9 people share the best home workout products they bought during the pandemic, and why it was worth the money

One person said having a fitness tracker for their dog improved their health. Zing Images / Getty Images
While the coronavirus pandemic has caused some people to take a back seat to fitness, some who have the luxury of doing so have invested in it.
Nine people told Insiders the best purchases they'd made for their physical health this year, including stationary bikes, a massage gun, and taking part in a virtual race.
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If ever there was a year where you could stick your bum on your couch, say goodbye to your body desires, and watch your daily step count drop to new lows, it was 2020.
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And while some people actually indulged their sedentary side and others necessarily foregone fitness as care and job responsibilities came first, with the luxury of doing so, many invested in fitness - and reaping the rewards.
Here are the purchases from nine people who got the most fitness improvements this year. With a long winter indoors, it's not too late to follow their cues.
A hydrow rowing machine
Ashlee Binns, an acupuncturist who moved to Colorado from New York City during the pandemic, invested in a hydrow rowing machine that would allow her to row "on" waters around the world, guided by live and recorded workouts.
"I love that I can train on the Charles River and watch the fall," she told Insider. "I feel more connected to our pre-pandemic home as we don't have four seasons that we are in now."
She said the routine improved her cardio fitness and strengthened her old body. "It removes the stagnant feeling you get when you sit down more than normal." She also finds the rowing movement meditative and has received Hydrow gifts for reaching certain milestones.
"Overall, I feel empowered, motivated, strong and sleep soundly."
A Wahoo Kickr bike trainer
Mary Jo Fish, a school administrator in New York City, cycled about 150 miles a week. But in April, when less was known about the spread of the virus, it seemed risky to ride outdoors with other cyclists. So she bought a Wahoo Kickr bike trainer that temporarily turns a racing bike into a stationary bike.
"It was a huge loss for me to be unable to drive, both because of exercise and mental health," said Fish. "I'm glad I have it now as we go into the second lap of this and winter when it's not feasible to drive outside."
A Garmin watch
The purchase of a Garmin watch and the participation in a 10 km training program via the connected app strengthened the running discipline of the Chicago photographer Rebecca Peplinski.
"It gave me specific goals or distances for each day, which was more effective at holding me accountable than just the generic" I think I'm going to run a few miles today, "" added Peplinksi. "They were often small goals, but in the end they had a big impact."
She said she also uses a Nike weight training app that pairs well with the Garmin for running.
A Fi Smart dog collar
Dr. Becky Siegel, a Pediatric Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Fellow in Boston, bought her dog, Cinder, a Fi Smart Dog Collar that tracks dog activity. The wider platform ranks the dogs' distances by breed, state, and city, and at one point Cinder was number 3 in the state, walking up to 70,000 steps per day.
"Cinder loves it," Siegel told Insider. "I've met people in parks and on hikes who have it and know the Cinder because she's at the top of the ranking, which is fun."
It also puts out Siegel enrolled up to 12 miles per day. However, the couple are now settling in after Cinder developed tendonitis from walking too much.
Peloton. Peloton
A peloton
The pandemic has been a boon to Peloton's home fitness offerings. The company posted 172% revenue growth in one quarter. Insider digital culture reporter Rachel Greenspan is glad she joined the hype and bought a stationary Peloton bike for her Manhattan apartment.
"When the pandemic closed my favorite spin studios and I couldn't continue my main fitness obsession, it wasn't long before I decided to invest in a peloton," she said. "Now I have a full spin studio in The Comfort and Safety of My Own Apartment goes with fun teachers and motivational classes. It was worth every penny to get into my favorite form of cardio, with thousands of others spinning virtually by my side. "
The Schwinn IC4 indoor cycling bike
Insider Editor-in-Chief Ariel Schwartz also got a Spinbike, but opted for the Schwinn IC4, which is like a peloton with no built-in screen. She bought an iPad to stream Peloton classes (and the occasional Netflix) while driving.
"It provides both stress relief and an easy way to get cardio any time of the day. Sometimes instead of taking a lunch break, I get on the bike for 30 minutes," she said. "Even if I feel good at the gym again, I'll probably choose to do my cardio at home."
A virtual, Spartan Trifecta race
Linda Mitchell, a fitness professional and competitor in Monroe, Ohio, had her entire Achilles tendon reattached before the pandemic. "I had gone through the healing process and felt ready for something," she told Insider.
So she and her husband signed up for a virtual Trifecta Spartan race that includes hundreds of burpees, lunges, squats and pushups, and 36 kilometers of running.
Mitchell won the Trifecta in her age group and gender category, which she did five years ago. "This felt like a huge win during COVID restrictions and the comeback after my injury," she said. "It was so much fun that I had my entire gym to do with myself."
A massage gun
Living at home put a strain on Ashley Armstrong's muscles, so the Vancouver area sales rep bought a massage gun. The investment "literally saved me and my husband," she told Insider. "It was really the best investment we've made all year that not only made us feel good, but also enabled us to be productive for work as well."
Insider Gabby Landsverk is attending an outdoor exercise course during COVID. Crystal Cox / Business Insider
A Bella Bar
Health, fitness and nutrition inside reporter Gabby Landsverk said buying a 33-pound Bella bar from Rogue Fitness during the pandemic was "the best fitness investment I have ever made".
"Most people consider the squat and deadlift to be the primary heavy weight barbell moves, but it's also very versatile, light to medium weight, for working with compound or isolated muscles, rows, curls, and landmine-type movements," she said.
"And if you're used to lifting heavy loads and dropping weights at the gym, having a barbell at home can be an added bonus for getting in good shape," Landsverk added. "You need to maintain control of the weight throughout the movement of each rep to maintain your ground (and a peaceful relationship with your neighbors) so that you can get the most out of each exercise."
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