With the pandemic upending almost all fitness centres and activities, 2021 saw some great innovations and new products to ensure that the old faithful as well as the vast number of people who turned to exercise for the first time during the pandemic kept busy working up some sweat. Also, some existing fitness products found new uses, shot into limelight and became widely accepted. Here are my top five fitness products of 2021.
Connected fitness devices: From bikes and treadmills to even mirrors, connected devices were among the biggest hits in the first half of 2021. The Peloton bike, which counts US President Joe Biden among its users, was the one that started it all. It’s a high quality indoor spinning bike with a big screen streaming on-demand workouts (for a subscription fee) where users could track each other’s progress and efforts. A big reason for its success was the fact that top notch trainers were leading the workouts in videos with high quality production values.
Peloton launched a treadmill as well, while another start-up launched a connected mirror that led and tracked you through workouts. In India three Peloton-like bikes were launched—two with integrated screens (Tread One and Synq.fit) and one with Bluetooth connectivity (Flexnest’s Flexbike) that lets you use your own existing device. Tread One has since been acquired by Cult.Fit. However, recent reports and trends suggest that home workout fatigue is setting in and the popularity of these bikes has taken a hit.
Carbon shoes: Shoes with carbon technology debuted a few years ago thanks to Nike’s attempts to break the 2-hour marathon barrier. However, carbon tech-powered shoes truly came into the limelight this year during the Tokyo Olympics, when their true potential was on full display not just on the marathon route but also in the track events. Every sports brand worthy of its name launched carbon shoes and carbon spikes this year ahead of the Olympics. The path-breaking technology helped the athletes blow to smithereens several world, Olympic, continental, national and personal records at the summer games. While Nike’s carbon plated shoes remain the most popular, Adidas’s Adizero Adios Pro 2.0, Puma’s Deviate Nitro and Asics’ Metaspeed range have also found a good footing among running enthusiasts.
Sweat pants: This used to be gym wear for many who didn’t like shorts or tights in the company of others sweating it out. But it has made a transition from the world of exercise to the new workspace in your homes. They became Work From Home essentials with millions attending virtual and video meetings in proper tops and jackets paired with comfy sweat pants below.
Bicycles: These have been the single biggest hit in the world of exercise, health and lifestyle since the beginning of the pandemic. Such has been their popularity and demand that there was a sustained cycle shortage for months across India. The interest in cycling continues to grow with many deciding to upgrade their cycles this year and buying gear to improve their performance in the saddle. A direct outcome of this kind of interest in cycling has been the sprouting of several cycling events, even in cities like Kolkata, which was quite late to the country’s cycling party. With the winter setting in and the current weather conditions perfect for long rides, expect more cyclists to take to the roads and more events cropping up to keep them interested and motivated.
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.