I've spent hundreds on workout gear this year—these are my 10 favorite things
They've made me actually look forward to exercising.
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
As a yoga teacher and avid exerciser, the thing I missed most during the worst of quarantine wasn't going to bars or browsing in stores—it was the gym. Longing to be back at the weight room, loading the squat rack, or ohming at the yoga studio, I went on an online shopping spree, stocking up on all of the fitness-related essentials that I thought would keep me motivated and active. I spent a lot of money (close to $1,000, to be exact) on everything from new activewear to new weights.
While I've since returned to the gym (they are open again here in Maryland, where I live), I still use some of the products I bought during quarantine—i.e. they're great for both home and gym workouts. If you're looking for the best gear to upgrade your next sweat sesh, I've narrowed down my purchases to the top 10 things that are well worth your money. From the Shark Tank-famous Bala Bangles to the best water bottle, these are my favorite fitness products I bought in 2020.
1. This Blender Bottle with 30,000 reviews
I've been a Blender Bottle fangirl for years, but my collection grew astronomically this year as I spent more time training (and, to be honest, more time on Amazon). I use a Blender Bottle shaker bottle every single day—the first thing I do each morning before I head to the gym is use one to mix up my pre-workout drink and another to mix up my post-workout shake. They slip into the pocket of my gym bag and come with a stainless-steel mixing ball that blends up your beverage with a vigorous shake, no matter what you're mixing. Plus, there are so many pretty colors and designs to choose from ... well, you can see how I might have felt compelled to stock up.
2. The wildly popular Bala Bangles from Shark Tank
Wrist and ankle weights can get a bad rap—they're often used incorrectly, according to doctors. (Note: Walking, running, or doing really any cardio with them on is one big no-no.) However, they can also come in handy—pun intended—if you use them the right way. Bala Bangles are the trendiest of wearable weights you can buy right now, so of course I had to try them for myself. I really like to use these one-pounders during yoga sculpt or barre classes instead of holding dumbbells (they're much more comfortable) and to add to my wrists for a little extra weight when I'm lifting dumbbells at home.
3. These high-waisted Alo Yoga leggings
The only thing I have in common with Kendall Jenner, Selena Gomez, and Gigi Hadid is a pair of Alo Yoga leggings. I bought the celeb-loved Airlift leggings after seeing them on celebrities everywhere and have been wearing them to the gym ever since. I love that they're just the right amount of breathable yet supportive and are completely squat-proof (i.e., no embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions). Plus, they're really flattering to boot(ies).
4. These lifting straps for heavier weights
Not to be too dramatic but my life—and more specifically, my workouts—changed the day I got these lifting straps from Rip Toned. With the straps, I was able to increase my dumbbell deadlift from 40 pounds to 75 pounds because the straps help hold the heavier weight securely in my grip without slipping. They can easily fit any size wrist and are incredibly strong and durable.
5. This fitness log book to keep track of my workouts
For a while, I'd record all of my workouts in a jumbled mess on the Notes app in my phone (if I even remembered to record them at all). It was not very effective. That's why I finally decided to upgrade to an actual log book. This one has space to track everything I need to, from my reps and sets every day to my food to my goals and stats. Plus, it's small enough that I can toss it in my gym bag.
6. This foam roller for sore muscles
Work hard, recover harder—that's the motto I've tried to live by this year, especially given that if I'm not at the gym, I'm sitting at my desk or on the couch. My muscles are prone to getting either sore or stiff, which is where a foam roller comes in handy. I love this highly-rated one (which we picked as our portable pick in our test of the best foam rollers) because it releases tension and soothes aches and it's a great size for using on any area of my body, from my hamstrings to my lats to my back, and for storing when I'm not rolling.
7. This HydroJug that's all over Instagram
Staying hydrated is key to feeling and performing your best, and it's even more important if you're someone who works out regularly. While I've always been pretty good about drinking water, I wanted a way to make sure I was getting my minimum one gallon per day so I ordered a HydroJug over the summer. The Instagram-famous brand makes colorful reusable bottles that hold up to half a gallon of water, so all I have to do is fill one up (and sip it down) twice over course the day and I know I've gotten in your water. I paired mine with one of their popular carrying sleeves (which come in prints like camo, leopard, and tie-dye) for easy toting to and from the gym.
8. The number one Lululemon yoga mat
Being a yoga teacher, I already owned five yoga mats, so did I need another one? No. But did I want another one to make me feel more motivated to continue my vinyasa practice at home? Absolutely. While my personal favorite mat is the Liforme yoga mat, I'm also a huge fan of the Lululemon Reversible Mat, which is what I ended up buying and what our experts dubbed the best yoga mat out there. I love the pretty patterns and colors and, more importantly, that it provides ample cushioning along with a non-slip surface.
9. This top-rated weighted vest
Wearing a weighted vest instantly makes any workout way harder, while making the wearer instantly feel way more badass. Whether I'm going for a power walk or doing lunges, I'll toss this on to add a little more resistance. I got this vest from Dick's and like that it's easy to adjust to fit my body and that it has 20 pockets of removable two-pound weights so I can add up to 40 pounds of extra mass to my frame and an extra challenge to my workouts.
10. This bar for pull-ups and push-ups
My number one goal this year is to be able to do an unassisted pull-up. While I'm not there yet, I've been able to practice moves like negatives and assisted band pullups—and progress—a lot at home, thanks to this bar. I like that it's comfortable to grip and that it's very versatile (you can also use it for push-ups and dips, for instance). More importantly, as a single woman who isn't super handy, I appreciate how easy it is to attach to a doorway with no drilling or screws required.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.