9 Best Home Gym and Fitness Must-Haves for 2021
Whether you’re avoiding the gym or just want to level up your home fitness equipment, these home gym and fitness must-haves are worth adding to your cart. From cardio to strength to recovery, this list has it all to keep you in shape and feeling great all year.
Some of the following items have been gifted for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.
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What equipment is needed in a home gym?
Well if we are being honest, you can exercise at home with no equipment at all. All you need is a body and a healthy dose of motivation, and you can do a lot!
I have a body. That motivation part is what gets me.
Very rarely do I feel motivated to just knock out a bunch of unweighted squats, pushups, and crunches. It gets boring and it definitely isn’t something I want to do day after day. I crave variety in my fitness routine!
With the right equipment, I look forward to getting my heart pumping and sweat dripping. By adding just a few tools (or “toys” as I call them), I am much more likely to be consistent with my exercise plan.
My home gym and fitness equipment must-haves
Stroops Fitness Equipment
When I first discovered Stroops, it was like the gates to fitness heaven had opened and angels were singing. I had been struggling to use my very basic resistance bands and had reluctantly continued with them because I didn’t know there was a better option.
Oh but there is.
Stroops specializes in making safe, premium, versatile resistance bands and fitness systems so you can workout anywhere.
I have the VITL set and spine strap set up on one of the doors in my gym. The movement of the bands is so smooth and I feel like I’m actually using better form than I did with my old bands. They are also really sturdy, which means I don’t worry about them popping and hitting me mid-rep!
I probably would’ve been much more consistent with my shoulder therapy exercises last year if I’d had these. However, I have them now and I’ve been adding in some of those stability exercises again and it feels great!
Stroops has other equipment that I’m hoping to add in too, like a squat rack (for those booty gains) and some shin friendly plyo boxes. For now, my set is great for some of the movements I’ve been missing at the gym (like lat pulldowns and glute kickbacks). The versatility of the spine lets me work muscles from all kinds of angles, helping me to stay balanced and get strong all over!
Cubii Jr. Seated Elliptical
When I was a gym member, I enjoyed using the elliptical for my cardio warmup. It was great to get my blood moving and felt like it worked my muscles a little differently than the treadmill (and was less boring to me).
However, while building up my home gym, there are two things that are quite limited: space and money.
The Cubii Jr. solves that problem by providing me with a portable elliptical device that I can use with any chair, and at a much more affordable price than a full-sized elliptical machine!
The Cubii Compact Seated Elliptical allows users to keep fit while they sit! Its ergonomic design provides a low-impact exercise that can be done from the your favorite chair in any footwear. It is also whisper-quiet, so you can exercise while on a Zoom conference or while binge watching The Office for the 18th time without noise or distractions.
Weighing only 30 pounds, I can use my Cubii Jr. in my gym or easily move it to my home office for a quick pick-me-up desk workout during the day. It’s great for all fitness levels, as my 10 year old has already tested it out (and my 66 year old mother-in-law has eyeballed it as well).
My sweet husband has told me stories about how many miles he used to ride his bike when he lived in California. He even had a bike when we first started dating (until someone stole it from his truck) and I could tell he missed being able to ride.
While he still hasn’t gotten around to buying an actual bike (and to be honest, biking in Georgia isn’t the best), this Desk Cycle has been a pretty great replacement option.
Similar to my under-desk elliptical, the Desk Cycle fits right under your desk in your home office. It offers resistance settings that act as a low cardio workout which boosts energy and oxygen to the brain without distracting from the work at hand.
I have definitely noticed a difference in Arien’s mood and energy levels after he started adding in some Desk Cycle exercise during his day. With its ease of use and portability, it has helped him increase his health by making daily exercise easy to squeeze in no matter how many meetings he has!
Dribble Up Smart Basketball and Medicine Ball
Funny story – a friend of mine actually tagged me in a Facebook post one year ago to tell me that my son needed a Dribble Up Basketball. I didn’t even remember that until it popped up in my Facebook memories a few days ago – but boy was she right!!
DribbleUp is a durable “Smart Ball” that connects to your phone or tablet. The ball is designed to be tracked by a free app on your device. You use the ball in front of the screen as a virtual blue tracker appears and creates a program for you to follow in real-time.
They have a Smart Soccer Ball, Smart Basketball and even a Smart Medicine Ball. Similar to the Peloton bike, there are also live, interactive soccer and basketball classes that are perfect for anyone who prefers to exercise and play at home for now.
I got the basketball thinking my son would love it (he does) and the medicine ball for myself. Turns out I really like playing with the smart basketball myself! In just my first time using the app, I could tell that my dribbling skills were improving. Working to hit the targets on my screen were so much fun and I just wanted to challenge myself to get better and better!
The medicine ball I have is 6 pounds, which is the perfect weight for me right now. The workouts in the app are easy to follow along with and keep me engaged. I like that I can pick and choose what I want to do so I don’t get bored!
Neither ball requires very much space, making it really easy to get in a fun workout almost anywhere!
Superfeet Shoe Insoles
Here’s another example of me trying a product first for my kid, and then realizing how amazing it is for myself.
Kaiden, my 10 year old, saw an orthopedist earlier this year for ongoing foot/ankle pain. In addition to physical therapy, his doctor recommended we try Superfeet. They are cheaper than prescription orthotics and work really well, he said.
He was right.
Superfeet insoles are contoured to cradle your heels and arches to provide support in the way your feet need them. By decreasing the strain and stress on your body, you get relief for your tired and achy feet. And not only your feet – but your knees and back too!
Pain starts from the ground up, so making sure your feet have the best support can help to alleviate other body pain as well.
Superfeet has a tool on their website for you to determine which of their insoles will work best for your feet, body pain, and activity needs. I use the BERRY insoles for my day-to-day walking and life (y’all know mamas don’t sit down much) and the RUN comfort insoles for my running shoes.
Kaiden has the GREEN insoles in his shoes for maximum support due to his own foot/ankle needs. Honestly, I never thought I would be recommending shoe inserts to people, but these things are amazing!
Even my father-in-law recently discovered how much of a difference Superfeet can make (only he has Superfeet shoes and loves them).
I first learned about KT Tape when my daughter, Hunter, needed to use it for her own foot/ankle pain. Our bodies are a little wonky around here, I’ll admit it.
KT Tape is the leading kinesiology tape company that provides drug-free pain relief for aching muscles. Their signature tape, worn by elite athletes, can help alleviate muscle pain and soreness that you experience after a new workout at home. Their other products, including the Recovery Massage Roller (it can be used hot or cold!) and Pain Relief Gel, can aid in recovery as well.
KT Tape is applied along muscles, ligaments, and tendons (soft tissue) to provide a lightweight, external support that helps you remain active while recovering from injuries.
While it isn’t super important, it’s also cool that KT Tape comes in fun colors. Just sayin’. I like pink.
TENS Unit & EMS Combination Therapy Device
I used to be a little nervous about using a TENS unit to help with pain relief, but now I’m just kicking myself for not trying it sooner! Not sure exactly what I was afraid of, but this thing is amazing.
TENS & EMS (electrical nerve and muscle stimulation) Units specialize in non-intrusive and drug free pain relief, which is ideal for anyone experiencing pain, especially chronic pain. These tools are ideal for muscle and joint pain and have been proven to offer pain relief through transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). It works by creating a tingling sensation which in turn helps block or suppress pain messages to your brain.
Massage Therapy Concepts TENS & EMS Units also help stimulate the body’s production of our own natural painkiller – endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. (If you know where that quote is from, we can be best friends!)
I first experienced the benefits of electrical stimulation when I needed physical therapy for a sprained hip. My quads were extremely tight and were causing a muscular imbalance. My therapist combined dry needling with electrotherapy to help my muscles relax faster than they would with other methods. While I won’t be dry needling at home, using the TENS and EMS unit helps me to get similar recovery benefits with safe electrotherapy that I can do myself.
This video explains it in more detail, but you’d definitely have to try it for yourself to see how well it works!
The Original Worm
Ask any personal trainer or physical therapist what is the most important thing a person can do to prevent injury and they will most likely tell you “stretch and foam roll.”
That’s because it’s true. Rolling out your muscles helps to eliminate tightness that leads to muscular imbalances and poor form. (What they won’t tell you is that they don’t really stretch and foam roll as much as they should either. Shhh. We aren’t perfect!)
One of the reasons we skip foam rolling – other than not wanting to take the time to slow down and do it – is because a lot of foam rollers are kind of bulky and annoying to deal with. The easiest time for me to foam roll is in the evenings when I’m watching TV, but I don’t want to keep an unsightly foam roller in my living room or bedroom. And I don’t want to go all the way down to my basement to get it.
The Worm solves that problem for me.
The Original Worm is a portable, full body massage roller that combines the benefits of therapy balls with a foam roller. Its compact design has four neoprene encased, solid rubber massage balls that target 4x the body’s surface area. These massage roller balls help to to combat stiffness, pain and stress in muscles and joints – exactly what we need to recover from a tough workout and prevent injury!
It does amazing things for my glutes, which can be tough to massage with a thick foam roller. The little massage balls in the Worm really dig in deep where I need it.
The compact design makes it easy to stash out of sight in any room in your house for quick access when you need to roll out soreness. It’s also small enough to toss in your gym bag so you aren’t sharing a foam roller with 500 other sweaty people (ew), or into your suitcase when you travel. Hello portable massage roller to provide post-flight stiffness relief!
(Oh and if you are a traveler and forgot your Worm at home – they have them in many airports in the XpresSpa, including ATL!)
URBNFit Pulse Foam Roller
Ok. I’ve shared with y’all the importance of loosening tight muscles, but this takes foam rolling to the next level. The URBNFit pulse foam roller adds an element of vibrating massage to your self-myofasical release that feels ahh-maaa-zing.
It has 5 vibration levels so you can choose your desired intensity. The vibrations combined with the firm pressure and grooved surface help to penetrate your muscles more deeply for a more effective recovery.
It comes with a USB cord to recharge the battery, which has a 6 hour life. That’s a lot of foam rolling time before needing to recharge!
I mentioned that my 10 year old son has foot/ankle pain. He also suffers from extremely tight calves, which is directly related to his ankle issues. You can imagine what it’s like to convince a 10 year old to foam roll tight calves.
However, when I hand him this vibrating foam roller and say, “Hey, give yourself a little calf massage while you’re watching Netflix.” ZERO COMPLAINTS. If only getting him to do chores could be that easy!
Just add motivation and let’s go!
With all of these amazing tools, I am set for getting in the best shape possible right now. And at 40 years old, fitness is very important to my health! I still have two little ones that I have to run after, and that means I need the energy and stamina to keep up with them.
I need cardio to keep my heart and lungs strong, resistance training to be able to pick them up when they fall, and quick recovery so I’m not down and out. Because I promise you, toddlers and preschoolers do NOT let mama rest! And the last thing I need right now is another injury or surgery.
If you’re wanting to get into a consistent fitness routine, consider adding one or more of the above tools to your arsenal of exercise equipment and get moving! Schedule it into your day and find your motivation deep down.
Don’t look for just a number on the scale either. That doesn’t work. Find your REAL motivation – mine is my kids (and one day, my future grandkids too).
Want support or help while you work on your health? Shoot me a message on social media or leave a comment here! I’d be happy to help you through it!
Amanda is a mom of 4 living a mostly crunchy lifestyle outside of Atlanta, GA with her husband, 2 dogs, and a cat. As a former special education teacher who also has her personal training certification — Amanda really enjoys teaching others how to do things!
When she’s not working, Amanda enjoys DIY projects, exercising, photography, hiking, and long walks through Target.
I love how unique and modern these recommendations are.
Thanks! They are definitely great to have!
I keep reading bad reviews online about the dribble up basketball use unpairing with the phone app constantly. Is that your experience?
That’s interesting – I haven’t had that happen with my ball and app. I wonder if there’s a distance issue that causes that. Not sure how commonly that happens, but it hasn’t happened for us! Thanks for asking! 🙂