The year's two biggest exercise trends: working out at home and rediscovering the joy of cycling. No surprise, then, that more than half of the year’s top fitness products serve such pursuits. From a next-level home studio to a two-wheeled beast that goes anywhere to the best of both worlds — an indoor bike trainer that feels like it’s outside — this stuff will keep you moving long after the pandemic subsides.
Dimensions: 28 x 36 x 83 inches
Tune Ready: 20-watt soundbar syncs with Spotify or Apple Music
Subscription Cost: Unlimited classes for $39 per month
Two years ago, the Jaxjox KettlebellConnect flexed its tech, kicking sand in the faces of geekier gadgets at CES. The digitally adjustable 12- to 42-pound kettlebell saves space while letting users swing through live and on-demand routines and track their progress. But it turns out this progressive product was simply the first component of a larger fitness ecosystem. Now the Jaxjox InteractiveStudio is here, and it’s glorious.
The expansive home workout setup packages the KettlebellConnect 2.0 with similarly innovative implements, including DumbbellConnect (100 pounds of adjustable dumbbells), PushUpConnect (a four-position push-up trainer) and Foam RollerConnect (a vibrating roller with five intensity levels). There’s also a rotating 43-inch touchscreen, streaming classes and a machine-learning algorithm that helps you reach your swole goals.
“Our competition tends to focus on either cardio or strength training — we have both, plus the recovery element,” replies Jaxjox founder and CEO Stephen Owosu. “We are launching free weights with real-time tracking for the first time ever. You can move to any location and still enjoy that functionality.”
We’ve yet to see another home fitness product as simultaneously connected, modular and portable. Heck, even if your internet goes out, you can still lug the kettlebell and dumbbells out to the yard and tackle the toughest of CrossFit WODs.
That’s no happy accident, either. “It was very much intentional and something we’ve worked on for a while,” Owusu explains. Considering the mindfulness and muscularity of the InteractiveStudio, we’re hardly inclined to doubt him.
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%
Full-Length Carbon Plates: 1
Stack Height: 39.5 millimeters
Weight: 7.4 ounces
You know you’ve hit upon a revolutionary performance product when your sport’s governing body starts rewriting the rules. That’s what happened after Eliud Kipchoge broke the two-hour marathon barrier in a pair of souped-up Nikes last October. World Athletics banned from competition footwear with a sole thicker than 40 millimeters or more than one carbon plate. And this past spring, Nike announced the race-legal version of its wonder sneaker ahead of the planned Tokyo Olympics.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 caused the Olympics to be postponed, so the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% did not get a worldwide primetime showcase. But for hardcore runners, the secret is out: the Alphaflys are fast AF.
“What we have with the Alphafly is Zoom airbags plus ZoomX foam and a stiff carbon plate, and it’s all about propulsion,” explains Nike senior footwear innovator Carrie Dimoff, a competitive runner herself. “Helping your foot move as smoothly and quickly as possible into the forefoot stance and leverage the energy return … get into that toe-off position and turn over your stride.”
The shoe also boasts an ultralight knit upper and a streamlined outsole, and the ripple effects are palpable: the Alphafly presaged a number of similarly shaped, Olympics-ready imitators from other top running brands.
These kicks might not be for everyone — they’re funky looking, expensive, elusive and most beneficial to elite racers. Now, however, a year after Kipchoge’s record-breaking jaunt, even recreational runners can take advantage of Alphafly tech in a trickled-down form: the Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% daily trainer ($200).
Evil Chamois Hagar
Weight: 20.9 pounds
Bottle Mounts: 7 (6 for size small)
Color: Black Out Drunk
We've taken this fun, funky gravel bike across every type of terrain imaginable — from cactus-lined Arizona trails to potholed Manhattan streets. And it's crushed them all.
Was it designed to ride everywhere? Maybe not. Maybe that’s just what happens when an unconventional mountain-bike maker tackles an unlikely project.
“Most gravel bikes are a road bike built up to a gravel bike … we did the opposite,” explains Evil Bikes COO Jason Moeschler. “So you’ve got all of the big brands looking at it going, what in the world? And every single thing on this bike makes sense to the rider. It can all be justified.”
The lightweight carbon frame featuring long, low and slack mountain-bike geometry, combined with fat-but-fast 700x50 tires, lets you nimbly navigate or powerfully plow uneven ground, be it loose rock, broken pavement or muddy singletrack.
Meanwhile, the sleek internal cable routing triggering the 1x12 drivetrain — with an unreal 42-tooth granny gear — conquers the steepest MTB trails or Pennsylvania country roads. And when you reach the top, hoo boy: just point downhill, grip those drop bars tight, flick the left lever to sink the saddle, and blast an epic descent that’ll leave your roadie friends wondering where the hell this shockingly speedy matte-black beast came from.
“Bellingham, Washington,” you’ll whisper, as you pop the seat back up and disappear through the woods in a blaze of dust and glory.
Therabody TheraOne Sleep CBD Tincture
Key Ingredients: Organic hemp oil, organic valerian root, organic lemon oil balm, organic chamomile oil, organic MCT
Bottle Volume: 1 fluid ounce, 1,000 milligrams CBD
Servings Per Bottle: 30
You might be tempted to buy an $80 bottle of TheraOne Sleep CBD Tincture based on its packaging alone. The gentle monochromatic hue that likely has a name such as clay or morel conveys luxury, but it's approachable. It's also the least important element of TheraOne, a line of CBD products produced by Therabody, formerly known as Theragun. The company still makes those top-notch percussion massage devices, it has simply expanded to other recovery products, too.
To appreciate what’s in this bottle, spin it 180 degrees. Along with a USDA Organic badge, rare in the CBD world, you’ll spot a QR code. Scan it with your phone's camera, and you'll proceed to a document titled "Certificate of Analysis," which outlines the results of a third-party lab test and precisely identifies the contents. The percentage of CBD, THC — regulated to the non-intoxicating legal max of 0.3 percent — and other cannabinoids are front and center, just above the signatures of a lab toxicologist and principal scientist.
"We want to make sure we educate our customers to know exactly what they are using," explains Dr. Jason Wersland, Therabody's chiropractor-founder. Indeed, the entire line emerged from his personal search for trustworthy CBD. "I was looking for transparency in the market that didn't exist."
The company's full-spectrum CBD extract includes all-hemp plant components, from cannabinoids like CBD to trace amounts of B vitamins, amino acids, magnesium and more. One ingredient you won't find in the tincture is melatonin, a common sleep aid linked to side effects and grogginess, which Therabody sought to avoid. Nevertheless, a dropper-full is sufficient on its own to transport you to dreamland — and wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Wahoo Kickr Axis
Adjustability: 3 stiffness levels
Pairability: Up to 3 Bluetooth connections
Sold Separately: Axis available as an $80 accessory for Kickr owners
Indoor cycling may be perfect for pandemics and inclement weather, but let’s face it: pedaling in place can be a drag. With unmatched accuracy, controlled resistance that can simulate 20 percent climbs and compatibility with Zwift and other apps, the carbon-and-steel-bodied Kickr Smart Trainer has long battled boredom, but its latest update truly leans in, so to speak. A new Axis platform adds five degrees of lateral movement, enabling you to shift left and right as though you’re rolling over, yes, an actual road.
Specialized Align II
Weight: 12.5 oz (small/medium)
Available Colors: 7
Innovative tech is most impressive when everyone can access it. Case in point: the Multidirectional Impact Protection System (MIPS for short), a scientifically proven helmet liner that creates a 10- to 15-millimeter slip plane, handling angled collisions at least 10 percent better than a similar helmet without it. Translation: MIPS significantly boosts any brain bucket’s protective potential. And while everyday riders would have had to pay a pretty penny for MIPS just a few years ago, Specialized has made it more affordable than ever in a dial-adjustable, commuter-friendly helmet that looks good, too.
Manduka GRP Adapt
Size: 71 x 26 inches
Thickness: 5 millimeters
Weight: 6 pounds
A yoga mat's two primary functions are providing padding and grip. The GRP Adapt does both very well but pays particular attention to the latter. Manduka mixed up a new polyurethane formula that's bouncy and responsive but also extra absorbent, so when a session gets hot — on purpose or otherwise — you can hold the trickiest poses without worrying about slipping on sweat. If there's a single mat that can handle any practice (or workout, frankly), it's this one.
Path Projects Sykes AT 5-Inch Short
Weight: 2.7 ounces (medium)
Pockets: 3 rear zip pockets, 1 interior key pocket
Layers: 2, including a base liner that eliminates chafing
Too often, the primary difference between good running shorts and very, very average running shorts is about 50 bucks. Path Projects, a California-based running brand, uses a direct-to-consumer approach to nullify the extra cost while incorporating premium materials like Airtastic, the ultralight, stretchy, breathable and water-repellent fabric that makes the Sykes AT. Even with a phone, cash, gels and house keys tucked into its carefully placed, no-bounce pockets, logging miles in them feels like running in nothing at all.
Skratch Sport Superfuel Drink Mix
Flavors: Lemon & lime, raspberry
Calories per serving: 400
Usage: Mix with 16 to 20 ounces of water
Long gone are the days when a back-pocket pastry was considered the best source of carbohydrates to get you through a long run or ride. Breakthroughs in sports nutrition have produced a new batch of high-carb drink mixes that don't cause stomach issues. Cluster Dextrin, the key ingredient in Superfuel Drink Mix, consists of 60 to 70 glucose units (compared to maltodextrin's three to 20) that break apart slowly during digestion, providing strong, steady energy for the long haul. Let's see a croissant do that.
Toughness: IPX5-rated to be dust, mud and water-resistant
Battery Life: 30+ hours
Life-Saving Potential: Priceless
Price: $100 (1-pack), $180 (2-pack)
The term “bright” can apply to illumination but also brains, and this bike product boasts both. When connected to the GPS-guided Lumenus app, the headlight will start to strobe as you enter intersections, roundabouts and other high-traffic areas to increase your visibility. Yellow turn signals show nearby drivers impending turns. And an internal gyroscope blinkers the rear red brake light to indicate you’re slowing down. Your only job? Remembering to mount it up and turn it on.