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Meet your new workout partners

From Pilates rollers to core-strengthening machines, fitness experts reveal new, versatile exercise equipment they rely onand how you can use them at home

A Pilates workout with MOTR. Photo: instagram/@lenka_pilates; RamRoller is used for resistance exercises. Photo: instagram/@theramtraining
A Pilates workout with MOTR. Photo: instagram/@lenka_pilates; RamRoller is used for resistance exercises. Photo: instagram/@theramtraining

The challenge of at-home workouts, apart from fluctuating motivation levels, is identifying effective, durable and compact fitness equipment. If you’re looking to graduate from the usual suspects (resistance bands, kettlebells, elliptical trainers) or expand your existing range of apparatus, here are some new additions fitness experts swear by.

For a Pilates partner

Pilates instructor Radhika Karle has introduced MOTR, an acronym for “movement on the roller", at her studio Radhika’s Balanced Body in Mumbai. The cylindrical foam roller, developed by American Pilates equipment company and training centre Balanced Body, where Karle has also trained, comes with attached resistance bands that can be employed for a variety of exercises, such as crunches, bicep curls, lunges and planks. “The MOTR adds extra core, balance, and stability work as you are working on a rounded surface versus a flat and balanced surface. It works on the entire body as you can do exercises lying on your back, sitting up, kneeling, standing, and even cardio work," says Karle.

The roller is effective for low-impact workouts, since most of the positions are performed sitting or lying down, but Karle prescribes pairing up with a professional. “All of my private clients who I train at their homes have an MOTR. But I would say work with a certified Pilates instructor who has done a MOTR workshop to understand its nuances."

Other Balanced Body equipment that she recommends for home workouts include the Bodhi Suspension System, which uses a four-point suspension system to improve strength, flexibility and proprioception (perception of the position and movement of one’s body), and Orbit, a platform on wheels that rotates 360 degrees, creating a challenge for balance while helping increase spinal mobility and flexibility.

For balance and strength

For her functional training workouts at Sculptasse in Mumbai, founder and instructor Shivani Patel uses Qubo, which is an update on bulky medicine balls. The compact cube-shaped exercise ball is a SLRT (special light resistance training) device, used primarily as a balancing mechanism and for functional training. “Most products only have one area that they target, but a better approach is to choose a device that can provide comprehensive results," says Patel. “As it has multiple uses, Qubo is intended to improve strength, muscular endurance and certain postural reflexes which induce remarkable body adaptations." She recommends using Qubo for strength (lunges with rotation, asymmetric Sumo Squats, push-ups) balance (seated twist, single leg and knee up), stability (scapular protraction, scapular elevation) and core work (twisting, crunching and roll ups).

Along with Qubo, Patel also uses the RamRoller, a resistance workout accessory available in different sizes (from 6-10kg) that can be used for indoor and outdoor workouts, specifically core training, functional movement and plyometric exercises. These workouts fall into two broad categories: work and recovery, integrating all aspects of exercise into a single system. “The essential components of the workout are body movement patterns like squat, hinge, push, pull, rotation," explains Patel. Variations are added through “implement positioning", which is the ways the Ramroller can be held (placed on the back, shoulder, on the ground), movement patterns (rotational, swinging) and grip variations (pinching, crushing, cradling)."

Qubo assists in functional training. Photo: instagram/@qubofitness

For core assistance

Scroll through Mumbai-based Pilates instructor Namrata Purohit’s Instagram account and you’ll find videos of celebrity clients like Sonakshi Sinha and Malaika Arora powering through arm and leg exercises on a deceptively simple apparatus. CoreStix, a minimally designed exercise machine, has a stationary base and weighted, flexible handles that can be used for exercises like assisted squats, calf stretches and glute bridges. “We’ve been using the CoreStix for about nine months now," says Purohit. “You can use it to perform a full body workout and we train using the Pilates principles. A lot of work is from the core and it requires stability and endurance. Like Pilates, one can expect to get toned, leaner, stronger, more stable and flexible."

Originally designed for athletes, CoreStix is also suitable for physical therapy and for “active ageing" exercises to assist elderly users (even wheelchairs can be accommodated on the base). Since there are more than 100 exercises that can be performed on the apparatus, Purohit warns against reckless experimenting. “A trainer can customize exercises for you and your body type, and since it’s the form and detail in each movement that counts, I’d say it’s a lot better to do it with a trainer," she says.

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