Working at a magazine called Outside, we are obviously big fans of fresh air—spending hours in a gym just isn’t as fun and fulfilling as hours on a mountain, in the woods, or on the water. We approached this set of gear testing with that in mind; we looked for small pieces of equipment that could easily fit into your existing at-home workout setup and would complement your outdoor exercise and adventures. After a season of testing, this is the home gym equipment we fell in love with.
The Reviews: The Best Home Gym Gear of 2024
Apple Fitness+ ($10/month or $80 annually)
We were impressed by the breadth of guided workouts Apple offers in the Fitness+ app. We cherry-picked from more than 4,000 different episodes—ranging from five to 45 minutes— focused on weight lifting, yoga, pilates, HIIT workouts, dance, cycling, running, kickboxing, rowing, and even walking and meditation. Classes are conveniently arranged into programs designed to increase your fitness over multiple weeks, grouped in themes, from “Travel-Friendly Workouts” to “Totally 80s Cycling.” I was particularly fond of the episodes tied to the Apple TV+ show Ted Lasso, which included appearances from two of the show’s main actors.
Fitness+ episodes are designed to be like virtually stepping inside a trendy fitness studio with a diverse, inclusive, and polished set of instructors. Each session is led by multiple instructors demonstrating three ways moves can be modified—making almost every workout suitable for both beginners and advanced athletes—with the lead instructor incorporating American Sign Language. Is that worth ponying up the cost of an Apple device plus the subscription fee? We say yes. (Note, you can only subscribe to the app if you have an iPhone, and it works best—providing real-time metrics—when paired with an Apple Watch).
Bottom Line: This robust library of studio-style fitness classes truly offers something for everyone.
Bala Bangles ($55–$65 depending on weight)
These sleek weights ranging from a half-pound to two upped the intensity of whatever we were doing in our home gym when we wore them on our ankles or wrists. Made of steel wrapped in soft silicone, they provided extra resistance to strength workouts without any discomfort (besides the muscle burn): The elastic hook-and-loop fasteners are much softer to the touch than any other velcro straps we’ve worn, so there’s no itchiness when putting these on or taking them off.
Bottom Line: A comfortable way to add a little extra difficulty to your workout.
Roll Recovery R4 Body Roller ($60)
I can’t live without a foam roller, and found this one to be a satisfying upgrade thanks to its centered groove that aligns with the spine and neck—allowing those body parts to stay relaxed while rolling out knots in your back. That groove is also great for working on the achilles tendon and your IT band. The roller is dense, moderately firm, and wide—its six-inch diameter at least a half inch larger than other rollers we’ve tried, creating a broader massage surface.
Bottom Line: A versatile roller that is easy to grip and neither too hard nor too soft.
TRX HexGrip Medicine Ball ($70–$150 depending on size)
Medicine balls are versatile workhorses for at-home training, but their traditional rubber exteriors tend to get slippery. This durable option with a tacky, easy-grip surface removes worries about slips and lets you focus on maximizing your medicine ball exercises. Offered at weights from four to 50 pounds and diameters of 10 or 14 inches, it has low bounce and a fantastic hand-feel. “It’s grippy without being excessively abrasive,” said one tester, who particularly appreciated the touch when catching and throwing the ball.
Bottom Line: This high-quality medicine ball feels luxurious and is built to withstand abuse.
Alo Yoga Warrior Mat ($128)
This mat is extra long (6.2 feet), extra comfortable (it’s 5mm thick), and extra grippy (the top layer of polyurethane stayed matte and dry no matter how hard we sweated). It’s the first mat my always-too-sweaty hands and feet didn’t slip around on, which motivated me to start doing more vigorous yoga sessions. One gripe: the matte surface, which isn’t the easiest to clean, is beginning to show signs of wear and tear after about 10 months of frequent use.
Bottom Line: In size and comfort, this is a major upgrade to the standard yoga mat.
How to Buy
Home gym equipment leans toward expensive, so it’s worth figuring out what fitness goals you’re prioritizing before you start spending. It’s also important to know your existing routine and abilities and be honest about what kind of gear will end up collecting dust.
Speaking of dust, consider where you plan to keep your gear and how easy it will be to clean. A foam roller that attracts dog hair or yoga mat that looks grimy after just a few workouts can get annoying fast.
Finally, look closely at product warranties and return policies before you buy, so you know what to do if something breaks or if the material turns out to not feel good when you hold it with sweaty hands.
Meet the Lead Tester
Svati Kirsten Narula is a writer and editor in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She primarily hikes and runs for exercise, but will happily stretch out on a yoga mat indoors for short strength workouts or foam rolling sessions.
How We Tested
When it comes to home gym equipment, the best products are ones you’re motivated to actually use on a regular basis. We selected items that were either the easiest to incorporate into our existing workout routines, or that successfully pushed us to try something new. We (a group of fitness enthusiasts ranging from regular weight-lifters to occasional yoga-doers) tested everything in our homes—mostly in living rooms.