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If you could have just one item to keep you in shape for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
That’s the question we recently posed to several notable individuals in the world of wellness — or, rather, we asked them, “If you were stuck on a desert island and could only use one piece of fitness equipment, what would it be?”
The deep, diverse panel — which includes Chris Hemsworth’s personal trainer, a former pro boxer who’s prepared Victoria’s Secret models for the runway and a master yogi who complete Ironmans on the weekend — came back with impassioned defenses of gear you’ve definitely heard of (the TRX) and apparatuses you probably haven’t (the X3 bar).
At a time when gyms are still operating at limited capacity, and you’re ready to start the year off on the right foot, just one of equipment could make a massive difference. Your “desert island,” after all, may very well be your bedroom, terrace or garage.
This guide is a great place to start. Some of these items may be backordered (as frustrating as that can be, it’s the ultimate endorsement of their effectiveness) but be patient. You’ll get it eventually, and we’re talking about a lifetime of workouts here.
Master yoga trainer at CorePower Yoga, former college baseball player, ultra-endurance athlete
“The X3 BAR. It’s a smart and efficient way to train — literally the only thing you’d need to build total-body muscle for rest of of your life. The set includes a small barbell with varying resistance bands and a base to hold it all together. It weighs about 25lbs (it’s small enough to fit on a carry luggage), and I use it for 100% of my resistance training. My favorite exercises to focus on with it include chest press, triceps press, shoulder press, front squats, deadlifts, bent-over rows, bicep curls and calf raises.”
Hexagonal Rubber Dumbbells
Leading trainer on Centr.com, Chris Hemsworth’s own personal trainer
“Hexagonal rubber dumbbells. From traditional weight lifting to functional movements, there are so many different exercises you can do with these. By using one dumbbell for smaller muscle groups and isolating, and using two dumbbells for bigger muscle groups and doing compound lifts, 15 kg dumbbells hit that sweet spot that challenges me in both ways. The isolation exercises I prioritize are bicep curls, triceps extensions, front raises, lateral raises and rear flies. The bigger movements, meanwhile, are bench/shoulder presses, rows and deadlifts. All-around functional movements include renegade rows, thrusters and weighted bear crawls.”
“AerospaceNYC’s AeroBlizzard jump rope. Remember: cardio is king. It’s the one fitness attribute that every single human body needs for higher quality of life. And jumping rope is one of the most convenient, efficient and effective workouts we have. It’s easier on your skeletal system than running, and better for your brain than indoor cycling. Every time you finish, you’re better than when you started. I use the rope for dexterity, promoting muscle definition and pre-fatiguing my muscles before a workout. It also enhances my anaerobic zone conditioning and explosiveness. Each move has its own benefits; I perform the crossover for timing, the side aero for coordination and upper body conditioning, the double turn for cardio, and the Duran for lower body conditioning.”
Update: AerospaceNYC’s jump rope is currently out of stock. We’ve added an alternative option below.
“CoreSteady 1.5m resistance bands. They’re versatile, they fold up small, and you can easily adjust just the tension. I use them for stretching, strengthening, rehab, and mobility. They’ll even level up a Pilates exercise. You can also turn them into loop bands of varying length. My go-to exercises with resistance bands are external rotations for strong shoulders, pull-downs, rows and sideways crab walks. As a pre/postnatal trainer, and as a mum myself, I focus on exercises to counteract the rounded shoulders from feeding and bring strength to the areas that need it the most.”
“Onnit Olympic Rings. I use them to build total-body strength. The possibilities really are endless. You can never master this tool. I particularly love Onnit’s ring is because the strap that divides it in half adds extra support when doing certain exercises. My preferred exercises with this piece of equipment are ring rows, dips, and muscle ups.”
Update: Onnit’s Olympic Rings are currently out of stock. We’ve added an alternative option below.
“A Megaformer. If a Pilates reformer and a Bowflex had a baby, this would be it. Handles, holes, bungee cords, and cables offer endless possibilities. The moving carriage and resistance springs demand constant engagement from your core. It’s high-intensity, just without any impact on your joints. The Mega weighs in at a whopping 275 pounds and is 9.5 feet long. One thing is for sure, you would definitely have six-pack abs on your deserted island.”
Heavy Punching Bag
“A heavy punching bag. I’ve been a certified kickboxing instructor for almost eight years now. Kickboxing combines both cardio endurance and strength training into one efficient workout. Plus, it’s a fun way to break up the monotony of your usual workouts and add some solid muscle cross-training into the mix. I’d go with an Everlast Omniflex Freestanding Bag, specifically. These bags are freestanding rather than hung, which is ideal for kickboxing workouts. Just add sand to the base and you’ve got a perfect piece of equipment for a kickboxing cardio routine, with a conveniently adjustable height range to boot.”
“A TRX suspension kit allows you to use your own bodyweight as resistance. You can modify your stance to make any exercise more challenging (just lift more of your weight) or less challenging. It’s also the perfect piece of equipment if you’re working with injuries or different medical conditions. Modifying your position can take pressure off of joints; if you have troublesome knees, for instance, you can use the TRX to assist with squats, lunges, etc. And while not everyone can do exercises in a supine position the TRX allows for dozens of targeted exercises in a standing or seated position. My favorite moves include single arm rows, pistol squat, suspended mountain climbers, bicep curls, suspended pushups with leg tucks, and chest flies.”
Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, EXOS-Certified Fitness, Performance and Rehab Specialist
“SKLZ Core Wheels are one of the most versatile in-home training tools in the market today. When you think of in-home training equipment, you want versatile, durable and portable products. These are the Swiss Army Knife of at-home body weight training. An upgraded ab-wheel and push-up stand, CoreWheels boast myriad exercise options. You can go from an abdominal roll-out to a chest-flye in mere seconds. The instability of the wheels is the key feature here as you must control them or they’ll get away from you. That control is what core stability and strength training is all about. They can also be used for stretching, to improve flexibility and joint range of motion. Not to mention: the large “rollerblade” wheels make them easy to use on any surface.”
“Yoga blocks are absolutely imperative for yoga practice, but I use them so much for strength-training, too. I’ll use one between the legs to squeeze for inner thigh and pelvic floor work, or to help people keep the legs parallel in glute bridges or any number of other exercises. I also use them to step up on, balance on, and hop over. Blocks are my favorite way to progress or regress bodyweight exercises.”
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