The 24 Very Best Pieces of Fitness Equipment We Tested This Year

Hi, reader! And welcome to the 2023 SELF Home Fitness Awards!

We’re thrilled to share this year’s winning list with you. As we combed through products and read tester reviews, we thought a lot about time, money, and energy—and ensuring that everything we awarded would help you maximize your most precious resources. The ultimate goal was to help you build a home gym that feels worth every penny, and that guarantees your workouts are something you actually enjoy. (Or, at a minimum, don’t hate.)

Fitness equipment in 2023 looks a lot different than it used to. On top of the regular old standbys and low-tech options, there are now smart systems that promise to assess your strength and form in real time as well as hundreds of options for virtual classes you can do just about anywhere. And we considered it all. Whatever you’re looking to build a home gym—however expansive, expensive, or minimalist your plans are—we think you’ll find it here. Some of the items below provide a whole gym experience with just a few small pieces of equipment. Others you might actually find in your local gym or exercise studio…but maybe you want to have one at home! Pick and choose as you please; we’re just telling you what we found worthwhile.

To pick our winners, we put together a group of five expert judges, all certified trainers, who you can read more about below [jump link here]. Then we picked their brains to find out their favorite equipment of all time, both large and small (think everything from treadmills to resistance bands). We asked: What do they recommend to first-time exercisers—and to everyone they know, regardless of their fitness level? What would they buy over and over again? Simultaneously, we reached out to all of our favorite fitness brands, asking them to put forth their very best and most-loved products. We called in a selection of those items to test, and SELF staffers got to work rowing, sweating, stretching, and strengthening. At the end of the process, we considered the judge’s picks, the SELF staffer reviews, and the overlap between them both, and selected this group of 24 winners for you.

So, please peruse, shop, and enjoy—it’s time to start plotting your dream home makeover, gym edition.

Jump ahead: 

Large equipment

Best Stationary Bike on a Budget: Merach S09 Auto Resistance Bike


S09 Auto Resistance Bike

This (relatively) affordable Merach bike has the same sleek look and feel of one you’d ride in an in-studio cycling class. It doesn’t come with a fancy display (like what you would find on a Peloton), but our tester didn’t mind at all: There’s a convenient ledge to prop up an iPad or laptop if you want to follow along with your digital classes of choice, and the bike can sync its data with fitness apps like Kinomap and Zwift.

Notable features: Manual and auto adjustable resistance; SPD pedals; 350-pound weight capacity, Bluetooth and app-syncing capabilities

Best High-Tech Stationary Bike: NordicTrack s27i Studio Bike


s27i Studio Bike

There’s no shortage of bells and whistles here. NordicTrack’s s271 Studio Bike creates a cinematic riding experience: Take a scenic ride or studio class using the immersive iFit platform (which costs $15/month to activate, FYI), or freestyle it in manual mode. Above all, our tester loved how the ride felt comparable to a real bike, thanks to some of the unique adjustability features listed below.

Notable features: Manual and auto adjustable resistance (auto mode adjusts the bike for you based on the iFit class/workout you’ve selected); 350-pound weight capacity; adjustable incline/decline levels; 27-inch tiltable touch screen display

Best Walking Treadmill: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T4400 Treadmill

Sunny Health & Fitness

SF-T4400 Treadmill

For a piece of equipment with such a small footprint (34.25×26.25″ when folded vertically), the Sunny SF-T4400 treadmill still has three incline options and a comfortable, supportive walking pad that speeds up to nine miles per hour. The price is right, too—especially if you’re just looking for something you can comfortably walk on year-round (versus a treadmill with more high-tech features for speed-training). One downside worth pointing out, though, is its low 220-pound weight capacity.

Notable features: Nine pre-programmed workout options; reading rack and water bottle holder; pulse grips; LCD monitor to track time and speed

Best Treadmill: Peloton Tread

If you love Peloton classes, you’re going to really love the Tread, which one judge referred to as “the absolute best experience”: “The instructors and platform make this piece of equipment what it is,” she said. “The price of this treadmill is higher than others on the market, but if you’re going to be using Peloton’s platform, this is the most seamless experience.” You can partake in all levels of walking, hiking, running, and bootcamp workout on the Tread—and, as a Peloton member, get access to all the other content on the app too. (We should note that the Peloton membership isn’t included with your purchase of the Tread—that’ll be an extra $44 a month, please.)

Notable features: Auto-incline; conveniently placed speed and incline handrail dials; 23.8-inch HD touchscreen; compatible with Strava and heart rate monitors; 300-pound weight capacity; Peloton programming integration

Best Treadmill: Echelon Stride-S

A smart treadmill at a slightly more accessible cost, the Echelon Stride-S offers both live and on-demand classes. Our tester said it earned bonus points for a comfortable running deck (“It has such great shock absorption that I feel amazing once I’m done”) and an easy storage mechanism: Just press your foot on the auto-fold lever, push the handrails down, and lift the tread to stand it up.

Notable features: Auto-folds for easy storage; 10-inch HD touchscreen; Bluetooth connectivity; 300-pound weight capacity

Best Elliptical: BowFlex Max Trainer M6

Ellipticals are an excellent option for low-impact cardio, and this one, according to judge Ilya Parker, is no exception. It functions almost like a stair-stepper, with strides that are fairly short. Overall, Parker says, it’s extremely comfortable to use—the grips feel nice, and the large cushioned pedals pose no problem for his sometimes-cranky knees. “It’s awesome for performing HIIT-based cardio,” he says.

Notable features: Four handlebars; 16 resistance levels; LCD display; 300-pound weight capacity; media ledge and USB charging port

Best Elliptical on a Budget: Niceday Elliptical Machine


Elliptical Machine

For a lower-priced option, try the Niceday magnetic resistance elliptical. We love that it has a 400-pound weight capacity and costs well under $1,000. “If you are more self-motivated to work out and don’t need any extra features, all you need is a Niceday elliptical and a good podcast or video, and you can get a great workout while saving some extra money,” one tester said.

Notable features: Four handlebars; 16 resistance levels

Best Rower: Hydrow Wave Rower

If you’re looking for a truly immersive rowing experience, try the Hydrow Wave. Made 30% smaller and lighter than Hydrow’s standard model, it’s a perfect fit for smaller spaces. The brand’s patented electromagnetic drag system is meant to replicate the feeling of being on the water for a smooth, quiet, and, according to our tester, extremely relaxing ride. A Hydrow membership—an added $44/month—gives you access to thousands of class options taught by actual athletes, including Olympians, in scenic locations around the world. (Plus, the membership offers more than just rowing—they’ve got Pilates, yoga, strength, and mobility workouts too.) If you don’t grab the membership, you’ll be left with the Just Row mode, a manual setting where you can freestyle your own workouts.

Notable features: 16-inch HD touchscreen; 375-pound weight capacity; Bluetooth and heart rate monitor connectivity

Best Rower: Peloton Row

One of our testers—a SELF staffer and certified personal trainer—taught rowing classes for years on various machines, and now “much prefers” the Peloton Row thanks to its supersmooth stroke and excellent class offerings. With the required Peloton All-Access Membership (again, an additional $44/month), you’ll get a constant feed of rowing classes to choose from—along with the rest of the workout types the app has to offer—all in the signature high-energy, high-charisma style Peloton is so well-known for. “I was closely watching the instructors’ form throughout,” the tester sheepishly added, “and they were excellent.”

Notable features: 23.8-inch HD swiveling touchscreen; smart technology to assess user form; 300-pound weight capacity; easy upright storage mechanism

Best Smart Gym System: Tonal

Judge Shauna Harrison said she started using Tonal as a way to ease back into exercise after a month of recovery after a medical procedure. Eventually she worked her way up to “very intense sessions” on the machine. Her favorite part of the experience was how Tonal learns the more you use it—as you gain strength, it automatically adjusts weight and resistance to keep you challenged. On days you’re looking to take it easy for any reason, you can opt to use “recovery mode” instead. Oh, and it’s a wall-mounted machine—so for small spaces, you can definitely consider this a winner. (Though we must inform you: Tonal program membership is required for a minimum of 12 months to use the machine, and comes at an added $60/month or $720 for the year.)

Notable features: 24’-inch touchscreen; 200-pound max tension (100 pounds per arm); Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; preprogrammed workout library and manual mode available

Best Smart Gym System: Speediance Gym Pal

The Gym Pal comes with a bench, adjustable barbell, handles, and Bluetooth remote (to adjust weight and resistance) in addition to the “Pal” itself—a small “smart” stand, almost reminiscent of a Dance Dance Revolution board—that hooks up to cables and controls resistance. An accompanying app provides exercise routines, tips, assessments, and more. “If you are someone who wants to start a strength and conditioning routine but doesn’t know what to do, this product is perfect,” one tester said. “It has so many workouts to choose from that you will never get bored.” It’s great for anyone who tends to feel lost or out of place in the free weights section of the gym, as it has everything you need—dumbbells, kettlebells, a bench, you name it—and tells you how to use everything.

Notable features: Overall footprint of less than 5.1 square feet; accessories included; free lifetime membership to the Speediance platform with purchase

Small equipment

Best Adjustable Dumbbells: Bowflex SelecTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells


SelecTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

Three of our expert judges pointed to these as one of their home gym must-haves, and for good reason: While they’re a pretty big investment, they can replace 15 pairs of dumbbells. (Each dumbbell is adjustable from 5 to 52.5 pounds.) We especially recommend them if you’re sharing your home gym space with multiple exercisers at different fitness levels.

Best Dumbbells: Rep Fitness Rubber Coated Ergo Hex Dumbbells

Rep Fitness

Rubber Coated Ergo Hex Dumbbells

Parker has been using rubber-coated hex dumbbells for over 14 years. And of all the ones he’s tried, the Rep Fitness pairs consistently come out on top. Now he owns his own set and trains with them three-to-five times a week. “These dumbbells are built solid, and the rubber coating is durable with minimal odor out of the box,” Parker says. The rubber coating also comes in handy for anyone wary of doing damage to their floors. (Though we’d still generally recommend you drop these onto a mat, or some sort of carpeting at least.)

Best Kettlebell: BowFlex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell


SelectTech 840 Kettlebell

This adjustable kettlebell is so good we crowned it a winner two years in a row. Kettlebells can quickly get expensive, take up lots of space, be heavy to lug around your home…you get the picture. So if you’re building a home gym, we don’t think you can do better than this one: With just the quick turn of a dial, you can make this kettlebell weigh anywhere from 8 to 40 pounds in literal seconds. “The best part is that you can have it for a long time even as you increase weight and get stronger,” one tester said.

Best Resistance Band Set: Bodylastics 5 Band Set

This five-band set from Bodylastics features traditional resistance bands—large, elastic bands that, unlike the mini-bands you’d put around your thighs or ankles, aren’t looped. They’re great for many reasons: They take up minimal space in a home gym, are generally inexpensive, and challenge your body differently than dumbbells or kettlebells do. Expert judge Asher Freeman says that this set is usually the first thing they recommend clients buy to keep at home—the five bands provide enough variability for exercisers at any level to complete a challenging full-body workout.

Best Resistance Band for Big and Tall Folks: Committed HP The Better Band Plus

Committed HP

The Better Band Plus

Two of our expert judges—Francine Delgado-Lugo and Lauren Leavell—said the Better Band Plus is a standout in the realm of inclusive fitness equipment. With an adjustable hook, it’s easier to put on and take off, customizable to your body, comfortable (no painful digging into your skin), and gives you more control over tension. Whether you find that standard mini-bands are too small to wiggle up your legs, too tight when on, or that they’re simply uncomfortable for any reason, try this. “I was introduced to this band by another plus size trainer,” Leavell says. “It’s perfect for at home workouts and really adds resistance. I’ve also used it with clients of varying fitness levels.”

Best Resistance Band Set: Centr by Chris Hemsworth Fabric Resistance Bands

Centr by Chris Hemsworth

Fabric Resistance Bands

You, too, can now work out like Thor…using a set of his very own reasonably priced, good-quality mini-bands! Yes, Chris Hemsworth has a line of fitness accessories (along with his very own app), and our testers say the mini-bands are actually quite good. With three soothing colors—that each correspond with a different tension level—and an inner grip, the thick, fabric bands stretch nicely, feel comfortable, and stay put. One tester put it best: “I’d definitely ditch my rubber ones for these.”

Best Jump Rope: BCG Sprint Jump Rope

Jumping rope: Not just for the schoolyard, people! It’s a super-efficient cardio and strength workout tied into one. The perfect combination of light and durable, this basic BCG jump rope received high marks from our tester—a lifelong jumper—as well as her two teenage sons. This rope is 9 feet long and not adjustable, but it should be a workable length for anyone between 5’3″ and 6 feet tall.

Best Yoga Mat: Manduka X Yoga Mat 5mm

We tried a handful of Manduka yoga mats for this year’s Home Fitness Awards, and while they all performed exceptionally well, we recommend the X model for its nicely accessible price point. Yoga mats should be comfortably cushioned to support your joints while still keeping you feeling in touch with the ground; a grippy surface is also key to prevent slipping and sliding, as well as any rogue movement on the floor. This Manduka mat uses a crosshatch texture to help it (and you) stay put.

Best Mat for Big and Tall Folks: Lululemon The Big Mat

Everyone deserves a mat that supports their entire body, so they can avoid contact with the cold, hard, and sometimes-gross floor. Many gyms and studios don’t consider that—but your home setup can! Delgado-Lugo uses the Big Mat for weight training, bodyweight workouts, and yoga flows. So basically, this thing does it all. “Because it’s wider, longer, and thicker than other yoga mats, it protects your body (and floors!) really well,” Delgado-Lugo says. Plus, despite its larger size (28″ x 84″ and 7.05 pounds while Lululemon’s standard yoga mat is 26″ x 71″ and 5.24 pounds), it doesn’t feel meaningfully more difficult to roll, store, clean, or transport.

Best Gym Mat: Technogym Exercise Mat

After a few disappointing experiences where chunks of yoga mat ended up around her apartment, one tester told us she was eager to find a more durable, all-around gym mat. So we sent her the Technogym Exercise Mat, and she was thrilled to report that it met all her home workout needs—and then some. “I’m 5’8″, so I love how long it is (70.9 inches),” she says. “It’s really grippy (both on the floor and for my hands and feet) and, at 4mm thick, it’s cushioned enough that I don’t feel pressure on my knees or elbows, but not so thick that it’s bulky and hard to store.” It’s not cheap, but thanks to its quality construction, it should last you and your home gym a long time.

Best Low-Tech Gym System: TRX Home2 System

Our expert judges all love the TRX suspension trainer—and we’ll let one of them tell you why: “First and foremost, it’s effective for both assisting and amplifying bodyweight strength, flexibility, and mobility,” Harrison says. “That means you can use it to make some moves more intense and other moves more accessible.” Don’t be intimidated by its configuration: TRX has an expansive library of free videos, demos, and workouts for users—and that’s in addition to everything you’ll find on Youtube and across social media. You can easily swing it over a door and use it anywhere in your home, or even in the park, gym, or other public spaces.

Notable features: The whole thing fits in a small mesh bag and weighs less than 2 pounds.

Best Sliders: Lululemon Workout Sliders

Sliders change the amount of friction between your body and the ground, increasing resistance and forcing you to fire up your muscles to stay stable. You can’t go wrong with this pair from Lululemon, which are double-sided to allow for use on multiple floor types (wood, carpet, mat, etc.). “The textured side is soft enough to rest your palms, feet, or elbows on, and they’re lightweight and easy to pack,” Delgado-Lugo says. “They’re one of my favorite at-home or vacation workout tools.”

Best Stability Tool: Bosu NexGen Home Balance Trainer


NexGen Home Balance Trainer

Harrison and Freeman both love the Bosu ball, agreeing it performs the best amongst its peers. You can use a Bosu trainer for strength workouts, cardio drills, physical therapy and rehab, and even yoga. Freeman notes that its weight limit of 350 pounds is higher than many of its competitors too. Pro tip for storage: Push up the flat side against the wall and let the dome side stick outward.

Meet Our Expert Judges

Francine Delgado-Lugo (she/her) has been a personal trainer and strength coach for 10 years. She co-founded FORM Fitness Brooklyn, an inclusive personal training gym whose mission is to help people build confidence and self-love through strength and movement. She started my career in distance running and fell in love with weightlifting and powerlifting through CrossFit. When she’s not working or working out, she’s supporting her family—helping her husband to grow his young chain of seafood market restaurants and traveling with her 13-year-old son.

Asher Freeman (they/them) is an anti-oppressive personal trainer working under the banner of Nonnormative Body Club. Their goal is to goal to create accessible fitness spaces for those whose bodies and identities rebel against normative definitions of beauty and health.

Shauna Harrison (she/her) is a self-proclaimed nerd, hip-hop head, jock, and yogi. A graduate of Stanford, UCLA, and Johns Hopkins, she simultaneously pursued academics and fitness, obtaining her PhD in Public Health and teaching fitness classes across the country. Shauna is the creator of Muscle + Flow; an Adjunct Associate at Johns Hopkins University; and has served as a panelist for multiple universities and organizations covering the subjects of fitness, yoga, wellness, and public health. 

Lauren Leavell (she/her) is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor based in Philadelphia. She has been working in the fitness industry for over seven years, teaching in boutique fitness studios and online. She works with folks of all ages and body types to make movement more accessible and fun. When she’s not teaching, she’s usually taking long neighborhood walks to look for cats, strength training at the gym, or helping her partner with some sort of art project. 

Ilya Parker (he/they) is a Black, non-binary, small, fat, spoonie and founder of Decolonizing Fitness, LLC. He has over 11 years of experience as a licensed physical therapist assistant, primarily working in Level 1 trauma centers and home health settings. Ilya also has six years of experience as an ACE-certified Medical Exercise Specialist. They enjoy hiking, cooking, and creating personalized playlists for their loved ones.

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