at the time.

Today’s fitness trackers are akin to having a full-on personal trainer on your wrist that counts your every step, tracks each burned calorie, and logs your activity. Even run-of-the-mill budget models offer more advanced insight into your daily activity than those 2008-era clip-ons.

And it’s because of that growing utility that fitness trackers are becoming increasingly popular, even going so far as to take the place of some people’s everyday watch. It makes sense, too. Why not sport a single wearable that deeply tracks your everyday activity, provides insight into your health profile, and still reliably tells time?

But the real question people ask themselves is not whether they should wear one or not but rather, which should they wear? As the fitness editor for Insider Reviews, I’ve worn the lion’s share of fitness trackers currently available, some good, some bad, and some that have managed to straddle both of those descriptors.

This means I’ve spent (and continue to spend) plenty of time learning the ins, outs, and otherwise of modern fitness trackers, all in the name of finding those worth owning. So, to help you figure out which current fitness tracker best fits your personal activity style and fitness preference, I’ve compiled the following guide of my favorites.

At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some insight into what to keep in mind while shopping for a fitness tracker, as well as a few deals on some of the fitness trackers featured.

Here are the best fitness trackers:

The best deals on fitness trackers from this guide

Fitness trackers help you keep track of your body’s activities — from sleep to intense workouts. Depending on your specific needs, a good tracker can cost you over $150; luckily, we see discounts for them all of the time. Brands like Garmin and Fitbit are popular during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with the Fitbit Charge 3 dropping as low as $80 last year. Our other picks also saw similar discounts.

7 (medium)Versa 3 (medium)

Shop the same prices from Walmart’s Deals for Days and other competing sales:

Charge 4 (medium)

Shop the same prices from Walmart’s Deals for Days and other competing sales:

Watch Series 6 (40mm, GPS) (medium)

Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.

The best fitness tracker overall

IMG_5791

The Suunto 7 is a robust fitness tracker that offers support for more than 70 activities, has basic smartwatch features, and provides highly useful workout feedback.  

Pros: Activity tracking for over 70 activities, including everything from running and cycling to snowboarding and hiking, in-depth fitness tracking, offers workout feedback, accurate GPS, lets you download maps for offline use

Cons: App experience is clunky, expensive

Though Suunto isn’t the first name to come to mind when talking about fitness trackers, its 7 smartwatch slash tracker is one of the most impressive wearables I’ve ever tested. Suunto only released the 7 in 2020 but it’s spent almost that entire time on my wrist (when I’m not testing other trackers for this guide), and routinely impresses me and provides exactly what I want out of a fitness tracker: in-depth feedback, accurate activity tracking, and a wide variety of use cases. 

Not only am I able to track any run or bike ride I go on, but it also offers support for other activities like snowboarding, hiking, swimming, or even just walking (among literally so many others). The user’s manual states that it covers more than 70 activities, but do take that with a grain of salt; some of the activities it tracks just account for length of activity and your heart rate. That means it’s not actually tracking advanced stats for things like tennis or basketball.

Even if you aren’t a multisport athlete, the 7 still offers plenty to take advantage of. Its GPS function (even one year later) is highly accurate and reliable, both while I run through my neighborhood in Brooklyn or bike longer distances across the entire NYC area. It offers offline map support for those who like to ditch their smartphone and head into the backcountry (and make it out safe) and also has smartwatch capability by offering smartphone notification support. 

And although its price tag may shock on first glance ($400 is a lot to spend on a mere wearable), it more than makes up for that investment with everything it offers. Because it can be utilized and benefited from by such a wide range of active users makes it one of the most versatile fitness trackers available — and one I plan on continuing to wear for many years.

The best multisport fitness tracker

Person wearing a Coros Apex fitness tracker

The Apex from Coros is a multisport athletes dream: It offers in-depth support for a range of activities, it has excellent battery life, and a comfortable fit that almost makes you forget you’re wearing it.

Pros: Long battery life, even while using GPS, multisport functionality that goes beyond just tracking heart rate, comfortable design, great app experience, perfect for triathletes, built in GPS

Cons: The screen can be too dim at times, easy to accidentally press the dials to change modes

If you spend much of your active time doing something different from the day before, then the Coros Apex is the fitness tracker you need. It’s especially adept at tracking running, biking, and swimming, making it the perfect for the budding or seasoned triathlete. 

But that’s not only who the Apex is for; Coros consistently updates the watch’s software to add new activities and modes, including sports like snowboarding, gym cardio, and hiking. This only adds to its versatility and the new added modes do a good job of being accessible and easy-to-use as soon as they’re available. 

The Apex truly proves its worth for ultrarunners. Thanks to excellent battery life, highly accurate GPS, and a dedicated trail running mode, it’s the watch a grab for when I know I’m going to be out for a long run that won’t just consist of running on the sidewalk or through my local park. It’s comfortable design makes it easy to wear for long periods of time, too, without irritating my wrist or becoming a drag on my running form. 

Though these are its high points, the Apex does also offer basic fitness tracking capability in the form of heart rate, steps, calories, and so on, so it’s not just for advanced athletes. Rather, it’s great for anyone looking to spend more time running, biking, or cycling, and who has an inclination to try new activities.

It’s $300 price point puts it solidly in the middle in terms of other watches featured in this guide but its incredible capability make it highly worth the expense. 

The best Fitbit fitness tracker

Fitbit versa 3

Fitbit’s Versa 3 combines the brand’s excellent fitness tracking tech with in-depth smartwatch capability, unique sleep tracking, and a clean design reminiscent of the Apple Watch

Pros: Automatic activity tracking, built-in GPS, in-depth sleep tracking and exercise data, great battery life, offers unique mindful minutes feature, and is water resistant up to 50 meters

Cons: Doesn’t always automatically sync

Fitbit’s line of Versa watches ushered in the brand’s first foray into smartwatch territory, and the resulting products (from the original Versa to today’s Versa 3) has been a triumph. Each combine the in-depth and reliable fitness tracking Fitbit’s built its name on with functional smartwatch features and a clean, stylish (and recognizable) design. 

Not only is the Versa 3 the latest in this new-ish product category for Fitbit, but it’s also the brand’s best. It has built-in (and accurate) GPS, is water resistant up to 50 meters, and offers excellent battery life, meaning you won’t have to worry about throwing it on its charger each nigh.

That last part is an important distinction, too, as the Versa 3 provides wearers with in-depth sleep tracking, including how much REM sleep you get, how much you toss and turn, and when you’re sleeping lightly. During my tests, I was amazed at how tumultuous my night of sleep can be — and the data allowed me to try to fix certain things about how I sleep, or when to start winding down to give myself the best chance for solid rest. Though this is starting to pop up on more fitness trackers today, I’ve found the Versa 3 to provide one of the better, more insightful experiences. 

From a tracking perspective, the Versa 3 shines. I really enjoyed the automatic tracking function, which allowed me to immediately start running after I put my shoes on instead of navigating a menu just to hit Start. This may seem a minor feature but I ended up using it far more than I thought I would.

The other major component of the Versa 3 is its smartwatch capability. Though the features won’t blow you away, I found that it did still function exactly as I needed, providing me quick glances at notifications without having to pull my phone out of my pocket (or locate it in my apartment). Android users get more features, like voice-to-text responses, but it still functioned well, albeit quite basic, with my iPhone. 

The best basic fitness tracker

Fitbit Charge 4

If exercising is part of your routine, you’ll love being able to track your workout in real-time on the bright, easy-to-read screen of the Fitbit Charge 4

Pros: Comfortable design, easy to read display, built-in heart rate monitor, in-depth sleep tracking, advanced workout features, real-time workout tracking on-screen, long battery life, user-friendly app

Cons: No music storage, basic black & white display

The Fitbit Charge 4 is the successor to the Fitbit Charge 3 (our previous recommendation as the best fitness tracker for workouts), with a handful of features that set it apart from past versions.

Specifically, it now features built-in GPS. I did find the GPS to not be as accurate as others in this guide (even its Fitbit kin, the Versa 3) but it did function well enough that it’s worth having on the watch.  

In addition to counting steps like any good fitness tracker should, the Charge 4 also measures stairs climbed, calories burned, resting and active heart rate, and offers in-depth sleep tracking. It even shows which type of sleep you’re in: light, deep, or REM. You can also see how your habits stack up against those of other people your age via the app. 

If you’re feeling stressed, this tracker also offers breathing exercises to help you relax. And, diving into more of the workout features, the Charge 4 has dedicated functions for recording a wide range of activities, including running, cycling, cardio, and strength training. There’s even a timer option for HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). It also lets you pause and resume workouts, and if you do forget to tell it you’re starting an activity or workout it can automatically detect a session and start monitoring it.

The best budgt fitness tracker

Person running with the Garmin Forerunner 35

The Forerunner 35 utilizes so much of what makes Garmin one of the best fitness tracker brands on the market, including accurate GPS, reliable activity tracking, and a sleek, comfortable design.

Pros: Great battery life, plenty of functionality despite its basic design, lightweight, waterproof, built-in GPS

Cons: No swimming mode despite its waterproof design, GPS signal can be slow to lock on

Often when you see the words “budget” and “fitness tracker” next to each other, you find a wearable offering the most basic of function and tracking capability. Then there’s the Garmin Forerunner 35. Though vanilla in design, the Forerunner 35 is anything but “budget” in what it offers yet still has a very reasonable price tag of less than $100.

If you’ve ever used a Garmin fitness tracker or smartwatch before, you know just how capable its ecosystem is — and the 35, though inexpensive, is no different. It features 24/7 heart rate monitoring, accurate GPS tracking, and compatibility with running and cycling (among a few others). 

What I liked best about the 35 during my tests was its attention to running features that more expensive watches just don’t have, specifically its running cadence analysis and an interval training mode. With the run cadence feature, I was able to have a more in-depth look into my mechanics and could make more informed adjustments. For advanced runners, this data is invaluable. 

Navigation-wise, the Forerunner 35 is a breeze. Just a few buttons flank the bezel, each of which are straightforward in allowing you to access the watch’s suite of features. It won’t wow you in terms of design but this is one of the best bang-for-buck fitness trackers on the market. 

The best fitness tracker smartwatch

Apple Watch 6 Yellow

The latest Apple Watch (the Series 6) continues the tech company’s dominance in the smartwatch space, offering wearers a versatile fitness tracker that’s full-featured, easy to use, and incredibly powerful.

Pros: Wide range of accurate activity tracking, clean, stylish design, great for iPhone users, easy-to-read always on touchscreen display, music integration

Cons: Battery life isn’t that great (you’ll be recharging it almost everyday)

You can’t have a guide to the best fitness trackers without the appearance of the Apple Watch — it’s that good. And aside from its quality, the Apple Watch is also one of the most important fitness wearables thanks to its ability to seamlessly blend fitness tracking and smartwatch capability. Other trackers in this guide offer something similar but Apple’s wearable is by far and away the best to do it. 

From a fitness tracking perspective, it has a deep offering of trackable activities but excels with your basics like running, swimming, and cycling. There’s even a Nike version of the watch that comes with the Nike Run Club app pre-installed, so you know Apple intends for this to be on the wrist of a runner.

It works really well in practice, too. The watch was always quite comfortable on my wrist, even on longer runs or bike rides, and the screen is really easy to read mid-activity. Its GPS isn’t as quick as the Suunto 7 but it wasn’t as fussy as my experience with Fitbit’s Charge 4. When it does finally sync, it’s quite accurate and routinely produced that same accuracy over days and weeks of testing. 

The Series 6 is rounded out by both its smartwatch offerings and advanced health analytics. There’s sleep tracking, a blood oxygen sensor, an ECG reader, and even handwash tracking. I didn’t find myself using everything all the time but it was nice knowing I had access to some of the more in-depth features whenever I wanted. Being able to respond to text messages and use it as a true smartwatch made it that much more valuable to me (especially as an iPhone user). 

The best fitness tracker for recommended workouts

Garmin Forerunner 745 build quality and features

The Forerunner 745 is the perfect representation of the power of Garmin’s ecosystem, offering wearers fine-tuned workout recommendations and valuable fitness insight in an easy-to-use package.  

Pros: Huge variety of trackable activities, built-in pulse oximeter and accurate heart-rate monitor, motivating recommended workouts and detailed accuracy as you wear it more, offers valuable fitness insight, excellent battery life

Cons: Menu system can be clunky, expensive

Garmin’s long made highly advanced fitness trackers that have always done well to satiate the needs of hardcore athletes. With the Forerunner 745, it brings that in-depth approach to a wider audience, providing highly valuable fitness insight and feedback to anyone, regardless of how active they are. 

The beauty of this watch rests with the advanced data it provides. During workouts, the 745 displays everything from time active and heart rate to distance covered and pace. Each of which are highly useful in the moment if you’re interval training or aiming for a certain time on a run or bike ride. It’s also quite easy to customize this screen so you have exactly what you want, when you want it. 

Though that in-the-moment date is great, it’s what the watch offers after the activity (or between workouts) that’s even better. This includes challenging workout recommendations that adapt to your output, the ideal amount of rest you need between activities (which is highly important), and customized training plans. Neither of these are just tacked-on, too, and I found myself gravitating toward them more and more as I tested the watch even though I’ve always preferred my own workouts to anything pre-written for me. 

Its tracking accuracy is also highly precise, and I found it to be similar to that of Suunto’s 7 and the Apple Watch Series 6. It syncs with GPS rather quickly and would consistently produce the very similar metrics (both in terms of distance and pace) no matter if I was cycling or running. 

If there was something to nitpick about the Forerunner 745, it’d be it’s clunky menu system. Like most Garmin watches, the OS isn’t exactly intuitive, though it does get easier the more you use it (as would anything). It’s not enough to be a dealbreaker, especially considering how much else this watch does that’s superior to most fitness trackers currently available. 

How to shop for a fitness tracker

Those looking for a device dedicated to tracking daily activity, workouts, and sleep have a vast number of choices even without including members of the smartwatch family. To help you decide on the best fitness tracker for your needs, there are a few things to take into consideration:

Comfort and design: Since you’ll wear the tracker daily (even to bed for sleep tracking), comfort is a high priority. If it’s not comfortable, you won’t want to wear it; plain and simple. The same goes for design. If you have a small wrist, you may want a tracker with a sleek, understated look. Fitness trackers come in all shapes and sizes, so you’ll be able to find one that suits your style.

Features: Not all fitness trackers are created equal when it comes to features. If you’re looking for a no-frills fitness tracker, then one that only tracks steps and your sleep habits may suffice. However, if you work out often or want insight into how your activity impacts your overall health, a more advanced tracker with a heart rate monitor or built-in GPS may be the one for you.

You should also consider the types of workouts you like to do. For example, if you’re a swimmer, waterproofing is a must. Just starting out on your fitness journey? A device that coaches you and gives you goals to work towards may provide the extra motivation you need to stay on track.

App experience: Most fitness trackers are designed to work in tandem with your smartphone, syncing the data collected with a downloaded application. This allows you to gain even more insight into your health and save the information collected to track your progress over time.

Unfortunately, not all companion apps are that effective and you may find there are some experiences you prefer over others. It’s important to choose a fitness tracker that gives you a good app experience. Easy navigation and compatibility with your phone’s operating system are a must.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Best Early Amazon Prime Day Fitbit Deals 2021

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Several FitBits on Orange Background - FitBit Deals Amazon Prime Day 2021

Fitbit is one of the most reputable names in fitness wearables and rightly so – the brand offers a huge variety of fitness and health trackers and smartwatches at different price points for different people’s needs.

Whether you’re a serious runner who wants to track their mileage or someone who just wants to improve their health and set a few fitness goals, you won’t have to look far to find a Fitbit catered to your active lifestyle.

Taking advantage of sales during Amazon Prime Day has historically been one of the best ways to join in on the Fitbit craze at a discount – and this year is no different. Amazon just announced that Prime Day 2021 will run on June 21-22 start at midnight PDT on June 21 and run through the end of June 22. All new or existing Amazon Prime members (new members get a free 30-day trial when they sign up) are able to take advantage of the deal.

Prime 30-Day Free Trial (small)

We don’t yet know all the deals, but during last year’s sale, Fitbit discounted its popular Versa 2 (and Versa 2 Special Edition) and Versa Lite smartwatches, as well as its smart scale, the Aria Air.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Early Prime Day 2021 Fitbit deals happening now

If you’re on the fence about buying either activity tracker, or even if you just want to give a Fitbit as a gift, Prime Day 2021 is the perfect time to take the leap – and it lets you save some money in the process. Check out our Fitbit buying guide for more information on the brand’s trackers and which might be the best fit for your lifestyle.

Versa 3 (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Versa 2 (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Sense (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Charge 4 (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Inspire 2 (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

What Fitbit deals do we expect during Prime Day this year?

Prime Day 2021 deals have yet to be announced but last year, we saw serious discounts on some of the top Fitbit models. The Versa 2 was discounted by $50 and ran at $129 – and is our top budget Fitbit, perfect for those in the market for a health and fitness tracker or smartwatch without breaking the bank.

The Versa Lite was down from $180 to $125, and its smart scale, the Aria Air, was running at $35, roughly $15 below MSRP.

What Fitbit should I buy?

The Fitbit you buy is a matter of both personal preference and how you intend to use it. Fitbits are great for tracking health metrics like stress, sleep, and resting heart rate, but they’re also amazing for tracking workouts or training for a race or event. Since each model automatically tracks your sleep and activities, which to choose comes down to individual features.

We’ve tried nearly every Fitbit on the market and go into great detail about which is right for whom in our guide to the best Fitbits. But for the quick-hit highlights, here are our top picks:

If you’re looking to become healthier, we love the Fitbit Sense. This tracker has just about every bell and whistle you need from a Fitbit including 20 exercise modes, built-in GPS, water resistance, and in-depth exercise stats. It also has health-specific metrics like oxygen saturation and ECG readings to monitor your heart, electrodermal activity (EDA) readings to analyze your stress levels, and mindfulness programs to help you lower them.

If you just need a tracker to keep you active each day or to help you train for a race, the Charge 4 is budget-friendly, doesn’t take up too much room on your wrist, and has fitness features like built-in GPS, 50m of water resistance, 20 exercise modes, and a long battery life.

Then there’s the Versa 3, a full-featured smartwatch that’s able to fit seamlessly into your daily life and improve everything from your health and fitness to your productivity at work. It’s our favorite overall Fitbit, and features a bright colorface display, long battery life, built-in GPS, and music storage, as well as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant connectivity.

Prime Day 2021 FAQs

What is Amazon Prime Day?

Amazon Prime Day is like Black Friday but exclusively for the online mega-retailer. Amazon runs special promotions and discounts on some of the most coveted items including Kindles, smartphones, smart home gadgets, and more. This year, Prime Day 2021 will start at midnight PDT on June 21 and run through the end of June 22.

When is Amazo Prime Day?

Prime Day 2021 is set to run from midnight on June 21 through the end of June 22. Keep in mind that some deals may not be active or available for the full 48 hours of the sale, so check back to the Prime Day landing page often to see new discounts throughout the event.

Do I need to be a Prime Member?

Yes, you have to be an Amazon Prime member in order to access all Prime Day 2021 deals. If you’ve yet to sign up for the service, Amazon offers a free 30-day trial of Prime via its website. We recommend signing up for the free trial for the sale.

What are the benefits of being a Prime member?

In addition to having access to Amazon’s annual Prime Day sale, Prime members also enjoy a variety of benefits that make the recurring yearly or monthly dues worth the price of admission. These benefits include free two-day shipping on eligible items (where available) and access to the extensive library of movies and television shows on Amazon Prime Video.

Read the original article on Business Insider