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Fitness trends are notorious for exploding onto the scene and then fading almost as quickly. If, for example, you are wondering whatever happened to your Shake Weight oscillating dumbbell, it’s probably in the back of a closet, next to your Ab Roller. So, while some people are predicting that the commercial gym may go the way of the video rental store and that personal trainers may all become virtual, no one really knows what will happen to exercise preferences post Covid-19.
One thing does seem certain, though. If you opt for a home gym, which, according to a 2021 study by the National Association of Home Builders, 47% of all current home-buyers would like to do, you will no longer have to hide it in the basement.
Mirrors muscle in
Helping to bring home gyms up the stairs is a new category of space-saving, wall-mounted home exercise devices, and their stand-alone counterparts, known as fitness mirrors. Looking like a cross between a full-length dressing mirror and an elongated flat-screen TV, fitness mirrors take up very little floor space. But because of their internet-connected brain power, they allow you to get as much of a workout as those rows of metal behemoths that can make a commercial gym look like an automobile assembly plant.
Among the best-known fitness mirrors are the Tonal, which is focused on strength training, and The Mirror, which is more about cardio. Both have a strong field of competitors, including the Echelon Reflect Touch, Nordic Track Vault, and Tempo Studio, which in addition to monitoring functions such as heart rate, rep count, and range of motion, can stream live and on-demand workouts as well as offer Zoom-like group classes and even interactive one-on-one personal training.
Entertained and energized
Technological advances have also brought more traditional exercise machines up into the light. Many new treadmills, stationary bikes, and rowing machines have lost the clunk of the old equipment and have all the connective abilities of the smart mirrors. For example, a rocket-sleek rowing machine, the Hydrow, lets you follow programs that seem to put you and a trainer on the Charles River, or the Thames, or other famous rowing venues worldwide. And with other smart machines, you can compete virtually in events like the Boston Marathon or the Tour de France. Or you can take a solitary ride through Tuscany or Redwood National Park.
Committing to the new generation of home exercise machines can be expensive. One of the least costly, The Mirror, starts at $1,495, and a few go up to more than $10,000. There’s almost always a monthly membership fee, typically between $39 and $49, which you need to access the video programs.
Sweating in style
For many homeowners, it is not so much about the cost or the gee-whizz technology. For them, a primary consideration is if the machines can fit into their home’s décor. Which is why another trend, at the luxury end of the home gym phenomenon, is exercise machines that might not look out of place in a design museum. For example, a German company, NOHrD, produces machines with oiled hardwood frames in the customer’s choice of ash, walnut, or cherry. And the Italian company Ciclotte has a futuristic-looking stationary bike that replaces a regular frame with a transparent crystal disc.
Some of these fashion-forward machines don’t have all the connectiveness of, say, a Peloton, the stationary bike that became such a craze at the beginning of the Covid crisis that people were panic buying them as if they were toilet paper. On the other hand, they add style to just about any room, especially if they are accompanied by such high-end fitness accessories as gold-handled jump ropes, polished-bronze kettlebells, and Giorgio Armani or Louis Vuitton branded dumbbells.
Nor is it just home exercise machines that are being transformed, but the home exercise space as well. Where there’s room — and money — people are adding yoga or meditation areas, soft flooring, ventilation fans, entertainment systems, and infrared heating for hot yoga. More and more, planning for all of this is being done during the home’s initial design stage.
And if the future of the home fitness boom seems too uncertain for you to make a considerable investment in? It may be comforting to know that after a 40-year career in the fitness industry and a six-year disappearance from the public eye, Richard Simmons is once again inviting you to join him “Sweatin’ to the Oldies,” this time on YouTube videos.
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