Perhaps the biggest reason for the Peloton craze is that it makes working out as fun as playing a video game. You get your gains as well as a dopamine hit, plus the addition of real-time scoring, leaderboards, and social media adds a competitive edge to an otherwise solitary home workout.
But you don’t have to join the cult of Peloton to blend fitness with fun. Since the connected cycling brand started making waves more and more companies have been joining in on the fun. Whether you want to hit a heavy bag, work your abs, or bang some dumbbells around, there’s a platform for you. Here are some of the best.
For Your Core:
Stealth leans pretty heavy into “turning fitness into a game.” For most of us, unless you have a David Goggin gene, working your abs will never be that. Maybe, type 2 fun at best. That said, this planking platform is an effective and fun way to train your abs. Just download the app, place it in the center of the platform and choose a video game to play. You control the game while in planking, moving side to side and fore and aft. There are free games as well as some paid versions to choose from. The games aren’t bad - think 80s video games like Asteroids or 8-bit game consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Its simplicity lets the whole family get into it, plus, the scoring system adds a bit of competitiveness to the fun. One of the best things about it? Just a few minutes goes a long way.
The hardware is $99; free games are available. Access to the Premium games is $4.99/ month or $39.99/year.
Hop to It
Boxers know that jumping rope is great for foot speed. And who doesn’t want that? Whether you ski or snowboard, play team sports, or just want to be a bit quicker, fast feet help you perform better.
Jump ropes are also insanely easy to transport and store, and you don’t need much space to use it. Effective? Yes. Some experts claim that 60 seconds of skipping rope is as good as three minutes of running. Put some weight on the jump rope and the burn only increases. Crossrope’s weighted ropes can be up to a pound in weight, and the company’s app allows you to choose from a Cheesecake Factory-sized menu of workouts.
They sell three different options, each of which includes fast-switching handles and ropes in a range of weights.
Bundles cost between $119 and $288. There’s free content, but access to the premium stuff is $59/annually.
Like cross-country skiing and swimming, rowing is a great full-body workout. That’s one of the reasons a handful of companies are fighting to bring tech to indoor rowing. Aviron sells two rowers. Both Android-powered machines are equipped with an identical 22-inch touchscreen with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, a built-in camera, and two 2-watt speakers. Choose from more than a dozen games ranging from an in-person shooter to a zombie chase game, or go for a personal workout. There’s a library with hundreds of them. Or just watch some vids: accessing Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and YouTube is easy.
Rowers start at $2,199. The subscription is $25/month.
Want to work out without feeling like you’re working out? Ring Fit Adventure for the Nintendo Switch has you covered. The game takes full advantage of the Switch’s motion controllers: one controller straps to your thigh to sense squats, jumps, and running in place, while the other fixes onto a resistance ring to measure direction and upper body movements.
The workouts take the form of an adventure RPG. Users run in place to move through the virtual world, gaining experience points while completing quests and engaging in battles using movements like air squats and situps to damage enemies. The game tracks your fitness throughout, providing statistics like distance run and calories burned at the end of each workout/gaming session.
While there are other systems and apps that turn fitness into a form of game, this is the most effective blend of console video game and fitness system on the market. The production value and care taken with the storyline will have you so focused on completing your quest that the fitness you achieve will just be a side effect of the fun you’re having.
The game and accessories cost $79.99, no membership is required.
This one’s for the ClassPass junkies, fitness class lovers, and friends of Narcissus. Follow your reflection while streaming classes on the NordicTrack’s full-length smart mirror and you’ll get fit using the variety of weights, bands, and kettlebells stored within the Vault’s cabinet. The classes? So many to choose from. More than a dozen different coaches and hundreds of workouts including HIIT, Pilates, yoga, sculpt and tone, strength training, and intervals. In short, something for most members of your family. There are even mindfulness classes for those looking for both strength, fitness, and equanimity.
One nice thing The Vault has on some of its competition? It’s a mini-gym that looks like a really nice mirror, which means it can live in your bedroom, living room, or anywhere else without throwing off 24-Hour Fitness vibes.
The Vault is available in two versions. The Vault: Standalone is $1,499 and includes shelves and a cleaning towel. The Vault: Complete includes all that as well as a bunch of weights. The subscription is $39/month.
Getting into the Ring
There’s something special about landing a punch. It just feels good to your core. Whether you’re having a good day or an awful one. With all this talk about “connected fitness,” FightCamp makes you feel viscerally connected while increasing balance and coordination as well as improving bone density.
Here’s how it works: you have a tracker on each fist covered by your boxing gloves. This tracker counts your punches as you follow workouts on your phone or device so that you can compete against others.
With more than 1000 video workouts to choose from and five separate training plans called paths — including kickboxing options — starting FightCamp and navigating it is intuitive and easy. And the instruction provided by former pros is top-notch.
Read our full FightCamp review here.
FightCamp Personal ($999) option includes the wrap and trackers as well as a free-standing heavy bag, ring to place it on, and boxing gloves. FightCamp Tribe ($1,299) includes all the gear from Personal as well as one more set of adult boxing gloves, a pair of kids boxing gloves, and a spare pair of wraps. Subscriptions are $39/month.