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Smart home fitness equipment that may tempt you to give up your gym membership

There is a whole new wave of fitness equipment that delivers more than WiFi-enabled heart rate monitoring and calorie counting.

Need all the energy and sense of community of your favourite spin class? You’ve got it. 

Want AI-powered training that’s intuitive to your needs in your living room? It’s available at the touch of a screen.

And to scratch your competitive itch, built-in algorithms can track and let you flex your progress to your fitspo chat group, too.

But the most outstanding aspect is, ironically, how unobtrusive some of the machines are, such as the Mirror that looks no different from, well, a full-length mirror. Or Fitness First’s Vitruvian V-Form Trainer that brings to mind a low Reebok Step platform (remember that from the 90s?) but packs in all the weights in the gym.

Even seemingly low-tech equipment, such as kettlebells, are getting a makeover that lets you minimise clutter in your living room. Definitely Marie Kondo-approved.

Of course, these gadgets don’t come cheap – in some instances, more than 10 times the average cost of a monthly gym membership in Singapore, which is about S$200. But if you have the budget, your home workouts are about to get more personal and exciting than following YouTube videos. If not, they’re just interesting to look at.

ALL THE WEIGHTS IN A PLATFORM

The Vitruvian V-Form Trainer looks like one of those step platforms but with the addition of a retractable cable and handle on each side (interchangeable with a rope, bar or ankle straps), and LED lights that make it look like a DJ console at a rave.

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Its motorised resistance system is the piece de resistance, providing up to a combined pull of 180kg. You can set that before starting your session, along with the number of reps and the mode (eg. Pump mode increases the resistance the faster you go, while Old School mode mimics the feel of static weights).

Gym pros can already picture how movements such as deadlifts and bicep curls can be performed. But if you’re unsure, look into its app for over 200 exercises and over 50 classes to choose from – searchable by muscle groups, trainers and technique tutorials. 

The app’s algorithms also ensure that you’re using the right “weight” every time – just perform three test reps at the beginning for the system to log your lifting capability. 

This intuition extends to during your workout as well. The algorithm-driven system can sense when you’re getting fatigued and adjusts the resistance accordingly, so you’ll maintain your form and minimise injuries. But that doesn’t mean the V-Form Trainer goes easy on you; it can also calculate the weekly increments to help you get stronger.

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Pros: Minimalists would love that it condenses all the exercises that require free weights and weight machines into a sleek package. When you’re done, just push it under your bed and it’s out of sight. After all, don’t you just hate dumbbells lying all over the place and hulking machines taking up precious space?

Cons: The V-Form Trainer doesn’t come with a screen, so you’ll have to use your own, such as hooking it up to a smart TV. But this versatility can work to your advantage; for instance, playing the videos on a smartphone or tablet so you can work out in your balcony or bedroom. 

You can only access all the exercises and classes on the app for free until early August. After that, you have to pay a monthly subscription of US$39 (S$53). On the upside, there won’t be a limit on the number of people who can use your account. 

S$2,990, including only basic handles and ankle straps. Visit Fitness First to register for a trial or place orders.

MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL

Who is the fittest of them all? That’s a question you can answer with the Mirror – a 1m-tall, high-definition, 1,080-pixel screen that displays workout videos. And like any fitspo queen (or king) eager to see how you fare across the land (or maybe just in your living room), you can also see yourself in action in the dual-function screen.

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With the Mirror, you won’t have to constantly pause the YouTube video on your laptop monitor to check your form. Or worse, squint at a smartphone screen as you try to keep up with the last few jumping jacks. 

It offers over 50 genres such as barre, boxing, cardio, dance, strength training and yoga in the form of thousands of pre-recorded workout videos – that can be streamed or downloaded on demand 24/7 – with a US$39 monthly subscription.

There are also daily live group fitness classes (that’s where the Mirror’s coverable camera and microphone come in handy), where the instructor can see and send you motivation shout-outs in real time. The rest of the class can see your profile picture. 

This IRL mode means everyone can tell if you’re slacking – your heart rate doesn’t lie. And speaking of monitoring, yes, the Mirror is compatible with Apple Watch or any Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor.For even more interaction, there’s the one-on-one personal training sessions (an extra US$40 per half hour).

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Pros: It feels like you have the best spot in class – right in front of the instructor – without being self-conscious of a whole group of people behind you.

The workouts range from 15 minutes to an hour, so depending on your schedule and frame of mind, you can pop in for a quick stretch or a full workout session. Also, the subscription can be shared with up to six people.

And did we mention the Mirror can be mounted or simply propped against the wall, blending in nicely with any modern interior and making it one of the most unobtrusive fitness equipment around?

Cons: It is essentially a very expensive mirror (the screen is not even touch-enabled) if you don’t get the subscription. The controls are via the app but the Android version is currently not available outside of the US.

Neither does the Mirror come with yoga mats, bands or dumbbells, which you’ll need for some of the classes.

US$1,495, excluding monthly subscription, attachments and accessories. Visit Mirror for details.

STACKABLE KETTLEBELLS

When it comes to kettlebells, the biggest beef is that they take up too much space. And you can’t just stick to one size either; you might have started with a 10kg kettlebell but as you progress, you need something heavier. Before you know it, your floor is covered with kettlebells of various sizes like babushka dolls, except you can’t stack them up – or maybe you can.

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That’s where the Jarjox Kettlebell Connect 2.0 comes in. At first look, it’s no different from a regular kettlebell with its bell-shaped body and a sturdy, single loop. But lift it up and you’ll see that it actually consists of a plastic shell that houses five interlocking weight plates inside, and a charging base with a little LCD panel.

To use, stack everything up and place them on the base. Select the weight you need by pressing the buttons on the base, wait for a beep and you’re ready to use it. 

The shell itself weighs about 12 pounds (5.4kg) and each plate adds 6 pounds to the set-up, letting you work with 42 pounds in total. Don’t worry about the plates coming off as you work out; they can hold for about 14 hours.But here’s the cool part: The Jarjox can track your performance, such as your reps, sets, average power and total weight in real time via the app it syncs with – which the previous Jarjox Kettlebell Connect version couldn’t.

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Pros: Reviews have allayed fears about the plates sliding, or worse, becoming flying projectiles when you’re executing swings. None of that has happened so far. 

What’s more, the performance tracking is free and so are the basic training videos in the app. 

Cons: If you want to assess the more than 100 workout videos and programmes, you need to pay US$12.99 a month. They range from 10 to 50 minutes long, and cover HIIT-style classes to yoga and mobility workouts.

Paying US$249 (about S$337) for the Jarjox is more than what most of us pay for monthly gym memberships. 

US$249, including shell, weight plates and charging base but not the workout videos. Visit Jarjox for details. 

Source: CNA/bk

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