The 6 best places to buy women’s workout clothes

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The right workout clothing helps keep inconveniences like overheating, wet patches, and chafing at bay.
  • The best workout apparel offers a combination of high-performance materials, smart design, and versatile style.
  • We recommend Nike‘s workout gear for women overall, as it’s the best blend of price, performance, and variety.
Best activewear for women 4x3

Working out often forces us to feel discomfort. We’re hot, sweaty, tired, and, though we’re not exactly sure, we think we’re beginning to feel the onset of shin splints.

But the right activewear gear makes all the difference. It inhibits nuisances like chafing, wet spots, heat-trapping, blisters, and sometimes injuries. At a baseline, it reduces the number of unnecessary challenges so we can focus on the task at hand. Ideally, it helps us push ourselves a little further, and perform a little better. But, in general, it should simply make the act of moving a more enjoyable experience.

Below, we’ve ranked the best workout brands to shop based on Insider Reviews’ own testing. Each one excels in gear that’s functional, stylish, and performs well. The individual brands offer a variety of strengths: eco-friendly practices, comfortable athleisure, styles that can transition from yoga to the office, greater size ranges, and more inclusive options to name a few.

Here are the best workout clothes for women in 2020:

The best 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. 

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). 

What to buy:

Read more about Nike:

The best budget-friendly

Athleta UPF

While performance pieces have a reputation for being expensive, Athleta provides quality styles at more wallet-friendly price points.

Gap’s Athleta is a great combination of affordability, style, and functionality. Plus, we liked the company’s leggings quite a bit during testing. It also has a wide variety of activewear. Currently, it stocks gear for the following activities: yoga/studio, hike, commute/travel, and run/train. And you may get lucky with frequent discounts, so it’s always worth checking the sale section first. 

However, head-to-head, Nike’s products have a slight edge when it comes to performance and comfort in our experience. But, it’s worth noting that they’re both excellent options we shop at frequently. Athleta is a B-Corp, so if a business’s ethics and practices are factored into your decision, Athleta may win out over Nike. 

What to buy: 

Read more about Athleta:

The best athleisure gear

Patagonia womens

For pieces that perform and are stylish enough to wear anywhere, you’ll want to check out Patagonia

Aside from creating one of the best pairs of athleisure leggings we’ve ever tested, Patagonia makes one of the mainstream culture’s crown jewels of comfort: the Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover. And whether you’re a fan of the label and what it stands for or you couldn’t care less, the brand’s quality and comfort speak for itself

We trust Patagonia as much for form as we do for function. And while its prices aren’t the least (or most) expensive on the market, you’ll get a wide variety of items, a product that’s built to last, and the security of a generous return policy without a tight time limit. It’s also a big perk that the company is a B Corp, has donated 1% of its profit to environmental organizations since the ’80s, and won the UN’s Champions of the Earth award for entrepreneurial vision.

You may get lucky with a seasonal Patagonia sale, but you’ll probably only see discounts on its bestsellers — like the Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover — in select colorways. 

What to buy: 

Read more about Patagonia:

The best size-inclusive

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With sizes ranging from 00-40, Universal Standard has set the, well, standard for inclusive sizing in workout clothing. 

Universal Standard is the place to go for cool, high-quality closet staples available in sizes 00-40. They also tend to offer items in regular, tall, and petite lengths. We love the company’s clothes because they’re comfortable and high-performing — but we’re equally invested in its commitment to making clothes for more people than the industry currently serves, especially since the average American woman is between size 16 to 18.

If you buy a piece from the core collection and, in the future, it no longer fits due to size fluctuation, the company has a Universal Fit Liberty policy that lets you replace it with your new size, within a year of purchase, free of charge. 

However, Universal Standard doesn’t have the most expansive selection, and sometimes stock can be limited in certain bestsellers. 

What to buy: 

Read more about Universal Standard:

The best for durability

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You won’t have to justify splurging when you buy your workout gear from Lululemon. Its styles are created with longevity in mind, which means you’ll save in the long run.

Lululemon is home to some of the best gear for yoga, running, training, and sweating. Its gear is pricey — a pair of plain black leggings can go for nearly $100 — but the comfort, utility, longevity, and style give it an edge that makes a higher upfront cost justifiable if you can comfortably make the splurge.

We’ve found ourselves wearing every piece on repeat, bringing the cost per wear down to something far more manageable. 

What to buy: 

Read more about Lululemon:

The best eco-friendly

Girlfriend Collective

With its size-inclusive styles and priority toward sustainability, Girlfriend Collective provides workout gear you can feel good about wearing. 

Girlfriend Collective has some of the best leggings we’ve ever worn, and we appreciate the brand’s color variety, relatively low price points, and inclusive size range. We also like that Girlfriend Collective currently offers versatility in its colors — 14 total (five essential, and nine limited-edition) — and sizing (it’s available in three inseam lengths and sizes XXS-6XL) in its bestselling leggings. However, we wouldn’t recommend wearing these leggings to a hot yoga class or HIIT given their thickness. 

Another perk is that the company prioritizes sustainability in its materials and processes. Its packaging is 100% recyclable, its compression leggings are made of 79% recycled polyester from 25 post-consumer water bottles, and its Cupro tees are made from 100% cupro, a fiber made from the waste of the cotton industry. And, while cupro saves a reported 682 gallons of water compared to cotton, the company also pledged to donate 10% of its net profits to Charity Water to offset any water usage that may occur during production.

However, slow fashion that’s also in high demand can lead to stock outages, and Girlfriend Collective doesn’t always have what we want available. We also wish it had a larger selection.

What to buy: 

Read more about Girlfriend Collective:

Brands we also recommend

janji, $64

We also considered the following brands for this guide but, for the reasons listed below, didn’t rank them officially. We still recommend them. 

Outdoor Voices

OutdoorVoices makes a few of our favorite athleisure items, and they’re another example of a company that does a great job of balancing form and function. Its gear transitions seamlessly from lounging on the couch to rushing through the airport.

But, we’ve had a few misses in the past with OV products (we’re not super fans of the popular Spring Leggings), and its prices are comparable to Patagonia, with a less generous — but pretty standard — return policy

Tracksmith

Tracksmith makes exceptional and versatile running gear — including some of the best temperature-regulating leggings and layers that I’ve tested. But, they tend to be pretty expensive (its Singlet is $65, and Turnover Half Zip are $128), and their running-focused inventory isn’t as diverse as other options on this list.

Turn Over Half Zip (small)

2XU

I count 2XU as the creator of the best and most breathable compressive running tights that I’ve ever found, but its prices are high across categories (the tights go for $120 on Amazon) with few sales, and the company has fewer categories and offerings than other generalist brands.  

Janji

Janji also makes some of the best workout gear I’ve ever tested — in particular, its short-sleeve T-shirts and windbreaker running jacket. And while the company is running-specific, its gear transitions well to other activities.

But this also means the company doesn’t have a very diverse range of products (though, it’s line continues to expand with new gear every season). Still, I highly recommend shopping here. The company also has a social mission, and while prices on average are a little high, the price-per-wear has been great in our experience.

Alo Yoga

We loved Alo’s Airlift Leggings in our testing, but we can’t confidently say all of its pieces warrant their relatively high prices — though we’ve already found a handful of standouts. And the company carries less diverse inventory than most of the brands mentioned here.

Everlane

With just four styles, Everlane’s activewear selection is on the smaller side — so we didn’t give them a top spot on this list. That said, the brand’s Perform Leggings rank as some of the most comfortable leggings we’ve ever worn. They’re on the thinner side, which means they aren’t sturdy enough for high-intensity workouts, but the Perform Leggings are great for yoga and pilates.  

ADAY

ADAY used to be our pick for “best workout clothes you can wear all day.” And while we love the brand’s stylish leggings and tops, the lack of performance styles it offers made it tough to keep on this list. We still highly recommend ADAY, though, especially if you’re looking for the best leggings you can buy

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The 6 best golf hitting mats of 2021 to improve your swing at home

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Owning a hitting mat means you can practice and improve your golf swing whenever you want.
  • Our top pick is DURA-PRO, which is great for homes while durable like commercial driving-range mats.
  • We found options for all levels, from premium models for pros to budget options for beginners.

The golf swing has been called the athletic movement that most rewards consistency – and most requires upkeep. Practicing at home by hitting into a net or a tarp gives you a much better chance of repeating your swing, which is bound to improve your tempo, balance and consistency. A purpose-built artificial surface for hitting off is vital, because no lawn could handle the wear and tear and no carpet or pad will keep your hands and wrists safe from injury.

Having co-authored many golf instruction books and articles, I’ve learned from top teaching pros which qualities are most desired in a hitting mat. Like other types of golf equipment, these mats have undergone steady improvement through the years.

For the best results, you’ll want to stick to a mat that’s at least four feet by five feet so you can take your proper stance. However, if you prefer to sacrifice on size in the name of price or portability, we have a few options for you too.

Here are the best golf hitting mats

The best overall

DURA PRO Commercial Golf Mat
This mat has commercial-grade features at a more affordable price.

The DURA-PRO Commercial Golf Mat is full-sized at four-by-five feet and range-tested for both durability and the natural-grass feel a superior mat needs.

What we like: Absorbs shock to wrists and elbows, non-slip, turf fibers thermally bonded to base

This quality-built range mat is big enough to stand on, which is a must for serious practice by improvement-minded players. Its hitting surface is 100% nylon for durability and a smooth glide of the club, while thick padding underneath absorbs shock at impact. The mat comes pre-punched with holes for rubber tees and even a receptacle for the wooden tees some purists prefer.

Artificial hitting surfaces can turn the soles of a golf club bright green, but this mat is non-staining. For what it delivers, the price tag is certainly reasonable.

The best for tournament competitors

Real Feel Country Club Elite Golf Mat
The ultimate in natural-turf performance, this mat even accepts wooden tees.

The Original Real Feel Country Club Elite Golf Mat, built to suit top players, is super-durable yet loaded with “playability” features demanded by tournament golfers.

What we like: Dynamics of ball-club impact closely mimic ball-striking on natural grass, can take wooden tees

The classic problem with hitting off mats is making swings that on a grass fairway would produce “fat” or “heavy” shots, and not realizing it. What you pay for in a hitting mat like this one is a real-grass equivalency that rewards fundamentally correct delivery of the club through impact. That’s on top of the expected characteristics, like durability, extra-dense turf fiber, comfort underfoot, stability, and yes, the capacity to accept and firmly hold a wooden tee wherever the golfer wishes to insert it. We’ve highlighted a four-by-five foot model, but the same mat also comes in five-by-five dimensions, for a slightly higher price.

The best on a budget

GoSports Pro 5x4 Golf Hitting Mat
Six different teeing positions make this mat work for right- and left-handed golfers.

The GoSports Pro 5×4 Golf Hitting Mat is a hit with recreational golfers who practice for enjoyment and to keep their swings feeling smooth and rhythmic.

What we like: Maximum durability and impact-feel in an entry-level mat, full-size for proper stance, non-slip padding, can suit varying clubs

There are construction elements built into golf hitting mats strictly to handle the harsh treatment of all-day use at public driving ranges. A good-quality mat for home use doesn’t need all that to deliver fine performance over the long term. This full-size mat from GoSports features a 15mm layer of non-slip foam padding for comfortable impact as well as for stability on any surface, indoors or outdoors. There’s a socket that accepts wooden tees along with range-style rubber tees at varying heights, to suit whichever club a player chooses to practice with.

The best for short-game improvement

Rukket Tri Turf Golf Hitting Mat
Highly portable, this mat is convenient for use anywhere.

The Rukket Tri-Turf Golf Hitting Mat is a compact, portable practice aid featuring three turf heights, to simulate rough, fairway, and close-cropped “collar” turf.

What we like: Challenges a player to learn the right touch on shorter shots, mimics different grass conditions, portable, doesn’t take up much floor space

This product shows that a mat doesn’t have to be full-sized to serve the golfer who’s serious about improvement. Best suited to the so-called partial swings that every player needs when inside 100 yards, it can be placed anywhere for a quick tuneup or longer practice session. Included are indoor practice balls that won’t dent your basement paneling. Built by a manufacturer known for quality, it comes with a 100% lifetime warranty and guarantee of satisfaction.

The best for alignment training

SASRL Golf Trainer Mat
Permanent stripes help guide your club.

The SASRL Golf Trainer Mat is a portable, 13-by-24.4-inch swing aid that you hit off, leaving trace marks that indicate a correct or misaligned path through impact.

What we like: Portable, solid base, visual indicators for more productive practice

There’s more to golf practice than taking full swings to generate maximum power, as this simple yet intriguing portable mat demonstrates. Hitting the equivalent of 50- to 75-yard shots off this velvet-like surface allows the golfer to focus on a square clubface and get feedback on how well the arc of his or her swing matches up to the correct path, as indicated by the mat’s markings. A player can also “dial in” ball position relative to the feet and learn to match the bottom of the swing arc with that position. The mat is portable, but has enough weight and traction to stay in position on most swings.

The best for beginners

Champkey Tri-Turf Golf Hitting Mat
Versatile and well-constructed, this mat includes a tee receptacle and a tray for practice balls.

Affordable and rugged, the Champkey Tri-Turf Golf Hitting Mat is divided into three grass heights to introduce the player to “real golf” conditions.

What we like: Heavy rubber base is slip-resistant, hitting surfaces are varied, carry handle and ball tray add convenience

Newer golfers will often feel anxious before a round and frustrated after one — two occasions when the urge to practice tends to strike. A product like this portable, multi-surface hitting mat can serve as a security blanket for that golfer, helping to sharpen eye-hand coordination and overall feel for how hard to swing on shots of various lengths. An appropriate gift for any friend or relative who is getting into golf, this mat have plenty of built-in durability for its entry-level price. Tee receptacles and a tray that holds a good supply of practice balls add a nice convenience factor.

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The 6 best bike racks for cars in 2021, including hitch, trunk, and roof racks

  • The best bike rack will hold your bike securely for 5 to 500 miles, without damaging your bike or car.
  • You also may want a bike rack that’s easy to unload solo and doesn’t prevent the trunk from opening.
  • Our top pick, the Thule T2 Pro XT 2, is durable, hitch-mounted, but allows trunk access and holds most bike sizes and tires.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Whether you’re loading your mountain bike to head to the trail, transporting your roadie to a race, or taking the entire family’s commuters for a scenic ride, a bike rack is an essential piece of equipment for any cyclist of any level.

Read more: The best spring cycling gear

Being able to safely and securely carry your bike wherever you go truly opens up the possibilities of where and when you can ride. For that reason alone, having a bike rack at your disposal proves just as handy as owning a bike lock or tire pump.

While testing the best bike racks currently available, we examined options from some of the top brands including Thule, Yakima, and Kuat. Our guide features racks that are user-friendly, can fit an array of bike types, and will keep your car from getting scratched. At the end of this guide, we go into more detail on what to look for in a bike rack and how we tested those on this list.

Here are the best bike racks:

The best bike rack overall

Thule bike rack

If you’re looking for a heavy-duty hitch bike rack that still allows you to access your hatchback or truck bed, the Thule T2 Pro XT 2 Bike Rack is an expensive but incredibly well-designed solution.

Pros: Tilts for easy hatchback access, holds a broad array of bike types, durable, versatile, and expandable

Cons: Expensive, confusing assembly instructions, heavy

The Thule T2 Pro XT 2 Bike Rack is easy to install on your hitch (although it does weigh more than 50 pounds, so you might need a hand). And, once on, it has the ability to tilt up and down when needed, which lets you move it out of the way to access a hatchback or trunk. The entire process is actually simple enough to do with just one hand.

This bike rack has a frame-free ratcheting arm that quickly and easily secures up to two bikes with wheels from 20 to 29 inches, even fat tire models up to 5-inches thick. You can also add two additional trays to the T2 Pro XT, expanding its carrying capacity to four bikes.

As you’d expect from legacy brand Thule, this rack gets high marks for durability. It’s incredibly well-built and provides excellent stability, holding bikes of various sizes securely in place. The T2 Pro XT’s dual ratcheting arm system is intuitive, too, making it easy to transition to and from a ride with a minimum amount of hassle. 

When designing this bike rack, Thule put a great deal of thought into the needs of its customers. Little details like being able to widen the distance between the wheel trays in order to accommodate larger bikes is a much-appreciated feature, and the kind of touch that makes this pick stand out as the best overall bike rack available. 

That said, there are a few minor downsides to the T2 Pro XT: The durability makes it quite heavy compared to other models, and it’s expensive. 

Best roof rack

Yakima HighRise rack

The Yakima HighRoad Top Car Bike Rack allows for quick-loading of bikes and is ideal for cyclists who prefer hauling gear on top of their car.

Pros: Holds a variety of bikes securely, doesn’t come in contact with the frame, easy installation

Cons: Must be used with crossbars, doesn’t come with built-in locks

The Yakima HighRoad Top Car Bike Rack is different from other roof-mounted bike racks in that you don’t have to remove your bike’s front tire to load it, and it’s able to hold your bike in place without directly touching the frame. 

The HighRoad is easy to install and works by having two hoops that clamp securely onto the front wheel, holding it firmly in place. Once the wheel is in position, you turn a torque knob to lock it down further, limiting movement without damaging the wheel or frame. The rear wheel is then held in place with a strap, adding extra security and stability in the process. 

Overall, this makes for a speedier load and unload while also minimizing the chances of scratching the paint or bending the frame. This is especially important for those who ride costly carbon fiber models.

Yakima’s HighRoad is fairly versatile in what it can carry. The rack accommodates bikes with 26- to 29-inch wheels and tires as wide as 4 inches, which should cover most road bikes, mountain bikes, fat tire bikes, and kids’ bikes. 

As with all roof racks, the HighRoad keeps sight lines clear and doesn’t inhibit access to the rear of the vehicle. Loading and unloading can be quite challenging however, particularly for shorter riders or those with heavier bikes.

There also seems to be one blind spot in the design of this rack: While the HighRoad does support lock cores, it doesn’t include them out of the box. That means you’ll have to buy your own, adding about $60 to the overall cost.

Yakima HighRoad Top Car Bike Rack

Best trunk rack

Saris bike rack

The Saris Bones EX 3-Bike trunk rack is designed to fit nearly any vehicle, making it a great investment for any cyclist. 

Pros: Lightweight, compact, easy to install, compatible with a wide range of vehicles for longeviety, made from recycled plastics

Cons: Restricts access to trunk or hatchback, pricier than other trunk racks

The most recent of the company’s classic Bones model, the Saris Bones EX 3-Bike brings updated styling and a new system for attaching the rack to a vehicle that makes it compatible with 90% of the cars, hatchbacks, and SUVs on the market, including vehicles with spoilers. This expanded compatibility means there’s a good chance the Bones EX 3-Bike will not only fit your current car but your next one, too. 

The Bones EX is held in place by some of the best ratchet straps we’ve seen on a trunk rack. When properly installed, this model locks securely into position, holding two bikes, up to 35 pounds each. The entire system is designed to avoid touching the vehicle, which prevents scratches, scrapes, and dings. Those same ratchet straps also release quickly, making it a breeze to remove the rack when not in use. 

The EX is made from 100% recycled injection-molded plastic, so it’s environmentally-friendly, highly durable, strong, and resistant to rusting. What’s more, it’s surprisingly light, tipping the scales at just 11 pounds. As with all of its products, Saris backs the Bones EX with a lifetime warranty. 

It also features an integrated strap management system for a clean look that keeps the straps out of the way on the back of your car. The design also positions the 3 bikes on separate levels, lowering the chances the bikes will become intertwined while driving. 

As with most trunk racks, the Bones EX makes it challenging to get into a trunk or hatchback. It’s also a bit expensive at $205. That said, the EX’s ability to fit on a broader range of cars makes that added cost a good investment for the future. 

Best lightweight rack

kuat bike rack

The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is a lightweight hitch rack that’s durable, easy to load, and still allows access to your trunk.

Pros: Very lightweight, tilts for hatchback access, plenty of space between bikes, easy to load

Cons: Doesn’t hold bikes with fat tires or those that weigh over 40 pounds

The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is surprisingly light at just 31 pounds, thanks to its all-aluminum construction. What’s more, it’s incredibly easy to install and, because it’s so lightweight, it’s easy to handle with just one person. This is truly invaluable for anyone who wants to remove the rack for everyday driving and re-install it for a few cycling adventures a year.

That lightweight does not compromise quality: The Sherpa 2.0 secures your bikes using a system that includes a front tire ratchet arm and a rear tire strap, locking your bike in place without the rack coming into contact with the frame. Folding tire cradles click neatly into place when in use, but efficiently slide out of the way when they aren’t needed. Each of these features work seamlessly together, making it easy to load and unload two bikes that weigh as much as 40 pounds each. All in all, loading and unloading bikes takes about a minute, which is ideal. 

The Sherpa 2.0 also has a clever foot-activated pivot system that lets you open the rack and move it into position with the tap of your foot — incredibly helpful when your hands are full. And the rack is built to tilt out of the way, allowing unfettered access to the back of the vehicle it’s mounted on. 

Unlike some hitch racks, the Sherpa can’t expand in size nor can it accommodate fat bikes. It’s lightweight limits the size of the load it can carry, too, which is why it caps out at bikes that weigh 40 pounds. Most conventional bikes fall below that threshold, of course, but this model would have issues with heavier e-bikes for instance. 

Best budget roof rack

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Swagman’s Upright roof-mounted bike rack is inexpensive, easy to install on cars with crossbars, and lets you quickly mount your bike without taking a tire off. 

Pros: Inexpensive, installs easily onto existing crossbars, features a locking mechanism to hold the bike in place, fits a wide range of bike styles

Cons: Holds just one bike

I’ve had a car roof rack for many years, but I never had the proper accessories to mount my bike on top. Since I’m riding my bike a lot more now, I decided it was finally time to get one. When I started doing research on bike mounts, I realized they can be rather expensive, especially if you go to popular name brands.

I got a great deal and paid $119 for my mountain bike during eBay’s Prime Day-adjacent sale a few years ago, so paying a couple hundred for a single bike mount didn’t sit well with me. I went with the Swagman Upright mount simply because it’s cheap (I got two of them for less than one mount from a name brand) and it turned out to be great. It was easy to install, it keeps my bike secure, and is lockable. I did add a bungee cord for extra security, but I would’ve done that even with a more expensive mount. — Amir Ismael, style and grooming reporter

Best budget trunk rack

bike rack 5

The Allen Sports Premier Trunk Rack doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but it does have a simple, elegant design that easily meets the needs of most riders.

Pros: Affordable, holds a wide array of bike types, can easily fit in your trunk when not in use, lifetime warranty

Cons: Metal hooks could potentially scratch your vehicle, no locking mechanism

Allen Sports Premier Trunk Rack is very simple, but it’s surprisingly versatile for a budget model. It can hold two bikes, and of a wide variety of bikes, including road bikes, mountain bikes, kids’ bikes, and even fat bikes, provided they don’t exceed the 35-pound weight limit.

Installation isn’t especially difficult, but it can be a bit confusing the first few times you put it on your car. Allen Sports even designed it to be compatible with most cars, hatchbacks, SUVs, and even minivans. Removing the rack is equally easy, requiring just a few seconds to take it off when not in use.

Loading bikes on and off the support arms is quick and easy, and the simple-yet-rugged straps ensure your bike doesn’t jostle about. There’s even a strap prevent the front wheel from bouncing back and forth, protecting your vehicle from potential damage. The Premier Trunk Rack does a great job of securely holding its cargo in place. 

The price kicks in with the quality of the materials used; however, the Premier Trunk Rack still feels plenty sturdy and will likely last for quite a long time. Allen Sports even backs that up with a lifetime warranty on the Premier Trunk Rack

There are a number of small details that remind us that it’s a low-cost model. For instance, over the course of a long drive, the securing straps can come loose, so you should check them at every gas stop. The metal clips on the ends of those straps also lack any type of protective coating, which could scratch a car’s paint. In another cost-saving move, the rack doesn’t have a locking mechanism to protect the bikes from would-be thieves. Those may seem like small oversights but they are important to consider, nonetheless. 

Of course, the best thing about the Allen Sports Premier Trunk Rack is its price. At $110, it’s a bargain when you consider everything it brings to the table. 

How we tested

Each bike rack featured in this guide went through a number of on-vehicle tests to judge how well it compared across four categories: ease of installation, ease of use, versatility, and value. Here’s how each category factored into our decision making for which racks made this guide:

  • Ease of installation: Ordering a bike rack online means that you’ll most likely be tasked with installing the rack onto your car or truck yourself. Regardless if it’s a roof-, hitch-, or trunk-mounted rack, the installation process isn’t always an easy chore. This isn’t a complete dealbreaker but it is definitely a vital consideration.
  • Ease of use: A bike rack is inherently somewhat complicated, but it should be intuitive enough that you don’t have to references the owner’s manual to load or unload your bikes after the first go. Ideally, a rack will take just a few minutes to load or unload to not take time out of your actual ride.
  • Versatility: It’s hard to judge a rack on how many bikes it can carry since almost all racks are designed to haul a specific number, so it’s a bit like comparing apples to oranges. Versatility, however, is a much better distinction, even if it’s a broader term. This means that a bike rack may be able to carry several at once but also that it has the ability to be used on different vehicles or could even offer the option of carrying something other than a bike.
  • Value: A bike rack’s value is the sum of the three categories above, as well as how much the thing actually costs. It’s smarter to spend a little more on a premium product than to spend less on a cheaply-built product, though there are plenty of budget bike racks that are solid and get the job done — two of which are featured in this guide. 

How to shop for a bike rack

Having loaded and unloaded my fair share of road and mountain bikes from sedans, vans, trucks, and everything in between, I’ve learned that one bike rack does not fit all. Selecting the right rack requires research beyond just the type of riding you plan on doing. You’ll want to consider your vehicle, how many bikes you plan on transporting, how much you want to spend, and your preferred style of rack itself.

Depending on how you answer the above considerations, expect to decide between these three separate styles of bike rack:

  • Hitch rack: A hitch rack connects to your vehicle’s trailer hitch for easy loading and unloading. This style tends to limit rear visibility, weighs more than others, and can interfere with accessing the trunk or hatchback, but it also provides excellent carrying capacity and stability and is very easy to load and unload for one person. Tray hitch racks are generally better than hanging hitch racks because they’re easier to load and don’t grip the bike frame, which is important if you’re concerned about scratching your paint job.
  • Trunk racks: This style connects to the trunk or hatch of your car using straps, buckles, and hooks. When firmly secured in place, it can be surprisingly stable, although they do hinder rear visibility and make it difficult to access the trunk. On the plus side, these racks are lightweight, affordable, and easy to use. 
  • Roof racks: Roof racks mount on top of your car or truck, meaning they don’t get in the way of sightlines or prevent you from accessing the back. They can also be fairly versatile, making it easy to transport things like kayaks or stand-up paddleboards, too. The downside of a roof rack is that they tend to be expensive and loading bikes all the way up onto the rack can be a challenge, particularly for a solo rider and shorter people.
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How to cancel a Planet Fitness membership in 2 ways

Planet Fitness gym
If you want to cancel your Planet Fitness membership, you must do it in person or by mail.

  • To cancel a Planet Fitness membership, you need to visit your gym in person or write a postal letter.
  • Planet Fitness doesn’t allow you to cancel your membership by phone or online.
  • Your membership might already be on hold due to pandemic restrictions, and you may be able to get a three-month hold for medical reasons.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Planet Fitness is a popular chain of fitness centers (it had more than 15 million members as of March 2020), but the franchise has not embraced modern customer service practices, especially when it comes to canceling membership plans.

Instead of letting you close your account online, Planet Fitness requires you to visit your home club and speak to a representative at the front desk or send a letter via the postal service.

How to cancel your Apple Fitness Plus subscription on any Apple deviceHow to sign up for Apple Fitness Plus in 3 ways, and what you’ll need to subscribeWhat devices work with Apple Fitness Plus? Here’s what’s compatible with Apple’s workout appYou need an Apple Watch to sign up for Apple Fitness Plus, but not for every workout – here’s why

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How to sign up for Apple Fitness Plus in 3 ways, and what you’ll need to subscribe

working out from home on laptop
Apple Fitness Plus makes it easy to exercise from the comfort of your home.

  • You can sign up for Apple Fitness Plus through an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV.
  • To use Apple Fitness Plus, you’ll need to have an Apple Watch Series 3 or later, along with another Apple device.
  • Apple Fitness Plus offers new users one month free before moving on to a monthly or yearly subscription.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Since Apple Fitness Plus launched in December 2020, users around the world have taken advantage of its personalized workouts that cover everything from HIIT and strength training to cycling and rowing. There are currently over 300 workouts to choose from, and more are being added on a regular basis.

By linking up with your Apple Watch, Apple Fitness Plus not only encourages users to stay active but gives you real time metrics – like heart rate, calories burned, and workout duration – so you can track your progress over time.

If you want to begin an at-home fitness regimen, Apple Fitness Plus could be a convenient and cost-effective option. Here’s how to sign up, and what to know before taking the plunge.

How much Apple Fitness Plus costs

Apple Fitness Plus costs $9.99 for a month, or $79.99 for a year. Better yet, users with Family Sharing enabled can share their membership with up to five family members at no additional cost.

Apple Fitness Plus is also available as part of Apple One, a service which provides subscriptions to Fitness Plus, News Plus, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, and Apple Music for $29.95 per month.

Requirements for Apple Fitness Plus

Using Apple Fitness Plus requires users to have an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, as well as an Apple Watch Series 3 or later. You can complete workouts on Apple Fitness Plus without your Apple Watch on hand, but you must have one to sign up.

How to sign up for Apple One, Apple’s bundled subscription service for music, TV, and moreWhat is Apple One? Here’s what you need to know about Apple’s subscription service bundleHow to start a workout on your Apple Watch in 2 different waysHow to check your heart rate on an Apple Watch in 3 different ways

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The 5 best gym bags, for storing gym clothes or hauling workout equipment

  • Gym bags allow you to comfortably and easily carry workout apparel and gear to and from the gym.
  • The best gym bags keep clothing and accessories organized, making for easy access and efficient storage.
  • Our top pick, the Adidas Defender II, holds plenty of gear, is highly durable, and stays comfortable slung over a shoulder.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

If you regularly work out at a gym or play a sport, you’ll want to own a gym bag to help transport your gear. A dedicated gym bag lets you establish a routine that makes preparing for a workout more convenient and your time at the gym more efficient. It also makes any post-exercise transport, laundering, and storage of fitness apparel and gear easier and more hygienic.

A proper gym bag should have multiple compartments that can be used to create your own organizational system. You can appoint one or two pockets to store soiled, sweaty garments and shoes, while dedicating another for clean clothing. Other compartments store water, energy bars, snacks, or supplements and you’ll want to stash your phone, keys, and wallet somewhere safe, as well.

There’s certainly no shortage of gym bags available to purchase, too, as almost every athletic brand offers its own version. But they’re not all created equal. To help, we’ve tested a number of bags from top brands like Adidas, Under Armour, and Thule to find the best worth owning.

At the end of this guide, we’ve also included some insight into how to shop for a gym bag and what to keep in mind when picking one out, as well as the testing methods we used in deciding which made the cut.

Here are the best gym bags:

Best overall

adidas gym bag

The Adidas Defender II Duffel Bag is well made and refreshingly simple with a few compartments and two ways to carry it.

Pros: Lasts for years of heavy use, simple intuitive design, comes in multiple colors

Cons: Medium and large sizes too big for many people

The Adidas Defender II Duffel Bag has one large main compartment with enough room for a change of clothes and a towel, a water bottle, deodorant and shampoo, and whatever other workout gear you prefer.

Within the main chamber is a smaller zippered pouch perfect for a wallet, keys, phone, and other small valuables. Each end of the bag has a compartment that can fit shoes, sweaty garments, and anything else you want to keep separate. The base is padded to keep your gear safe and the fabric is rip- and puncture-resistant. There’s also both a shoulder strap and handles to allow for comfortable and easy transport. 

And that’s it. But hey, that’s really all you need out of gym bag. So why does this bag cost almost twice as much as other options on our list? Simple. It’s remarkably well made. Adidas even offers a lifetime warranty. And when you think about it, that’s an impressive amount of faith Adidas is putting in this gym bag. Adidas knows the thing is going to be hauled back and forth to the fitness center, to the track, the field, and everywhere else such luggage gets lugged.

It doesn’t hurt that the Defender II comes in nearly two dozen different color patterns, so you can easily find one that not only matches your needs but that matches your personal sense of style, too.

Best on a budget

everest gym bag

The Everest Gym Bag’s dedicated water bottle sleeve, versatile front pouches, and adjustable, padded shoulder strap make it a great budget-friendly gym bag.

Pros: Great low price, dedicated water bottle pocket, keeps gear and sundries organized

Cons: Occasional issues with side pocket tearing, longevity questionable

The Everest Gym Bag may be our pick for the best budget bag but it’s far from something that should be considered cheap. For starters, it’s manufactured out of durable 600D polyester that resists scratches and tears, and is even water-resistant. Of course, you don’t want to submerge it in a bathtub while your smartphone is inside or anything, but don’t worry about some drizzle as you jog from the subway to the gym.

The bag features a large primary compartment with plenty of room for shoes, clothes, showering accessories, and more, and its twin front pouches are perfect for a phone, wallet, some energy bars, or other smaller sundries. A central water bottle sleeve handles most water bottle sizes, too.

On one side of the bag, you will find a zippered mesh pouch, and on the other, there is a closed compartment. Both can be extended into the main area of the bag, allowing you to stash sweaty clothes or muddy shoes away from the rest of your gear.

The only real drawback with this bag is that the side pockets in which you can store soiled gear must take up room in the main compartment to be sufficiently spacious, so it can be tricky to tell exactly how much room you will use in each area after a workout. After a few trips to the gym, though, you should have the balance down and can pack and plan accordingly.

Best backpack

Under Armour gym backpack

The Under Armour UA Hustle 3.0 Backpack has enough space to carry a pair of shoes, a change of clothes, a full-sized laptop, and a few accessories, and it distributes the weight of all your gear evenly across your torso.

Pros: Distributes weight evenly, water-resistant exterior, padded laptop sleeve

Cons: Capacity is too small for some athletes

Now yes, we just mentioned a lot of stuff that you can fit into a UA Hustle 3.0 Backpack, but to be clear, if you put a pair of sneakers, your gym apparel, a computer, and your wallet, phone, and keys in this bag, it would then be just about full. But that’s just fine, because what else do you need to carry with you as you travel from the office to the gym and then home?

And unlike with traditional gym bags that must be slung over one shoulder or carried in your hand, this backpack distributes that weight evenly across your shoulders and down through your core, meaning you can transport all that stuff for miles and miles in comfort if need be.

Anyone with a long trip between the gym and the home or office should consider this gym backpack. Its padded laptop sleeve keeps that invaluable computer safe while the brand’s UA Storm technology-treated exterior resists rain, sleet, or snow, keeping your stuff safely dry within. The bottom panel is abrasion-resistant and the entire backpack is rip-stop and puncture-resistant.

And also, the UA Hustle 3.0 Backpack comes in colors ranging from black to blue to pink to orange and more.

Best leather bag

_komal gym bag

If you love the timeless styling of luggage from generations past, then this Komal’s Passion Leather KPL Vintage Leather Gym Duffel is the gym bag for you.

Pros: Beautiful vintage style, multiple compartments and pockets, versatile

Cons: Requires care and maintenance

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a bare-knuckle boxer or 19th Century strongman to appreciate the Komal’s Passion Leather KPL Vintage Leather Gym Duffel. While this leather duffel may have the look of a vintage piece of equipment, it’s actually brand new and manufactured to modern standards and with modern apparel and accessories in mind.

There is a front pocket perfect for your smartphone and keys, there are side pockets that can accommodate shoes or sweaty gear, and there is a large main compartment perfect for a change of clothes, hygiene products, snacks, or whatever else you need to have on-the-go.

This durable leather duffel is the perfect size for use as a gym bag, but it’s also great for the traveler. The bag is suitable for carry-on use and will easily fit in overhead compartments and will even fit under the seat aboard many aircraft. And it’s hard to mistake this unique, handsome duffel with another traveler’s luggage.

While of course there are drawbacks to using a leather duffel, such as the need to avoid heavy precipitation and the more complicated cleaning procedures, these mild issues are greatly outweighed by the KPL Vintage Leather Gym Duffel’s classic charm for those who truly value style. And for a leather bag, it’s reasonably priced.

Best water-resistant

best water resistant bag thule chasm

The Thule Chasm is a water-resistant duffel that protects your gear from the elements. It’s also a great travel bag, and it can convert into a backpack for easier hauling.

Pros: Water-resistant, converts from duffel to backpack, large opening, padded bottom

Cons: Expensive, no laptop compartment

Having gone through a good number of bags for the gym, I’ve grown to appreciate the ones with large openings. It not only makes it easier to pack, but it also lets me get to things much quicker. Which is the reason why I like the Chasm from Thule. The 40-liter version (also available in 70, 90, and 130 liters) is the right size for the gym or a weekend trip, and it has a big opening that I can easily shove workout clothes, shoes, and other gym gear into it.

But there’s so much more to this bag. Don’t feel like carrying it or slinging it over your shoulder? The Thule Chasm converts into a backpack, making it easy to haul. For me, the versatility is a plus because some days I feel like using a backpack, while other days I prefer a duffel.

The Thule Chasm is made with a water-resistant material, and the bottom is padded to offer some protection. There are mesh pockets on the inner part of the lid for storing dirties. And, you can lock the zippers to prevent theft, which is handy for when you use a gym locker room. The only thing I wish this bag offers is a laptop compartment, which would allow me to carry just one bag from home to office to gym.

Thule products are very well made. I also use Thule bags to carry my camera equipment, so you can rest assure that this bag will protect your gym gear. It is quite expensive for a bag, but if you want to invest in something that offers flexibility and longevity, this is a good option.

If you’re looking for a water-resistant duffel, you should also consider two options from Eagle Creek: the Cargo Hauler Duffel 45L and Migrate Duffel 40L. Like the Thule Chasm, both Eagle Creek bags can convert into backpacks. The Cargo Hauler is expandable for when you need more room, while the Migrate Duffel can be packed down for easy storage. I find Eagle Creek bags to be well made, but also affordable. — Les Shu

Best rolling bag

olympia rolling gym bag

Anyone with joint or shoulder injuries or issues shouldn’t carry a gym bag by hand, so the Olympia Luggage Rolling Duffel Bag is just right for them.

Pros: Rolling design takes strain off your body, multiple pockets for easy organization, great price

Cons: Does not stand up straight, lacks sufficiently large compartments for some users’ preferences

Gym bags can get heavy quickly, what with all the gear most of us lug along to our workouts. There are shoes, changes of clothes, water bottles, energy bars, shampoo and a towel, and so on.

If you have strength or grip issues in your hands, shoulders, lower back, or really anywhere else, you should not be carrying a heavy gym bag, nor should you sling one over a shoulder. Doing so can throw of your center of balance and/or put undue strain on the sensitive area. With the Olympia Luggage Rolling Duffel, you can tote along all the fitness apparel and gear you want and then some while letting the wheels do most of the work.

At 22 by 12 by 12 inches this gym bag offers plenty of room to stash shoes and clothes, snacks and water, accessories, personal items, and more, but it’s not so large that you can’t easily bring it on the subway or bus and stash it under your desk at work. As the duffel has no fewer than eight pockets, it’s easy to keep all of your stuff organized, not to mention keeping soiled gear separate from clean stuff.

When needed, such as when you encounter stairs or uneven terrain, the Olympia Luggage Rolling Duffel can be picked up by its handles and carried along. But the recessed, in-line skate style wheels — which turn smoothly thanks to metal ball bearings — and the retractable pull handle are what set this bag apart from the rest. Also, it costs only about thirty-two bucks.

How to shop for a gym bag

When choosing the right gym bag for you, there are a few factors to consider. First, think about what you’ll be carrying to the gym and then find options that can accommodate it all.

Next, consider when and where you’ll have the bag. Do you need to bring it with you on the subway or on a bus? If so, a smaller bag is like a good idea. If you have a long walk or prefer to jog to the gym, then a backpack might be your best bet.

Finally, don’t dismiss style as an important element. You’ll have your gym bag on you often, so choose the one you’ll be proud to have over your shoulder and on display.

How we test gym bags

When compiling a list of the best gym bags, we only considered those with multi-compartment designs. Wel also looked at the materials used, well aware that while one person might value performance and durability, someone else might value style — thus, we included a leather gym duffel.

We heavily weighed the cost, too. Bags can get expensive but unless it’s truly unique, we don’t think a gym bag needs to cost a fortune. Finally, we looked for special features that set these bags apart from the competition. There are so many currently on the market and while most are quite similar, the bags we chose each have at least one unique factor that earned them a spot.

More great Insider Reviews workout guides

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The best yoga mats

Before starting in on any yoga routine or practice, you’ll want to make sure you have the right gear and that starts with getting a proper yoga mat. Here are our top picks.


The best at-home dumbbells

Dumbbells are a great fitness tool for building and maintaining strength, perfect either on their own or as a complementary addition to a home gym setup. Check out our favorites.


The best resistance bands

Resistance bands are simple pieces of elastic that create constant tension to stimulate muscle growth and increase the value of your workout. Here are the best ones to buy.

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The 5 best cheap running shoes for beginners and marathon training alike

  • You can score ample cushioning, support for long mileage, or just the basics for the occasional jog at an affordable price.
  • Some of the best athletic brands like New Balance, Hoka, and Brooks have great runners at $100 to $130.
  • Our top pick, the Hoka One One Rincon, is cushioned, durable, and great for short jogs or multi-hour runs alike.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

I’ve been running for more than 20 years and, in that time, I’ve tried just about every type of shoe on the market on every type of run, from marathons, to weekend trail runs, to around-the-block sprints.

Along with Brian Metzler, author of Kicksology, a comprehensive look at the history and science behind running shoes, and Mike Fronsoe, owner of the Fleet Feet specialty running store in Monroe, LA, we’ve put in thousands of miles on running shoes and have zeroed in on what pairs are worth the splurge – and which are great at a savings.

It’s common to come across running shoes at $250 that promise – and, honestly, do deliver – faster times. For the average runner, however, that’s more shoe than you’d ever want or need. Thankfully, the market offers its fair share of affordable options, too.

“There are plenty of good, mid-range shoes in the $110 and under market,” Metzler told Insider. “The challenge is there’s a lot of marketing that goes into selling shoes and that jacks the prices up.”

To help narrow down the growing selection of cheap running shoes, I highlighted a few of our favorites that I’ve enjoyed running in and that takes Metzler’s and Fronsoe’s advice to heart. At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some additional information on how to shop for cheap running shoes, as well as the testing methodology I used.

From brands like Hoka One One and Skechers to Brooks and New Balance, these shoes keep you running comfortably while also staying kind to your wallet.

Here are the best cheap running shoes:

Best cheap running shoe overall

Hoka One One Rincon

This is a shoe that works for almost any type of runner, including those looking for some speed, anyone who enjoys added cushion, and just about everyone in between.

Pros: Lightweight (only 6.3 ounces in the women’s model), cushy ride

Cons: With the differential between the heel and toe stack at only five millimeters, it can take some time to adjust to the shoe if you’re used to a bigger offset — expect a couple of weeks of sore calf muscles

Runner’s World voted the Rincon an “editor’s choice” for a speed shoe in its Fall 2019 Shoe Guide — and with good reason. The shoe delivers what is typically hard to produce: a combination of heavy-duty cushioning and a feather-light weight. 

I must confess that when HOKA first came on the running scene some 11 years ago, I was a skeptic. The first iterations of their shoes were big and bulky, and I thought I could never run in something with that much cushion. But there was plenty of buzz around the shoes and I finally decided to give the brand a go a few years ago. I’ve since tried out several of its models and settled on the Rincon as my favorite for the road.

I’ve put a couple hundred miles on mine and you’d barely notice the wear. I’ve worn them for a variety of distances, from a six miler around the neighborhood on up to longer weekend runs in the range of 13 miles. It’s a responsive shoe that carries me comfortably on any type of pavement. For $115, it delivers performance and longevity.

Best-selling cheap running shoe

Brooks 12 shoe

Fleet Feet, Mike Fronsoe, says this is the number-one selling shoe in his store and remains a fan favorite, 12 versions in.

Pros: 13 different color combinations to choose from, tried-and-true design

Cons:  Pushes the limits of affordability at $130

Runners hate when their favorite shoe receives an update that changes the feel or ride they’ve come to love. That’s why the Brooks Ghost stays as a perpetual best-seller in many running shoe specialty stores — it’s always stayed true to its roots. 

It’s also an all-around crowd-pleaser that’s not too cushy, not too heavy, not too anything. It’s designed with the neutral runner in mind and works well no matter your running goal. The shoe is known for its soft ride and it’s even able to last up to 400-plus miles.

Best dirt-cheap running shoe

Skechers Go Run fast

Long known for its street style, Skechers made a push into the running space several years ago and its budget runner is an impressive shoe that has marathon-quality style in its DNA.

Pros: You can’t do any better on price than this shoe

Cons: Durability could be an issue if you’re looking for a long-haul shoe

Even Olympic marathoner and winner of the Boston Marathon, Meb Keflezighi, runs in a Skechers model, so the brand must be onto something, right? Coming in at just $65, the GOrun Fast Quake is our most affordable shoe.

The Fast Quake is a lightweight trainer and features the brand’s 5Gen cushioning and cooling “goga mat” insole. Skechers bills this as moisture-wicking and high rebound, to deliver energy return with every step. 

I’ve run in an older version of this model and liked its flexible sole and lightweight feel. The men’s version weighs in at 7.8 ounces, and I can say the fit is comfortable and true to size. The shoe might not go the distance through heavy mileage, but it will get you through a couple of weekly training runs and should hold up for a few months.

Best bang for your buck

New Balance Fresh Foam 880

The New Balance 880 is the number two seller in Fronsoe’s store with him adding that, “you can use this shoe for just about anything. It’s firm enough to take to the gym but cushioned enough to run in it on roads.”

Pros: A shoe that has something for just about everyone

Cons: The 880 has a wider toe box than some of its comparable models, so for runners with narrow feet, it may not be the ideal fit

I’ve been a New Balance fan for years and can confirm that the 880 delivers on an all-around basis. I’ve taken them on roads, black-top paths, and even on softer surfaces like a mulch-covered trail and they responded well each time. It’s in its ninth iteration and one of the things I appreciate is that the tweaks New Balance tends to make are smaller, less noticeable ones, so I know I can return to the brands’ shoes over and over again and know exactly what I’m getting. 

The 880 retails with a price tag of about $125, so it’s not the cheapest of our choices but one that still checks most boxes. It features plenty of cushioning, a responsive ride, a mid-level weight at 9 ounces, and a mid-range heel to toe drop at about 10 millimeters. In short, it’s the average joe of running shoes and will likely work for most runners. 

Best high-cushion cheap running shoe

Hoka One One Clifton

Hoka One One’s Clifton offers premium cushion, a snug, comfortable fit, and can last for hundreds of miles — and it’s the shoe many runners think of when mentioning the brand.

Pros: All the cushion HOKA is known for with an embroidered upper that provides a snug fit to prevent feet from slipping.

Cons: The stack height of the sole, which is quite big, can be off-putting to some runners, reducing the sense of ground feel. 

Hoka is one of the most beloved brands in the running shoe community. It truly has an option for everyone that delivers on the price — enough so that the brand has made the cut for testing on our best women’s running shoes and best men’s, best winter running shoes, and best trail runners for women and for men. (So literally every running shoe guide we have.)

That high praise is largely for its trademark cushioning, and the sixth iteration of the Clifton seems to have found the perfect amount to satisfy most fans of its shoes.

Going back to my dislike for overly cushioned shoes, the Clifton surprised me with its performance. I’ve put in a couple of hundred miles in my pair and find that the soft landing remains, as does the responsiveness I appreciate. 

At $129, it hits the upper end of the affordability range but if you have any kind of knee or joint pains, are training for a race or just logging high mileage, or generally like more cushioning, this pair is 100% worth the money.

How to shop for cheap running shoes

Before you dive in on price alone, you’d be wise to visit a specialty running shoe store to try before you buy.

“I get a lot of customers who buy a shoe online, find it doesn’t work for them, and then come in to get fitted,” Fronsoe said. “Much comes down to how a shoe feels on your foot.”

Use your time in a shoe store to try a variety of shoes and figure out what works for you in the price range you’re after. Once you know, you can then make it more affordable in a variety of ways. Some stores, like Fronsoe’s Fleet Feet location, have frequent buyer programs offering credit after a certain value of purchases. You can also look for sale tables that feature last year’s versions of shoes — most brands update shoe models about every nine months, which means a past version then moves to a discounted price. 

Finally, you can find decent mid-range models online and at big-box stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods. According to Metzler, these stores don’t carry the marquee models but they do have pairs that are functional, and that you can put some miles in.

How I tested cheap running shoes

Each pair of running shoes featured in this guide went through a testing process that included everything from sprint work on a track and leisure park runs to longer multi-hour training sessions and race-pace 5ks. When testing, I judged the shoes across these five categories: fit, comfort, performance, versatility, and value. Here’s how each factored into what shoes were ultimately selected:

Fit: Just because you’re saving a few dollars on a cheaper shoe, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t still fit correctly — and running in an ill-fitting shoe is an easy way to wear yourself out quicker (or to just be mentally finished with your run before you hit your mile goal). Fit encompasses everything from how the shoe feels when it’s first put on, if there are any unnecessary pressure points, and its underfoot feel. 

Comfort: Comfort is sort of an extension of fit but goes beyond just how the shoe feels on your foot — it also means looking at how comfortable the shoe stays during a variety of runs. Much of this also comes down to personal preference as some runners prefer highly cushioned shoes from brands like Hoka One One while others like to run on less cushion. The same goes for neutral runners vs. stability shoes. 

Performance: If a running shoe doesn’t perform how you want it, you’ll not feel incredibly motivated to keep running with them. This covers everything from stability underfoot and durability to its responsiveness and design. 

Versatility: Though I tried each shoe in a variety of environments, they’re not all made to be a jack-of-all-trades style shoe. Some, however, did do well on several surfaces, adding to their versatility as an everyday runner. If it’s a budget shoe you’re after, it’d be great to find one that works just as well on a treadmill as it does on the road.

Value: Value is more than just the final sticker price. For this, I wanted to see if spending less on a pair of shoes was ultimately worth it long-term — since spending less money more often is equal to (if not more than) spending a lot of money once. Thankfully, there are plenty of impressive running shoes that don’t break the bank. 

 

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Peloton, Oura, and Whoop: High-performance apps become a lifestyle and status symbol in quarantine

Oura ring on finger
The Oura Ring.

  • During quarantine, people with means have turned to obsessive health tracking as a hobby.
  • Fitness tech startups raised a record $2.3B in 2020, per CB Insights, and connected fitness raised nearly $900M.
  • As people learn more about their bodies, they’re letting the apps make lifestyle choices for them. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

When Adeline Cheng wakes up, she checks the app on her phone that’s synced with the chunky titanium Oura ring she wears to bed. While she slept, the ring measured her breathing, heart rate, body temperature, sleep quality, and movement.  

The Oura app displays her “readiness” score, meant to indicate how prepared her body is for activity that day. Combined with her “sleep” score and her “activity” score, Cheng is hoping for what’s called a triple crown, meaning all three scores are above 85. Sometimes she gets it, she said.

“I do work out quite a bit, so sometimes my body says I’m not ready,” she said. “And I’m not the greatest sleeper. That’s why I got the ring.”

This data-heavy morning routine is a relatively new one for the 40-something Toronto bank executive. In the last year, she said she was looking for a way to redirect the energy she previously focused on office life and social gatherings. Like more than 4 million other people, Cheng also picked up a Peloton habit.

“I think for a lot of people, health and wellness have become an important aspect of how they see themselves,” Cheng said.

The practice of tracking health metrics this closely, and purchasing the accessories to do so, has moved from locker rooms to living rooms over the last year. A category of apps, wearables, content, and workout equipment make up what’s known as the high-performance lifestyle (HPL) market, which has seen a boom during the pandemic as people with disposable income increasingly turned to tech to optimize their performance.

The last year has upended the the fitness industry’s status quo. Companies scrambled to keep up with the surge in at-home fitness, using artificial intelligence (AI) to offer personalized workouts and real-time feedback.

Fitness tech startups got the chance to snag a permanent foothold in the market. In 2020, they raised a record $2.3 billion, per CB Insights, a 30% increase from 2019. Several companies, such as fitness tracking app ​Strava​ and virtual training app Swift, hit unicorn status. The connected fitness equipment category has been one of the main drivers behind this boom, raising nearly $900 million in 2020 alone, Jake Matthews, senior intelligence analyst at CB Insights, told Insider.

Peloton
Visits to Peloton’s US website skyrocketed during the pandemic, via BofA Research.

Consider the popularity of Peloton, which saw monthly visits to its US site soar from two million in March 2020 to 10 million in November 2020, per Bank of America Research. An Oura spokesperson told Insider that ring sales doubled in the last year to a total of 300,000 since the company’s launch in 2018.

“Looking forward, as these devices, along with wearables and fitness apps, collect more data on consumers’ health and wellness, those that can use that data to create a more personalized, engaging, and effective fitness experience will be positioned to win,” he said.

This vast array of fitness companies collectively comprises the HPL sector. It spans several markets, according to Anthony and Joe Vennare, who are brothers, investors, and cofounders of Fitt Insider: The $13.5 billion self-improvement market, the $60 billion wearables market, the sports medicine market which is expected to surpass $9 billion by 2024, and the alternative medicine market which is poised to reach $296 billion by 2027. 

Companies benefitting from this boom include health wearable providers such as Whoop, FitBit, Apple Watch, and the Oura Ring; quantified fitness equipment such as Peloton, Row, and Mirror; meditation apps including Headspace and Calm; and accessories like the self-cleaning Larq water bottle.

Once the purview of professional athletes and elite tech circles, products like these have merged with the realities of quarantine over the past year, bringing many people face-to-face with tech’s ability to measure our minds and bodies in new ways – and it can be addictive.

Addictive and competitive

Patrick Schneider Sikorsky
In addition to his Oura ring, Patrick Schneider-Sikorsky wears a Keyto breath meter, an Apple watch, and an Abbott continuous glucose monitor.

Patrick Schneider-Sikorsky, 39, who works in venture capital in London, said his group of friends shares screenshots of sleep scores with each other in a WhatsApp group.

“Getting competitive about sleep is a bit ridiculous,” he said. He catches flak for getting better sleep than his friends, despite going to bed later. “According to the Oura, I’m getting three hours of deep sleep every night,” he said. “And they’re like, ‘How is that possible? You’re going to bed after midnight, and I go to bed at like 11:00.'”

Though Wanfang Wu, 28, said he uses the Oura mainly to track his sleep quality, he originally bought it to detect early signs of COVID. While working from home in San Diego, he read it was being used in a trial at Stanford University. Oura has also received a boost from high-profile fans including Prince Harry, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, and the NBA

“In my research for choosing a sleep tracker, the Oura ring was already on my radar,” Wu said. “But then once I heard about the COVID detection, and work-from-home happened, that’s what made me pull the trigger.”

Since purchasing the Oura, Wu has been focused on improving his sleep score, but he said progress has stalled. “I hover around 70%. I’ve been trying to increase that, to limited success.”

Wanfang Wu
Wanfang Wu bought the Oura ring to detect early signs of COVID, but now he mostly uses it to track sleep.

Using health data to change habits

In addition to watching out for a life-threatening virus, many people have learned what lifestyle factors affect their sleep, and are tweaking their diet, alcohol consumption, and bedtime routines. 

“My current hypothesis is I need a more comfortable bed and probably a more standardized sleep schedule,” said Wu, who created an Excel spreadsheet to track how certain behavior changes affected his sleep. So far, he’s tried dimming his lights after sunset, wearing blue light-blocking glasses for two hours before bed, using blackout curtains, drinking Yogi bedtime tea, and, most recently, a new mattress topper. 

“The glasses have helped me fall asleep faster,” he said. “The curtains help me stay asleep longer, but my sleep efficiency has stayed the same – at 70. I am waiting to see if there are durable results from the mattress topper.”

Schneider-Sikorsky, who in addition to his Oura ring wears a Keyto breath meter, an Apple Watch, and an Abbott continuous glucose monitor, said he’s noticed the days-long domino effect one evening of drinking alcohol has on his glucose levels, which in turn increases his hunger. Sushi, he noticed, also makes his glucose levels fluctuate.

Justin Flowers, a 33-year-old biotech manager in San Diego, said he bought an Oura and a Whoop and took up running during the pandemic. 

Justin Flowers.JPG
Justin Flowers bought an Oura and a Whoop and took up running during the pandemic.

“I’ve learned a lot about my body from both devices,” he said, citing the impact of late-night exercise, blue light glasses, melatonin supplements, hydration, and the effects of alcohol. “These are all things that my Series 5 Apple Watch, which I also wear, can’t tell me.”

Back in Toronto, Cheng considers her readiness score before having a glass of wine in the evenings. She’s noticed it boosts her heart rate, which disrupts her sleep, and hurts her readiness score the next morning. 

“I didn’t make those connections in normal real time, because I wasn’t getting a hangover,” she said. “I was ready for work the next day.” Now, she said, the Oura data will tell her that even though she may feel okay, her body is still struggling to recover.

“My ring told me this morning that I was delayed in readiness. And it said, ‘Did you have a late meal?’ I did. “It allows me to see how certain activities help me or hinder me for the day ahead,” she said. 

The quantified self as a status symbol

Optimizing health through tech has unwittingly become a pandemic status symbol.

Tech-health hobbies are something a small number of fortunate people have been able to do, said Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, author of “The Sum of Small Things,” which charts the rise of inconspicuous consumption among the aspirational class.

She told Insider that while many people have been under enormous anxiety and stress during the pandemic, turning to the Calm App to meditate during this time is very different than a grocery store worker not being paid enough and risking their life on an hourly job, without the time to zen out for 20 minutes a day.

“Weirdly, even those things that we’ve taken for granted as just simply keeping us sane in this time are still luxuries of being well off,” she said. “They’re very discreet pandemic-focused lifestyle choices, to be in your best health.”

It’s a trend Currid-Halkett doesn’t see going anywhere post-pandemic. “Those are things that people have turned to that will remain helpful in our lives,” she said.

Cheng, the Canadian bank executive, recognizes this and admits she’s self-conscious about the Peloton bike, Oura ring, and Larq bottle she bought during the pandemic. “I do feel privilege guilt,” she said. “I appreciate that I’ve become a walking cliche for upper-middle-class people.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Health and fitness wearables have boomed during the pandemic – and they’re changing the way we eat, sleep, exercise and drink alcohol

Oura ring on finger
The Oura Ring.

  • During quarantine, people with means have turned to obsessive health tracking as a hobby.
  • Fitness tech startups raised a record $2.3B in 2020, per CB Insights, and connected fitness raised nearly $900M.
  • As people learn more about their bodies, they’re letting the apps make lifestyle choices for them. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

When Adeline Cheng wakes up, she checks the app on her phone that’s synced with the chunky titanium Oura ring she wears to bed. While she slept, the ring measured her breathing, heart rate, body temperature, sleep quality, and movement.  

The Oura app displays her “readiness” score, meant to indicate how prepared her body is for activity that day. Combined with her “sleep” score and her “activity” score, Cheng is hoping for what’s called a triple crown, meaning all three scores are above 85. Sometimes she gets it, she said.

“I do work out quite a bit, so sometimes my body says I’m not ready,” she said. “And I’m not the greatest sleeper. That’s why I got the ring.”

This data-heavy morning routine is a relatively new one for the 40-something Toronto bank executive. In the last year, she said she was looking for a way to redirect the energy she previously focused on office life and social gatherings. Like more than 4 million other people, Cheng also picked up a Peloton habit.

“I think for a lot of people, health and wellness have become an important aspect of how they see themselves,” Cheng said.

The practice of tracking health metrics this closely, and purchasing the accessories to do so, has moved from locker rooms to living rooms over the last year. A category of apps, wearables, content, and workout equipment make up what’s known as the high-performance lifestyle (HPL) market, which has seen a boom during the pandemic as people with disposable income increasingly turned to tech to optimize their performance.

The last year has upended the the fitness industry’s status quo. Companies scrambled to keep up with the surge in at-home fitness, using artificial intelligence (AI) to offer personalized workouts and real-time feedback.

Fitness tech startups got the chance to snag a permanent foothold in the market. In 2020, they raised a record $2.3 billion, per CB Insights, a 30% increase from 2019. Several companies, such as fitness tracking app ​Strava​ and virtual training app Swift, hit unicorn status. The connected fitness equipment category has been one of the main drivers behind this boom, raising nearly $900 million in 2020 alone, Jake Matthews, senior intelligence analyst at CB Insights, told Insider.

Peloton
Visits to Peloton’s US website skyrocketed during the pandemic.

Consider the popularity of Peloton, which saw monthly visits to its US site soar from two million in March 2020 to 10 million in November 2020, per Bank of America Research. An Oura spokesperson told Insider that ring sales doubled in the last year to a total of 300,000 since the company’s launch in 2018.

“Looking forward, as these devices, along with wearables and fitness apps, collect more data on consumers’ health and wellness, those that can use that data to create a more personalized, engaging, and effective fitness experience will be positioned to win,” he said.

This vast array of fitness companies collectively comprises the HPL sector. It spans several markets, according to Anthony and Joe Vennare, who are brothers, investors, and cofounders of Fitt Insider: The $13.5 billion self-improvement market, the $60 billion wearables market, the sports medicine market which is expected to surpass $9 billion by 2024, and the alternative medicine market which is poised to reach $296 billion by 2027. 

Companies benefitting from this boom include health wearable providers such as Whoop, FitBit, Apple Watch, and the Oura Ring; quantified fitness equipment such as Peloton, Row, and Mirror; meditation apps including Headspace and Calm; and accessories like the self-cleaning Larq water bottle.

Once the purview of professional athletes and elite tech circles, products like these have merged with the realities of quarantine over the past year, bringing many people face-to-face with tech’s ability to measure our minds and bodies in new ways – and it can be addictive.

Addictive and competitive

Patrick Schneider Sikorsky
In addition to his Oura ring, Patrick Schneider-Sikorsky wears a Keyto breath meter, an Apple watch, and an Abbott continuous glucose monitor.

Patrick Schneider-Sikorsky, 39, who works in venture capital in London, said his group of friends shares screenshots of sleep scores with each other in a WhatsApp group.

“Getting competitive about sleep is a bit ridiculous,” he said. He catches flak for getting better sleep than his friends, despite going to bed later. “According to the Oura, I’m getting three hours of deep sleep every night,” he said. “And they’re like, ‘How is that possible? You’re going to bed after midnight, and I go to bed at like 11:00.'”

Though Wanfang Wu, 28, said he uses the Oura mainly to track his sleep quality, he originally bought it to detect early signs of COVID. While working from home in San Diego, he read it was being used in a trial at Stanford University. Oura has also received a boost from high-profile fans including Prince Harry, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, and the NBA

“In my research for choosing a sleep tracker, the Oura ring was already on my radar,” Wu said. “But then once I heard about the COVID detection, and work-from-home happened, that’s what made me pull the trigger.”

Since purchasing the Oura, Wu has been focused on improving his sleep score, but he said progress has stalled. “I hover around 70%. I’ve been trying to increase that, to limited success.”

Wanfang Wu
Wanfang Wu bought the Oura ring to detect early signs of COVID, but now he mostly uses it to track sleep.

Using health data to change habits

In addition to watching out for a life-threatening virus, many people have learned what lifestyle factors affect their sleep, and are tweaking their diet, alcohol consumption, and bedtime routines. 

“My current hypothesis is I need a more comfortable bed and probably a more standardized sleep schedule,” said Wu, who created an Excel spreadsheet to track how certain behavior changes affected his sleep. So far, he’s tried dimming his lights after sunset, wearing blue light-blocking glasses for two hours before bed, using blackout curtains, drinking Yogi bedtime tea, and, most recently, a new mattress topper. 

“The glasses have helped me fall asleep faster,” he said. “The curtains help me stay asleep longer, but my sleep efficiency has stayed the same – at 70. I am waiting to see if there are durable results from the mattress topper.”

Schneider-Sikorsky, who in addition to his Oura ring wears a Keyto breath meter, an Apple Watch, and an Abbott continuous glucose monitor, said he’s noticed the days-long domino effect one evening of drinking alcohol has on his glucose levels, which in turn increases his hunger. Sushi, he noticed, also makes his glucose levels fluctuate.

Justin Flowers, a 33-year-old biotech manager in San Diego, said he bought an Oura and a Whoop and took up running during the pandemic. 

Justin Flowers.JPG
Justin Flowers bought an Oura and a Whoop and took up running during the pandemic.

“I’ve learned a lot about my body from both devices,” he said, citing the impact of late-night exercise, blue light glasses, melatonin supplements, hydration, and the effects of alcohol. “These are all things that my Series 5 Apple Watch, which I also wear, can’t tell me.”

Back in Toronto, Cheng considers her readiness score before having a glass of wine in the evenings. She’s noticed it boosts her heart rate, which disrupts her sleep, and hurts her readiness score the next morning. 

“I didn’t make those connections in normal real time, because I wasn’t getting a hangover,” she said. “I was ready for work the next day.” Now, she said, the Oura data will tell her that even though she may feel okay, her body is still struggling to recover.

“My ring told me this morning that I was delayed in readiness. And it said, ‘Did you have a late meal?’ I did. “It allows me to see how certain activities help me or hinder me for the day ahead,” she said. 

The quantified self as a status symbol

Optimizing health through tech has unwittingly become a pandemic status symbol.

Tech-health hobbies are something a small number of fortunate people have been able to do, said Elizabeth Currid-Halket, author of “The Sum of Small Things,” which charts the rise of inconspicuous consumption among the aspirational class.

She told Insider that while many people have been under enormous anxiety and stress during the pandemic, turning to the Calm App to meditate during this time is very different than a grocery store worker not being paid enough and risking their life on an hourly job, without the time to zen out for 20 minutes a day.

“Weirdly, even those things that we’ve taken for granted as just simply keeping us sane in this time are still luxuries of being well off,” she said. “They’re very discreet pandemic-focused lifestyle choices, to be in your best health.”

It’s a trend Currid-Halkett doesn’t see going anywhere post-pandemic. “Those are things that people have turned to that will remain helpful in our lives,” she said.

Cheng, the Canadian bank executive, recognizes this and admits she’s self-conscious about the Peloton bike, Oura ring, and Larq bottle she bought during the pandemic. “I do feel privilege guilt,” she said. “I appreciate that I’ve become a walking cliche for upper-middle-class people.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

ClassPass offers a free 2-week trial to new members – here’s how it works

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

classpass cyber monday deal free trial
ClassPass offers a free14-day trial that covers up to 9 classes.

  • ClassPass offers a free 14-day trial to try as many as 5 different classes.
  • They’ll remind you two days before your trial ends, so you can avoid getting charged if you’re not loving it enough to keep.

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to experience variety in your workout regimen and access to a diverse range of gym classes, then you’ve likely heard of ClassPass. 

ClassPass offers a free 14-day trial during which you can take up to nine classes. If you’re in it just for the freebies, or can’t decide if you want to commit or not, ClassPass allows any new signee to cancel their membership whenever they please throughout the trial – and they’ll remind you four days before your trial ends. If you don’t cancel, you will be automatically enrolled in a monthly membership upon the end of the trial. 

What is ClassPass?

ClassPass is a relatively inexpensive subscription that lets you drop into boutique fitness classes in your area without having to belong to those specific clubs. You pay a monthly ClassPass fee to get credits and you use those credits to sign up online for classes that pique your interest. Think boxing and yoga classes, cycling sessions, weight training routines, martial arts, and pilates, among so many others. ClassPass consistently gives you a wide variety of exercises and classes to choose from each week. 

And since a budget-friendly option often means second-rate equipment or gym space, it’s nice to know ClassPass typically features popular studios, including a majority of the fitness classes you’ve heard of from word-of-mouth or have been meaning to try. 

How does the ClassPass free trial work?

The ClassPass free 14-day trial allows you to take up to nine classes (depending on your location; some may offer more or fewer) over the course of the two weeks, and you can cancel your membership whenever. If you don’t cancel before the month trial ends, however, ClassPass auto-enrolls you in its base monthly membership.

What does a ClassPass membership entail?

  1. After your free trial, you pay a monthly membership fee that’s based on your city and how many classes you want to take each month. The lowest tier membership starts at $9, but you should expect to pay something closer to $39 (the rate in cities like Minneapolis) to $49 (the rate in New York City) per month for four to nine classes.
    Screen Shot 2019 11 04 at 6.26.53 PM
    Your monthly ClassPass payment will vary slightly based on which city you live in.

  2. A membership grants you access to use the ClassPass app or site to book yourself a spot in one of the thousands of participating fitness classes in your area. Every class requires a different credit value and you’re also able to book classes in advance or as soon as a few minutes before it begins via the app.
  3. ClassPass allows you to add credits anytime you like if you run empty during the month. If you don’t use your monthly allotment, up to 10 credits roll over each month.

Why do people like ClassPass?

The perks are plentiful. You could pay as much as 50% less every month for specialized fitness classes (a single class can cost $30 à la carte) and have access to a wider variety and convenience in your options. 

ClassPass also provides class recommendations and reviews to let you see what’s good before you book a new class. You can even stream workouts from home if you’d rather not make the trip into a studio. 

Plus, the versatility means working out can be more fun, which can help you build the habit. If you’re getting bored of rowing, you can switch it up with tai chi. And if you’re traveling, you can switch your account location and use ClassPass wherever you are (given you’re in one of the participating cities). 

You also don’t have to buy class packs or commit to any membership that penalizes you for deciding in February you’re not going to be “really into” fitness in 2021. ClassPass is flexible and so, too, is the 14-day trial.

What are the potential cons of using ClassPass?

The risks you run, depending on the city, are popular classes booking up quickly, falling in love with a high-credit class, needing to buy more credits because you exercised too much (is this really a bad thing, though?), or paying for a month and never using the credits.

One option to consider if you end the month with plenty of unused credits is to use them on considerably higher credit spa treatments ClassPass offers. Otherwise, up to 10 credits roll over each month.

You can go to most studios an unlimited number of times per month (or per “cycle”), though it’s possible more credits will be charged if you go often, in which case you’ll see a message explaining the change. ClassPass also allows members to submit a recommendation for gyms not offered – there’s no guarantee they’ll add it, but it’s worth a shot.

How is ClassPass responding to COVID-19?

In response to COVID-19, the company told Business Insider that ClassPass has removed its reactivation fees, is working to make it easier for members to pause their accounts in the cities where the COVID-19 threat is greatest, and scaled its customer services team for more support. 

The company’s official statement is as follows:

“As a company dedicated to helping people feel their best, ClassPass is taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously. We are monitoring updates from the CDC and WHO in every country where we are present. Across the globe, we are increasing our customer support resources and working with our teams to give members flexible options until they feel ready to return to class. Internally, we have built a task force that is working to find ways to support the small fitness businesses who are most likely to take a hit from cancellations. Most importantly, we are requesting that ClassPass customers and team members who feel unwell stay home.”

The bottom line

Overall, ClassPass is ideal for relatively inexpensive access to a diverse range of top fitness classes. With a free month-long membership available for you to give it a go for yourself, you don’t have much to lose. Sign up for your free trial of ClassPass here

Read the original article on Business Insider