8 Fitness Gift Cards For Your Virtual Workout Crew

The new year is so close we can taste it. Only thing is, we’re not so sure how 2021 is going to satiate our annual wellness-resolution cravings. If you’re also missing good-old-fashioned group fitness classes (you know, the overpriced ones awash in dim lighting and bumpin’ tunes), then we’ve got a sweaty stand-in for you and your workout crew — one that also happens to make A+ holiday material: the virtual-fitness gift card.

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Since 2020 has shifted life as we know it, we’ve swapped cramped studio rooms and nearly-impossible-to-book classes for streaming computer screens and down-dogging it in our living rooms. And, you know what? We are actually feeling our new in-house workout clubs where the classes are never overcrowded and the subway never stops us from making it on time. So, in celebration of continuing to get physical come 2021, we’ve rounded up every awesome virtual-fitness gift we could dig up ahead — including everything from Classpass to trendy resistance-based training and beyond. Grab your sculpting leggings and tell Alexa to put on Olivia Newton-John.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

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Indoor Workout Classes Are Now Banned in DC. How Are Fitness Studios Dealing?

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When Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on November 23 that she would enact new restrictions that cancelled—among other things—indoor fitness classes, DC studio owners were taken aback and confused.

“It came out of nowhere,” says Maddie Watkins, who owns the downtown DC strength studio 202 Strong. As Covid cases rose in the region, Watkins had a suspicion that some restrictions were inevitable. She just didn’t think they’d target her business so specifically.

While studios are no longer allowed to host indoor classes, traditional gyms can still operate. And, perhaps most vexing to studio owners, indoor dining is allowed to continue, albeit at a lower capacity.

“I don’t understand the logic,” says Watkins. “I know that the mayor is trying to do what’s best for the city, but to me, the science and the facts didn’t match up.”

Watkins argues that working out in an indoor studio is safer than dining inside, as her clients are masked the entire time and confined to specific zones. At 202Strong, no equipment is shared, she says, and everything is thoroughly cleaned between sessions. And, for what it’s worth, Watkins says she hasn’t had any known Covid cases pop up at her studios.

Neither has Elevate Interval Fitness owner David Magida, which makes him equally frustrated by the new restrictions.

“I understand what the city was attempting to do. They were attempting to deal with bad optics and an assumed source of spread,” he says. “But the only thing they accomplished was effectively hurting small fitness studios without actually increasing safety.”

In an open gym format, it’s harder to control where folks go, how they sanitize their equipment, and to ensure they’re always wearing masks, says Magida. But because it’s the only viable way for fitness spots to operate right now, Magida has transformed his 14th Street studio into an open gym-style space, allowing clients to use the equipment in shifts. Watkins has done the same.

Meanwhile, other studios like Logan Circle’s Cut Seven or Park View’s Sweat DC are surviving by hosting outdoor classes, which are now capped at 25 people. And then there are those who flouted the rules: Solidcore owner Anne Mahlum publicly denounced the Mayor’s new restrictions last week, and continued to operate classes at her DC studios. After a visit from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Solidcore announced Monday that it would temporarily close its DC locations.

No matter the studio’s response, the verdict is the same: These restrictions will hurt the small, locally owned businesses. “We will take a hit financially,” Watkins says. And this is on top of the impact the pandemic has already had on her downtown DC location, which used to be frequented by office-goers.

Magida agrees. Just over a week into the new restrictions, Elevate has already seen an “exodus” of clients, he says, which is especially troubling when folks should be prioritizing their health.

“If anything is an essential business [during a pandemic], it’s fitness. It’s keeping people healthy, and their immune

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Which online workout is best for you?



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It’s 7am on a Tuesday and I’m in the kitchen. Nineties fitness guru Mr Motivator is bellowing ‘WORK IT!’ at me, while I swing tins of baked beans above my head.

Outside, a bin lorry’s deafening beep throws my concentration and I keep thinking the pile of washing beside me needs sorting. Welcome to working out, 2020-style.

Of course, Mr Motivator, dressed in his fluorescent pedal-pushers, is not actually in my kitchen. 

He’s broadcasting, via YouTube, from his own utility room. I’m joining the 20,000 fans who tune in daily.

As the latest lockdown lifts, gyms are allowed to reopen, even in the highest tier. But surveys suggest that 70 per cent of gym-goers have handed in their memberships and have no plans to return for the foreseeable future.

Instead many have embraced the digital fitness revolution.



a woman wearing a pink shirt: Pictured: Eve Simmons works out in her kitchen at home with a Mr Motivator online class


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Pictured: Eve Simmons works out in her kitchen at home with a Mr Motivator online class

Since March, there’s been an explosion in the number of workouts on YouTube and Instagram as gym brands, fitness gurus and social media influencers jump to meet a surge in demand for at-home exercise routines.

To find out which ones to choose, I tried out as many classes as I could in 48 hours – 20 of them. 

The biggest surprise was Mr Motivator – who takes us through a mixture of leaping and squatting in time to feelgood music. 

Aged 29, I’m just about old enough to remember him on breakfast TV, and I’m proud to last the full 15 action-packed minutes – until I discover later the videos are aimed at older adults.

FIVE BEST CLASSES FOR ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS 

1. THE 1,000-CALORIE ROUTINE

What’s it good for?

Two of these sessions a week will hit your NHS-recommended amount of exercise. The 90-minute video includes kick-boxing, Pilates and weight-lifting.

Where can I find it?

fitnessblender.com

2. THE WEDDING PARTY WORKOUT

What’s it good for?

Anyone bored by standard workouts will enjoy these body-strengthening and cardio workouts to pop songs.

Where can I find it? Instagram

3. ONE FOR KEEN WALKERS

What’s it good for?

People with joint and muscle pain. It’s a ‘walk to workout’ series, gradually increasing walking pace to get the heart pumping – without overdoing it.

Where can I find it?

youtube.com

4. STRENGTHEN MUSCLES – WITH NO STANDING UP

What’s it good for?

15-minute seated routines for those with musculoskeletal problems to reduce the risk of trips and falls.

Where can I find it?

youtube.com

5. GET BENDY WITH BECKS’ YOGA TEACHER

What’s it good for?

THE woman credited for David Beckham’s flexibility films short, revved-up yoga routines that tone muscles while helping you wind down.

Where can I find it?

shonavertue.com

 

Next, I move on to improving my muscle tone and balance through ballet, courtesy of the National Ballet’s digital beginner lessons. I join the instructor in a series of leg bends and squats. It’s slow and rather boring.

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Black Friday fit gifts: Burn calories, get healthy with big deals on home gym gear, workout clothing, fitness trackers

Maybe you stuffed yourself at the Thanksgiving table or you’ve put on a few pounds during coronavirus stay-at-home orders. Don’t stress. Most people feel under motivated and overweight right now.

If you want to reduce your soon-to-be Santa belly, retailers are offering Black Friday discounts on top brand health and exercise equipment, athlete-endorsed workout clothing and motivational personal electronics, like Fitbits and other fitness trackers.

Have you seen fitness mirrors that can stream live workouts in any room of your home?

Here are highlights of Black Friday fitness gear:

Bowflex has strength and cardio equipment including a full lineup of indoor cycling bikes, Max Trainers, home gyms, treadmills and adjustable dumbbells. Use code FIT2020 for Black Friday specials, discounts and freebies at checkout through Dec. 2.

The Brrrn Experience offers an at-home fitness slide board that includes on-demand workouts. Use the code TURKEY15 to receive 15% off and a year’s on-demand subscription.

Echelonfit offers rowers, bikes, treadmills and smart mirrors to support at-home workouts as well as live and on-demand classes. Save $200 on the new EX-1 LE bike, on sale at $799 (regularly $999) that can be delivered by Christmas.

Hydrow has at-home rowing machines with live and on-demand, athlete-led workouts. Receive $500, $250 in accessories and free shipping with the Hydrow Black Friday Package ($1,995).

Hyfit Gear has smart fitness resistance bands and guided workouts with professional trainers. Receive $168 off from Black Friday through Cyber Monday.

MYXfitness focuses on science-backed, motivational workouts with cross-training coaches and next-level at-home equipment. Take $250 off and receive free shipping and assembly (valued at $250). Sign up to receive the newsletter when you buy a MYX, and you’ll also get an exclusive welcome offer and a holiday gift bundle (valued at $75).

NordicTrack has treadmills, bikes, ellipticals, rowers and other strength training equipment. The Commercial X22i is discounted $200 to $2,799, which includes a year of iFit family membership ($468 value).

Schwinn has a lineup of indoor cycling, recumbent bikes, upright bikes, Airdyne bikes as well as high-quality, affordable cardio machines.

Sharper Image has a space-saving adjustable rowing machine with a hydraulic cylinder that you set the resistance level ($189) plus discounts of up to 20% cash back and free shipping on order of $99 or more (use the code SHIP99).

Backcountry has deals up to 60% off on men’s, women’s and kids clothing plus hiking, camping, biking, climbing, running fly-fishing and paddling gear. Take 15% off your first order.

Jenson USA has Black Friday sales on bikes, jerseys, shorts, shoes and helmets. The retailer carries mountain, road, electric and commute bikes, kids’ bikes and apparel, with free shipping on order of $60 or more.

Moosejaw has bikes, gear, cycling clothing and accessories discounted up to 30% off.

Dick’s Sporting Goods has deals up to 50% off on fitness and recreation equipment like trampolines, bikes, basketball hoops and ping pong tables as well as outdoor, camping and hiking gear for the backyard or the backwoods, plus golf, footwear and outwear.

Flexispot

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The Best Stress-Relieving Workout, According to 11 Fitness Experts

“This helps me de-stress because I’m making a point to pause during a hectic day. It’s about being self-aware enough of how you’re feeling at a certain point—emotionally, mentally, physically—and prioritizing you by focusing on being present, mindful, and tapping into your parasympathetic system (the part of the nervous system that helps you relax and slows down your heart rate),” she says.

How you can try it: Try these 12 hip stretches and 11 lower-back exercises to relieve tightness and pain, and increase mobility.

3. A gentle yoga flow.

When Jessica Rihal, a registered yoga teacher and meditation instructor based in Orange County, California, is looking to relieve stress, she’ll do a series of poses in prone (belly down) or tabletop position to help her focus on breathing and relaxing.

Some of her favorite poses for relieving stress are a supported variation of child’s pose, cat-cow, thread the needle, hug the earth, and a reclined position with bolsters or legs up on the wall.

“I find poses that keep me prone or in tabletop position are most helpful because having my face down allows me to withdraw my senses, focus on breathing and help to promote relaxation,” Rihal says. “I will typically use blocks, a bolster, and even my eye mask to help make my practice supportive and restorative.”

How you can try it: Start feeling zen right away with these 6 calming yoga poses.

4. WOD strength training.

Depending on how you’re feeling, stress may make you crave doing something either relaxing or adrenaline-pumping. That’s true for Marcia Darbouze, D.P.T., a physical therapist and registered yoga instructor based in Hollywood, FL.

“I have two forms of movement that give me joy and help me de-stress: the physical practice of yoga and strength training. Either way, I’ll opt for movement alone and enjoy the solitude,” Darbouze, co-host of the Disabled Girls Who Lift podcast, tells SELF.

If she is craving more movement, she’ll do a quick, 10-minute cardio and strength training workout. For example, she’ll do a barbell and resistance band circuit, which includes barbell cleans, barbell strict presses (overhead press), banded trunk rotations (hold band and twist away), banded Pallof presses (hold band and press away from your chest without rotating), and kneeling windmills with a kettlebell.

“Strength training in WOD form is a great way to burn off energy without having to calculate numbers or percentages. It’s also a great way to add in more small and accessory movements that help me move better,” she says. “And once I’m done sweating, I’m done stressing.”

How you can try it: If you want to put some movement behind weight, try these 6 basic barbell exercises, and for a more relaxing routine, get started with these 12 beginner yoga poses.

5. Your favorite sport.

If traditional gym-based workouts don’t exactly ooze relaxation for you, consider engaging in a sport you love instead. Nate Feliciano, owner and head of training at private fitness studio Studio 16 in New York City, likes

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Get a free Krispy Kreme donut, Planet Fitness workout plus a McDonald’s freebie Tuesday

Free food and discounts are up for grabs this Election Day regardless of whether you have an “I Voted” sticker.

Krispy Kreme is giving away glazed doughnuts to all along with a special voting sticker while supplies last Tuesday. Planet Fitness is offering a way to work off the stress of the election with a free workout and massage Tuesday through Nov. 8.

With more mail-in ballots and early voting this year, fewer people will have the “I Voted” stickers as proof to show they voted. According to federal law, it technically is illegal to offer freebies in exchange for votes and businesses typically skirt this by offering the deals to all. 

New fashion coming to Macy’s: Macy’s launching exclusive collections with Black fashion designers in March 2021

McDonald’s McRib is coming back: Barbecue sandwich will be available nationwide for the first time since 2012

Election Day also is National Sandwich Day and several restaurants are offering discounts and specials on subs Tuesday.

Free and discounted rides to the polls

A popular Election Day discount is a ride to the polls. Aside from ride-sharing apps offering deals, several cities and communities are providing free rides on Election Day including Los Angeles and Indianapolis, Indiana. Check with your local transit system to see if they have an offer.

Hertz: When you book a rental car for two or more days Monday or Tuesday, get a free day “to perform your civic duty,” the car rental company said. This offer is valid at participating neighborhood locations and a 24-hour advance reservation is required. Learn more at www.hertz.com.

Lyft: Get 50% off one ride up to $10 Tuesday to any polling location or dropbox using the code 2020VOTE. Lyft also is including its network of bikes and scooters in select cities in this offer.

The North American Bikeshare Association: The association’s Roll to the Polls industry-wide campaign offers “free or reduced-cost transportation to voters” Tuesday. Learn more here.

Uber: Get 50% off roundtrip rides to the polls, up to $7 each way or up to $14 for the two trips. Uber says the discounts will be “automatically applied when you request your ride by using the polling finder,” which is an in-app feature. Terms and conditions apply and this offer is not available in California and Michigan. 

Election Day freebies and deals

Here are the deals available Tuesday at participating locations unless otherwise noted. To be on the safe side, check with your closest location before heading out.

Biggby Coffee: The chain will have a buy-one-get-one free or $1 off any drink up to 24-ounces at participating locations. 

Bobo’s: The brand is offering 2,000 coupons for free oat bars Tuesday to those who voted. Register to get a coupon mailed by filling out a form at www.eatbobos.com/vote. It’s optional to share a photo of your “I Voted” sticker, the website says. 

Boston Market: From 9 p.m. to close at all locations nationwide Tuesday, get one free slider. No purchase is necessary.

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‘I’m a Cardiologist, and This Is the One Piece of Fitness Tech I Use for Every Workout’

Cell phones tend to get a bad rap. They’re blamed for keeping us up at night and interfering with our relationships. But contrary to what the Internet may lead you to believe, that tiny screen is helping us with a whole heck of a lot these days when it comes to wellness. According to Jennifer Haythe, MD, a New York City-based board-certified cardiologist (who also happens to be an avid marathon runner) it’s the most important piece of tech for fitness that she relies on every day.

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“I love to run and my favorite tech is pretty simple: My iPhone equipped with the RunGo and Strava apps,” she says. “RunGo lets me map out a run wherever I am with mileage and even suggests routes that work for my desired distance, and Strava lets me know my pace, splits, and elevation.” These apps are both easily available in the iTunes store, and make logging miles a cinch—once they’re downloaded, all you have to do is keep your phone with you while you run. RunGo gives you the option of being voice coached through your route, so you never have to worry about getting lost, and Strava measures your performance and allows you to share it with a community of other runners using the app.



a woman talking on a cell phone: tech for fitness


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tech for fitness



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Shop now: Apple iPhone 12, $884

In addition to the data that these running apps deliver, the iPhone puts some other pretty important health intel in the palm of your hands. Its built-in Health app allows you to track your daily activity (aka your steps), your menstrual cycle, and your bedtime. For more intensive information, you can connect it to an activity tracker—like an Apple Watch or FitBit—or to third-party phone apps that transmit their data directly into your health dashboard, giving you a full picture of your nutrition (MyFitnessPal), sleep (SleepCycle), and mindful minutes (Breathe). In other words, from the same screen where you can stalk your exes, you can also gain a full picture of your health metrics.

Gallery: I’m a Trainer, and These Are the 5 Fitness Gadgets I Can’t Live Without (PopSugar)

So while doom scrolling in bed when you should be sleeping isn’t great for your health (Seriously! Turn on the Bedtime function immediately), there are plenty of other ways to use your iPhone for the sake of your wellbeing. A cardiologist says so.

Dr. Jen is also a fan of the Apple Watch. Check out the video below to see what she has to say about it. 

Oh hi! You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts for cult-fave wellness brands, and exclusive Well+Good content. Sign up for Well+, our online community of wellness insiders, and unlock your rewards instantly.

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The low impact workout that anyone can do

Watch: 1Sculpt’s Jeannine and Nathalie lead a low impact workout as part of a six-part workout series

Not every workout has to be 100 miles per hour, and this one takes it down a gear, giving you a low impact routine that’s great if you have an injury – or you don’t want to annoy the downstairs neighbours!

Twin sisters, Jeannine and Nathalie have over 20 years of experience between them and they’re keen for everyone to experience their love of working out! Not everyone loves a high-energy HIIT workout however, which is where their impact workout comes in.

“You’re staying close to the ground, but you’re still working your total body,” explains Jeannine.

She continues: “Low impact workouts are effective and great for those who want to avoid putting stress on to their joints.”

Read more: How to get up and exercise outdoors – even when it’s cold, dark and wet

Great for all fitness levels, the workout contains four exercises. Each exercise is just 30 seconds long, followed by a 25-second break.

If injury is the reason you’ve been avoiding high impact classes, the twins also suggest trying to incorporate other low-impact exercise into your schedule

“Exercise doesn’t have to be high impact and jumping,” says Nathalie.

“Walking or cycling are great low impact exercise. We often jump in the car for short journeys – try switching this up and walk instead. Or maybe plan a daily walk, it doesn’t have to be long.”

Read more: Perrie Edwards’ personal trainer reveals the exercise routine that boosted her confidence

While many of us have started working out at home since the pandemic hit, it can be hard to motivate yourself if you’re normally used to joining an exercise classes or going to the gym.

Natalie suggests, if the local rules around COVID-19 in your area allow, to grab a partner as they can be really motivating!

“Working out together makes it so much more fun and – dare we say – competitive!” she says.  

“You have a buddy to get though the parts of the workout that you may have given up if on your own – it gives you that extra boost.”

One study by Kansas State University found that those people who exercised with a buddy actually increased their workout time and intensity by a whopping 200%!

Read more: More people are using exercise to help manage their mental health

The twins, who run 1Sculpt studio, have had to adapt their business during the pandemic to offer online classes. This last few months has taught them that routine is essential when it comes to a home workout.

“The one thing that is most important is routine – nail that and your half-way there,” they wrote on their Instagram account.

“You don’t have to have loads of equipment or lots of space to get that workout in. If anything, the last six months has taught us is that a chair, some bottles of water and using

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Give your brain the ultimate workout with this science-backed cognitive-fitness app

 

The Hill may be compensated and/or receive an affiliate commission if you buy through our links.

Brain training exercises are hardly new—you’ve likely been finding ways to bolster your cognitive skills your whole life without realizing it, whether through crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or card games. What is relatively new, however, is having the ability to play scientifically-backed brain training games directly on your cellphone.

Among some of the most popular digital brain training solutions is CogniFit, an app that provides engaging content users can access on their iPhones, tablets, Android devices, or computers. CogniFit is recognized as a global leader in the Cognitive Assessment and Training Market, boasting games, puzzles, assessments, and teasers that are backed by scientific patented technology. The goal of these short, personalized activities is to improve several cognitive functions, including perception, concentration, memory, and hand-eye coordination, as well as improve your brain plasticity. 

More than that, the app will measure, train, and monitor your cognitive skills with each of these programs. And along the way, users will receive real-time feedback that will help them track their performance and compare these results to a cohort of their peers. 

Currently, CogniFit has a solid 4.4-star rating on both the App Store and Google Play Store from thousands of users. As one current subscriber notes, CogniFit offers a variety of “Fun games to keep you spry in the mind! It really does challenge you to focus…” 

If you are looking to upgrade your current brain exercises from the Sunday crossword puzzle to a personalized brain teaser designed for your age group and skillsets, maybe it is time you try out CogniFit, too. Currently, a one-year subscription is 58% off, making it just $49.99. 

Prices subject to change.

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Future raises $24M Series B for its $150/mo workout coaching app amid at-home fitness boom

With thousands of gyms across the country forced to close during the pandemic, there’s been an unprecedented opportunity for fitness companies pitching an at-home solution. This moment has propelled public companies like Peloton to stratospheric highs — its market cap is about to eclipse $40 billion — but it has also pushed venture capitalists toward plenty of deals in the fitness space.

Future launched with a bold sell for consumers: a $150 per month subscription app that virtually teamed users with a real-life fitness coach. Leaning on the health-tracking capabilities of the Apple Watch, the startup has been aiming to build a platform that teams motivation, accountability and fitness insights.



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Close to 18 months after announcing a Series A led by Kleiner Perkins, the startup tells TechCrunch they’ve closed a $24 million Series B led by Trustbridge Partners, with Caffeinated Capital and Kleiner Perkins participating again.

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Amid the at-home fitness boom, Future has seen major growth of its own. CEO Rishi Mandal says that the company’s growth rate has tripled in recent months as thousands of gyms closed their doors. He says shelter-in-place has merely accelerated an ongoing shift toward tech-forward fitness services that can help busy users find time during their day to exercise.

The operating thesis of the company is that modern life is inherently crazy not just during pandemic times but in normal times,” Mandal says. “The idea of having a set routine is a complete fallacy.”

At $149 per month, Future isn’t aiming for mass market appeal the same way other digital fitness programs being produced by Peloton, Fitbit or Apple are. It seems to be more squarely aimed at users who could be a candidate for getting a personal trainer but might not be ready to make the investment or don’t need the guided instruction so much as they need general guidelines and some accountability.

As the startup closes on more funding, the team has big goals to expand its network. Mandal aims to have 1,000 coaches on the Future platform by this time next year. Reaching new scales could give the service a chance to tackle new challenges. Mandal sees opportunities for Future to expand its coaching services beyond fitness as it grows, “There’s a real opportunity to help people with all aspects of their health.”

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