This Home Gym Set Is Surprisingly Chic — and I Don’t Feel the Need to Hide It Away

This Home Gym Set Is Surprisingly Chic — and I Don’t Feel the Need to Hide It Away

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If you’re active on Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube’s trendy home fitness end, then you’ve seen Bala. I’ll even venture to say you’re either already obsessed or maybe (like me) didn’t even know you were looking at workout equipment. Bala is the home fitness brand for those of us who color-code our calendars in custom pastels and consider how our microwaves and bath towels can contribute to our decor — aesthetically minded folks who still want things to work.

I’m no stranger to home workout equipment — my mom was the talent in a number of home workout videos from the 90s through the 2010s — but as someone who prioritizes the look and feel of my own home, neon exercise bands and clunky weights never seemed to have a place in my space. I’ve gone back and forth between compromising my environment for the sake of a good workout or sacrificing my own wellness in the name of interior design. To make matters more complicated (my M.O… ), none of my city apartments have had the storage space for me to be able to hide my ugly home workout gear. Basically, Bala was made for people like me.

Even if you’re not quite as tightly wound about the look of your space as I am, Bala’s range of home workout equipment would be inspiring to anyone in today’s visually driven world. For me, it’s the collection I didn’t know I’d been waiting for, and it looks beautiful when I accidentally (or purposefully) leave it out when I’m done exercising. I got the chance to try the newly launched Bala Floor Set, which includes the Play Mat, Balance Blocks, and the Hourglass Roller. Of course, I also had to put Bala’s OG product, the Bala Bangles, to the test as well. My take? You’re going to want the complete collection.

I was skeptical at first that these great-looking pieces were only about Instagrammability, not function. But despite how un-workout-y the collection seems, each piece within it is designed with utility as the top priority. For example, in the middle of a vinyasa practice, the semi-circle curve at the top of the Play Mat made me wonder why yoga mats haven’t always been designed this way. I tend to bruise during floor pilates or get uncomfortable while lying flat on my back in savasana, but this mat’s 8mm thickness solves both of those problems for me. Even though it’s thicker than other mats, it rolls up just as tightly and comes with a strap to make carrying it easy. It’s also antimicrobial, and the super-smooth, moisture-wicking surface means I can actually complete a hot yoga class without my usual slip-and-collapse routine.

The semi-circle Balance Blocks allow me to make adjustments by simply moving my hands higher or lower on the curve rather than inconveniently needing to reposition the block, which has been a game changer because I’m able to focus my efforts on pushing myself that extra inch or lessening the tension by moving my body, not the tool that’s supposed to be helping me. The Hourglass Roller then makes my post-workout stretch much more dynamic. Its cinched center means choosing precisely when and where to add more pressure without having to push my legs or back down onto the roller to get it. The Bala Bangle ankle and wrist weights, like Bala’s other hard-touch gear, have a smooth-yet-grippy surface that’s totally unique compared with others I’ve tried. It’s soft to the touch and won’t irritate your skin in cases of friction — no velcro here!

Bala offers kits tailored to your particular routine, from floor workouts or yoga to weights or high impact. There’s also a pared-down kit with just the basics, which I think is perfect for travel. I personally love taking my Bangles with me when I’m on the road. The kits (and all Bala equipment) come in a range of unprecedentedly cool colors when it comes to fitness gear. From sage green to matte black and even soft beige, whatever colors energize and inspire you or simply complement your aesthetic, Bala’s got ’em all. You can even mix and match for your own custom collection.

Bala continues to pleasantly surprise me every time I work out — and since I plan to continue adding to my Bala range at home (hello, Power Ring and Bala Beam), it’s exciting to know that all the fitness milestones that Bala has helped me hit so far are only just the start.

Buy: Bala The Complete Home Gym Kit, $399

Introducing the Peloton of Pilates Reformers That’s Small Enough to Fit Under Your Bed

Introducing the Peloton of Pilates Reformers That’s Small Enough to Fit Under Your Bed

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At-home Pilates workouts are getting an upgrade this summer thanks to a revolutionary, first of its kind digital reformer that will change the way we exercise. Frame Fitness, coined the Peloton of Pilates, is releasing a digitally-connected reformer, complete with in-class instructors.

The Frame reformer has all the features of a classic Pilates reformer, but its the innovative design and digital technology that allows for an elevated workout experience and really sets it apart from the rest. Color-coded spring weights lets users control their movement easily, while Frame’s patent-pending technology amplifies and transforms the workout experience, regardless of height, weight, or body type. Truly elevating at-home Pilates workouts, the 24” swivel-display, touchscreen monitor gives access to instructor-led classes all in one place, and users can even connect their own music.

Classes can be accessed on-demand at any time with Frame’s monthly subscription, grouped into handy categories such as muscle group, instructor style, and current mood. Frame will also track the user’s progress and better understands their fitness goals.

While traditional Pilates reformers can be clunky and restrictive, thanks to its wooden base, wheeled frame, and adjustable components, the Frame reformer is lightweight and easy to move around the house. With space and convenience playing a huge role in its design, once in storage mode, the reformer is small enough to store neatly under the bed.

Available in two stunning colorways—Sunrise and Midnight—the Frame reformer is set to be released in Summer 2022, priced at $2999 for the machine and $39 per month for the class subscription. Pre-order now at framefitness.com.

This Celeb-Approved Fitness Platform Is Hiring 100 New Instructors This Month

This Celeb-Approved Fitness Platform Is Hiring 100 New Instructors This Month

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BeachSweat is changing the way we workout, pioneering a new category of fitness: “visually inspiring workouts”. Described as Peloton meets Only Fans, BeachSweat is an R-Rated fitness platform that as the classes go on, the qualified instructors become more visually revealed, keeping users engaged and motivated throughout the entire workout.

With live and on-demand classes, it’s a great fitness solution for those who want to stay fit and enjoy an inspirational workout within their own busy schedule. In addition to spin and cycling classes, users can enjoy yoga and strength training routines anytime, anywhere. Completely interactive, there’s the ability to engage with instructors and each other through the live chat feature and online meet and greets following live classes.

For those who are looking to stay fit and earn some extra dollars as we head into spring and summer, BeachSweat is hiring 100 new instructors to teach classes remotely. Trainers will earn a base rate of $100 per class in addition to keeping 100% of the tip jar (one trainer earned $500 in tips after just one class!)

“BeachSweat is the place you come to to get your body moving, to get inspired and to have fun. It’s been a totally new experience for me and I’m loving the creative input, sharing my knowledge, helping people and best of all… I get to do it all in my favorite outfit, a bikini!” said fashion model and BeachSweat instructor Georgia Sumner.

To apply for a trainer role, visit the BeachSweat website, fill out the application form and upload a 3-minute “visually inspiring” sample class. When it comes to creating your application video, tips for success include using two phones (or cameras) and record from different angles. Make sure you’re using a great location and, of course, great lighting.

We Tried 3 Portable, Small-Space-Friendly Treadmills to See If They’re Worth It (Hint: They Are!)

We Tried 3 Portable, Small-Space-Friendly Treadmills to See If They’re Worth It (Hint: They Are!)

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When we first transitioned to WFH-life, most of us at Apartment Therapy had to move our daily fitness routines indoors, specifically into our small-space apartments. This meant getting creative with our new living room workouts. From researching the best free workout apps to trying out all sorts of space-saving and creative fitness methods, we put lots of approaches to the test. One that we were especially curious about were those compact treadmill pads that seemed to be popping up everywhere. They’re much more sleek and streamlined than traditional bulky treadmills, let you slip in a workout while you work or watch TV, and best of all, they can be stashed under a sofa or bed when not in use. Since it looks like at-home workouts are here to stay, portable treadmills seem like the perfect solution for staying active indoors. We tried out three different models in a range of price points to see if they’re worth the investment. Below are firsthand accounts from AT staffers about their experiences with these trendy treadmills.

“I’ve always relied on walking to clear my head as well as get most of my exercise, so after six months of being stuck largely at home with a puppy and teenager who aren’t big walking fans, I had to get something,” shared chief revenue officer Riva. “My musts were that it couldn’t be visible from most places in my small-ish apartment, that I had to be able to move it relatively easily, and that it wasn’t super expensive. As I hadn’t done a lick of exercise in six months (13 years if I’m being honest), I was less concerned with walking fast, running, or moving at an incline. I really just wanted to move, period.”

So what did she think about the UMAY Portable Treadmill? For Riva, this treadmill ticked every box on her must-have list. “What I love about this treadmill is that it does everything I needed it to — it’s relatively attractive, flat with no handlebar, and I can move it super easily. It goes fast enough for a speedy walk and even a very slow jog. It’s also pretty quiet.”

As for cons, she shared, “The lack of handlebars can make it a touch precarious if you’re going fast and not paying attention. I’ve come off it a few times (my own fault) and was mostly saved by soft surroundings. Now that I’ve worked up my strength and stamina a bit, I also wish that I had shopped around for an option with an incline as well as one that can go slightly faster. But for an everyday way to get some decent daily exercise and mind-clearing, I absolutely love this machine and would recommend it highly.”

“Before quarantine, I walked everywhere,” shared commerce director Mark. “I never took the subway and preferred to travel by foot, so it wasn’t unusual for me to walk at least an hour a day, every day, and much more on weekends. But once I started working from home and the weather turned cold, I was barely getting outside, so in February I decided to get a treadmill. I live in a tiny studio so anything I bring into my space either needs to blend in or be compact enough to be hidden away.

The City Sports treadmill was exactly what I was looking for, because it’s a flat pad that is small enough to roll under my sofa or even my bed when not in use (yes, both pieces of furniture are in the same space). While it has a bit of heft to it, it’s easy to move around because of the transport wheels on the front. It’s also simple to operate — just press a button on the remote control to turn it on, then adjust the speed. Best of all, it’s quiet.

“I was worried my downstairs neighbors might hear stomping, but my footsteps barely make a sound and so far there have been no complaints. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t run on this thing; I use it simply to get my steps in. I’ll sometimes do 30 minutes during a break in the workday, or do an hour-long stroll while watching TV or chatting on the phone at night. Though the weather is nice enough to get my exercise outside now, I still use it on rainy days or when I just don’t have the oomph to leave my apartment. All in all, it’s been a great investment — and a relatively affordable one, at that!”

As for me, I gave the uber-trendy Treadly a go. At the beginning of lockdown, it felt like everyone I knew was getting a Treadly, so as I embarked on my treadmill journey, I was definitely interested to see what the hype was about (and if it was worth the hefty $700+ price tag).

Aside from being easy to use and super easy to move (thanks to its front wheels), what immediately struck me was its height. At only 3.7 inches high, the Treadly2 is touted as the slimmest treadmill on the market. I don’t have room for a large, cumbersome machine, so Treadly’s compact size was a big plus since it’s a breeze to slide under the sofa. Another bonus was the handrail that helped keep my notoriously clumsy self from falling off. (Note: The treadmill reaches a max speed of 5 mph with the handrail up and 3.7 mph with it flat.)

My favorite thing about the treadmill, however, is its accompanying app. Functioning as a remote control, tracker, and social fitness connector, it gave me what I was missing about pre-pandemic group fitness. Aside from controlling the device and monitoring your progress, the app lets you video chat with friends, join Treadly’s virtual community, and test yourself with “coach mode,” which lets a coach (or friend) set your pace. Fun!

In the past, scheduling time for a workout made exercising feel more like a chore and less like an investment in my health. With the Treadly2, I can simply hop on mid-workday, connect with a friend, and get my tasks done all at once. Add that to the fact that it’s less than half the price of a Peleton, and it’s definitely worth the investment.

Sarah M. Vazquez

SEO Commerce Editor

Sarah writes about all things shopping for Apartment Therapy, The Kitchn, and Cubby helping you find the best deals and the best products for you and your home. A Brooklyn-born Jersey Girl, she loves a good playlist, a good bagel, and her family (but not necessarily in that order).

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