The Best At-Home Workouts for a Long and Socially Distant Winter, According to Fitness Experts

11 minute read

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This winter it’s expected that many gyms will remain closed, in-person group fitness classes will remain off-limits and shelter-in-place orders will come and go. So trudging to the gym for an hour on the elliptical may no longer be an option. More than anything else, it will require creativity to be healthy and fit.

While services from Peloton and Mirror have seen massive growth since the pandemic began, there are plenty of other options, too. If your packed schedule of remote work and distance learning has you feeling like don’t have time to exercise, celebrity trainer and nutritionist Harley Pasternak invites you to think again.

“Add in movement wherever, whenever and however possible,” he tells TIME. “Don’t look at the one-hour at-home workout class you do five times a week as your only opportunity to work out—make sure you’re adding in movement throughout the day as well. Whether doing calf raises on a call, a five-minute resistance training circuit in between meetings or doing a family walk at the end of a day packed with work-from-home and learn-from-home, every step you take makes a difference.”

If you’ve spent 2020 on the couch (no judgment!) but hope to start moving in the New Year, start small. “Start with a 10 or 15-minute workout,” says Dr. Kate Ayoub, a physical therapist and health coach with Own Your Movement. “If you are in the mood, you can keep going, but give yourself permission to check the box if you complete 15-minutes.”

Ready to sweat? Here’s some ideas for the best at-home workout gear, equipment, apps and online-based workouts:




Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands ($10.95, set of five)

“Resistance bands are my staple piece of equipment for home workouts,” says celebrity trainer and Puma athlete Ridge Davis. “Resistance bands challenge your muscles in a safer manner than free weights. Because of the elasticity in bands, you are able to create resistance in any plane of motion. This gives you more options and creativity when doing home workouts.”

Buy now: Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands

Fitbit Versa 3 Health & Fitness Smartwatch ($205)

“People exercising at home [may not be] exercising intensely enough,” says Pasternak. “Fitbit has a feature called Active Zone Minutes which is incredibly useful to put your physical activity intensity in perspective. These minutes represent time doing physical activity at an intensity high enough to help with cardiovascular fitness and weight loss.”

If you’re looking for a lower-priced option that still manages your Active Zone minutes, try the Fitbit Inspire 2 for $99.95.

Buy now: Fitbit Versa 3 Health & Fitness Smartwatch


DEGOL Skipping Rope ($7.99)

“A jump rope could quite possibly be the single most effective exercise tool there is,” says Jeff Watters, the strength and conditioning coach for the pro fighters at Kronk Gym in Detroit. “You can burn more calories doing a 20-minute jump rope circuit than you could running a 10k. Because your entire body is moving, it’s also a fantastic warm up exercise.”

Buy now: DEGOL Skipping Rope

Want to make sure jumping rope isn’t child’s play? Try the Crossrope Get Lean Weighted Jump Rope Set ($99) with workout app and online community of rope skippers.

Buy now: Crossrope Get Lean Weighted Jump Rope Set


Yes4All Ultimate Agility Ladder ($11.99)

“Ladders are great to work speed, lateral and forward movement,” says Swiftwick athlete and certified trainer Amanda Foland. “They help with strengthening joints, ligaments and also stimulate your brain for coordination. Single leg drills, jumps or fast feet are just a few exercises you can do with agility ladders.”

Buy now: Yes4All Ultimate Agility Ladder

Crown Sporting Good 2-Pound Dumbbells

Crown Sporting Good 2-Pound Dumbbells, ($22.99 set of two)

“One of the best and most effective ways to shadow box is to use light weights,” says Watters. “Not only do the weights give you an additional strength benefit, they force you to slow your punches down and concentrate on throwing them correctly.”

Buy now: Crown Sporting Good 2-Pound Dumbbells


Jade Yoga Harmony Mat ($79)

“Working out at home doesn’t need to be complicated at all! All you truly need is yourself and some creativity,” says trainer Emilie Nasseh. “A good gym mat and maybe some mini bands are always my recommendation.” This natural rubber mat has both a lot of cushion and traction, perfect for sweaty situations.

Buy now: Jade Yoga Harmony Mat


Champion Sports Rhino Elite Medicine Ball ($58.57)

“Whether working with a partner or solo, a medicine ball is one that you can use for a full body workout,” says Foland. “[They] can be used for a variety of exercises—ball slams, multiple variations of core work, overhead squats/lunges or farmer walks.” She recommends an eight to 12 lb. ball to start.

Buy now: Champion Sports Rhino Elite Medicine Ball




Elaine Petrone, The Miracle Ball Method ($18.65)

This book introduced the genius idea of “unexercise,” which means letting gravity, breathing and the included Miracle Balls do the heavy lifting. The newly updated edition includes new “unexercises” to help fight sleeplessness, anxiety and stress, and the aches and pains that come from sitting in front of a screen.

Buy now: The Miracle Ball Method


Tom Holland, The Micro-Workout Plan ($18.39)

Certified trainer Tom Holland’s book is filled with quick, easy exercises that require little to no equipment, making them perfect for home workouts. The best part is that his workouts are merely minutes long (think: three-minute planks and six-minute standing ab workouts) all based on research that shows that “three 10-minute workouts have the same benefits as one continuous 30-minute session.”

Buy now: The Micro-Workout Plan


Workout Apps and Online Classes


Pony Sweat (Starts at $5 class)

“It’s OK not to push yourself as hard as you may in a gym or group class,” says Kathrin Werderitsch, a certified yoga instructor. “Pick something you like and try new fun things, like a dance class to switch it up.” One fun way to have a living room dance-a-thon and work up a sweat is Pony Sweat, an inclusive aerobic workout with an incredible soundtrack.

Buy Now: Pony Sweat


Down Dog ($9.99 a month/$59.99 a year)

This easy to use family of apps offers unlimited, customizable, easy-to-follow workouts on demand for $9.99 a month, with special deals for healthcare workers. Whether you want a Hatha yoga practice with a five minute savasana at the end or a HIIT workout with extra emphasis on the abs, this group of apps does it all.

Buy now: Down Dog


Apple Fitness+ (Free or $10 a month)

Apple’s foray into the on-demand fitness world is packed with buzzy trainers offering workouts of all levels. It’s designed to work with Apple Watch to track your progress, so while the service hasn’t launched yet, folks who buy an Apple Watch, like the Series 6 or any Watch newer than a Series 3, get three months of Apple Fitness+ for free. Otherwise it’s $10 a month or less depending on how you bundle it with other Apple services.

Buy now: Apple Fitness+


ALO Moves ($20 Month)

While Alo Moves is best known for its yoga, the website will also lead home athletes through exercises that use everyday items around the house (think ottoman step ups and stool tricep dips) to strengthen and tone up—no fancy equipment necessary. When you’re ready to try yoga or another workout, they have you covered there, too.

Buy now: ALO Moves


Nike Training Club (Free)

The app has a wide variety of home workouts, including filters that allow you to pick a program based on whether or not you have access to a gym or equipment, or want to rely on bodyweight-only exercises.

Buy now: Nike Training Club


Club Calisthenics ($39.99 a month)

Club Calisthenics lays claim to the title of the first female-owned follow-along at-home Calisthenics program. An all-access membership includes a library of classes, live Zoom workouts, monthly workout plans and access to their courses, like the Desk Workers course designed to undo the damage from sitting at a desk all day.

Buy now: Club Calisthenics


Athletic Wear

“Your clothes will set the tone for your actions,” says Jamie Hickey, a trainer, nutritionist and founder of Truism Fitness. “When you go to work, you wear your uniform or a professional outfit. Going to a workout is no different, you want to put on clothes that will allow you to move without restricting your movement and will allow you to breathe.”


Beyond Yoga High Waisted Midi Leggings

These pants are so soft you’ll want to wear them every day whether you’re working out or simply haven’t put on pants with a button since March.

Buy now: Beyond Yoga High Waisted Midi Leggings


Nike Rise 365 Future Fast Top

Whether you’re running on the road, the treadmill or circles around your living room, this lightweight shirt will offer ventilation and style. Plus it’s made with recycled cotton and polyester to remain kind to the environment while you’re taking care of yourself.

Buy now: Nike Rise 365 Future Fast Top

Nike Metcon 6 Training Shoe

Nike Metcon 6 Training Shoe

These work-out friendly training shoes are designed to help with stability, traction and speed while the breathable fabric keeps your feet cool, making them a great option for most indoor sports.

Buy now: Nike Metcon 6 Training Shoe


Reebok PureMove High Impact Sports Bra ($65)

This sports bra is supportive without being restrictive, thanks to technology that firms when you drench it with sweat, meaning it really works for high-intensity workouts. Most important, though, thanks to double straps and breathable fabric, it’s actually comfortable to wear.

Buy now: Reebok PureMove High Impact Sports Bra


Athleta Activate Face Mask ($40 for two)

This comfortable mask is ideal for athletes. It was developed with patent-pending technology that reportedly helps block particles while letting you breathe easy, while the quick dry fabric, well-designed nose bridge and adjustable ear loops make it comfortable whatever workout you’re doing.

Buy now: Athleta Activate Face Mask




Slim Cycle ($200)

The Slim Cycle is a compact cycling machine that won’t take up too much room, and also offers a variety of options and settings to adjust your preferred workout. “If you want to sit and pedal your way through Zoom calls, I like the Slim Cycle,” says celebrity trainer and nutritionist Harley Pasternak.

Buy now: Slim Cycle


Peloton Treadmill ($2,495 plus $39.95 for class subscription)

Like its wildly popular stationary bikes, the Peloton Treadmill allows access to trainer-led workouts and the feel of a group class from the comfort of your own home. If you can’t afford a treadmill, or don’t have the square footage to store one, Peloton’s app provides access to all Peloton content, plus strength, cardio, yoga, barre, meditation, stretching, running, walking, and even outdoor audio runs for a free 30-day trial and $12.99/mo after that.

Buy now: Peloton Treadmill


NordicTrack RW900 Rower ($1,599)

Rowing is a great low-impact way to burn calories and build lean muscle. Pair this rowing machine with NordicTrack’s library of on-demand workouts and live training for a full-body blast.

Buy now: NordicTrack RW900 Rower

MiniTREAD Motorized Seated Under Desk Treadmill

MiniTREAD Motorized Seated Under Desk Treadmill ($599)

If remote work is keeping you too busy to leave your desk, this mini-treadmill can fit under your work space to help you burn a few calories without logging off. It also offers a low-impact way to add more steps to your day and burn a few calories while binge-watching holiday movies.

Buy now: MiniTREAD Motorized Seated Under Desk Treadmill


Mirror ($1,495 plus $39/month class subscription)

Get personal training, yoga, HIIT, pilates and strength training all from a magic mirror on your wall. Not only are there live classes with instructors, but a huge library of options as well, so there’s no fear of missing a class. An added benefit of the Mirror is that it doesn’t require the square footage of a treadmill or rowing machine.

Buy now: Mirror

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