The pandemic is here for the foreseeable future, so you might as well get back to the fitness regime. Here’s our choice of gear for keeping fit during these trying times

HEADPHONES/SPEAKERS

Ultimate Ears (Wonderboom 2) has remained a top choice for wireless speakers when I am working out — loud and refined, durable, waterproof, and with a big battery to boot. They are, however, superseded by the latest Xiaomi Smart Speaker. WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, Google (assistant) ready, good for calls with strong mic pick-up, and a clear sound range that’s not booming loud, but enough to fill most rooms in most houses, and comes DTS tuned. Another awesome speaker that I have been tinkering with, is the boAt Stone 1401. Rugged casing with cool retro-boombox-like styling, and loud and crisp sound, like very loud and never tinny. The mic for calls was pretty impressive too, as was the battery life. But neither Xiaomi nor boAt were water-resistant, so be careful when poolside. Now since you can’t take this fairly massive ‘Stone’ for a run (unless you are a crossfit beast), it was perfectly complemented by their supra-aural headphones, the boAt 450, which I think might be the loudest set I currently have around. Great sound, thumping bass, comfy yet snug fit that isolates superbly without any ANC. boAt is an Indian brand that I am mighty proud of for being, pun intended, so well-tuned-in into the needs and price comfort zones of consumers today.

MASKS

fitness gear

There are many out there, but few that are made for workouts. Frankly, for my runs, I try and stay off the crowded routes, and run with a gator around my neck that can be lifted to become a mask if needed. But it’s all too wet post the first 10K to want to wear anywhere. Respro made masks that were a great fit (neoprene body with a velcro closure behind the neck), but having to constantly import filters from the UK became a costly affair. Now, we have Under Armour, which has made masks specifically for workouts. The outer layer is water-resistant, the middle layer allows air to pass but restricts moisture, and the innermost layer that touches the skin gives a soothing cooling effect. The wired top edge sits snug on the nose with a gentle grip. Another fun find was the AIRism series from Uniqlo, with sweat-wicking properties, triple-layered to keep all germs at bay and yet, quite weightless.

CLOTHES



fitness gear

For extreme winters, I find it best to layer myself rather than rely on one thick garment to go on top. I just received the Heat.RDY range of tees and shorts from Adidas — a very unique innovation that is cut wider and relaxed (to allow for more movement) and wicks sweat rather well, even after a good few washes. To me, this could also work as a good base layer when the seasons change because sweat-wicking is always a plus. The shorts, although useful, may have to be shelved for warmer months. I must confess, I have also used it as post-workout lounging gear, and it worked just fine.

APP



fitness gear

There are many online places to go and get your workout fix. For me, I have chosen to go local there too, and not just for solidarity sake. Team Boxfit ran a tight (read flexed) ship even before the pandemic, and through the lockdown, they have managed to keep spirits and tempos alive and kicking high. Fair prices and a great team of coaches to try — two weeks are free, and then sign up if you wish.

SMART BANDS

fitness gear

These are honestly cheaper than strawberries, but a whole lot more useful. Even the most basic ones will now track SpO2, heart rate, and of course, keep a log of the standard mix of steps, sleep, and basic workout routines. Most export data onto an app along with other metrics. You can either wear one instead of a watch or simply prop it on your other wrist, it is perfectly acceptable socially to be seen wearing this nowadays. The Riversong Wave S band does all of the above tidily, and has a decent battery to boot. I just wish Riversong had one integrated app for all their devices than the plethora that bloat the app store (took me a while to find the right app from my device).

SHOES

The UA HOVR series was my go-to gear when the lockdown began, and I was confined to running in my home parking lot, or up and down the stairs. GPS doesn’t work in such cases, so it was good that the shoe was fitted with sensors to track it all. Now, the HOVR Machina takes things, pun intended, a step further, with more advanced metrics and data. The shoe is well cushioned to perform great on long runs, but then the special carbon plate inserts give it that spring for sprinting when needed. And then there was Elevar, a shoe that comes in at a very affordable sub 5K price, and offers great cushioning and support. To me, it works fine for short to medium distance runs, and is better suited to workouts and other cardio endeavours. The ankle support is firm but not constricting, the sole is grippy, and the knitted uppers, soft and airy. I think they run a quarter size big which, with winters coming, is actually great as they can accommodate thicker socks. The mid-foam is oddly reminiscent of the Boost by Adidas but is styled and packed differently with a wide heel and a not-too-aggressive heel-to-toe drop. All in all, for that price, it’s got a lot going for it