Amazon is trying to make its Halo fitness band stand out with tech that can analyze your tone of voice and body fat, but it makes me feel insecure instead of motivated

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Amazon Halo Band
  • Amazon’s Halo fitness tracker can analyze the tone of your voice to help you understand how you sound to others.
  • It can also use your smartphone’s camera to scan your body and calculate your body fat percentage.
  • But I found it difficult to put this data to good use without more context, and most of the Halo’s best features require a $3.99 monthly subscription.
  • Visit Insider Reviews for more reviews, buying guides, and deals.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyHalo (small)

Like many people, the list of things I check when picking up my phone throughout the day has become pretty long. Email, Slack, Twitter, and Instagram are just a few of the apps I find myself compulsively refreshing out of habit. 

I recently added another metric to that list: the way my voice sounds. That’s because I’ve been wearing Amazon’s Halo band, a fitness tracker that analyzes the tone of your voice in addition to gathering other more traditional health data points. The Halo band includes a microphone for listening to your voice and uses machine learning to assess whether you sound positive, energetic, tired, or annoyed among other moods.  

It’s interesting to see a company like Amazon bring something new to the health and fitness space. And there are plenty of things Amazon gets right with the Halo when it comes to basic fitness tracking. But the features it developed to differentiate its fitness offering from those made by rivals like Apple and Fitbit – such as the tone analysis function – make me feel insecure rather than motivated.

You can always choose not to use the voice analysis feature and just wear the Halo as a regular fitness tracker, of course. But that doesn’t address the Halo’s biggest drawback, in my opinion, which is that you need to pay $3.99 per month after your first six months to get most of the Halo’s features.That makes it hard to recommend over trackers like the Fitbit Inspire 2, which is less expensive and in some ways offers more functionality. 

Here’s a closer look at what it’s been like to use the Amazon Halo.

Tone

One of the Amazon Halo’s marquee features is its ability to analyze the tone of your voice. The capability, appropriately called Tone, can passively listen to your speech throughout the day and flag any notable moments at which you sounded particularly positive or negative. 

You can also choose to have it evaluate your voice in real time, or turn the feature off entirely by shutting off the band’s microphone. Tone is designed to only recognize your voice and not those of the people around you. And you must set up the feature before using it, so it’s completely voluntary. 

During the course of my review, I left the microphone on and allowed the band to monitor the tone of my voice throughout the day. Since the Halo band doesn’t have a screen, the app serves as your window into your health metrics, including how you sound. The app’s home screen greets you with a dashboard showing tiles for activity progress, sleep data, your tone, and body fat measurements. 

Tapping into those tiles lets you view more information about that metric, such as notable moments at which you sounded particularly positive or energetic as it applies to Tone. While it was insightful on some level to see how I sounded during different conversations, it also made me a bit paranoid. 

Now that I’ve been wearing the Halo, I often find myself checking the app after a work meeting or a social call with friends to see how I came across during the conversation. Apparently, I tend to sound more positive and energetic during work meetings (Halo uses words like “warm,” “appreciative,” and “proud” to describe my tone), while at times I sound irritated or dismissive in other conversations with friends or my husband.

Amazon Halo Tone

I couldn’t help but question any interaction that Amazon had labeled as sounding irritated or tired. Who was I speaking to? What were we talking about? Is that what people think I sound like?

Amazon says the point behind Tone is to help you be more mindful in how you sound when speaking to others to improve your personal relationships. Dr. Don Cole, clinical director for The Gottman Institute, which specializes in research-based relationship counseling, says there’s value in understanding how you sound to others if there’s something to be learned from it. 

The first three minutes of a conversation are especially important because they often dictate how the rest of the conversation could play out, Dr. Cole said to Insider. As such, understanding how your tone comes across in the beginning of a conversation could be helpful, especially for couples going through conflict, according to Dr. Cole. 

But it’s important not to get too hung up on the results. Doing so could make it hard to establish a personal connection in the moment. “I think you can spend a lot of time worrying about, or thinking about, those moments rather than just experiencing the interactions,” Dr. Cole said. “And I think when we take ourselves out of the moment, sometimes there’s loss there.”   

Amazon also has wellness programs and workouts that can help you improve certain metrics and stay healthy. For the Tone metric, it has corresponding video programs that are meant to help you improve conversation and listening skills. 

But for me, it was unclear how watching a short seminar on how to be a better listener would help me sound more positive and less irritated during conversations when I don’t even know why my voice sounded that way to begin with. 

Body fat

The Halo‘s other headlining feature is its ability to measure and track your body fat. Amazon does this by taking a scan of your body through your smartphone’s camera and then generating a 3D avatar of your body and a body fat percentage through machine learning and computer vision. 

Amazon says it’s nearly twice as accurate as leading smart home scales and comparable to methods a doctor would use in terms of accuracy.

To take a scan, you must first change into minimal clothing. And by minimal clothing. I mean practically nothing. For women, Amazon suggests wearing a bikini top and bottom or compression shorts with a bra or sports bra. After positioning the camera in the right place, the app will tell you to turn around a few times so that it can capture your full body.

Once the scan is complete, Amazon generates a percentage and 3D avatar in seconds. For privacy purposes, Amazon deletes body scans from the cloud by default after they’ve been processed unless you choose to save them. You can also delete body scan data anytime on the Settings menu (which I did immediately). 

The ability to take a body fat scan from home on your smartphone is useful because it makes it easy to monitor changes in your body on a regular basis. That’s according to Dr. Amy Lee, head of nutrition at dietary supplement maker Nucific, who specializes in weight control methods and recently spoke to Insider about the Halo‘s body scan technology.  

But Dr. Lee also said Halo users should take the results with a grain of salt, especially since it can be difficult for a system like this to fully understand nuanced differences in body composition. 

Amazon Halo Body Scan

The results also depend on how carefully the user follows Amazon’s directions when taking the scans. And data like this is only helpful if the user understands that it should be factored in with other data points, research, and conversations with your doctor, according to Dr. Lee.

In other words, don’t read too deeply into the single body fat percentage number that Amazon provides.

“If you’re doing this at home, and you have no baseline and education in nutrition, and you’re focusing everything you’re doing for the past week on the change of a number . . . you might find yourself going down [a] rabbit hole,” Dr. Lee said. 

I’m exactly the type of person Dr. Lee described. When I saw my scan results, I immediately panicked and wondered why my doctor had never flagged my weight or body fat percentage to me as being problematic in the past. 

I became fixated on the results, which was frustrating because I felt totally fine about my personal progress when it came to eating healthy and exercising regularly before taking the scan. Overall, the body fat percentage scan and Tone features left me feeling somewhat paranoid and a little insecure instead of motivating me. 

As long as you’re paying for the subscription, there are tools in the app to help you manage your exercise, diet, and mental wellbeing. But maintaining a healthy body weight and fat percentage is a complex task. 

And without more guidance about which programs to start with and how to contextualize these results, it’s hard to find this data to be useful or actionable. 

For example, what I’ve learned from wearing the Halo is that I’m not in the healthy range of body fat percentage, but I’m a highly active person based on my Activity Score (more on that below). That felt like a confusing message to me, so I wish I had more information about why that might be the case or what to do next.  

Fitness tracking and other features

There is one way Amazon has improved the fitness tracking experience: the way it tallies activity points. Rather than setting goals on a daily basis for calories burned, the Halo monitors your activity on a weekly basis. You earn points for every minute you move, with intense activity counting for two points per minute while moderate and light activity will get you one point per minute. It also deducts points when you’re too sedentary for long periods of time. 

The weekly goal is set at 150 activity points, which Amazon says is the right range for maintaining a healthy heart citing the American Heart Association. If you hit 300 points, you’re considered to be very active. 

Amazon Halo Activity Tracker

I like this system because in some ways, it feels more encouraging than living by daily goals. I’m usually a religious Apple Watch wearer, and it’s made me obsessed with closing at least two of my rings every day if not all three. If I don’t have time for a full workout, sometimes I find that I won’t be active at all because I know that any hope of closing my Move Ring – the circular meter that fills up with calories burned from daily activity – is totally gone. 

But the Halo’s weekly goals motivate me to move at least a little bit every day even when I’m not committing to a full workout. Taking a brisk 20-minute walk feels more productive when I know it’s going to contribute to my weekly goal compared to the Apple Watch, where it feels like that activity just falls into a black hole if it doesn’t get me to my daily goal.

The Halo also works well as a sleep tracker since it’s light and comfortable enough to wear overnight. But more importantly, it provides a relatively comprehensive set of data about your sleep, even scoring the quality of your sleep much like Fitbit does. 

After wearing the watch to bed, the Halo app will issue a score that indicates the quality of your sleep as well as how much time you spent asleep, how long it took you to fall asleep, the time you spent awake, and how much time you spent in REM, light, and deep sleep. That’s much more thorough than the Apple Watch’s sleep metrics, which basically just tell you the duration of your sleep. 

Amazon also offers a series of health programs under the Discover tab on the Halo app, which features videos based on partnerships with Exhale, Orangetheory, and many others that make it easy to jump into a workout or wellness exercise straight from your phone. You can filter these videos based on the type of workout, duration, difficulty, and the content provider. Unfortunately, though, you can’t filter these workouts by whether or not they require equipment, which is particularly important now that many people are exercising at home. 

And since Amazon encrypts your health data, which is great for privacy, you must factory reset and re-pair your band with a new device anytime you want to access your account elsewhere. While I’m glad Amazon is taking the appropriate steps to secure your health data, this also makes it difficult to access these workout videos since I need to re-pair my band with a different device each time I want to view a workout on a larger screen. 

Instead, I wish Amazon would at least make its Discover programs accessible on other devices upon logging in without carrying over the rest of your health data. Amazon suggests wirelessly casting workouts to a larger screen from your phone via AirPlay as a workaround. 

But most of these features require Amazon’s $3.99 monthly subscription. Without that, you only get access to features like steps, heart rate data, calories burned, and the ability to log activity through the activity sessions feature. You also only get basic sleep data like the time you’ve spent asleep and awake, and your temperature while sleeping. 

You lose the Activity Score, which was one of my favorite things about the Halo, as well as features like Tone, Body Fat, Activity Intensity (which rates the intensity of your activity), Sleep Score, Sleep Stages, and Insights, which highlight trends and patterns in your health and fitness data over time. Discover programs are also limited without a subscription. 

Amazon Halo Sleep Tracker

There’s also no way to manage or cancel your membership from within the app, instead, the app says you should contact Amazon’s customer service department. That’s changing soon though, as the company soon plans to add a link to the app that takes customers to the appropriate page for managing their membership. 

It’s not unusual for companies to put some fitness tracking features behind a subscription paywall. Fitbit does this too through its Fitbit Premium service. But Fitbit still offers analysis of sleep and REM sleep in its free tier, and it just recently made its Health Metrics dashboard available to non-Premium subscribers. And since Fitbit’s trackers include a screen and can deliver smartphone notifications, they still offer more functionality for the price comparatively. 

Ease of use and battery life

The Amazon Halo is easy to get started with, and the setup process is very similar to that of other smartwatches and fitness bands. Just download the Halo app, put the band on its charger, and follow the instructions.

My biggest concern about the Halo’s usability is the intentional design decision Amazon made to not include a screen on its fitness band. Amazon says this to prevent the band from becoming a distraction and taking away from the Halo’s primary purpose of serving as a discrete, comfortable health monitoring device. 

But I feel like Amazon could have achieved this goal without omitting a screen entirely. Wearing a device on your wrist that doesn’t even tell the time feels like a missed opportunity. I would have preferred if the Halo had a small screen that only displayed the time and how many activity points you’ve achieved for the week without any notifications. 

I’d even argue that requiring me to check my phone to see my stats is more distracting, since I’m likely to fall down the rabbit hole of check email and Twitter when picking up my phone.

Amazon’s fitness tracker can last for a decently long time on a single charge, which makes it great for sleep tracking. I got a little more than two days worth of battery life out of the Halo, but it would probably last longer if you have the microphone turned off and aren’t using the Tone feature.

Should you buy it?

Amazon Halo Band

Regardless of your opinion on the Halo’s Tone feature and its body fat measurements, there are more capable options out there for those in search of a simple and affordable fitness tracker. Although I like Amazon’s approach to activity tracking and appreciate the Halo’s comprehensive sleep tracking capabilities, there are too many drawbacks to consider. 

The Halo‘s lack of a screen and the fact that you have to pay $3.99 per month after the first six months to get the best features, like Activity Score, make it tough to recommend. Yes, Fitbit also requires a subscription to access advanced features, but it still offers more detailed sleep data in its free tier compared to Amazon. 

What are your alternatives?

Fitbit’s Inspire 2, which is currently available for $69.95, is a solid choice if you’re looking for an inexpensive and basic fitness tracker. It monitors metrics like sleep, calorie burn, activity, and heart rate, lasts for more than a week on a single charge, and reminds you to move when you’re too sedentary. 

It also comes with a free one-year trial for Fitbit Premium, whereas the Amazon Halo only comes with a six-month trial. But if you choose to stick with Premium, you should note that Fitbit’s service is noticeably more expensive than Amazon’s at $9.99 per month. 

If you’re more interested in training and recovery, the Whoop band is a screen-free fitness tracker that focuses on how your body recovers from workouts, in addition to other metrics. It’s gotten positive reviews from critics at CNET and PCMag, but it’s pricey at $30 per month. 

The bottom line

Amazon Halo Band 3

Amazon tried to do something different with the Halo by making a simple, distraction-free fitness band that still manages to offer deeper health and wellness insights through a subscription. 

The problem, though, is that I didn’t feel like the Halo’s most unique features – its ability to analyze the tone of your voice and calculate body fat percentage – were all that helpful. Instead, they just made me feel paranoid and insecure. 

The one aspect of the Halo that I benefited from the most, its Activity Score, successfully motivated me to get moving every single day, regardless of my schedule. But that feature alone isn’t enough to justify a $3.99 monthly subscription on top of the $99.99 price.  

Pros: Weekly activity goals are helpful, long battery life, works well as a sleep tracker

Cons: Features like Tone and Body Fat aren’t helpful, many features require a subscription, no screen for even telling the time

Halo (button)

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The 10 best places to buy men’s athleisure, and the best pieces we’ve tried

  • The best athleisure brands are saving people from wearing the same boring sweatpants every day.
  • With pieces from our favorite brands, you can be comfortable and presentable at the same time.
  • Brands like Nike, Twillory, Vuori, Uniqlo, Public Rec, and Everlane are among our favorites.

Over the past few years, athleisure has been one of the quickest growing categories in clothing, but now it’s more popular than ever – and for good reason. Drawing cues from true performance athletic wear and cozier loungewear styles, athleisure fills the gap between the two categories, which makes these pieces some of the most versatile clothes you can own and wear.

Whether you’re shopping for clothing that’s stylish enough for Zoom meetings yet comfortable enough for sitting on your couch, or you want clothes that you can wear to work out in before running errands and grabbing lunch, athleisure has you covered for it all.

Think of it as the easiest way to get dressed for daily life without having to put much thought and effort into it. No longer will you have to choose between form and function when it comes to your clothes.

Here are the best athleisure brands for men in 2021:

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Nike

Nike

Nike‘s clothing is dependable, sporty, and fashionable all at the same time.

Nike has a massive selection of tried-and-true sportswear that’s been backed by some of the world’s best athletes. The iconic branding translates well to the full spectrum of style — from casual everyday wearers to sneakerheads and streetwear enthusiasts. In other words, pretty much anyone can wear Nike products, and look good in them too

On top of that, Nike’s clothing is relatively affordable. You’ll find that in some instances it’s actually cheaper than up-and-coming athleisure or performance wear companies.

Another plus side of Nike is its ability to create inclusive clothing. Although some styles favor a more masculine or feminine silhouette, a good portion of Nike’s clothing is unisex.

You’ll be able to find shorts, T-shirts, hoodies, compression pants, socks, and basically anything else you could possibly think of. Also, don’t forget that Jordan Brand and Converse are part of the Nike family, making the selection seemingly endless. 

What to buy:

Product Card (small)Sportswear Swoosh Shorts (small)
Vuori

Vuori

Vuori’s clothing is both lightweight and comfortable, which makes it a breeze to both live in and work out in.

It’s obvious that Vuori takes its inspiration from the beach that’s just a stone’s throw away from its headquarters in Encinitas, California. And that means that its clothes maintain an easy, laidback California aesthetic that is effortlessly cool without looking sloppy.

The brand’s Ponto Performance Pant is the absolute best for people who want to seamlessly transition through different environments in one pair of pants.

While most performance wear is based strictly on sportiness, Vuori is centered around performance in more than just sport. The pants are made from a light and stretchy material that’s soft against the skin. Whether you’re doing yoga, running, working out, riding a bike, lounging, or dressing casually, the Ponto Performance Pants can handle it in comfort.

If you’re looking for a great shirt, I would recommend the Tradewind Performance shirt. The Tradewind Tee is the company’s “most technical” in the lineup, featuring micro-perforation for ventilation, flatlock seams, and a front chest pocket. The shirt promises to wick moisture and dry quickly, making it perfect for a run, a hot yoga session, and any errands you may need to run in between.

What to buy:

Product Card (small)Product Card (small)Product Card (small)
Uniqlo

Uniqlo

If you simply need a good T-shirt without spending a lot of money, Uniqlo’s Dry T-shirts are the way to go. 

Although Uniqlo isn’t an athleisure brand specifically, it’s my favorite place to get comfortable basics at affordable prices. You’ll find an array of T-shirts, shorts, sweatpants, sweatshirts, hoodies, and other pieces that fall into the category of athleisure. 

Despite Uniqlo’s affordable prices, the brand does a great job of offering variety. There are a handful of different materials available to help make clothing more comfortable or useful for specific activities or seasons of the year.

AIRism, a lightweight material that makes clothes more breathable, UV Protection, which blocks sunlight, BLOCKTECH, a water-resistant material, and HEATTECH, a warmth-trapping material, are just some of the many technologies you can find.

In terms of style, Uniqlo definitely pays close attention to fashion trends and regularly collaborates with designers to create more elevated basics.

What to buy:

Product Card (small)Product Card (small)Product Card (small)
Rhone

Rhone

Rhone’s athleisure clothing is made with its special GoldFusion technology, which keeps odors at bay no matter how long your day drags on.

Back in 2016, Rhone managed to raise nearly $113,000 to bring GoldFusion technology to its line of activewear. And now, it can be found in a wide range of activewear and athleisure clothing. 

GoldFusion technology is Rhone’s proprietary, eco-friendly fabric treatment that leverages real gold particles to help fabrics dry up to three times faster. In addition, it’s UV protective, and looks great, too.

The technology goes a long way in keeping your clothes fresh for extended periods of time, whether that means long and active days on the go or simply getting a couple wears out of your workout clothes before having to wash them.

Beyond the odor-blocking technology, Rhone has proven itself to be a versatile brand, offering everything from workout apparel to casual comfort styles.

I absolutely love Rhone’s Commuter Pant, a great pair of trousers that you would actually feel comfortable wearing to an office. Well-tailored and sharply cut, these pants prove that looking good and feeling good can be two sides of the same coin. Similarly, I love the Reign Long Sleeve Shirt. Combined with a pair of shorts, you’ll be ready for a workout, but if swapped for a nice pair of chinos, you could even be ready to go on a date.

If you’re more interested in Rhone’s athletic gear, you might check out the 7-inch Swift Lined short. Perfect for running, these shorts feature a perforated venting system for cooling, as well as two side zipper pockets to hold essentials during a jog. Plus, a soft performance liner promises an exceptional fit.

We’ve tested a handful of items from the brand and have loved them all. Read our full review of Rhone products here.

What to buy:

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Todd Snyder

Todd Snyder

Todd Snyder fuses old school style with high-quality materials to make super stylish, yet sporty clothes.

Todd Snyder is an all-encompassing menswear brand, but its Champion collection specifically is a great place to find stylish athleisure wear. The collaboration brings together the best of both worlds — high-end looks from Todd Synder and the undeniable sportswear history from Champion — to create timeless pieces you’ll want to wear casually and during workouts.

Todd Snyder has sweatpants, shorts, T-shirts, hoodies, and a lot more — and everything is available in plenty of colorways, so you can pick out your favorite shades or stock up on a few good ones to rotate between.

Almost all of the pieces use a super soft french terry cotton, garment-dyed treatment for a worn-in look, and vintage Champion branding.

What to buy:

Product Card (small)Product Card (small)
Adidas

Adidas

If you’re a fan of the classics, then look no further than Adidas to supply you with great performance gear that looks good, too.

Even with the emergence of what seems like an endless supply of athleisure brands focused more on the leisure than the athlete component of their names, one company has maintained a position at the top of the mountain. And that company is Adidas. Whether you’re looking for great athletic wear or just great clothes to wear, Adidas has you covered.

Adidas remains one of the most sought-after brands around the world. That’s likely thanks to its expert combinations of quality and classic style that manages to be both fashion-forward and reminiscent of the brand’s roots — plus, its pieces easily transition across a variety of environments with just a few small adjustments.

Thanks to a wide range of styles, Adidas can match just about any aesthetic. While many of its bestsellers are the brand’s trademark sneakers, you can also find a great selection of performance clothes that work well at the gym and just hanging out.

One of my favorite pieces to wear is the Adidas Must Haves 3-Stripes Shorts. The brand describes them as “sporty everyday shorts with a strong Adidas look” and that’s precisely what they are.

They feature 3-Stripes branding along the sides of the legs and a small Adidas logo on the left leg. You’ll also find basic requirements for any good pair of shorts like side pockets and a drawstring waist.

In addition to having good-looking performance clothing and classic designs like the shorts, the Three Stripes has teamed up with dozens of brands.

Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, White Mountaineering, A Bathing Ape, Reigning Champ, and Alexander Wang are just a few of the many collaborators they’ve worked with for more elevated designs. 

What to buy: 

Product Card (small)Product Card (small)Product Card (small)
Public Rec

Rhone

Brought to life by a former JP Morgan banker, Public Rec makes the kind of athleisure clothing that you’d be comfortable wearing to work.

It started with a pair of sweatpants so popular that it attracted a 1,200-person waitlist. And things have just ballooned from there. Public Rec specializes in technical leisure apparel for men, operating under the mantra that if you feel good, you’ll look good. The brand actually got its start on Kickstarter back in 2015, when it designed and sold its first pair of public-appropriate sweatpants. But since then, it has expanded its offerings to include a number of presentable yet comfortable pieces for everyday life.

The original bestseller is, of course, the All Day Every Day Pant. While they feel like sweatpants, they’re sized more like jeans, which means that they fit your body instead of hanging off of them. You’ll feel totally at ease wearing these pants out and about in your daily life, and if you’re working in a more casual environment, you could certainly wear them to the office as well.

Also popular is the extremely versatile polo shirt, the Go-To Polo. Designed to wick moisture, be breathable, and never lose its shape, it can be dressed up or down, and could even be workout appropriate. Plus, at under $70, it’s surprisingly affordable — most name-brand polos will set you back significantly more, and certainly wouldn’t stand up to an hour at the gym.

The shirt is made from a proprietary fabric blend of Pima cotton, Tencel, and spandex, which is designed to wick moisture and never shrink while staying soft and stretchy. The material is actually the same as the brand’s Go-To Tee, but thanks to the polo design, it’s much more versatile in terms of wearability.

We’ve also noticed that Public Rec apparel never loses its shape. Despite several wears and several washes, both pants and tops alike look as new as the day we got them, and that durability is a major win in our book.

Read my full review on the Public Rec All Day Every Day Pants here.

What to buy:

Product Card (small)Product Card (small)Product Card (small)Product Card (small)
Twillory

Twillory

Twillory might be best known for its performance dress shirts, but the brand’s venture into athlesiure shouldn’t be overlooked.

The collection includes a zip-up hoodie, joggers, T-shirts, polos, and henleys — and they’re all designed to be stretchy, moisture-wicking, cooling, and quick-drying.

However, the standout pieces are the joggers and the hoodie. The joggers have a nicely-tapered fit, slanted side pockets, and a single pocket on the right side of the rear. Combined with the pattern of the material, these joggers look more like your favorite chinos than a sloppy pair of gym sweats.

The hoodie, which comes in matching materials and colors is just as comfortable and completes the set. You can save $20 on the set when you bundle the Althouger Joggers and  Athlounger Hoodie

Athlounger Jogger (small)Athlounger Hoodie (small)
Oliver’s Apparel

Olivers Apparel

Olivers Apparel covers the full gamut of athleisure with workout gear, loungewear, and performance gear you can get away with at work.

Olivers Apparel came to life after a 2013 Kickstarter and has since become one of the best brands for stylish athletic wear. If your sense of fashion is clean and simple, then Olivers is perfect for you. While many sportswear brands use bold colors and patterns on its gear, many of Olivers’ clothes use solid colors and logo-less designs. 

Some of our favorite items include the Classic Sweatpants made from Supima cotton, and the Convoy Tee, which is made from 100% merino for a cozy, yet relaxed fit. 

What to buy:

Classic Hoodie (small)Classic Joggers (small)All Over Short (small)
Everlane

Everlane

Everlane is a dependable place to buy all wardrobe essentials, including athleisure.

We love Everlane for everything from its cashmere sweaters and jeans to footwear and outerwear. The brand’s products are always responsibly made with a high level of quality and keen attention to style. 

While you can always rely on Everlane to find clothes that will help you look your best, you can also rely on them to find clothes that will help you feel your best. 

The brand just launched its new Track Collection, which includes a variety of organic cotton sweatsuits. You can find T-shirts, sweatsuits, and even sneakers at Everlane.

What to buy:

Track Crewneck (small)Track Pant (small)Cotton Crew (small)The Trainer (Men’s) (small)

 

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The 7 best yoga mats of 2021, including sweat-resistant, eco-friendly, and travel options

  • Yoga is one of the best ways to improve flexibility, center your mind, and achieve a sense of relaxation and calm. 
  • A solid yoga session starts with the quality of the mat under your feet. 
  • The best yoga mats offer grip, sweat-resistance, and cushion under your joints. 
  • Our top pick, the Manduka ProLite Yoga Mat, is sweat-resistant and textured to keep from slipping.

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Whether you’re brand new to the ancient practice of yoga and looking into your first ever mat, or you’re a seasoned yogi on the hunt to replace your worn-out asana surface, a new yoga mat is one of those purchases that seems simple, yet quality and details can make all the difference.

If you’ve ever practiced yoga, you know that not all yoga mats are created equally. Each style and material caters to a different set of needs, goals, and specific types of yoga. Those who favor heart-pumping flow classes, or who work up a sweat easily, will enjoy their practice a lot more if their mat has special sweat absorbing properties, for example. Meanwhile, those who travel often will benefit from an easily packable, lightweight mat for maintaining a daily practice on the road. Subtle design changes between mats can even help or hurt your unique movement patterns and may cause unusual aches or pains in any pose.

Read more: The best yoga accessories to elevate your home practice in 2021, according to yoga instructors

You probably never knew there was so much to consider. To help make your purchasing decision easier, we sweat-tested a number of the top yoga mats on the market and compiled this guide to find the best mat depending on your priorities, from perfect pose alignment to eco-friendly materials. Read more about how we tested, as well as what you should look for when shopping for a yoga mat, at the end of this guide.

Here are the best yoga mats:

Best yoga mat overall

manduka mat

The Manduka ProLite Yoga Mat provides just the right amount of padding without being too thick and clunky, and the price stays low even with its sustainable materials and no-slip grip.

Pros: Ideal padding cushion your body,  no-slip grip texture, eco-friendly materials, lifetime guarantee, multiple length options

Cons: Expensive

We love this mat’s thicker sister, the Manduka Pro’s 6mm, but it can be a bit bulky and hard to roll-up. The Manduka ProLite Yoga Mat is a perfectly padded mat to keep your hands, knees, and feet cushioned against any hard floor and support your back as you relax into savasana without being too thick a roll under your arm.

It’s a bit pricy, but the Manduka ProLite mat doesn’t deteriorate over time like others, and if it does flake, peel or fade, the brand offers a lifetime guarantee on their mats.

What’s more, my 13 years of practicing yoga have taught me the importance of a mat that doesn’t just absorb sweat. The Manduka ProLite‘s closed-cell surface repels moisture which keeps it more sanitary and makes it easier to clean and treat. But at the same time, you want a non-slip surface and Manduka’s “proprietary dot patterned bottom” prevents the mat from sliding across the floor, no matter how hot your yoga room gets.

Manduka makes the ProLite mat in two lengths so that more height-gifted yogis can stretch out without fear. Plus, the mat is completely non-toxic, 100 percent latex-free, and even promises a clean manufacturing process.

Best affordable yoga mat

Gaiam yoga mat

The Gaiam Print Premium Yoga Mat is highly affordable and features a ton of fun design options to bring a smile to your face while you practice.

Pros: Affordabile, fun designs, trusted brand, widely available in-store

Cons: Less durable, will degrade over time

The Gaiam name is respected and trusted in the yoga community. Made from PVC material (free of the six specific kinds that have been linked to health risks), the Gaiam Print Premium Yoga Mats has great cushioning under-hand yet is still lightweight and portable. This mat comes in a variety of fun colors and prints which can definitely make your practice more enjoyable.

The main benefit of this mat is the price point makes it very affordable compared to some of the other top-ranked yoga mats out there.

One downside: This mat won’t last forever. In addition to your basic yoga mat wear and tear, both the material and the printed design are susceptible to sun damage. 

The Gaiam Print Premium Mat’s non-slip surface works well for most casual users but if you sweat a lot during your practice, you may need more traction and a grippier surface than this mat offers. As an introduction to your yoga practice without a hefty investment, or even as a backup choice for when your heavy-duty mat is drying, the Gaiam Print Premium is a solid option. 

Best travel yoga mat

Manduka eKOSuperliteMidnight 01

Manduka’s Eko SuperLite Travel Yoga Mat is slim and lightweight enough to bring with you no matter how far you roam without compromising grippiness.

Pros: Lightweight, thin enough of fold, great grip, durable material

Cons: Thin 

Lightweight travel mats let you keep up with your practice on the road without borrowing a questionable yoga mat from your hotel.  The Manduka Eko SuperLite Travel Mat is the lighter, thinner version of Manduka’s top-ranked Eko option.

It’s made of a woven scrim material that won’t tear or stretch either with use or in your suitcase. It’s thin enough to be foldable, so you can tuck the mat away into your backpack or your carry-on without added weight or bulk. It also features a sweat-resistant closed-cell design so your mat will stay drier and cleaner for longer, and has Manduka’s trademark grippiness which you often lose in travel mats.

The Manduka Eko SuperLite is also made from natural rubber that is specifically not harvested in the Amazon. And it’s more affordable than other travel mats, which is ideal considering this option is too thin and flexible to be your every day mat.

Best eco-friendly yoga mat

Prana

The prAna E.C.O. Yoga Mat is made from 100% thermoplastic elastomer, which means it’s non-toxic, sustainably made, and completely recyclable.

Pros: Environmentally friendly, non-toxic materials, recyclable

Cons: May not be grippy enough for some

This mat is made from 100% thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), so all the environmental costs of manufacturing synthetic rubbers and plastics are eliminated from the prAna E.C.O. Mat equation. Once you’re ready to trade your mat for a new one, the material of this is completely recyclable so it won’t clog up a landfill somewhere.

TPE is also UV resistant, so your E.C.O. Mat won’t fade or deteriorate with sun exposure. It’s completely latex-free, chloride-free, and PVC-free. The best benefit of TPE is that it’s extremely lightweight: a 72-by-24-inch mat with a thickness of 5mm still weighs in at only 2.2 pounds.

On the yoga benefits side, the E.C.O. yoga mat is known to be super sticky so your hands and feet won’t slide, but the TPE material may not be the most cushioning option for those looking to protect their knees and backs from the hard pressure of the floor. The mat is double-sided, though, so you can rotate front-to-back and top-to-bottom to get a seriously long-term, even wear on your mat even with heavy use.

Even if you’re just looking for a lighter mat or an eco-friendly option to shake things up, the prAna E.C.O. Mat is a low-cost way to try something new.

Best yoga mat for sweaty yogis

jade yoga mat3

Whether you’re a yogi who sweats a lot during workouts, or you enjoy the sweat-inducing practice of Bikram, the JadeYoga Harmony Mat is what you need to avoid slipping and sliding. 

Pros: Non-slip surface, plenty of cushioning, multiple length options, multiple color options

Cons: Some may find the cushioning too much for their preference, expensive

If your yoga practice works up enough of a sweat that most mats become dangerously slippery, JadeYoga’s Harmony Mat will keep you safe. Made from natural rubber with tiny dots instead of a smooth, sleek surface, the Harmony Mat’s design provides great traction and minimizes slipping. The texture is small enough it goes unnoticed by your hands and knees, even after a 60-minute session. 

The mat is incredibly comfortable, too. Featuring thick enough cushioning to protect your knees and back from getting dinged while practicing, it’s not too thick to hinder movement. 

JadeYoga offers the Harmony Mat in two different sizes, as well as a dozen different colors and prints. It is on the spendy side at $85 for the longest option, but for sweaty yogis, that’s often cheaper (and way more convenient) than purchasing a mat plus absorbant towel.

Read our review of the JadeYoga Harmony Mat.

Best washable yoga mat

YogiBare1

The Yogi Bare Teddy is machine washable without sacrificing quality or durability over time and use.

Pros: Machine-washable, grippy microfiber top, natural rubber bottom stays in place, comes in a variety of fun patterns

Cons: Requires a washing machine, not very padded

Though most mats are easily cleaned with a simple spray and wipe down, if you use it outside or tend to heavily sweat while you practice, it’s convenient to have a mat that can be thrown in the washing machine. The Teddy from Yogi Bare is machine washable. I was surprised to find during testing that the washer didn’t compromise its integrity; its natural rubber base and microfiber top stayed as intact as when I first bought it, even after multiple washes.

Even if the Teddy wasn’t machine-washable, it’d still be a great yoga mat. Its microfiber surface is grippy, especially after I’d been sweating a bit on it, and it’s just padded enough that it provides a soft landing whenever my feet (or wayward knees and elbows) hit the ground. It comes in fun patterns and cololrways.

Cheaper than many other mats on this list, its is well worth the investment considering how easy it is to keep clean. — Rick Stella 

Best yoga mat for alignment work

liforme yoga mat

The Liforme Mat has a printed alignment system on the surface that will help you find your symmetry, balance, and proper footing in any pose.

Pros: Eco-friendly, extremely sticky, doesn’t wear over time, alignment lines

Cons: One-size-fits-all alignment doesn’t fit all bodies, very expensive

No matter what kind of yoga you practice, proper alignment is an important part of learning the poses and transitions. The first thing you’ll notice about the Liforme mat is that discreet lines, shapes, and markers are etched into its surface to help you place your limbs accurately and mindfully as you move through your practice. Liforme’s mat is also slightly longer and wider than most traditional yoga mats, so you’ll never feel cramped or confined.

The Liforme mat’s also has an incredibly grippy surface thanks to their proprietary blend of natural rubber and sustainably-sourced felt to cushion your knees, hips, and hands. The mix also keeps you from slipping and sliding when the sweating starts.

Continuing the eco-friendly trend, each layer of the PVC-free mat is heat-bonded to avoid toxic glues and adhesives, and even the alignment marking system is etched into the surface to avoid synthetic dyes.

If you’re not the most flexible of yogis or if you’re on the shorter side, you may have trouble hitting the alignments recommended by that pattern on the mat, but if your limbs happen to line up with the printed system and you’re looking to go deeper into perfect alignment, the Liforme mat is the one for you.

What else we tested

YoGo Travel Yoga Mat: This mat is lightweight and rolls up really small, making it ideal for packing in a suitcase. It uniquely comes with durable buckles and handles which makes for easy carrying. However, it got beat out by the Manduka Eko SuperLite for Best Travel Mat since they are both the same thickness and made from sustainable rubber, but the Manduka is $20 cheaper.

Manduka Pro’s 6mm: This mat is thicker (6mm) and longer (up to 85 inches) than most mats, making it great for anyone with joint aches and pains. If you don’t need extra padding, this creates unnecessary bulk, so we left it off our main list. But if you need a bigger or more cushioned mat, this is also backed by Manduka’s lifetime garuntee.

How to shop for a yoga mat

There are a number of factors to consider when shopping for a yoga mat that best serves your needs. Size and portability are important to many yogis, mainly because you’ll often tote your mat along with you — unless you do your practice in the comfort of your own home. Some mats are longer than others, so keep that in mind, especially if you’re taller. 

While certain people like sticky mats that help their feet from sliding around, others find them annoying, providing too much hold when they want the freedom of movement. The same goes for a mat’s relative thickness or thinness. Most yoga mats are relatively slim but others are thick for extra protection and cushion for your joints. 

Consider the durability and the types of materials used, too. You want a mat that’s going to last, isn’t made with harsh or harmful chemicals, and is easy to wipe clean after a sweaty session of hot yoga.

How we tested

Each yoga mat featured in this guide went through a series of on the mat tests to see how well they stacked up across these four categories: Performance, durability, ease of cleaning, and value. Specifically, here’s how each category contributed to which yoga mats ultimately made the cut:

  • Performance: How a yoga mat performs encompasses a variety of uses. This could mean how grippy it is for helping you hold poses or reliably move a hand or foot even if you’re a little sweaty, or it could be how comfortable or padded the mat is. In categories such as the best lightweight yoga mat or the best yoga mat for sweaty yogis, we looked at those features specifically (instead of docking points for a lack of padding or too much grip) when choosing what to feature. 
  • Durability: It may not seem like it but yoga mats can take a beating, especially if you use it often. Be it puddles of sweat or the constant barrage of knees, elbows, heels, and shoulders, a yoga mat is under constant pressure. Because of this, you ideally want one built to stand up to this kind of abuse and that’s designed to last for several sessions.
  • Ease of cleaning: Sweat is nearly inevitable when you practice yoga — even during a particularly mellow session. It’s recommended that you clean your yoga mat after every use (especially for anyone who sweats heavily) and a mat that’s easy to clean is a necessity. 
  • Value: Value is the combination of every category we judged the yoga mats on plus it’s actual price point. We like to think that it’s better to invest more in a quality mat that lasts than to spend the money on several cheap mats in the same amount of time. When choosing our budget pick, we also wanted to make sure it wasn’t some shoddy mat but something that delivers premium quality at a more wallet-friendly price. 

Other yoga coverage from Insider Reviews

yoga class black woman men BIPOC

The best yoga accessories to elevate your home practice in 2021, according to yoga instructors

Using accessories like yoga straps, blocks, bolsters, and towels can help ensure proper alignment and deepen your practice.

The best yoga blocks

Yoga blocks are an important tool for yogis at any level. Whether you’re looking to deepen your flexibility, venturing into new pose territory, or just trying to go easy on your joints and muscles, yoga blocks are key.

The best yoga socks

Built for form and function, yoga socks provide extra stability in your yoga poses, which is especially helpful when you start to sweat during hot yoga. 

The best workout clothes for women

With moisture-wicking fabric, cleverly-placed mesh panels, and thoughtful cut-outs, much of today’s athletic clothing is truly meant for athletic pursuits. It’s a far cry from our days of grabbing the oldest shirt in our closet, cutting off the sleeves, and calling it a top.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best Pilates bars of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A Pilates bar challenges and tones the body in dynamic ways, and especially helps strengthen the core. 
  • Our top choice is the Gaiam Restore Pilates Bar for its quality and functionality.
  • We’ve also included options for beginners, those on the go, and more.
  • Read more: The best yoga mats

Pilates was first developed in the 1920s as a low-impact form of exercise specifically designed to strengthen the core, as well as other muscles in the body, and promote postural alignment. As a Pilates instructor, it’s my job to challenge clients in each and every session. Adding equipment to the workout is one way to ramp up the intensity and add new and creative movements. Pilates bars are great tools that can further target the core and work the body in dynamic ways. Lightweight, portable, and with bands for added resistance, the bars will add a strengthening element to your Pilates workout that can help better define your muscles.

Here are the best Pilates bars

Best overall

gaiam pilates bar
Disassembles for easy storage.

The Gaiam Restore Pilates Bar is a high-quality piece of equipment to practice reformer-style movements. 

What we like: Quality, ease of set up, digital workouts included 

This polished and robust Pilates bar has been thoughtfully designed to help you build a strong core, while also increasing flexibility and improving balance. It features two, 30-inch Power Cords and attached foot straps, plus downloadable exercise workouts that guide you through essential Pilates bar movements with proper technique and form. The intensity can be increased simply by rolling the bands around the bar to generate greater resistance. Weighing just two pounds, this lightweight bar is designed for you to flow between reformer-style exercises with grace and ease.

Best on a budget

BQYPOWER pilates bar kit
The eight-character tensioner helps tone the body from all angles.

The BQYPOWER Pilates Bar Kit is an affordable option that doesn’t sacrifice quality.

What we like: Price, multi-use, straps hold their stretch 

For those on a budget, the BQYPOWER Pilates Bar Kit delivers on all fronts without neglecting quality. The strong steel bar is protected with sweat-absorbing foam pads for comfort as you maintain optimum postural alignment, and the straps are made with TPR (thermoplastic rubber) elastic tubes which help them keep their stretch, even after continued use. As a bonus, the kit includes an eight-character tensioner, useful for both strengthening and stretching purposes.

Best for beginners

Viajero Pilates Bar Kit
Easy to increase or decrease resistance.

The Viajero bar is flexible in resistance and comes with a guided e-book for beginners to learn proper technique. 

What we like: Durable, portable, exercise guide included

For beginners, the Viajero bar is an effective addition for your workouts. You can adjust the resistance by simply rolling the tubes around the bar, which is useful for alternating between strength exercises. The bar splits into three sections for easy transport and has two attachable natural latex resistance bands (up to 50 lbs) that can stretch six to 10 times in length without losing resilience. The bar also comes with a handy workout e-book and video to teach you proper form and movement patterns.

Best for strength training

cretee pilates bar
Build muscle with just one piece of equipment.

Adjustable between 60-180 pounds, the Cretee Pilates Bar is best for those who want to build strength.

What we like: Multi-functional, height adaptable, up to 180 pounds of resistance

The Cretee Pilates Bar comes with six bands, varying in resistance from 60 to 180 pounds, with the strap length adjustable depending on your height and the exercise. The bands are made from durable natural latex and can withstand daily exercise sessions without losing elasticity. As a multi-functional bar, the resistance can be reduced for Pilates and more stabilizing-focussed workouts, or increased to challenge the muscles in a strength-training session. 

Best portable

NoviFit Pilates Bar
This band comes with a cooling towel and a storage bag.

The NoviFit Pilates Bar is the best portable option for those working out on the go.

What we like: Adjustable, comes with a carry bag and training guide

The anti-slip NoviFit Pilates Bar has adjustable bands to change both height and resistance, making it suitable for all heights and fitness levels. It also features widening, non-slip foot belts and thick resistance bands for lasting durability. The bar folds up to a compact 19 inches and comes with a cooling towel and waterproof storage bag for workouts on the go. As a bonus, the included workout guide offers a selection of exercises for the entire body. 

Best for added value

CHAMPYA pilates bar
A guided app is included.

With additional straps and a follow-along workout app, the CHAMPYA Pilates Bar offers nice extras.

What we like: Adjustable, sturdy nylon handles, fitness app included

The bar is made from durable materials, including a three-part stick made from sturdy steel, a thick foam exterior, and tough nylon handles to withstand up to 40 pounds of resistance. The adjustable knobs allow you to change the height as desired, and there are two additional foot straps that can be connected for workout variation. Included is access to the Champya App, with a follow-along guide teaching you how to properly stretch, strengthen, and sculpt. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

What happens to your body during an ultramarathon

  • Ultramarathons are races ranging from 50 to 4,345 km in distance. Your body can go through a lot of stress during these grueling tests of human endurance.
  • During races, nausea and vomiting are the most common problems for runners. Some runners may get blurry vision.
  • Sleepiness and hallucinations are problems in longer races lasting more than 24 hours.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: In 2018, more than 108-thousand people finished ultramarathons in the US alone. An ultramarathon is any race longer than 42 kilometers. Races can range anywhere from 50 to over 4,000 kilometers. But one of the more common lengths covers about 100 kilometers and takes, on average, 17 hours to finish.

In some of the longer races, half of the runners never see the finish line. Because these races not only push you to your mental limit they take a toll on your body both inside and out.

Ultra runners endure pretty extreme conditions. The Badwater Ultramarathon, for example, covers over 4,000 meters of elevation through Death Valley, in July, one of the hottest months of the year. Temperatures reach up to 47 degrees Celsius, causing headaches and dizziness in many runners.

But even if you’re running in more comfortable weather, you could be feeling sick to your stomach. One of the most common issues in any ultramarathon is nausea and/or vomiting. It affects about 37% of people who complete a race, but it’s also the number one reason runners won’t finish in the first place. 

That’s because running disrupts your digestion.  It diverts blood away from your stomach to your muscles. And since ultramarathons last so long, many races provide sandwiches, pasta, and other carb-loaded meals. As a result, that food will sit around undigested, causing problems. But if your stomach isn’t slowing you down, your eyes could be causing you grief.

Windy conditions can dry out or damage the cells that pump a protective liquid layer over your cornea, which can cause your cornea to swell up and blur your vision. During the Hellgate 100K for example, runners report losing most of their vision by the end. They call it “Hellgate Eyes.”

But no amount of protection or preparation can prevent one symptom: Sleepiness. For a 17-hour race, it might not be so bad. But longer races can stretch to more than 24 hours, which can make sleepy runners more prone to trips and falls or worse, hallucinations.

The Barkley Marathons, for example, is a race where runners are given 60 hours to finish 161 km. In 2005, one runner reported that he thought he saw houses at the top of the mountain and believed he was their garbageman sent to pick up the trash.

Despite all these health hazards, ultrarunning is a growing sport. One study found that compared to marathoners, ultrarunners are more likely to do it for nature and a sense of purpose than for the competitive aspect. So if you’re up for the challenge, plenty of races are on trails through natural areas, so at least you’ll get a great view!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in March 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Peloton drops 7% after the cycle-maker said it’s struggling to keep up with surging demand for its flagship fitness products

Peloton
  • Peloton’s shares dropped 7% at the market open on Friday after the release of its second-quarter earnings.
  • The cycle-maker said it would invest $100 million to accelerate the speed of product deliveries worldwide.
  • Wedbush maintained its outperform rating on Peloton as analysts expect the at-home fitness trend to last.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Peloton fell 7% on Friday after the company said it continued to struggle with delivering its bike and treadmill products on time.

The company reported its first ever billion-dollar quarter on Thursday, helped by a boom in demand for fitness products during the holiday season. But over the past year, Peloton’s customers have complained of months-long waits, delivery delays, and last-minute cancellations.

Manufacturing lags were not the only challenge for deliveries. Shortages of containers, extended port delays, and a backlog to get containers unloaded were other problems the company faced, finance chief Jill Woodworth told the Financial Times.

Pandemic-related factors continue to hurt the business. So, Peloton has now invested $100 million to accelerate the pace of air and ocean freight to boost its “longer than acceptable wait times” over the next six months. 

Read More: Investors are flocking to trade Dogecoin and other hot digital tokens on Voyager, a platform with no Robinhood-style restrictions. Its CEO says Bitcoin will hit $100,000 this year – and shares 3 other cryptocurrencies to watch.

“While this investment will dampen our near-term profitability, improving our member experience is our first priority,” Peloton said. 

 The company now expects full-year revenue to exceed $4 billion, up from a prior outlook of over $3.9 billion. Wedbush raised its 12-month price target on Peloton to $162 from $160, maintaining an “outperform” rating.

That’s because analysts say the company is unfazed by the momentum of COVID-19 activity because there is a favorable shift away from traditional gyms and toward at-home fitness.

Peloton’s stock closed at $157.53 on Thursday, but was lower, around $146 during regular trading on Friday.

Read More: A top-ranked manager at a firm that handles $50 billion in wealth told us 4 ways investors can smartly play day-trading favorites like GameStop without risking it all 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Peloton wants to make ‘tens of millions’ of bikes and treads – and says its recent acquisition will help it get there

Peloton Co-Founder/CEO John Foley
Peloton Co-Founder and CEO John Foley

  • Peloton is getting ready to make tens of millions of stationary bikes in the US. 
  • CEO John Foley said the company strives to be the “global dominant fitness experience business.”
  • The company surpassed $1 billion in revenue for the first time in the second fiscal quarter of 2021.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Peloton has plans to dominate the at-home fitness industry, according to CEO John Foley. 

The executive said Peloton’s planned acquisition of fitness manufacturer Precor will allow the firm to ramp up production across the US.

“As we invest in US manufacturing and getting ready to make millions, going to tens of millions, of treadmills and bikes in the US…we can have in-location manufacturing plants,” Foley said during Peloton’s Thursday earnings call, which he said will help avoid delivery delays related to port congestion and shipping.

Foley and other Peloton executives said Precor, which makes equipment for health clubs and hotels, would allow the firm to ramp up US manufacturing. The $420 million purchase of Precor represented Peloton’s largest acquisition.

“As we become the global dominant fitness experience business, we want Asian manufacturing, we want US manufacturing, and it creates optionality for us to service different markets from different points of entry. So we’re very excited about Precor and what that team represents to our supply chain globally,” Foley added.

The company surpassed $1 billion in revenue for the first time in the second fiscal quarter of 2021. Membership for its $39-per-month Connected Fitness plan grew 134% compared to the same time last year. 

Read more: 7 fitness M&A deals and big trends experts are watching out for this year- as the pandemic leaves lasting changes on how Americans workout

As sales surged, customers reported waiting months for delayed deliveries and experiencing last-minute cancellations. Some customers told Insider’s Madeline Stone Peloton’s customer service offered limited help. 

Peloton blamed slow deliveries to pandemic-related changes to shipping, and congestion in US ports as e-commerce booms. The company said it  plans to invest $100 million to expedite the movement of bikes globally.

The coronavirus pandemic fueled a spike in demand for at-home fitness products as many gyms closed or limited capacity over the last year. 

Peloton isn’t the only at-home stationary bike company looking to capitalize on increased demand. Echelon Fitness sales increased a whopping 700% year-over-year in September. Echelon calls itself the “most formidable competitor of Peloton” by selling cheaper and more readily available stationary bikes, CEO Lou Lentine said in an interview with Insider’s Bethany Biron

Read the original article on Business Insider

CES 2021: The 15 best new products revealed at the year’s biggest tech conference

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

Sony A90J OLED TV

With CES 2021‘s all-digital event having now come and gone, it’s time at last for our favorite part of the show: awards. We’ve seen dozens of products over the past four days from in front of our screens, and now we’ve collected what we think are the best of the show across 15 different product categories.

From the best smartphone of the show to the best health-focused device, this is the cream of the crop when it comes to CES announcements and reveals. We’ve seen a tech-filled face mask that solves a lot of the problems of normal masks, as well as rollable smartphone displays.

We also spotted major advancements in the smart home from a voice-activated fridge to a home-cleaning robot that’s less like a Roomba and more like a Rosie of “The Jetsons” fame. It’s innovations like these that are not only available today, but will be the foundation of huge advancements in daily convenience and general coolness.

Some of these products are available for either preorder or direct purchase, while others will be launching over the coming months. But, more importantly, they’ve all earned our seal of approval as products to keep an eye on this year as potential buys.

Best laptop: HP Elite Dragonfly Max

HP Elite Dragonfly Max

Many companies are tailoring their products for a work-from-home life at CES 2021, and that’s especially true with HP’s Elite Dragonfly Max

The business-focused laptop has features that are optimized for our new remote work routines, like four wide-range microphones that use artificial intelligence to optimize audio and a 5-megapixel camera. Considering most laptop webcams aren’t very good, and it’s unusual for a laptop to come with that many microphones, the HP Elite Dragonfly Max seems well-positioned to boost the quality of your daily Zoom video meetings. 

In yet another sign that the Max is built with remote work in mind, it also has EyeSafe technology to reduce eye strain after prolonged use — another common theme among this year’s laptops at CES. 

Otherwise, the HP Elite Dragonfly Max, which launches in January for an unannounced price, runs on 11th-generation Intel processors, features a 13.3-inch screen and comes with the option for 5G connectivity. — Lisa Eadicicco, Senior Tech Correspondent

Best phone: LG and TCL’s rollable smartphones

LG rollable phone ces 2021

Smartphone makers are still figuring out the next big thing for smartphone design, and CES 2021 shows that LG and TCL are advancing on rollable smartphone displays instead of foldable ones. 

The concept is the same as foldable displays — to make a smartphone screen bigger than normal when you want the extra screen real estate. The way in which these rollable smartphones deliver on that concept is completely different to foldable phones, and fairly simple to grasp. Inside the phones is a rolled up OLED screen that unfurls, allowing the phones to keep a similar size and shape of a traditional smartphone. The mechanisms to expand the phones as the screen unfurls from their enclosure, however, will undoubtedly be incredibly complex, and there will be many questions to answer regarding their reliability.

Little is known so far about LG and TCL’s smartphones with rollable screens, but rumors suggest that LG plans to launch its own model sometime this year. Regardless, these are certainly the most impressive and exciting phones of CES 2021. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

Best high-end TV: Samsung Micro LED 4K TV

Samsung Micro LED TV lifestyle 2

Samsung has been showing off Micro LEDs at CES for the last few years, and the advanced display technology never fails to impress. That said, the company has yet to actually release a consumer Micro LED 4K TV. For 2021, that’s finally going to change.

Micro LED 4K TVs in 88-, 99-, and 110-inch screen sizes are set to hit the market by the end of the year. Yes, this first wave will likely be prohibitively expensive for anyone but those with the deepest of pockets — my best guess is at least $30,000 for the smallest size — but the fact that the tech is starting to scale down to the consumer level is very exciting. Why? Because Micro LED TVs have the potential to combine everything we love about the pixel-level contrast of OLED TVs with the high brightness of QLED TVs

We got a first look at the 110-inch Samsung Micro LED last week, and if prices eventually come down to a reasonable range, we think this tech could be the future of TV. — Steven Cohen, Tech Editor

Best 4K TV: LG G1 and Sony A90J OLED TVs

Sony A90J OLED TV

OLED is our favorite display technology for picture quality because OLED panels offer the best contrast and viewing angles on the market right now. That said, they have one drawback compared to competing QLED TVs: they can’t get as bright. 

This makes OLEDs less suited for rooms that let in a lot of light, and it can make certain high dynamic range (HDR) videos look dimmer than they would on a QLED. This year, however, Sony and LG have made key improvements to their flagship OLEDs in order to deliver higher brightness than previous models. 

We don’t know exactly how much brighter they’ll be just yet, but the upgrade could help cement the upcoming Sony A90J and LG G1 as top 4K TV contenders. In addition to OLED picture performance, the LG G1 also features an incredibly thin “Gallery” design that enables it to be mounted flush to a wall. Meanwhile, the Sony A90J uses the company’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ tech to create sound from the screen itself. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but new TV models usually start hitting stores in the spring. — Steven Cohen, Tech Editor

Best gaming device: LG 42-inch OLED displays

LG_OLED gaming
LG’s CX (pictured above) is already available in a 48-inch screen size, and new 42-inch OLEDs could be coming soon.

While monitor and TV manufacturers are still working to produce models that make the most of the newly released PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, LG’s OLED TVs have become an increasingly popular choice for PC and console gamers who want the latest features, like adaptive refresh rate, high dynamic range, and low input latency.

LG Display’s newly announced 42-inch OLED TV panel is the company’s smallest OLED yet, and it will undoubtedly compete with premium gaming monitors when it’s released. LG’s CX OLED is already our top rated OLED TV with sizes starting at 48 inches, and a 42-inch display will be an ideal fit for a monitor replacement or bedroom gaming setup. The 42-inch panels are expected to go into production this year, but it’s not yet clear when a consumer model will be available to buy. —Kevin Webb, Tech Reporter

Best soundbar: TCL Alto R1 Wireless Soundbar

TCL Alto R1 soundbar

Soundbars are generally designed to offer a more convenient audio solution than separate speakers or surround sound setups. Though there are some impressive high-end models with advanced audio features like Dolby Atmos, many buyers turn to soundbars primarily for their simplicity. TCL’s new Alto R1 aims to make setup easier than ever before.

The soundbar is the first to use Roku’s new Wi-Fi audio system, enabling the device to wirelessly connect to a Roku TV. You just need to plug the power cable in and then turn the bar and TV on. From there, the soundbar is designed to seamlessly pair and communicate with a Roku TV without any additional wires. This also makes it easy to use one remote and on-screen interface for the display and soundbar. Roku says the tech should prevent any audio syncing issues as well. 

Though we’ll need to get hands-on with the Alto R1 to see how well the wireless tech really works, the feature looks very promising. The soundbar is set to launch later this year, but there’s no word yet on an exact release date or price. — Steven Cohen, Tech Editor

Best robot: Samsung Bot Handy

Bot Handy.
Bot Handy.

Robots are a common sight at CES events, and companies simply won’t stop showing off their robo-tech. This year at CES 2021, the best robot we came across is Samsung’s Bot Handy, It’s an upright robot with a rolling base, and it has a long mechanical arm equipped with a clamp to pick things up. 

The Bot Handy is designed to help with house chores, like cleaning up messy rooms, picking up and throwing away trash, and putting dirty laundry into washing machines. It’s even delicate enough to put dirty dishes into the dishwasher. But, why stop there? The Bot Handy will truly prove its worth when it pours you a glass of wine. Good robot. 

To perform these complex tasks, the Bot Handy relies on AI and delicate mechanics to apply an appropriate amount of force with its clamp.

The Bot Handy is still in development with no definitive price or sales date at the moment. However, Samsung will have its smart robo-vacuum, called the JetBot 90 AI+, available this year. It’s essentially a smarter and better vacuuming robot that doubles as a travelling security camera. Unfortunately, we don’t know how much the JetBot will cost yet, or exactly when it’ll be released. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

Best smartwatch: Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR

Skagen watch

Skagen already makes one of our favorite minimalist smartwatches, and now at CES 2021 the Fossil-owned brand is launching a new wearable that should blend in even more seamlessly as a timepiece. The $195 Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR, as its name suggests, is a hybrid smartwatch that combines the look of a classic watch with the connectivity and health-tracking features of a smartwatch. 

The Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR’s signature feature is its always-on e-ink display, which should offer two-week-long battery life if it lives up to its claims. It also includes health features like a heart rate monitor and activity and sleep tracking, and can deliver notifications from your phone to your wrist. The only major feature it appears to be missing that’s usually standard on smartwatches is built-in GPS. Instead, the Skagen Jorn HR will connect to your phone’s GPS when needed.

All told, the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR looks like a promising new watch for those with a preference for sleek, minimalist looks and long battery life in a smartwatch. — Lisa Eadicicco, Senior Tech Correspondent

Best health device: Razer Project Hazel

razer project hazel

CES is always chock full of wearable technology and wellness gadgets, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put health in focus more than ever in 2021. One of the most promising devices at this year’s CES is Razer’s Project Hazel, which aims to fix many of the shortcomings and inconveniences that come with wearing masks today. 

Project Hazel is an N95 respirator prototype that comes with a special UV light charging case for disinfection, a built-in microphone and amplifier to make it easier to speak loudly while wearing the mask, and clear design so that others can actually see your mouth when worn. And of course, in typical Razer style, the mask also lights up automatically in the dark. — Lisa Eadicicco, Senior Tech Correspondent

Best smart home device: LG InstaView ThinQ Refrigerator with Voice Recognition

LG fridge CES

Voice recognition is now available on refrigerators, obviously, and as it should be. The LG InstaView ThinQ Refrigerator with Voice Recognition, which we’ll call “InstaView” from now on, can open its doors with a simple voice command — something no other refrigerator can do.

This kind of device is exactly what CES is best at showing. The InstaView sounds excessive and superfluous, because it is. But, so does all the futuristic stuff you’ve seen on modern TV shows and movies. And, if you’ve ever wanted to live in that kind of futuristic setting, you can’t ignore things like the InstaView. Indeed, the InstaView is another notch in our progress towards a cool future where our fixtures and appliances listen to our voice commands rather than using our hands like cavepeople. 

LG has a more practical implication for the InstaView. The company says the voice-activated refrigerator that can open its doors on your voice command will help with the “struggle to open the refrigerator door when their hands are full of groceries.” Scoff all you like, but it’s a legitimate “thing” to improve — placing a large object that needs two hands into your refrigerator is a task that needs planning. You need to open the refrigerator door first and hope it stays open while you fetch the large food item. People in the future don’t have that problem because they have the InstaView. 

And, of course, you can ask InstaView about what’s coming up in your calendar and check the status of the ice and water dispensers. Although, it’s unclear if InstaView will talk back or display the information on a screen. 

But, let’s face it: It’s all about the futuristic feels, really.  

So far, InstaView doesn’t use a popular smart assistant like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant. Instead, it uses LG’s own ThinQ AI, which should be perfectly capable of understanding when you want it to open its doors. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

Best home appliance: Kohler Stillness Bath

Smart tub

Baths are kind of gross, but Kohler’s Stillness tub is more about recreating an at-home spa experience than de-griming you. It starts at $6,000 and comes to $16,000 with all the trimmings, so it’s ridiculous and over the top. It takes inspiration from Japanese soaking baths, with a special hinoki wood moat that catches water as it gently spills over its sides. Soft LED lighting illuminates it from below, and the experience tower releases a fine fog and aromas from essential oils. The bath is also voice-activated, so you can ask it to fill to your desired depth and temperature.

Put it all together, and it’s almost enough to make you forget that you just sunk $16k into a bathtub, almost. — Jenny McGrath, Buying Guides Editor

Best small home appliance: Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Sur Mesure Powered by Perso

Yves Saint Laurent makeup CES

Last year, L’Oreal introduced its personal beauty device, the Perso. It was still unclear when it would come to market and how much it would cost. Now we know. You can preorder the Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Sur Mesure for $299.99 right now. 

The device is focused on creating unique lipstick shades. It draws the liquid from three tubes of YSL Velvet Cream Matte Finish. The result will depend on the amount it’s pulled from each. The app can help you try to recreate a color you see on Instagram, too. If it’s too red or orange, you can try again without wasting a ton of product. L’Oreal also hopes it will cut down on packing, since you can get so many colors from just a few cartridges. 

It’s a pricey gadget, but I’m looking forward to what it means for the other version of the Perso I saw at CES last year. The skincare model mixes lotions and serums for you, factoring in things like the weather — maybe you need more sunscreen on a sunny day — and your preferences. Its design helps keep delicate ingredients out of contact with air. Of course, it does mean you’ll have to stick to products from the L’Oreal family of brands, which might be a deal-breaker for a lot of people who like to buy from an array of companies. 

L’Oreal said the skincare Perso should hit the market later this year, though pricing is still unavailable. — Jenny McGrath, Buying Guides Editor

Best fitness tech: Ultrahuman

ultrahuman app

Digital fitness is in the midst of a major moment, as at-home workouts are now the norm instead of some time-constrained exception. Because of this, fitness classes are everywhere; they’re live-streamed on Instagram, produced as a series for YouTube, and downloadable on your smartphone. It should come as no surprise then that CES 2021 (a show that also embraced a fully digital presentation) was chock-full of this new wave of keeping fit. 

At the forefront of the fitness innovation displayed at the show was Ultrahuman, a self-described “masterclass-like” workout app that aims to connect users with world-class athletes, neuroscientists, psychologists, and artists all in the name of improving one’s heath, wellness, and fitness.

Though the analogy to Masterclass seems gimmicky, Ultrahuman does at least have the credentials to back it up. Included in its roster of experts are Crossfit champion Kara Saunders, bodybuilder and athlete Kris Gethin, and fitness influencers, Amanda Cerny and Johannes Bartl. And that just skims the surface of what the brand has planned — its site says it intends to have “100+ of the world’s best athletes.”

But what also makes Ultrahuman intriguing is its concept. The brand aims to teach subscribers everything from mindfulness and meditation to the impact of sleep and the science of working out. There’s even content around how to boost productivity and how to improve focus. The classes are intensive, not unlike what Masterclass offers, and come loaded with expert- and doctor-approved lessons (most of which are developed by the expert or doctor actually leading the class). These include 14-week marathon training classes, a group of sessions on developing a balanced mind, and strength training basics, among many others. The range of classes offered seem fit for people of literally any fitness level or skill, too. 

The platform was designed specifically for the Apple Watch and any iOS-compatible device, but also works on Android devices via an Android smartphone or through a Google Chromecast. Ultrahuman also offers a tiered subscription plan, so users can choose to pay either $14 per month, $41 every six months, or $75 a year for full access to the platform. 

The app is available now on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. — Rick Stella, Health & Fitness Editor

Best auto tech: Mercedes-Benz MBUX Hyperscreen

Mercedes Benz Hyperscreen CES

There were plenty of futuristic car tech unveiled, but most were more fantasy than reality. One that is actually coming is Mercedes-Benz’s next-gen vehicle infotainment system, the MBUX Hyperscreen.

The highlight is a high-resolution 56-inch OLED display that spans across the entire dashboard. Technically divided into three components — digital gauge for the driver, a central 17.7-inch touchscreen, and a screen for the front passenger — the Hyperscreen incorporates artificial intelligence to help the driver adjust controls without taking hands off the wheel or eyes off the road. While such telematics aren’t entirely revolutionary, the Hyperscreen digitizes nearly every control — something we will start to see more and more in new cars.

The MBUX Hyperscreen will debut in the all-electric Mercedes EQS this spring. — Les Shu, Senior Guides Editor

Best photography device: Sony FE 35mm F1.4 G Master Lens

Sony camera CES

Finding a new camera at CES to write about is as elusive as spotting a rare bird, as few companies use the tech conference to launch new products — compared to 15 years ago when every camera maker would unveil multiple models. But, that doesn’t mean CES is entirely void of camera and photo-related products.

While not an official CES release, Sony this week announced the FE 35mm F1.4 G Master lens for its highly lauded full-frame mirrorless cameras. A compact lens designed for shooting photos and videos, it weighs 18.5 ounces yet has the complex optical construction and fast f/1.4 aperture to capture high-quality images with sharpness and beautiful bokeh. Although we haven’t used this particular lens, we have used other fast G Master lenses. Some of the best images we’ve ever taken were with a G Master lens.

The lens goes on sale in February for $1,400. — Les Shu, Senior Guides Editor

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I ate nothing but ‘healthy’ fast food for a week – here’s what happened

America has an obesity problem, but there are more 200,000 fast foods restaurants dotted throughout the country. Customers have been moving towards places with healthier menus and many traditional chains are adding items to address this. I tried eating these “healthy” fast foods for an entire week. I had every meal at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts or Chick-fil-A. Following is a full transcript of the video. 

Kevin Reilly: Fast food is cheap and convenient. But hidden in between the burgers and tacos are some “healthy” options: salads, grilled chicken, yogurts, oatmeal, power burritos. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? I spent a week eating nothing but these “healthy” fast foods and I lost six-and-a-half pounds. But even though I lost about a pound a day, it didn’t really go well.

I live in New York City, a place with every possible food you could want. Eating healthy here, it’s a breeze. But across America, there are more than 200,000 fast food joints, and they’re bringing in more than $200 billion a year in sales. And no matter where you go, you’re never far from a place like McDonald’s or Taco Bell. But in recent years, consumers want better, healthier choices, and the traditional fast food places have been losing customers to those fast casual healthy options.

The rules were pretty simple: Eat every major meal at a national fast-food chain and stick to the healthy options. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway, and Chick-fil-A; nothing but them for a week. Yeah, I lost almost seven pounds, but let’s take a close look at the numbers.

On a normal day, I’m eating around 2,500 calories. An adult man should be having about 2,400 to 2,600 calories a day. But on this fast food plan, my calories plummeted. Most of these meals came in under 400 calories, and that was one of my first problems. I’d eat and just a couple hours later, I was starving. And I had days when I didn’t eat more than 1,000 calories.

Now, some of these meals were really good. My favorite was this grilled chicken market salad from Chick-fil-A. It had blueberries, strawberries, apples; it was delicious and it was actually healthy. However, a lot of the other salads from Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s were loaded with salt, often more than 50% of what I needed for the entire day, from a salad. In fact, excess salt was a problem the entire week. I thought I had hit the jackpot with Taco Bell’s al Fresco menu. They take off all the cheese and mayo-based sauces and replace it with lettuce and pico de gallo. One night I got tacos, another night I got a power cantina burrito, and these were meals with more protein than usual. So, I felt like I was getting enough food. They were good, too good. It was all salt. In fact, just one burrito had almost as much salt as I needed in just one day. The American Heart Association says we should limit our sodium to about 2,300 milligrams a day, but the ideal is closer to 1,500 milligrams a day, especially for a person like me with high blood pressure. But if you look at my sodium intake, it was high every day, yet I was barely getting the calories I needed. If I wanted to keep the sodium down, I was starving. If I wanted to feel full, salt through the roof. You see, that’s an issue in the fast food industry. Wendy’s even acknowledges on their website that there’s going to be a trade-off between salt and flavor.

It was weird. I didn’t feel healthy at all throughout the week, even though I was eating healthy foods and losing weight. And on the last day, I had this massive headache that was just infuriating. These places, they’re supposed to be tasty, cheap, and convenient. But it wasn’t cheap. Every healthy option was expensive, but left me hungry. For eight grilled nuggets and this tiny kale salad at Chick-fil-A, $12. For the power Mediterranean salad at Wendy’s, it was almost $8, yet I could get a cheeseburger, nuggets, fries, and a soda for only $4. That brings me to another problem. Walk into McDonald’s and you get hit with that sweet, sweet french fry smell, and I had to get a salad.

Would I recommend this to anyone? Nope, unless you’re stuck on the road with no other options. Though there was a bright spot: breakfast at Subway. They have these egg-white-and-cheese sandwiches, which I got covered in spinach and peppers. And let me tell you, it was good. But after all this, I just want a cheeseburger.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in May 2018.

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Peloton stock price surges 14% to record high on $420 million Precor acquisition

Peloton

  • Peloton shares spiked as much as 14% to a record high on Tuesday, boosting the connected-fitness company’s market capitalization by up to $6 billion.
  • The maker of internet-connected exercise machines has agreed to acquire Precor, a leading commercial supplier of fitness equipment, for $420 million in cash.
  • Peloton intends to use Precor’s US manufacturing facilities to ramp up production and improve its delivery times.
  • The company also expects the deal to bolster its innovation and generate more sales of equipment and subscriptions to gyms, hotels, colleges, and other commercial customers.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Peloton stock surged as much as 14% to a record high on Tuesday after the connected-fitness company struck a deal to acquire Precor for $420 million in cash. The rally added up to $6 billion to Peloton’s market capitalization.

Precor makes cardio and weight machines, and ranks among the largest commercial suppliers of fitness equipment in the world. Peloton plans to use the 40-year-old company’s 625,000 square feet of US manufacturing capacity to make more equipment and ship it to domestic customers sooner.

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The takeover will also add nearly 100 people to Peloton’s research-and-development team. Moreover, Peloton hopes it will boost sales of its bikes and treadmills – which are equipped with internet-connected screens to allow users to stream live and on-demand classes – to gyms, hotels, colleges, apartment blocks, and companies that buy exercise equipment for shared use.

Peloton stock has skyrocketed 450% this year as the pandemic has spurred more people to invest in home gyms and online fitness classes. The company’s revenues spiked 232% year-on-year last quarter to $758 million, swinging the company from a $50 million net loss to $69 million in net income.

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However, Peloton’s manufacturing and distribution has been severely restricted this year, resulting in lengthy waiting times for customers. Its Precor purchase is likely intended to help iron out those issues.

Here’s a chart showing Peloton’s remarkable stock-price gains this year:

Peloton stock chart

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