Fitness is a part of a healthy routine, but it can look different for everyone. Every expert we spoke with emphasized that there is no one right way to approach your fitness. Every person, and every body, is different.
For many people, including members of our team, having the right equipment can help make a fitness routine more comfortable, more enjoyable and more consistent. But owning fitness gear and actually using it are two different things.
So we tried dozens of pieces of fitness equipment to find gear that makes exercise as enjoyable and effective as possible and that you’ll want to use. With so many ways to exercise, we picked the best products across categories like yoga mats, resistance bands, fitness trackers and more.
How we chose our winners
To find our top products in fitness tech and equipment, our editors and staff used and lived with this gear. We tried over 80 products in this category in order to return with our winners. Products underwent a five-week trial period before being selected as our favorite in the fitness equipment and tech category. We utilized our editors as shopping and trying experts, along with medical professionals, who provided us with information and advice they give their patients. Our editors took these products on runs, to the gym, on bike rides and strolls in the park. We tried them in and outside our office.
When we look at any products, especially wellness items, we look at them comprehensively. To be our favorite in the fitness tech and equipment category required fulfilling a multitude of needs. We want to provide you with products that perform well, but we also want to share ones that allow you to upgrade your life. Among other things for this category, we specifically looked at price, ease of use, operating system compatibility and overall quality and effectiveness.
Select Best of Wellness fitness equipment winners
Award: Best Yoga Mat | Activity: All
This thick, reversible yoga mat from Lululemon is made with a mix of synthetic and natural materials, according to the brand.
“This yoga mat did exactly what it was intended to do: It provided a great amount of grippiness so I wasn’t slipping and sliding during my yoga class, and it provided an adequate amount of cushioning to where I didn’t feel stiff when laying on it,” says updates editor Mili Godio, who typically practices yoga twice a week and used this mat at the gym and at home on hard vinyl flooring.
Award: Best Yoga Mat | Activity: Hot Yoga
Alo Yoga’s Warrior Mat is a thick, sturdy yoga mat our team praised for its moisture-wicking ability.
“This is the best yoga mat I’ve ever used,” says associate updates editor Zoe Malin, who tried it during daily workouts and weekly hot yoga classes. “The material is soft, cushioned and absorbent, so if you sweat on it, the surface isn’t slippery at all, even in hot yoga.”
Award: Best Weights | Type: Ankle
Our team loved the feel and versatility of the Bala Bangles. Made of steel wrapped in soft silicone, they come in 1-pound and 2-pound versions.
“They’re stylish, versatile, easy to clean and easily portable,” says Malin, who used both the 1-pound and 2-pound versions on the elliptical, on walks and during yoga, pilates and dance. “The elastic band is long so you can get the weights tight and secure around your wrists and ankles, and the velcro is super strong.”
Award: Best Weights | Type: Dumbbells
Amazon’s hex dumbbell is made with a cast iron core and rubber-encased, hex-shaped ends like many traditional dumbbells.
“It has a knobby, ridged texture and did not slip or feel unsteady during weight training exercises,” says reporter Harry Rabinowitz, who used the 20-pound version of this dumbbell. “I was surprised at the quality, considering how affordable it is.”
Award: Best Resistance Bands
These resistance bands are made with natural latex, according to Amazon, and come in a multicolor set of five bands, each with a different level of resistance. They also come with a small carrying pouch.
“I absolutely love these resistance bands,” says Godio, who used the bands for leg and arm resistance workouts like leg raises and band rows. “They’re super stretchy — much more than any other resistance band I’ve tried — so I can better customize my workout.”
Award: Best Exercise Ball
The URBNFit exercise ball is a versatile fitness tool for workouts, stability exercises, physical therapy and more, according to the brand. Our team tried the 18-inch diameter design and loved it.
“I can’t say enough about the material — the PVC is very thick and durable,” says contributing reporter Barbara Booth, who used the ball for core exercise as well as post-workout stretching. “It’s very strong, great quality and much less slippery than other exercise balls I have used — I did not have to reposition much during my exercises.”
Award: Best Water Bottle
This stainless steel, vacuum-insulated water bottle from Hydro Flask comes in a ton of different colors and sizes. Our team tried the 32-ounce version, and had a great experience with it.
The Hydro Flask is “a classic water bottle that’s easy to clean and use,” says Shari Uyehara, manager of editorial operations. “The handle makes it easy to carry and it keeps my drinks cold all day.” It’s dishwasher safe, but Uyehara found it easy to clean via dishwasher or by hand.
Award: Best Foam Roller
Lululemon’s double roller has a unique two-in-one design: It comes apart to reveal a smaller roller on the interior that our reviews loved for its deep ridge design.
“I simply loved this foam roller,” says Godio. “The ridges were great at relieving tension in my legs, back and shoulders, which get really stiff after working out. It’s also very lightweight, so I can take it on-the-go when I need it.”
Award: Best Massage Gun
The Theragun Mini is the smallest, most portable massage gun from the brand. It has three massaging speeds and comes with three head attachments, a soft case and a charging cable. It has fewer speeds than other, more expensive Theragun massagers but is by far the easiest to travel with — one of the reasons our team loved it.
“It’s small style means I can bring it everywhere, which I love,” says commerce leadership coordinator Alexa Arent. Arent used it to target very specific body aches, using different attachments depending on what muscle was involved. “I mostly used it on my legs and shoulders — the rounded-top attachment was my go to.”
Select Best of Wellness fitness tech winners
Award: Best Fitness Apps | Activity: All
The Obé fitness app offers a diverse and ever-expanding library of live and on-demand workouts. Our team loved the accessibility of Obé: Classes were friendly to all fitness levels and the library was broad enough to have something for everyone.
“Anyone could download this app and find some sort of workout they enjoy doing,” says Malin, who tried sculpt, barre, dance, cardio and fusion classes from the platform.
Award: Best Fitness Apps | Activity: On-Demand Classes
Alo Moves was our team’s favorite fitness app for those most interested in on-demand classes. The app is easy to navigate, with a great variety of class types and lengths.
“Since the classes are all recorded and meant to be on-demand, they’re extremely tight, seamless, well put together and super organized,” says Malin, who tried a variety of barre, HIIT, yoga and pilates classes. “Alo Moves is great about constantly adding new classes, so the content feels fresh.”
Award: Best Fitness Tracker | Operation System: Apple
Apple’s best selling smartwatch from 2022 is well-equipped for fitness tracking. The Apple Watch's swim-proof always-on display is easily visible and it syncs easily with most fitness apps to track a wide variety of fitness and health data.
“I've never used a sleep or fitness tracker before and was surprised by how easy this was," says Uyehara. “I've been tracking my sleep, workouts and heart rate for over a month now, and I feel more productive when I'm wearing the device. I'm very tempted to purchase one of my own soon.”
Award: Best Fitness Tracker | Operation System: Android
Android users have a few choices for smartwatches, but our team found Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 to be the best. It’s lightweight, has a flat, circular watch face and syncs with any Android smartphone to provide tracking, apps and notification support.
“The physical design is excellent,” says Rabinowitz, who used the Galaxy Watch 5 for daily notifications, running, sleep tracking and more. “It’s very comfortable for all kinds of activities and never felt out of place exercising or in the office.”
Award: Best Fitness Tracker | Activity: Running/GPS
For outdoor multisport activity, Garmin’s Forerunner 255 is a strong favorite. The team liked its very accurate GPS and tons of fitness and training features. It also has a battery life of up to 14 days, according to the brand.
“The always-on display and physical button controls make this great for using with gloves on,” says Rabinowitz. “I wore it for a full week and didn’t need to charge it once.” Training features like daily suggested workouts, training status, exercise load and heart rate zones all helped Rabinowitz develop a better workout routine.
Award: Best Wireless Earbuds | Operation System: Apple
The team found Apple’s latest AirPods Pro (2nd generation) to have a comfortable fit and the four ear tips sizes they come with makes them a much better for fitness than the first generation. They also have top notch noise-canceling and transparency and excellent sound quality.
“Their noise cancellation is the best I’ve experienced, and they’re extremely comfortable to wear and work out in,” says Malin, who wore them inside, outside, while commuting and for outdoor runs. “They always stay secure in my ears while running and I can easily hear sounds around me in transparency mode.”
Award: Best Wireless Earbuds | Operation System: Android
The Sony Linkbuds S are a great all-around pair of earbuds, according to our team, equipped with noise-canceling, transparency mode, great battery life and multiple ear tips for a personalized fit.
“They are some of the lightest earbuds I’ve used — they are easy to forget about in your ears,” says Rabinowitz. “That makes them great for running or working out.”
Meet our experts
To ensure our product picks are more than just editor-approved, we used a panel of experts, including dermatologists, sleep doctors and personal trainers to give buying advice for each category. Experts did not recommend individual products. When conferring with our unaffiliated panel of experts, we asked them for advice they would give to their patients or clients.
- Jordan Rowe is a certified personal trainer and founder of NOEX Fitness in Richmond, Virginia.
- Kyle Kercher is an assistant professor of Sport Management at the School of Public Health at Indiana University and an ACSM certified exercise physiologist.
- Nicole Nahed is the founder and lead trainer of Sculpt Studios, a female-focused fitness studio in Royal Oak, Michigan.
- Kristina Jennings is a Los Angeles-based strength coach. She is CFSC certified and also works in digital fitness.