Author: Piper Phillips

Echelon Reflect Reviews: Price, Specs, User Testimonials

The home fitness market keeps evolving, expanding, and improving with the introduction of new and innovative products the latest of which is the smart mirror home fitness system. It is expected to be a game changer.

With the introduction of smart mirror home fitness systems, people will no longer have to go to the gym.

The gym has itself gone through a transformation since much of its importance was diluted after weights and other fitness equipment became readily available in people’s homes. Still, people had to go the gym to participate in instructor-led classes with impressive results.

The smart mirror home fitness systems promise to bring yet another transformation. Smart mirror home fitness systems are designed to bring the instructor-led gym classes of yesteryear right into your home in a way that wasn’t possible before.

Smart mirror home fitness systems utilize a large device that looks and functions like a standard mirror.

However, they are hiding a secret, which is that they also utilize LCD technology to function as a large digital screen. On the screen, it is possible to view a live-streaming fitness class while still watching your own reflection.

Of the smart mirror home fitness systems currently available, Echelon Reflect reigns supreme.

Echelon is a highly respected brand among fitness enthusiasts that takes a new approach to fitness. It’s first successful product was the Smart Connect Bike. The company is now making headlines with the release of one of the coolest home workout products yet – The Echelon Reflect.

What is the Echelon Reflect?

The Echelon Reflect looks and functions like your average mirror, that is, until it is turned on. Upon activation, the Echelon transforms into a live-action workout experience offering a full range of fitness opportunities right in the comfort of your office or home.

The Echelon Reflect is an advanced home fitness system that’s designed using a smart mirror interface. When it is turned off, the hardware is nothing more than a mirror, but it can immediately become a functional screen after being turned on.

The overall design of the Echelon Reflect is sleek, modern, easy to manage, and never takes up too much space on the wall. It actually resembles a large wall hanging in your office or home, but it is actually a full functioning workout platform that’s packed into a large flatscreen that’s hang from a wall.

The Echelon Reflect actually comes in 2 models (i.e. Echelon Reflect 40 and Echelon Reflect 50 Touch), which allows you to choose the one that best suits your fitness needs. The Echelon Reflect offers an excellent opportunity for trying out different workouts and customizing settings to find the ones that work best for you.

This smart mirror home fitness system is guaranteed to be quite effective and provide a new-age solution for working out, whether it is at home or in the office. All you need to do is install the Echelon Reflect on the wall and make sure that there’s sufficient space to move around while you follow along.

Think it looks like the perfect fit? Learn more below:

How Does the Echelon Reflect Work?

The Echelon Reflect comes in neatly wrapped packaging, which when unwrapped reveals a lovely smart mirror inside. What looks like a stylish mirror, however, is a large screen used for streaming a massive selection of workouts from Echelon that you can choose from the provided list.

The installation is simple and straightforward and won’t take longer than a couple of minutes to hang up on your wall. It is advisable to follow the instructions provided to ensure that the Reflect smart mirror stays firmly fixed on the wall and that you have enough space to move around.

If you get the Reflect 50 Touch, you can activate your favorite workout by tapping the screen. If you are a member of Echelon’s Connect Bike streaming membership, you can get started with the Reflect membership without paying any fee.

To use the Echelon Reflect (i.e. both the Echelon Reflect 40 and Echelon Reflect 50 Touch), simply launch the app with the touch of the screen if using the Reflect 50 or a remote if using the Reflect 40 and you will be ready for live or pre-recorded workouts.

Do You Need Any Special Fitness Equipment?

You won’t need expensive equipment alongside your Echelon Reflect. However, you may require smaller items such as exercise mats and a pair of dumbbells. It is the most that you will be expected to invest in and you can make adjustments along the way to make the most of your sessions.

It is worth noting, however, that the Echelon Reflect only works well if there’s sufficient space to complete different movements. It is advisable to steer clear of items such as tables, chairs, beds, and any other items that may get in the way of your session. You should also have a strong Internet connection to stay connected to the app.

Echelon Experience App

The Echelon Reflect is integrated with the Echelon Experience app, which is available for use for a nominal monthly fee.

The app offers a long list of impressive features, which include live fitness classes, real-time data, as well as a long list of pre-recorded workouts.

Once the Echelon Experience App has been integrated with your Echelon Reflect, which typically takes just a few seconds to log in, you can start sifting through the various live or pre-recorded workouts. The workouts have been designed to work well with the Reflect and will offer great insight and guidance throughout workout sessions.

Is the Echelon Experience App Mandatory?

If you buy the Reflect, you’ll need to sign up for the app if you wish to get a full-fledged experience with the Echelon Reflect. It is the best way to join fitness classes, go through a large number of pre-recorded workouts, or even keep up with a live leaderboard.

You can get discounts on your app subscription at the time you purchase your Reflect.

Live and On-Demand Workout Options

a review of the Echelon reflect

The Echelon Reflect offers an impressive variety of workout options guaranteed to meet different fitness goals. You can pick and choose the workouts that are best for you from the impressive catalog of options offered via the smart mirror. It takes just a few seconds to get started with your workouts.

The workouts offered include:

  • Zumba
  • Stretching
  • Tone
  • Barre
  • Meditation
  • Boxing
  • Strength Training
  • Cardio
  • Pilates
  • Core
  • Yoga

The workouts above are all available through the Echelon Reflect smart mirror and you should ensure that you choose those that meet your fitness needs. Keep in mind that some workouts will require using some equipment to get the most out of your sessions.

If that’s the case, it will be mentioned in the app as well as during your workout.

See a full list of workouts below:

Additional Features and Specs

Echelon Reflect 40

  • Weighs 33 pounds
  • Offers Real-Time Stats
  • Heart Track Technology
  • Dimensions: 42″ x 24″ x 5″
  • Live One-on-One Training with Subscription
  • Access to Reflect Leaderboard

The Echelon Reflect 40 is the base model and comes with a unique set of top-rated features. It is sleek, lightweight, and offers comprehensive integration with the Echelon Experience App. This allows users to quickly browse through workouts, joint live workouts, and simply have a good time in front of the smart mirror.

Echelon Reflect 50 Touch

  • Weighs 33 Pounds
  • Offers Real-Time Stats
  • Touchscreen Capability
  • Access to Reflect Leaderboard
  • Live One-on-One Training with Subscription
  • Heart Track Technology
  • Dimensions: 49″ x 25.2″ x 4″

The Echelon Reflect 50 Touch is definitely a step-up when compared to the Echelon Reflect 40.

It is an elegant smart mirror home fitness system that’s equipped with touchscreen capability that allows users to quickly swipe through workouts using a simple finger gesture.

It is also larger in size and well-integrated with the Echelon Experience App.

Echelon Reflect: Pros and Cons

doing yoga on the Reflect 40

If you are considering buying fitness equipment, there will almost always be pros and cons that you have to take into account before finally making your purchase.

The following is a quick look into the pros and cons of the Echelon Reflect to help you make a smarter buying decision.


  • It looks stylish
  • Touchscreen functionality available
  • It can be used even in areas where space is limited
  • Large variety of workout styles and programs to choose from
  • Ability to participate in live workouts
  • Sleek and modern look and feel
  • Massive library off pre-recorded workouts
  • Financing available 


  • The cost can be prohibitive for some
  • Internet connection needed to use the smart mirror
  • You might be required to buy additional equipment
  • Accessing the workouts requires paying a monthly subscription
  • You must commit to regular workouts to get the desired results

Should You Buy One?

If you have been looking for a piece of home fitness equipment to add to your home gym that can provide you with the training you get at the gym, but without the commute, then you should look no further than the Echelon Reflect.

The Echelon Reflect is an interactive and comprehensive smart mirror home fitness system that’s guaranteed to redefine how you work out at home. It is like having a personal trainer in any room of your home to provide high-quality workouts on demand.

The Echelon Reflect should definitely be on your ‘buy’ list if you are thinking about creating a home gym. It might look like a modern mirror, but it quickly transforms into a workout powerhouse once it is turned on and you select your preferred workouts.


Smart mirror home fitness systems are a fascinating addition to the fitness industry and offer a revolutionary approach to working out at home.

One of the best of such fitness systems is the Echelon Reflect Smart Mirror Home Gym.

The Echelon Reflect comes packed with a lot of high-value features. It is fully functional, easy to use, and offers users a fascinating set of workouts.

It offers everything that you could ever want in a smart mirror workout system in the comfort of your home or office.

The Echelon Reflect definitely does not come cheap, but if you factor in the number of on-demand streaming classes or even live classes available for you to choose from, it is definitely worth investing in.

It allows you to enjoy a great at-home workout regardless of the time of day no matter how busy your schedule is.

Echelon Bike Reviews: Price, Pros, Cons + A Must Buy?

The Echelon Smart Connect bike contributes to the latest revolutionary method to work out from home.

This offers a way to stay in the comfort and privacy of your personal space while benefiting from a personal trainer along with the advantages of class camaraderie to help you stay motivated.

How the Echelon Bike and App Works

The app provides instant access to dozens instructors along with various types of classes that are on-demand and live.

A live class will become on-demand once completed, and you have the option of taking part in the live classes from Miami, Florida, or Nashville, Tennessee.

Here it is in action:

Echelon Bike Models

echelon ex1 bike

Echelon currently has 4 different bikes to pick from:

  • EX1
  • EX3
  • EX5
  • EX5s

Features and Specs

The EX1 is their entry-level model, with the EX5s being their best and most expensive bike. With the EX1, EX3, and EX5 you will need a tablet to stream their live and on demand rides, which can be conveniently mounted on the included tablet rack.

The EX5s features a beautiful built-in touch screen, so no tablet is needed.

Even though the foundation of the Echelon brand has to do with the workout experiences, the quality, and specs of these bikes should still form an important part of the decision making process.

The frame is made from steel, so it is designed to last. The 33 lb. flywheel magnetic-resistance offers a stable and quiet ride, which comes with 32 resistance levels. The sport seat is also padded and slightly larger made for “going the extra mile”.

The sturdy pedals are made from aluminum that allows for standard clips or shoes.

There isn’t any traditional console, but rather a bracket dedicated to holding a smartphone or tablet, where you will be able to stream classes and access your app.

When it comes to technological requirements, this bike is compatible with both Apple devices (Arm 64 Chip), and Android 6.0 and higher. You can either use the bike with Bluetooth speakers or the built-in speakers.

Echelon Bike Price: How Much do the App and Bike Cost?

a woman rides the EX5s

Echelon App Pricing

The subscription involves 4 different levels.

Connect Rides

  • Includes on-demand and live rides for $29.99/month on the Connect bike.

Connect + Extra Mile

  • Includes all the Connect rides for $34.99/month and the Extra Mile (meditation, Pilates, stretching, yoga, and more).

Extra Mile

  • Access to every Extra mile class (stretching, meditation, Pilates, yoga and more) for $12.99/month.

Yearly Connect + Extra Mile

  • Access to all the Connect Rides and Extra Mile for $349.99/year.

Bike Price

The Echelon Smart Connect Bike is currently available in several different models:

  • EX1: Starts at $839
  • EX3: Starts at $1039.98
  • EX5: Starts at $1239.98
  • EX5s: Starts at $1639.98

The Echelon series of bikes range in price from $839 to $1639.98, giving riders a wide range of options, models, and pricing points to pick from.

The EX1 is their most affordable bike, with the EX5s being their flagship model, and also the most expensive.

Get Full Pricing Details here:

Pros and Cons


Personal Training Experience (Live and On Demand)

The main feature of this Echelon bike has to do with the virtual experiences. The app allows you to join live classes directly from your tablet or smartphone. It also allows you to interact without being physically present in a class.

Yet it still exposes you to the energy and encouragement of having a real live person right inside your home.

This means you no longer need to brave the traffic to ensure you are on time for a popular class with one of your favorite instructors or having to wait in line to ensure you actually make it into the class.

All you have to do is walk into the room where your bike is set up and if you are unable to make it for your usual ride slot, there is always the opportunity to catch this class on-demand later on.

The Frame

The steel frame makes this bike long-lasting, durable and strong.

Magnetic Flywheel

This is a heavier flywheel weighing in at 33 lbs, which ensures a stable and quiet ride.

Compact Size

This bike measures 59′ L X 53′ H X 23′ W, making it compact enough to easily fit into just about any space.

The Seat

The larger than normal padded seats are not only comfortable but can also adjust in 4 directions (down, up, back and forth).

The Pedals

Strong and reliable aluminum pedals that are made for use with both clip-in cycling shoes or regular shoes.

The Handlebars

The multi-position handlebars offer a more comfortable way to lean forward, ride, and stand up.



This bike doesn’t come with a console or any programs. It only works with personal devices that link to the app. This means you cannot ride any other way to keep track of your stats.

You have the option to manually change the resistance and to ride the bike without the app but you cannot track your distance or calories burned.

You also have to pay for your subscription even to access the basics. If you are interested in experiencing more, you have to pay for every subscription upgrade.


There is only a 1-year warranty on this bike, yet if you want additional coverage you can purchase an extended warranty.

The warranty is a bit short taking into account that customers will only be able to use this bike with the Echelon subscription and app. Customers are basically for life, as they will have to continue paying to use the bike, so the warranty from Echelon is weak, considering that customers continue to pay towards Echelon.

Who Should Consider Riding The Echelon Smart Connect Bike?

a man rides the EX3

The Echelon Smart Connect Bike is suitable for any individual who loves spinning or riding and doesn’t mind paying for the bike along with the monthly subscription.

The monthly subscription and the bike can be compared to a 2 to 3-year gym membership. While with a gym membership you have more options when it comes to equipment, other classes, and spin classes.

If you work strange hours or maybe you like working out alone, but still need the interaction, this bike may be the answer for you.

Echelon bikes are perfect for beginning and advanced riders, and they have classes and programs to meed the needs of all abilities.

Real Customer Testimonials

If you want to hear from real Echelon riders, their website features a large number of reviews from verified buyers.

Here are just a few for you to consider here:

The bike itself is sturdy and well made. It is a very nice piece of equipment for the price. Paired with the app, which is fun and engaging, it makes for an excellent workout! -Laura O, Verified Buyer

We have been looking at different options and were influenced by another company’s popular name and advertising so we’re close to going with them. However, continued research and word of mouth recommendations led us to look more closely at Echelon despite not knowing much about the brand. We couldn’t be happier with our bike and the different options it provides. The quality is excellent and the classes are plentiful for a good selection for both of us. I encourage people to do the same research and comparisons, you will end up with the Echelon like we did! -ErennLeigh K, Verified Buyer

Final Thoughts

This bike offers a way to work out at home while still interacting with people.

You won’t have to worry about making sure you make it onto the lists of those highly popular classes. With an Echelon bike, you are always at the front.

There is not much that compares to these benefits, yet it does come at a cost.

The cost of these bikes alone with the added monthly subscription costs more than a standard gym membership, where you will still have access to other equipment and classes.

Learn more and get best Echelon Smart Connect deals below:

  • Echelon Doesn’t Sound Like the Bike for You? Maybe One of Our Top Peloton Competitors would be a better fit.

Bowflex Bike Reviews, Specs, Price: Is it Worth it?

Indoor cycling classes have exploded in popularity in recent years. Indoor cycling classes are currently the most popular way to work out because they not only offer an enjoyable and low-impact way to burn some calories with others with similar fitness goals.

If you are not too much into indoor cycling classes, you can invest in your own indoor exercise bike that allows you to work out within the comfort and convenience of your home. Today’s bikes are more portable compared to other options and even provide access to live and on demand workouts.

Today’s home exercise bikes can be linked to fitness and training apps such as Zwift, which is a virtual reality training program or iFit that uses Google Maps to simulate an actual route. Unfortunately, most of these bikes are largely inaccessible due to their high price because some can cost $2,000 or more.

The key reason why anyone would consider investing in home-fitness equipment is to avoid hefty gym or class memberships. However, some of the bikes that have been released recently will probably leave you scratching your head.

The exercise bikes are not only expensive to buy, but you also have to pay a monthly membership fee ranging anywhere from $20 to $40 to enjoy access to their app, which is essentially the reason why you would actually consider investing in them in the first place.

Fortunately, it is not all doom and gloom. It is still possible to find an affordable exercise bike without the need to compromise on the high-quality build and features of the more expensive options. If you are in the market for such a bike, then the Bowflex C6 is exactly what you need.

What is the Bowflex C6 Bike?

bowflex bike with a tablet mounted

The Bowflex C6 is the first ever indoor exercise bike from Bowflex, which is a popular manufacturer of fitness equipment such as the TreadClimber and Max Trainer cardio machines. The company is looking to get into the exercise bike market as people are increasingly buying its home gyms.

The Bowflex C6 comes equipped with all the features and technology you can expect from a high-end ultra-modern exercise bike but at a fraction of the cost. It even allows you to connect to popular third-party apps that allow you to stream on-demand classes online. It uses Bluetooth to sync up your resistance levels and vital stats to the app you are using this creating a seamless riding experience.

How Does it Work?

If you have never used this type of exercise bike before, you can expect to have much fun with it. It is the best low-impact alternative to using a treadmill, and it makes working out much more fun when you factor in the availability of pre-recorded workout videos or live classes.

To stream the workouts, you will need to have a smartphone or tablet, download a compatible app, and have a reliable internet connection. You will also need to have a subscription to your preferred workout or fitness app. Bowflex currently recommends using the C6 with the Peloton app that has a massive library of pre-recorded workouts as well as live workout classes.

In both the recorded and live classes, you can compete against other riders while being guided by professionally trained instructors during the ride. It is not only the best way to have fun while working out but will also allow you to get a great workout while at it.

The Bowflex C6 also has an “Explore the World” function that allows you to ride virtually through exotic places all over the globe with HD videos and real-world maps of these locations displayed on the screen. New routes are added regularly.

Features and Specs

streaming a live workout on a tablet

The Bowflex C6 is packed with high-tech features and options that you would expect from an expensive exercise bike. It features an electromagnetic resistance system that features intuitive resistance knob with 100+ resistance levers. It is also relatively compact in size and can fit in just about any room of your house.

The following is a detailed look into the features and specs of the Bowflex C6:

100 Micro-Resistance Levels

The Bowflex C6 comes with an intuitive tension knob and 100 micro-adjustable resistance levels. So, there are numerous ways to challenge yourself with the bike as your fitness level continually improves, which makes it a great option regardless of your fitness goals.

Adjustable Handlebars

The Bowflex C6 has curved handlebars with multiple grip positions, which means that you are free to choose a grip that feels most comfortable to you. The handlebars can also be adjusted horizontally and vertically to suit your preference.

Comfortable, Adjustable Seat

The Bowflex C6 comes with a high-density, race-style foam seat that ensures optimal comfort for long rides. The seat is also adjustable both horizontally and vertically for optimal versatility.

Simplified Console with Tablet Holder

The Bowflex C6 comes with an integrated smartphone or tablet for placing your device while you stream workouts. It is also Bluetooth ready and allows you to connect seamlessly with the Zwift App, Peloton App, and other third-party apps to help you track calories, distance, cadence, and time.

With the tablet holder above the console, you are not only free to stream cycling apps but you can also go online and watch YouTube or Netflix videos or surf the net while you ride, which will add some fun entertainment to your workouts.

Wireless Heart Rate Arm Band

The Bowflex C6 also comes with an arm band that’s designed to wirelessly monitor your heart rate while you cycle. The arm band can sync with your apps and display. The arm band will help you stay in your target rate fat-burning zone while you cycle.

Free Hand Weights

The Bowflex C6 also comes with a pair of 3-pound hand weights. The weights fit neatly into the wire rack on the bike and can be used for working out the upper body as you ride.

Other Features of the Bowflex C6 include:

  • Magnetic resistance that delivers an exceptionally smooth and quiet ride
  • Dual water bottle holders
  • Easy-to-reach cradles

What Fitness Apps is the Bowflex C6 Compatible With?

a woman rides the C6

The Bowflex C6 is unique in the sense that it can connect and work with a number of fitness and workout apps, which is something that you usually don’t find on most other indoor cycling bikes. You can connect your Bowflex C6 with its own proprietary app “Explore the World” that provides an immersive riding experience. Other apps that are compatible with the C6 include

  • Peloton App
  • Zwift App
  • MyFitnessPal
  • Google Fit
  • Under Armour Record
  • Apple Health
  • Sufferfest
  • Tacx
  • Strava
  • TrainerRoad
  • FulGaz
  • Rouvy

The Bowflex C6 has you covered when it comes to fitness apps to provide you with all that you need to get the most out of your workout sessions while having fun at the same time.

Bowflex C6 Price: How Much Does it Cost

The Bowflex C6 is considerably cheaper than much of the competition. For instance, the Peloton comes in around $2,245 in addition to the cost of the monthly streaming subscription package. It is currently available from the company’s official website for $899, which is over $1,300 less than the Peloton exercise bike.

For the price, you will get a stable, adjustable indoor exercise bike with the option to stream or sync the apps of your choice using your tablet or phone attached above the console.

If you want to buy the C6, you can do so by visiting the manufacturer’s website directly, which is always something good and convenient should you ever run into warranty. It is highly likely that additional purchase locations will be made available over time.

Bowflex C6 Pros and Cons


  • Sturdy and well-built construction with minimal plastic components
  • Well thought-out, functional, and compact design, which makes it ideal for those with limited space
  • Assembly is relatively straightforward
  • The electronic magnetic resistance system delivers a smooth, quiet ride
  • It comes with a high-quality and highly functional forearm heartbeat monitor
  • It comes with an integrated tablet or smartphone holder
  • It also comes with 2 water bottle holders
  • It offers 100 levels of tension adjustment
  • It works with a variety of apps without tying you to a specific riding application
  • It allows you to stream live classes
  • It is much more affordable compared to the competition
  • The company offers amazing customer service
  • Financing is provided where you can pay as little as $50 a month
  • Lightweight: The Bowflex C6 weighs just 106 pounds when fully assembled


  • Paid Cycling Apps: If you buy the C6, you will be saving money since you will be getting your own cycling apps, but most of the good ones charge a monthly subscription fee. It is something that you have to consider.
  • Limited Reviews: The C6 has not been in the market for too long, which means that there isn’t a lot of feedback or reviews to find out what actual customers in the real world have to say about the product.
  • You require a tablet to sync with the workout app of your choosing. You must also have a reliable internet connection to use the streaming app. All these are things you need to consider before you buy the C6.
  • Bowflex offers exceptional customer service, but it is unfortunately not available on weekends, even though you can chat with them online.
  • Assembly instructions are overly concise. However, that’s not too much of a problem since no user has complained about being unable to assemble the bike successfully.
  • The pedals and levers don’t appear to be of the same quality as the rest of the bike.

What Are Real Customers Saying About the Bowflex C6?

The Bowflex C6 is one of the company’s newest releases and customer feedback has so far been overwhelmingly positive. Verified customers continually weigh in at the company’s official website, and so far, most people seem to appreciate the good quality and the affordable price tag.

Here is what some of the verified reviewers have to say about the Bowflex C6:

One user commented that having the Bowflex C6 is just like going to the gym, but with the added convenience of working out whenever you want. You never have to wait for classes. The user was hoping to lose weight but ended up enjoying great cardio too. The user also oved the monitor and especially loved how it is compatible with different devices.

A different user was looking for a decent workout while their plantar fasciitis healed and get back in shape for skiing and mountain biking. The user commented how they loved the bike as well as connectivity to third-party apps such as BitGym and Peloton.

Yet another user described the Bowflex C6 as an amazing bike. He got it for his wife for Christmas. He reported that she uses it 3 to 4 times every week while he uses it 1 or 2 times. He stated that he loved the adjustability and build quality. He also loved that the device shows all kinds of stats such as calories, resistance, time, cadence, etc. He also loved the fact that the magnetic resistance is completely silent.

One user stated that she loved the bike because it is not only smooth but very quiet.

She explained that her husband had an easy time setting it up. She loved the fact that it is very sturdy and the location of the water bottle holders. She also loved the weight racks and the heart monitor that comes with the bike.

A different user stated that it was very easy to set up the bike. He loved the fact that it is very sturdy and quiet and offers incredible value for money compared to other bikes. He explained that he preferred working out at home at his own time and the bike was an excellent addition for some cardio workouts.

Bowflex C6: Review Summary

If you have been looking for an affordable indoor exercise bike to buy that provides access to live and on-demand studio biking experience, then the Bowflex C6 is an excellent option. It comes with top-of-the-line features that you would expect from a premium bike.

The Bowflex C6 is somewhat more basic compared to other exercise bikes, but it still provides what you need for a good cycling workout such as the adjustable handlebars and seat as well as the 100 resistance levels, which is more than you are likely to find in any other exercise bike.

The C6 offers an exceptionally smooth and quiet ride and you get free dumbbells with each purchase, which is a nice bonus.

Bowflex understands that customers want the freedom to customize workouts according to their preferences and the C6 delivers exactly that. Users are free to use their preferred digital training apps and tap into unlimited workout sessions, ride from virtually any destination in the world, and train and compete with fellow users.

The bottom line is that the Bowflex C6 is just as good as the other more expensive options such as Peloton when it comes to design and features, but it is definitely the superior option when you consider the cost and flexibility it provides.

The Bowflex C6 is a recommended buy!

Peloton Alternatives: Top 7 Competitors

Peloton is one of the most popular names in the fitness tech industry right now. Not only is their innovative exercise equipment with real-time coaching popular among enthusiasts, but it is reaching the masses with excellent marketing.

That being said, there is still a major barrier to entry among those that might not be fitness enthusiasts. After all, the price is rather expensive.

Either way, if you are committed to changing your fitness habits, the technology can be a game-changer. Whereas you might have had to join an expensive gym in order to get real-time access to professional coaching, you are able to bring that expertise to your home gym with Peloton.

There are plenty of different kinds of exercise and fitness alternatives including competing brands and products to Peloton.

Therefore, you aren’t forced to pay Peloton’s higher price tag in order to improve your fitness routine.

Below, we will go over some budget options for those looking for Peloton alternatives starting at just under $200.

Top 7 Best Alternatives to Peloton in 2020

  1. Echelon Smart Connect (EX3 MAX) Bike – Just over $800 with financing through Echelon
  2. Bowflex C6 – Starting at $899
  3. L Now Indoor Bike – Just over $250 when using a coupon
  4. Gold’s Gym 300i Exercise Bike – Just under $200
  5. Schwinn Indoor Bike IC3 – Around $500
  6. ProForm – Smart Exercise Bike – Just under $900
  7. NordicTrack S22i Bike – $2,000

1. Echelon EX3 MAX Bike – Just over $1,000

a woman rides the Echelon Ex5

When it comes to weighing the various alternatives based on ‘bang for your buck’ the best option would have to be the Smart Connect EX3 by Echelon (read our Echelon Bike review for more info).

Not only does it feature live streaming workouts just like Peloton, but it offers access to them through a fully connected app. When you combine this with a free iPad Air using code (FIT15) at checkout, you will be able to get a lot of the features of a Peloton at a much-reduced price.

While you will need to purchase both an application and a subscription to get Echelon’s premium workouts as you would with Peloton, the financing code above will give you 30 days of free access.

2. Bowflex C6 Bike – Starting at $899

bowflex c6

The Bowflex C6 is one of the more affordable bikes on our list, but you know it’s packed full of quality coming from one of the top fitness companies on the planet.

The C6 can even be used with the Peloton app (source), or a whole host of other riding apps that provide live and on demand workouts.

All you need is a tablet to stream your favorite fitness app, which can be easily mounted on their included tablet mount.

They’re currently offering some great introductory pricing, and financing is available.

3. L Now Indoor Bike – Just over $250 with coupon

L Now Indoor Bike

This bike isn’t only included because of its low price. While it’s a great deal, it’s on this list because of the positive feedback it has garnered.

After all, it features rave reviews on Amazon and it is one of the highest-rated bikes at its price point on the entire marketplace.

While you won’t get the same bells and whistles with this entry-level model, you will get a very durable bike that is made up of heavy-duty steel.

Along with this, it operates quite enough to avoid disturbing people in your home and it also features a convenient mobile device holder to accommodate your device.

4. Gold’s Gym Cycle 300 Ci Trainer – Starting at $198

Gold's Gym Cycle 300 Ci Trainer

Gold’s Gym Trainer is a good option to consider. It features a magnetic resistance flywheel in order to provide 16 digital resistance levels.

Along with this, it comes with a very comfortable over-sized cushion seat in order to accommodate longer workouts.

By using the device holder featured on the unit, you will be able to sync it up with iFit personal trainers and a 30-day trial membership comes included.

5. ProForm Smart Power Exercise Bike – Under $900

ProForm Smart Power Exercise Bike

This is another excellent bike that you could consider. It has an inertia-enhanced flywheel that provides fully magnetic resistance in order to accommodate a smooth ride. This means you won’t have to worry about disturbing others throughout your home when using it.

It also features a fully adjustable seat along with 22 levels of resistance in order to accommodate optimal posture during riding sessions and to maintain the right workout intensity.

When buying this bike, you get a full one-year iFit membership included which features interactive workout and training sessions that can control both your speed and resistance levels. These workouts will play on its built-in 10 inch HD color touchscreen.

6. Schwinn IC4 – $749

Schwinn IC3

If some of the models we have as low-cost alternatives are still out of your budget range, you might want to reconsider what your priorities are when it comes to buying a bike like this. After all, Peloton does provide classes through their app.

If so, you can consider the Schwinn IC4 which includes a media shelf that will allow you to leverage Peloton’s app without having to pay for such an expensive bike.

The reviews it has garnered are positive and they typically refer to the solid construction of the bike.

Basically the exact same bike as the Bowflex C6, but about $300 less.

7. NordicTrack Commercial S22i Bike: $2,000

NordicTrack Commercial S22i

This might not be too much cheaper than a Peloton, but it comes with comparable features and a high-build quality. It has a screen that is identical size as the Peloton. However, it has the ability for instructors to adjust your resistance and incline for you. With Peloton, you have to do this on your own.

Therefore, it can help to keep you much more focused throughout your workouts.

Full 1-year membership to these workouts is also included at its retail purchase price which is another significant advantage over the Peloton.


We’ve detailed some very solid alternatives to the Peloton bike, so if you’re looking for a more affordable option, any of these can be a good place to start.

If we had to narrow it down to just one option, we’d recommend considering Echelon.

They have a number of different pricing points, making them an option for most budgets. They also offer their own live and on demand workout app, so you get that experience as well.

You can learn more about the Echleon line of bikes below.

Best Ab Exercises for Women

You run, you lift, you cycle, you play sports.

By the time you’re done with all the activities you love, who has time for pesky ab exercises? Luckily, there are ways to incorporate ab work into your normal workout, without needing to hit the floor for crunches.

Check out the “FitFocused approved” four best ab exercises designed for women who hate working their abs.


Yes, technically the reverse woodchop is an ab exercise, but it also targets everything from your shoulders to your thighs. Rather than hitting the floor for bicycle crunches to target your obliques, just add the reverse woodchop as part of a superset or circuit when you’re at the gym.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a medicine ball with both hands, your arms hanging straight down.
  2. Begin to squat down and rotate your torso slightly to the right as you squat, bringing the medicine ball to the outside of your right leg, your arms remaining straight. Continue looking straight forward with your chest pointing straight ahead during this part of the movement. This is the starting position.
  3. Keeping your arms straight, rotate your torso to the left, moving your arms in a controlled diagonal angle as you stand up from your squat position until you’re holding the medicine ball above your head on the left side of your body. Your torso should move as a unit, so as you rotate, your shoulders, chest and hips will rotate and turn to the left. Allow your right leg to move naturally as you twist, allowing your toes to turn inward and your heel to come off the ground as needed.
  4. Reverse the movement, returning to the starting position.
  5. Continue the woodchop for 10 to 15 repetitions before repeating on the opposite side.


The walk-out pushup is an excellent core exercise that also targets your shoulders and chest while stretching your low back and hamstrings. Sub it in for one of your usual chest exercises or incorporate it into your stretching routine. Just be sure to move in controlled motions to avoid placing unnecessary stress on your rotator cuff or low back.

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Slowly bend forward, rolling your torso vertebrae-by-vertebrae toward the floor until you can place your hands on the ground. If you’re not very flexible, feel free to widen your stance and bend your knees to protect your back and hamstrings.
  3. Once your hands touch the ground, walk them out, away from your body, keeping your legs as straight as possible and your torso tight. You don’t want your back to sway!
  4. Continue walking your hands out until your body forms a straight line, your hands positioned directly below your shoulders. Perform a pushup from this position. If you can’t perform a full pushup, just drop your knees to the ground to do a modified version.
  5. When your pushup is complete, reverse the movement, and walk your hands back toward your body, keeping your torso tight and your legs as straight as possible. Feel free to bend your knees to help protect your low back and hamstrings as need be.
  6. Roll your body back to a standing position. Repeat eight to 12 times.


Think of mountain climbers as planks on steroids. Not only do you have to keep your core actively engaged throughout the exercise, you’re also getting a hefty dose of high-intensity cardio combined with full-body toning.

  1. Start in a full plank position with your arms extended under your shoulders, your torso straight and tight.
  2. Pull your right knee toward your chest, placing the ball of your right foot on the ground, almost as if you’re a sprinter getting ready to race.
  3. From this position, begin the exercise: In a single movement, hop your right leg backward, extending your leg behind you as you simultaneously hop your left leg forward. As soon as the balls of both feet land on the floor, reverse the movement, hopping both feet back to their starting positions. Continue hopping your feet back and forth for as long as you can. Aim for 30 to 60 seconds.
  4. Rest for a minute, then repeat.


Like the mountain climber, the medicine ball slide offers a burst of cardio along with your core workout. Also, don’t be surprised if your legs start to burn as you slide laterally back and forth across your space. This exercise is a workout!

  1. Mark out a 10 to 12 foot space, placing two medicine balls on one side and one medicine ball on the other.
  2. Starting on the side with two medicine balls, pick one ball up and hold it in front of your torso before sliding laterally across the space. Keep your knees bent, your hips back and your torso engaged as you slide.
  3. When you reach the opposite side, plant your feet, squat and rotate your torso to the outside as you place your medicine ball on the ground, retrieving the waiting ball. Slide back across the space carrying the new ball, again switching medicine balls when you reach the starting point.
  4. Continue sliding back and forth, switching out medicine balls, until you have crossed the entire space 20 to 30 times.

Header image credit: Lululemon Athletica,

5 Ways Exercise Makes You Happy

Sure, you know exercise is good for you. It keeps your weight in check, makes you stronger, and keeps your heart running smoothly into old age.

But did you know that exercise can also lead to greater happiness?

It’s true.

When you work out and stay active on a regular basis, it’s not just a coincidence that you feel less stressed out, less anxious and generally happier.

5 Ways Exercise Makes You Happier

1. It releases “happy chemicals” into your brain

Dopamine is a chemical in the brain called a neurotransmitter that’s necessary for feelings of pleasure and happiness.

Scientists believe that as we age, we’re constantly losing our stores of dopamine — which is why we need to constantly seek out experiences that release dopamine, or that you need dopamine to do.

The best way to increase your brain’s dopamine production? Exercise.

So just exercise more, and more “happy chemicals” will be released in your brain.

2. It eases stress

Regular exercise helps you become less stressed out in the short and long term.

That’s because when you exercise, you’re actually subjecting yourself to a low-level form of stress by raising your heart rate and triggering a burst of hormonal changes.

When you subject yourself to the stress of exercise enough, your body will eventually get better at handling the rest of life’s stressors.

And less stress equals a happier, healthier life.

3. It energizes you

We all have days when we feel way too tired to exercise — and I’m no exception.

But no matter how exhausted I am, I always force myself to fit in a workout.

And you know what? I almost always have more energy after my workout than I did before it.

In fact, research has shown that exercise is better at upping energy levels than stimulants.

So if you push yourself to get off the couch and get into workout mode, you’ll most likely feel more energized afterwards — and throughout the rest of the day.

And more energy equals greater happiness.

4. It leaves you feeling less anxious

Recent studies on the effects of exercise show that in people suffering from anxiety, the immediate mood boost from exercise is followed by longer-term relief, similar to that offered by medication and talk therapy.

In fact, according to Daniel Landers, a professor emeritus in the Department of Kinesiology at Arizona State University, exercise seems to work better than relaxation, meditation, stress education and music therapy at easing anxiety.

So next time you’re feeling anxious, skip the meditation and music therapy and try a hard workout instead — you’ll feel better for days on end!

5. It combats insomnia

Trouble sleeping? Lack of exercise may be your problem.

Staying active on a regular basis has been shown to improve sleeping problems of insomniacs and people with sleep disorders.

Not only can regular exercise significantly improve your sleep quality, it can also give you that pep that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning and do things.

And that equals greater happiness, every time.


Exercise, and get happy
Next time you’re feeling down, stressed or anxious, get off the couch and go get some exercise.

Because not only does exercise keep your heart happy and help you maintain a healthy weight, it can also change your outlook on life to a more positive one.

So exercise more, and you’ll be a happier and healthier person for life.

Elliptigo Review: How’s it Work + Where to Buy


Thinking about an ElliptiGO elliptical bicycle? Here’s a quick quiz to decide if it’s right for you:

  • Do you like exercising outdoors?
  • Do you ever find bicycling uncomfortable or tedious?
  • Do you enjoy running?
  • Do you want your fitness to be fun?
  • Have you ever been sidelined from high-impact exercise due to an injury?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you just might be in the market for an ElliptiGO. In fact, the ElliptiGO was invented by Bryan Pate in 2005 simply because he answered “yes” to all of the questions above.

What is the ElliptiGo? A Brief History…

When Bryan was told at only 32 years old that he could no longer participate in high-impact exercise, he set out to find a piece of low impact exercise equipment designed for outdoor use.

As a former cyclist, he didn’t want to return to traditional cycling, and he didn’t want to spend his days cooped up at the gym.

The only problem?

He couldn’t find an alternative! Frustrated and determined, Bryan turned to Brent Teal, a degreed mechanical engineer and competitive ultra marathoner.

Over the course of five years, Brent and Bryan poured countless hours into their project, developed numerous prototypes and finally began selling their invention to consumers in 2010. It may have been a long ride to take the ElliptiGO from conception to reality, but their efforts have paid off and elliptical cycling is growing by leaps and bounds.

See the ElliptiGO in action >>

Despite the fact that I’ve coveted the ElliptiGO since 2006, well before they hit the market, I have yet to get one of my own.

As bummed as I am about not crossing this off my fitness bucket list (yet), I was pumped when Bryan Pate made himself available to do an interview in order to share a little more about the ElliptiGO and the sport of elliptical cycling.

Read on and be motivated!

How to Use the ElliptiGo: A Q&A With the Inventors of ELLIPTICAL CYCLING

GirlsGoneSporty (GGS): For someone who has never tried an ElliptiGO before, how long does it take before you start feeling comfortable?

Bryan Pate (BP): It’s a really quick initial learning curve – just a few seconds before you realize it’s really easy to balance and ride. Most people start feeling comfortable within the first minute of riding. That said, we like for people to take it out for a good 15 to 30 minutes on their first try so they can experience how well it performs over a variety of terrain like hills, turns and so forth. This also allows them to really feel the workout experience.

GGS: Just from a functional standpoint, how hard is it to use?

BP: Really easy. It balances surprisingly well. Basically, if you can ride a bike, you can ride an ElliptiGO. It handles similarly to a bike. The steering input is longer, so it takes five or six turns before you really get comfortable making sharp corners, but once you’ve figured that out, you’ll find it performs like a bike in terms of handling.

Should You Buy an ElliptiGo?

Elliptical CyclingGGS: Who is the ElliptiGO best suited for – who is your preferred customer?

BP: The ElliptiGO is great for anyone who is looking for a fun, comfortable form of low-impact cardio exercise outdoors. It’s designed to deliver a great workout that’s basically equivalent to running, but without the pounding experienced during running. It’s perfect for:

The former runner who wants the running experience but can’t handle the impact
The injured runner who is trying to get back into running or stay in shape while injured
The fitness enthusiast who isn’t conditioned to endure the conventional road bike riding position (doesn’t like the seat pain or has lower back/neck issues that make the riding position too uncomfortable) or doesn’t want to spend the time required to get in a good workout on a road bike.

Because the ElliptiGO is more like running, you can get in a good workout in just 30-45 minutes,

GGS: How is the ElliptiGO being used by athletes and “regular people” both in a day-to-day capacity and in pursuit of bigger goals?

BP: The ElliptiGO has been adopted by elite athletes at a surprising rate, and this year there are more than a dozen Olympic hopefuls who have been using it as a core part of their training.

The athletes adopting the ElliptiGO tend to be seasoned runners who have let go of the “only running makes you faster” mentality for training, and have embraced the ElliptiGO as a way to cut down on running mileage while increasing their overall cardiovascular conditioning time with the theory that this will get them into better shape with less chance of injury. For a pro runner, that combination provides a tremendous advantage in terms of performance.

The proof is in the pudding, and we’ve already seen a number of athletes who use this training philosophy and have set personal records this year.

Elliptical cyclingIn addition to runners, we have triathletes, adventure racers and a number of professional baseball, football, soccer and basketball players who are using the ElliptiGO. Although these sports are different from running, the reasons the ElliptiGO attracts these athletes are basically the same – using the ElliptiGO is a fun, non-damaging form of cardio training that delivers real performance improvements while reducing the likelihood of injury.

While it’s great that there are so many elite runners and pro athletes using the ElliptiGO, they are dwarfed by the number of “regular” people (like us) who are using the ElliptiGO to train for their own sports and running events, to lose weight or to simply evolve their exercise routine.

These folks range in age from 40-70 and usually share a common enthusiasm for exercise and fitness – even if they have allowed themselves to get out of shape recently. Most are former runners who had to give it up because of lower-extremity injuries. Once they start using the ElliptiGO, it’s amazing how they really fall in love with it and I can’t tell you the number of emails we get each month from customers who say that the ElliptiGO changed their lives.

That’s one element of the ElliptiGO that we didn’t expect – how much it improves our customers’ lives and how thankful they are for that. It’s probably my favorite part of the whole experience so far.


GGS: You mentioned in our previous conversations that the University of California San Diego (UCSD) is doing a study on the caloric burn rate of the bike – have you seen the results yet?

BP: Yes. UCSD completed the study several months ago. They had two conclusions from this study: First, that the ElliptiGO burns approximately 33% more calories than a road bike at a given velocity. And second, that the ElliptiGO was more equal to running than cycling is in terms of heart rate, rate of perceived exertion and energy expenditure. We think these two factors are what enable riding the ElliptiGO to be about as efficient as running in terms of getting in your workout.


GGS: What are your goals for the company and for elliptical cycling as a sport? What types of events have you already held and how are you working to grow the sport?

BP: One of our core missions as a company is to create a new sport around elliptical cycles. We’ve held two World Championships, which have drawn competitors from five countries so far. An Australian won the first championship and last year Team Canada won the team competition.

The championship event consists of a 4,209 foot elevation gain through an 11.7-mile climb up Palomar Mountain in California, which is ranked the 16th toughest cycling climb in the country. We also do a flat course time-trial event, where many competitors will average over 20 mph. The climb feels like running a half-marathon and the time trial feels like running a 5K, so they are very different events, but very competitive and fun.

This year a group of customers secured an elliptical cycling category in a bike race in Ohio called Calvin’s Challenge where ElliptiGO riders set records for fastest 100-mile ride and fastest 50-mile ride. Thirty-seven people have joined the Century Club so far, which consists of the first 100 riders to complete an organized cycling event of 100-miles or longer.

We expect this year’s World Championships to be the most competitive and well attended event so far, and we’re continuing to focus on building the sport of elliptical cycling.

Try Before You Buy?

GGS: Are there opportunities for potential buyers to test out an ElliptiGO before ordering their own?

BP: Absolutely!

We have a dealer network of more than 250 retailers spread across the country. You can find the dealer nearest you buy using the dealer locator on our website:

In the unlikely event that there isn’t a dealer nearby, you can take advantage of our 30-day no questions asked money-back guarantee, which lets you purchase an ElliptiGO directly through our website and if you don’t absolutely love it, you can return it for any reason for a full refund, less return shipping/transportation.

We get fewer than 1-percent of our ElliptiGOs returned.

GGS: Anything else readers should know?

BP: The only thing worth adding is to acknowledge that the ElliptiGO is expensive. The bottom line is that it’s expensive because it works, and to get it to work, we had to use costly parts and materials. You’ll see the quality of these parts and materials when you take a look at the ElliptiGO.

When you compare the cost to a high-quality elliptical trainer or a nice road bike, you’ll find that it’s actually priced very competitively.

Review Summary

I can’t thank Bryan enough for taking the time to talk to me, and I’d also like to add that I can’t wait to be in a position to host a GirlsGoneSporty ElliptiGO Team.

There’s nothing I’d love more than to suit up a group of women on pink ElliptiGOs and head to the hills of California to participate in the World Championships. It may be a couple years down the road before we can make that happen, but I’ll start taking names now!

Who wants to be on the first ever GirlsGoneSporty ElliptiGO Team?

Best Back Exercises for Women

A strong back is a sexy back, and a well-shaped back requires regular attention in the weight room. You don’t have to do a million lat pulldowns or pullups to get the look you want, though! Just add a few of these exercises suggested by GGS Ambassadors as great back exercises for women.

Don’t forget your low back!

The low back is frequently neglected, but it’s super important when it comes to whole health. Strengthening your low back can help prevent or reduce low back pain and also helps with posture and overall core strength.

Best Lower Back Exercises for Women

1. Back extensions or backward situps on a stability ball

One great exercise for strengthening the low back are back extensions on a stability ball. Not familiar? You may have heard of them by a different name.

Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador Glenda Rigby of PinkShamrock.MerrittIsland concurs that these are great, “My favorite back exercises are backwards situps on my Pilates ball!” No matter what you call them, they’re going to help you get the strong, sexy back you desire!

2. Locust pose

The Locust pose is a yoga term for a static exercise similar to the more commonly known “Superman” exercise designed to strengthen the low back.

Ambassador Nicole Bobco of Masters2Marathons explains, “I do these a few times a week (in addition to a few other lower back core exercises) because it helps keep my SI joint issue from aching since it is more ‘loose’, something that’s generally more common in women due to body physiology.” Perform the exercise as follows:

  • Lie face down and arch your upper back just a few inches off the floor, keeping your neck straight and aligned by looking at the floor. Keep your arms along your sides, “Like you are flying streamlined,” Bobco says.
  • Lift both legs a few inches off the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Rest and repeat a few times.

3. Locust pose

Robin Callarman of Unquenchable Laughter agrees that yoga’s a lifesaver, “For back exercises I love yoga! It doesn’t seem like much, compared to all the lifting exercises that are out there, but having your back be flexible and open helps with everything else!”

Best Mid and upper back Exercises for Women

Your mid and upper back generally get all the love – and for good reason! Your lats, traps and rhomboids are large muscles that each play an important role in upper body and arm movement.

1. T-bar rows

Most people are familiar with exercises like pullups and seated rows, but two Girls Gone Sporty ambassadors, Joanna Broadbent of Sports Bras and Sippy Cups, and Melissa Chestnut of MelRUNStheworld, both love T-bar rows. Joanna explains, “They work your middle back and your lats and give you the awesome v-taper.” Check out Melissa performing the exercise:

2. Pushup Lawnmowers

Another great move that will get your entire upper body working is the pushup lawnmowers exercise suggested by Katy from Fit in Heels.

Simply complete one push up and move immediately into a one-armed row. If you’re feeling especially motivated, hold a dumbbell in each hand and perform the row with a dumbbell.

Best Alternatives to Squats and Lunges + Modifications

Best Squat and lunge modifications

Squats and lunges aren’t for everyone, so there’s no need to feel bad if they’re completely off-limits for you, but if you can slowly work your way up to these movements, I highly recommend trying.

You see, both exercises are compound, closed-chain, functional moves that target all of the major muscle groups of your lower body while also engaging your core. They’re also great for developing and maintaining bone mass through the legs, hips and low back.

If you want to try a few modifications, check these versions out:

1. Shallow squats

Shallow squats are essentially the typical squat movement, but you only perform roughly the top quarter of the exercise. So instead of squatting down until your knees form 90-degree angles, you just press your hips back and lower your glutes a few inches.

You can do these up against a table or counter, as shown in the video below, or without, as shown in this video (they wouldn’t let me embed it – sorry!).

Just remember, keep your weight in your heels (try wiggling your toes while you squat to prevent yourself from shifting your weight to the balls of your feet), and initiate the movement by pressing your hips back first, rather than bending your knees first.

2. Wall squat

The wall squat is a static exercise that helps build strength at the exact angle where your knees and hips are positioned.

You can perform wall squats with any degree of bend in your knees, so there’s absolutely no reason you have to perform the exercise with your knees bent at 90-degrees.

Another advantage is that because you’re pressing your hips and torso against the wall, you remove some of the pressure from your lower body while still challenging your quads, hamstrings, glutes and core.

3. Chair squat

Chair squats are a good alternative because they focus on the “negative” or eccentric half of the squat, where you control the downward movement as you sit down into a chair. They also help you focus on proper squat form.

If you’re working your way up to a regular squat, don’t even worry about how you stand up from the chair after you squat down.

Stand up in whatever way feels comfortable to you, reposition yourself, then sit down again, using proper chair squat form.

4. Reverse lunge (shallow or deep)

Doing a reverse lunge is easier than doing a forward or walking lunge because you maintain more control over your torso and weight placement (your center of gravity doesn’t shift forward with your forward momentum), making it easier maintain proper form, particularly in your front foot.

Just make sure when you step backward, you keep your weight in your front heel (remember to do the toe-wiggle, like with squats), so when you bend your knees into the lunge, your front knee remains behind your toes, and aligned with your toes. You can try shallow or deep reverse lunges.

I love this example video, but again, they won’t let me embed it.

5. Static lunge (shallow or deep)

With the static lunge, you start with your feet staggered, one in front of the other, and you maintain this staggered position throughout the exercise.

As you perform each lunge, with a shallow or deep range of motion, you focus completely on proper lunge form without worrying about shifting your center of gravity forward or backward as you would when taking steps to the front or back.

As always, remember to keep your weight in your front heel and your torso upright and straight as you lunge.

Best Alternatives to squats and lunges

If for any reason, you want to ditch the squats and lunges suggested in the Thrillist 31 Day Gym-Free Fitness Challenge, that’s completely fine.

Here are some options for you to consider. Not all of them will feel comfortable for everyone, so give each movement a test to select the ones you like the best.

The first five exercises listed below are compound in nature, targeting more muscle groups at the same time, while the last couple exercises do more to isolate the hamstrings and glutes.

You can also sub in single-leg deadlifts or bridges, both of which are already included periodically in the Thrillist fitness challenge.

1. Step-ups

Step-ups are very similar to lunges in terms of the muscles worked, but because you have control over the height of the step and the change in forward momentum and center of gravity shift due to an overall smaller step-width, they tend to be easier on the knees.

Start with a low step – about 12- to 18-inches tall, and work your way up to a taller step or bench as you feel ready. As always, remember to keep your weight in the heel of your front foot.

Also, step down carefully from the step, fully controlling the downward motion.

2. Lateral box step-ups

Lateral box step-ups are a good alternative to squats, with the added bonus of greater engagement of the abductors and adductors. Start slowly with a low step, about eight- to 18-inches in height, gradually working your way up to a taller step or bench.

Remain in a “baby squat” with a slight bend in your hips and knees throughout the exercise, and make sure you’re fully planting your foot on the step, with your weight in your heel, before shifting your weight to perform the lateral movement.

As you get stronger, you can progress to a lateral step-over (shown below), crossing up and over the box.

3. Bear squats

Personally, I’m a huge fan of bear squats, as they’re a full-body exercise that takes you through the same range of motion as traditional squats, without placing as much weight on your lower-body joints. That said, they’re not for everyone, especially since they require a decent level of core strength and shoulder flexibility.

The key thing to remember about bear squats is that your knees never touch the ground.  You start in a high plank position, then press your hips back toward your heels as you bend your knees and extend your shoulders.

It’s as if you were performing a traditional squat, but from a plank position rather than a standing position.

When you’ve squatted back as far as you can (never letting your knees touch down!), you press through the balls of your feet and extend forward, returning to the plank.

4. Dumbbell Romanian deadlifts

Dumbbell deadlifts are a great way to work your posterior chain – the muscles along the back half of your body.

Make sure you focus on form – this exercise should primarily work your glutes and hamstrings, using them to “pull” you to the standing position, rather than relying on your back to do the bulk of the work.

As with most of the exercises on this list, remember to keep your weight centered over your heels, and be sure to initiate the movement by pressing your hips backward, keeping your core tight and strong throughout.

5. Lateral band walks

Lateral band walks aren’t a perfect substitute for squats or lunges, but they do engage many of the same muscle groups while also working the abductors.

If you can, lower yourself into a shallow squat while performing the band walks, pressing your hips back and bending your knees slightly (doesn’t have to be much!) as you perform the movement.

As you step to the side, your center of gravity will shift, so move slowly at first, focusing on form, without allowing your momentum to take over.

6. Stability ball or slider hamstring curls

To target your hamstrings and glutes, try performing a modifed hamstring curl using a stability ball, sliders, paper plates, or even a towel. I’m including several sample videos below so you can see the differences.

The main thing to remember is that your hips should remain lifted, glutes and core engaged, before and during the entire hamstring curl movement.

These are surprisingly challenging, so stop if or when your form starts to suffer.

If you choose to use paper plates, a towel, or sliders, make sure the apparatus moves smoothly across the floor. You don’t want it to awkwardly stick or catch during the exercise.

7. Quadruped hip extension

Quadruped hip extensions are great for targeting your glutes unilaterally. Really concentrate on squeezing the glute of the acting leg, controlling the exercise throughout.

Consider adding a resistance band for a greater challenge. Remember to keep your hips level and as steady as possible throughout the exercise.

Best Cardio alternatives to Squats

There are some cardio-based exercises included in the Thrillist fitness challenge that might not be comfortable if you have a hard time with squats and lunges. Consider subbing in the following, as needed.

1. Jumping jacks (jumping or stepping)

Select between the higher-impact, traditional jumping jack, or the lower-impact step-out version.

2. Side slides (slow or fast)

You can perform side slides fast, as shown, or you can slow them down and step them out for a lower-impact, lower-intensity option.

3. Bear crawl

Bear crawls are already included in the Thrillist challenge, but they’re a great alternative to burpees or mountain climbers if your knees can handle ’em.

4. High-knees

Step them out like an overexaggerated march, or jog them out at full speed.

5. Butt kicks

The video only shows butt kicks at-speed, but you can also slow them down to a walk, reducing the impact and intensity. Just make sure to swing your arms as you do the exercise to help get your heart rate high.

6. Inchworms

This exercise is included in the upper body days of the Thrillist challenge, but it’s a good substitute for more lower-body focused cardio. If you have some space to move, try the version shown in the second video.

7. Crab walks

If you don’t have shoulder pain, this is another good alternative for lower body-focused cardio.

8. High-low planks

Your lower body maintains static strength, while your upper body and core get a killer workout.

9. Lateral walking planks

This active motion is great if you have a strong core and shoulders. If you tend to have shoulder pain, this wouldn’t be my first substitution suggestion.

Keep Reading…

Grokker Review: Free Online Yoga Fitness Cooking Classes


Despite the fact that I’m (clearly) involved in the online fitness world, I’ve been a bit slow to adopt online fitness services as go-to resources for classes.

Early iterations seemed clunky and inaccessible, and I’ve always questioned the draw of following along to a video on a tiny phone or tablet screen.

Now, maybe it’s the fact that I have a computer hooked up to my TV, so I can actively use the Internet on a 39-inch screen, but I’m starting to come around to the idea of using online class services for my own workouts. And my attitude started to shift with the introduction of Grokker.

Grokker is currently a free video service that offers on-demand HD videos of yoga, fitness and cooking classes. Eventually Grokker will charge for access to their premium videos, but for now you can get them all!

The service’s founder, Lorna Borenstein, has done an excellent job of sourcing high-quality instructors to cover a broad subject matter. I’ve personally taken a 30 minute cardio-kickboxing class and a 45 minute strength-building workout, and I found both courses fun, challenging and well-conducted.

I haven’t tried any of the yoga or cooking classes yet, but the options are excellent. For instance, I’m looking forward to giving the Yoga for Athletes: Post Workout Practice a try, as well as the Spicy Thai Basil Chicken recipe (I’ve been wanting to learn Thai cooking for years).

Grokker Pros:

  • Wide variety of videos, including gourmet cooking, meditation, high intensity interval training, and more
  • Currently free
  • Easy to navigate, follow instructors and interact with other users
  • Ability to ask questions and receive support
  • In addition to Grokker’s premium, in-house videos, the service helps aggregate other great videos from around the web
  • You can save videos for future use
  • You can print out workouts to take with you when you don’t have access to the Internet

Other Considerations:

  • There will eventually be a fee for the premium Grokker videos – when this will be implemented and what it will cost isn’t clear.
  • There are already so many videos to choose from that it can feel a bit overwhelming. They have lots of categories to choose from, and there’s also a search function that appears to work well, so don’t hesitate to put those to use!
  • When creating your profile, you can indicate interests so that Grokker can provide suggested videos to you. This is a nice feature, but I’ve found that the videos they suggest aren’t necessarily the videos I want to try. This may become better over time, with use, but for now it’s a bit spotty.

Final Verdict: Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I really like the Grokker service. It’s functional, varied, and because of the wide selection of videos, I can try some things I’ve never tried before, such as Qigong. Also, the fact that it’s functioning so well while still in beta makes me think that there are only better things to come. While of course I wish the service would remain free forever, they simply can’t offer such high-quality without a price attached. As long as the prices they roll out are reasonable, I see no reason why Grokker won’t continue to grow and thrive.

Do you use online fitness video services? Which ones have you tried, and do you use them often?

Header image credit: Video still from