The 50 Best fitness essentials
Struggling to to kickstart your New Year regime? Sophie Morris has the hottest gear for working up a sweat this winter
Friday 30 December 2011
This week's panel:
Julia Buckley is a fitness writer (fitnessrocks.co.uk);
James Duigan is author of the 'Clean and Lean Diet';
Louise Hudson is co-founder of Sportsister magazine;
Matt Sharp is the Under-23 triathlon world champion. He trains as part of British Triathlon's UK Sport Lottery Funded World Class programme.
1 Puma FAAS 500
"Suitable for running or working out in the gym, but with retro styling so you can wear with your jeans," says Julia. "They incorporate PUMA's new lightweight system called BioRide. This technology has integrated parts that work together to create a more natural running rhythm".
How much: £75
2 Reebok Easytone Step
"Steps have been around for 30 years now, but this brand new version from Reebok brings it bang up to date," says Julia. "The platform rests on air chambers with adjustable pressure to create an unstable surface to work core muscles and balance. You can do hundreds of exercises with it. Comes with an instructional DVD."
How much: £79.99
3 Sweaty Betty Jacket
"When it comes to sportswear that both functions and looks great, the first port of call is Sweaty Betty," says Louise. "The All Weather Jacket is waterproof and breathable with a flattering feminine silhouette. Not only does Sweaty Betty make great kit but its Fit 4 Free campaign encourages women to enjoy sport.
How much: £155
4 Mule Bar
"MuleBar believes in natural energy," says Louise. "They are nutrient-rich, 100 per cent natural bars providing a mix of high GI sugars from organic brown rice syrup, medium and low GI for sustained energy, protein for muscle support and essential fats. And they now come with compostable wrappers."
How much: £1.49
"Fitbug combines a gadget which tracks how much you move with a website to help you reach your goals," explains Julia. "Wear the Bug on your belt and link it up with your PC to track activity, keep a food diary, access healthy eating plans, recipes, and challenges. The site also sends you weekly emails as a gentle nudge."
How much: £79.99 for 12 months
6 Saucony Hattori
"In response to the trend for minimalist running, brands produced stripped-down footwear for a natural stride," says Julia. "Saucony's Hattori features a mitten-like toe box to give toes room to arch, grip and push off."
How much: £75
7 TRX Rip Trainer
"Here's one for the six pack," says Julia. "The fitness industry has begun to shun bulky machines . This has a 40-inch bar attached to an elastic resistance cord. Use to build explosive strength and a killer core."
How much: £150.00
8 Jasper Crew Neck Sweatshirt
James loves this 100 per cent cotton sweatshirt, which is so soft it feels like cashmere. If you're after relaxed workout gear that you can wear off-duty, this is the product for you. "It's comfy, and it doesn't stink," he says.
How much: £135
9 Rapha Grand Tour Gloves
Don't neglect your hands on winter bike rides. Rapha is one of the smartest cycle gear labels, and these sheep leather gloves with thumb and forefinger padding will suit the serious and the style sensitive rider.
How much: £100
10 Nike Training Club App
Since it launched this app has been downloaded by over 5 million users," says Louise. "There are more than 60 workouts plus bonus sessions. Download to your phone to make staying fit easier than ever."
How much: Free
11 Nike Air Pegasus + 28
"The Pegasus has been Nike's leading running shoe for 25 years," says Julia. "The latest in the line improves upon the classic. Choose your mesh, outsole, cushioning and more for personalized performance.
How much: £75
12 Bobbin Bicycles
"These bikes are beautifully designed, fun and well priced," says Louise. "Mudguards, covered chains and carrier racks mean you can ride in normal clothes, carry all your stuff and remain unflustered."
How much: From £300
13 FROM Organic Cotton Sweat
"I love the range the ethical label FROM has for pilates and yoga," says Julia. "This sweater is deliciously soft. The wide, relaxed cowl neck has a cotton draw cord to keep the chill out on the way home from class."
How much: £65
14 Aqua Sphere Swim Goggles
"The curved lenses provide a 180-degree field of vision," says Julia. "Other features include UV protection, leak resistance, and anti-fog. The best goggles on the market."
How much: £1.49
15 Bupa Smart Runner
"This app adds fun and variety to running," says Julia. "Choose hill runs, sprints or cross-training, set your time and ability level and let the audio guide you. Sync with iTunes to create personalised running playlists.
How much: Free
16 Vivobarefoot Neo Trail
"Ticking off two trends in running right now – trail and barefoot," says Louise. "The Neo has been designed specifically for trail running and comes in five colourways, but the light grey and crimson is my favourite."
How much: £89.00
17 Burton Custom Snowboard
"The Custom incorporates the most progressive technologies and board design philosophies. You have a board that reacts with unrivalled spring and responsiveness, amplifying movements."
How much: £455
18 Adidas AdiViz Vest
"The luminous colour and reflective details ensure you won't vanish while running on dark winter nights," says Julia. "The fabric is water-resistant and breathable, with two handy zip pockets for keys."
How much: £45
19 Bern Helmets
"Inspired by its action sports heritage, Bern's latest bike helmet takes its lead from the original skate style," explains Louise. "The helmet is available in on trend colours including turquoise and neon yellow."
How much: £59.99
20 Garmin 910XT Forerunner
Garmin has a reputation for the dedicated eventer. "It's easy to keep an exact pace on trails and to check open water swimming distances in the pool," says Matt.
How much: Starts at £359
21 On Cloud Tec
"On CloudTec has patented the sensation of running as if on clouds," says Louise. "The result is a simple, highly functional cushioning element which reduces impact force by 25-30 per cent."
How much: £120
22 Home Workout Bands
"When used with other exercises, band sequences activate the core as well as the hip and shoulder area," James explains. "This is our secret weapon for a tight, perky butt. It was worn by the cast of the new X-Men film."
How much: £12 or £35 for three
23 Momentum Bra Anita Active
"Awarded the Red Dot prize for design, the Momentum offers fantastic support and is so comfortable," says Julia. "The soft fabric, flat seams and padded straps are perfect even for running or aerobics."
How much: £45
24 Bamboo Gym Towel
"This little gym towel is made from bamboo fabric," says Julia. "Bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial so it won't smell, even if left at the bottom of your gym bag. It's ultra-absorbent, super soft and 100 per cent organic."
How much: £4.25
25 Jabra SPORT Headphones
"A sporty pair of cans with wireless Bluetooth connection and a built in FM radio," says Julia. "Comes with a free app, the Endomondo Sports Tracker, which offers updates on speed, distance and lap time."
How much: £99.99
26 Nike Free TR Fit Shoe
James says this is the shoe of supermodels worldwide. Why? It bridges the gap between flexibility and support, combining a structured internal support system with barefoot-like flexibility and foot strengthening.
How much: £70
27 BeaverFit Monkey Bars
Monkey bars are used by the military, mixed martial arts centres and rugby clubs to get users to develop upper body strength in a realistic environment while having fun, recommends James.
How much: From £899
28 Nike Vapour Flash Jacket
"Not for wallflowers, this running jacket will get you noticed," says Louise. "Designed to be worn on early morning or late night runs, it has 360 degree visibility. It's also reversible, making it more versatile."
How much: £200
James sells this nutritional powder through his website. "The blend of protein, antioxidants and fat burning elements has been specifically designed to detoxify and spark the fat-burning process," he explains.
How much: £60 for 500g
30 Quarq CinQo Power Spider
"British Triathlon's physiologists spend hours looking at data from training and racing," says Matt, "I can read my output on this power meter, so I can train at specific intensities and measure my improvement."
How much: £1650
31 Xtenex Elastic Laces
"Elastic laces are essential," says Matt, "these feel like traditional laces and don't compress your feet." The knots in the laces disappear when stretched to fit through eyeholes, before expanding to prevent slippage.
How much: £8.99
32 John Lewis Hand Weights
"Sometimes the simplest kit is the best," says Julia. "Featuring polished walnut handles and chrome , these weights are one piece of fitness equipment that I don't mind leaving lying around the house when visitors call."
How much: 3kg £60; 5kg £75
33 Moving Comfort Juno Bra
"The US market has always had a greater choice of sportswear," says Louise. "So I was super excited when I discovered that Moving Comfort was heading to our shores. I'd happily wear any of the great flattering styles."
How much: £40
34 Knog Boomer USB Light
"The coolest bike lights on the market, these ultra bright silicon lights charge from the USB port in your computer," says Louise. "They are also 100 per cent waterproof and come in a great range of bright colours."
How much: £31.99 to £33.99
35 Nike+ Sport Watch TomTom
If you like futuristic aesthetics, this watch, a favourite of James's, is for you. You can record up to 50 runs, which are tracked instantly with the TomTom GPS sensor, and the watch plugs directly into a USB port.
How much: £179
36 Carnation Silversock
"Made from silver-coated fibres to eliminate bacteria and reduce static, the new sports version has extra padding in the sole to provide protection when our feet are working their hardest," says Julia.
How much: £7.99
37 VersaClimber Home
If you don't like gyms or the great outdoors, Matt recommends an effective piece of kit which was developed in 1981 for NASA astronauts to achieve and maintain peak physical fitness as quickly as possible.
How much: £1,295
38 Arc'teryx Alpha SL Pullover
It's 2012. There's no excuse to be stuck with an underperforming pac-a-mac in changeable weather. This handsome jacket is light, packs up small, has a structured hood that will reach over a helmet and a slim-fit cut.
How much: £215
39 Oakley Jenny Jones Goggles
"Jenny Jones is the UK's most successful snowboarder and she has collaborated on these high-spec goggles," says Louise. "While I realise that they won't turn me into as good a boarder, I'll still love wearing them."
How much: £100
40 Suunto M5 Black/Gold
The best looking sports watch and perfect for those who prefer not to be baffled by an array of complex features. Choose from improving fitness, weight management and free training and let the M5 guide you .
How much: £150
41 FitFlop Supersneaker High
These daring leopard print
hi-tops from the brand that started out making fitness flipflops will keep your pins working after you've left the gym. Also available in a more conservative blue.
How much: £100
42 CC Vectran Tubular Tyres
"I prefer tubular tyres because you can inflate them to high pressures," says Matt. "Getting a puncture can end your race, but these are reliable and quick." Continental competition tyres are a pro cyclist favourite.
How much: £56.99
43 Nike Football Training Shirt
Stand out in Nike's bright yellow Elite long-sleeved shirt made from dri-FIT material and fitted with mesh panels for extra breathability. Technically for footy, this shirt is as suited to a run or countryside cycle.
How much: £40
44 Trigger Point Massage Ball
Matt uses Trigger Point products to relieve his clients' aches and pains. Foam-rolling is used by athletes and physios to relax muscles, and the Grid, according to Matt, takes the process to a whole new level.
How much: £21.99; £39.99
45 Lumie Bodyclock Starter 30
Health and fitness starts with a decent night's kip. If you struggle to switch off and on at the right time, try this alarm clock which simulates a 30-minute "sunrise" that gradually brightens the room before it goes off.
How much: £59.95
46 Veja Domingo
Veja works with environmentally sound rubber producers and organic cotton growers in Brazil. Hard to choose a favourite colour, but London Red and Grafite Moutarde stand out.
How much: £95
47 Manduka travel mat
Keep up your yoga practice on weekends away. Many mats are heavy and bulky but this is the best travel option on offer, less than 1kg. The mat is compact and its anti-slip properties are commendable.
How much: £27
48 ASICS Men's LB Tight
This ASICS tight has good wicking properties and elastic panel inserts at the waist, lower back, thighs and knees for cushioning and support. Pop a pair of shorts over the top to protect your manly modesty.
How much: £215
49 Run Backpack
A slim backpack with reflective piping. But the style has not compromised the substance: there are two bottle pockets, a Camel Pack flask and the storage space is adjustable so you can pack the bag flat.
How much: £65
50 Run 10k
Just the app for newcomers to running, and a new year is the perfect time to pick it up. Sign up to a 10k three months hence, then follow the workouts on this app and track your progress.
How much: £1.99
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