Alternative Fitness Equipment Reviews to Makeover Your Home Gym

Not all fitness equipment is created equal, and companies release new equipment every year in the hopes that consumers will buy, buy, buy. Before you jump on the next fitness infomercial bandwagon, make sure the equipment you're purchasing is worth the expense. Check out the following reviews of high-quality alternative fitness equipment options that may be worthy of your home gym, and bookmark this page for future additions.

1

Crossrope Weighted Jump Rope Systems

crossrope
Crossrope

If you're looking for an inexpensive way to squeeze in some extra cardio without investing in a big piece of equipment, Crossropes are the way to go. Unlike a traditional jump rope, Crossrope systems feature weighted ropes and detachable handles so you can switch between lighter and heavier ropes to keep your routine interesting.  The possibilities for working out are practically endless, as you can switch between ultra-light speed ropes or extra heavy, three-pound "Titan" ropes that are practically guaranteed to torch your upper body and core as you jump. The options come in handy when you're doing interval training workouts

The Crossrope systems themselves aren't as inexpensive as your typical jump rope, but you can't beat their quality (and two-year warranty). Your best bet is to opt for one of the company's jump rope sets, each of which comes with a minimum of a single set of handles and two differently-weighted ropes. For instance, the "Get Lean" set comes with a 1/4-pound and 1/2-pound rope, and the "Get Strong" set comes with a 1-pound and 2-pound rope. Expect to pay about $80 to $200 dollars for a set, depending on what the set includes. You can also buy handles and ropes individually if you want to add to a set you already have. 

2

Hypersphere Vibrating Massage Ball

hypersphere
Hyper

When your foam roller just doesn't cut it anymore, it's time to consider upgrading your self-myofascial-release tools to include a vibrating option like the Hypersphere Massage Ball. This product is a little bigger than a softball at five-inches in diameter and features three high-intensity vibration settings that are intended to help break up fascial adhesions that contribute to muscle pain and immobility. The spherical shape is also beneficial in that it enables you to dig into areas of the glutes, hips, and low back that are more challenging to target with a cylindrical foam roller.

While the vibrating ball certainly does a good job, the $150 price tag means you should think twice before laying out your cash. If you feel like your foam roller is doing its job, there's no need to spend more money. That said, if you're an athlete or committed exerciser who has been foam rolling for a while, and you're just not experiencing the same benefits you did initially, you're a good candidate for an upgrade.

3

Auster Traveller Suspension Trainer and Dynamic Band Set

Auster Traveller
Auster

Standard suspension trainers certainly aren't bad, but if you're the kind of person who takes on-the-go workouts seriously, you might want to invest in an Auster Traveller. The kit includes a high-quality, easy-to-use suspension trainer you can set up in seconds at a park or gym, along with two detachable dynamic bands that provide a combined 30-pounds of resistance and 7-feet of stretch.

Together, the suspension trainer and bands make it possible to do an almost endless number of resistance-training exercises to target every muscle group. For instance, you can use the suspension system to perform inverted rows to hit the upper back or suspension pikes to target the core. Likewise, you can use the resistance bands to perform exercises like chest presses, wood chops, or seated lat pull-downs.

The system also comes with a handy cinched backpack with an extra pocket to hold your phone, ID, and keys. This adds practical functionality, enabling you to wear your system on your back while on-the-go. For instance, you can wear the backpack while running or hiking trails, and when you find a tree with a sturdy and accessible branch, you can stop and hang the Traveller to fit in a strength workout without having to head to the gym.

4

StrongBoard Balance

StrongBoard Balance
StrongBoard Balance

Balance training tools aren't new—you've probably used a stability ball or BOSU Balance Trainer at one point or another—but when you're ready for an extra challenge, you can kick things up a notch with the StrongBoard Balance. This balance-training tool features a platform positioned atop four sturdy springs that together introduce more instability than you find with other similar products. And because the StrongBoard Balance features a good-sized platform, you can perform upper and lower body exercises, including pushups, lunges, squats, and triceps dips, in a safe and accessible way.

The company's website provides lots of free resources for learning and performing moves, but admittedly, the equipment isn't cheap. A single board will cost you about $300. But, if you happen to live in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, or California, you may be able to test-drive the product by attending a StrongBoard group exercise class. As the company continues to grow, more gyms are bound to offer similar classes.

5

Modern Movement for Workplace Wellness

Modern Movement Edge Board and M-Pad
Modern Movement

It's tough to fit in a workout at work, but if you stock your office with the right equipment, it doesn't have to be as hard as you think. Dumbbells and resistance bands are a great place to start but think about adding functional fitness tools to your repertoire, like the M-Pad or Edge Board from Modern Movement.

If you have a standing desk, the M-Pad balance trainer provides a wobble-deck you can stand on that tilts and swivels, requiring you to engage your core to keep the deck steady. When it's time for a quick break, you can use the free M-Trac app to test your balance with interactive games and exercise ideas. The deck is low-profile, lightweight, and sturdy, making it an ideal addition to a cubicle or cramped office. 

When you're ready to kick things up a notch, the Edge Board takes functional fitness a little farther. The Board features a sturdy platform on top of a set of rollers. By placing your hands or feet on the platform and rolling the platform toward and away from you while doing exercises like lunges, abdominal pikes, or pushups, you introduce instability to each move which requires greater core engagement and control. Like the M-Pad, the Edge Board works with the M-Trac app, allowing you to follow pre-designed exercises and workouts so you don't have to think about what to do next. In essence, it makes working out at the office (or at home) an easy proposition.

6

Slackline Industries Base Line

Slackline Industries Base Line
Slackline Industries Base Line

If you haven't tried slacklining yet, you're missing out. Slacklining is a form of balance training that's a bit like balancing on a tightrope that bounces and sways with each step you take. In other words, it's incredibly hard. But it's also incredibly fun and rewarding, especially as you start experiencing improvements.

The Slackline Industries Base Line is a beginner-designed line that comes in a 50-foot or 85-foot length. You simply hang the line between two sturdy trees (the kit comes with tree-protectors and instructions on how to hang the slackline correctly), ratchet it until it's tight, then see if you can balance and walk across the two-inch-wide nylon webbing.

Word to the wise—you'll be terrible at first. But with practice and concentration, you will get better, and chances are, you'll become addicted to the practice. A single slackline will set you back between $60 and $80, depending on the length of the line.

7

Schwinn Classic Cruiser Home Fitness Bike

Schwinn Classic Cruiser
Schwinn

Functionally, the Schwinn Classic Cruiser, isn't all that different from other well-made upright home exercise bikes. That said, it's hard to deny that the design alone makes this bike a standout in the fitness equipment industry. The candy apple red paint job, the chrome handlebars with optional streamers, a retro bike horn, and a "Cruisin'" license plate all give this bike a kitschy fun-factor you'd be hard-pressed to find on similar products.

But the Classic Cruiser isn't as old-school as it looks. In fact, it comes with a tablet holder so you can mount your iPad or Android device, and it has Bluetooth-smart connectivity that allows you to track your speed, distance, and calories burned through the free Schwinn Classic Cruiser app. The bike is also compatible with other popular cycling apps, like RideSocial, so you can connect with other users and virtually tour the Swiss Alps or Southern California from the comfort of your living room.

At $800, it's certainly not the least-expensive exercise bike on the market, but it's lightweight, sturdy, has an incredibly comfortable seat (always a bonus in the world of cycling), and features a nice, smooth ride.  Plus, just looking at it is enough to make you smile.

8

The Zero Runner Machine

Octane Fitness

If you're in the market for a piece of home cardio equipment, you might want to skip the treadmill or elliptical and check out Octane Fitness' Zero Runner. This machine is designed to mimic the movement of running without the pounding impact that takes place on the pavement or treadmill. The impact-free motion takes a little getting used to (you're not actually pressing off the ground with each step, of course), but you might be surprised by its long-term benefits. For instance, you can use the machine to improve your running form while simultaneously reducing the risk of injury that often comes with high-impact exercise.

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