While optimism grows with the introduction of COVID-19 vaccinations and a few gyms opening in Ontario, many people are playing it safe and exercising at home.

After all, over the past year your home has become an office, school, restaurant, theater, and maybe even a bar. So why not a gym?

Fortunately, home technology can help.

From wearable devices and high-tech home devices to downloadable smartphone apps and free virtual classes, whatever your budget, you can get in shape and practice social distancing too.

Here you can see what’s new.

EQUIPMENT: With a wearable fitness tracker or smartwatch, you can choose how (and where) you want to stay fit, with what equipment you already have or none at all.

The Fitbit Inspire 2 Fitness Tracker Activity Band ($ 129) not only tracks the basics like steps taken, pace, and estimated calories burned, but also monitors heart rate and sleep patterns, and has a built-in GPS chip that lets you know View your real-time pace and distance in real-time running, biking, hiking and more. It will also sync with your smartphone so you can see call and text notifications.

The new Fitbit Ace 3 ($ 99), on the other hand (or on the wrist), is great for kids six and older to build healthy habits at a young age. The swim-proof wearable includes new animated watch faces, customizable accessories and a battery life of up to eight days.

If you’re on a healthier budget, the Apple Watch Series 6 (starting at $ 529) is the best smartwatch out there. It contains an embedded EKG that can detect abnormally high or low heart rates, or irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias). and a blood O2 monitor (pulse oximeter) to determine the amount of oxygen being carried around the body by sending light into your wrist.

This watch is particularly ideal for elderly users and / or those with an illness. It also has built-in fall detection that can call emergency services and select contacts if a sudden fall is detected and you fail to confirm that you are okay.

While some health features like the blood oxygen sensor and EKG app are missing, a cheaper Apple Watch SE (starting at $ 369) was also unveiled last fall.

When it comes to home equipment, there is no shortage of treadmills, stationary or spinning bicycles, rowing machines, ellipticals, steppers, and other equipment.

For example, the Bowflex C6 Bike ($ 1,399; optional $ 169 for home assembly) offers a smooth ride and small footprint – ideal for small condos too – and has a backlit metric LCD console with magnetic resistance (with 100 micro-adjustable resistances) levels) and double-sided pedals with toe cages.

Also included are a pair of three-pound dumbbells (which rest on brackets when not in use) and a Bluetooth-enabled wrist heart rate monitor. Place a phone or tablet over the handlebars to stream video content or place the bike in front of a TV.

After seeing success with its updated Peloton Bike + (starting at $ 3,295 plus $ 49 per month for membership), Peloton launched its newest Peloton Tread (starting at $ 3,295 plus membership) last month, a slightly smaller treadmill than its own Predecessor and with a sharp 23.8-inch HD touchscreen that can be rotated and tilted by 50 degrees.

APPS: If you start the App Store (for iPhone, iPad) or the Google Play Store (for Android devices), you will find numerous downloads that are linked to fitness.

A top choice is Map My Fitness, which uses your phone’s sensors to calculate the effects of your physical activity – whether it’s a walk, a jog, a run, a hike, or a bike ride. Even your vacuuming efforts can be tracked.

Your workout will be analyzed, including your time, pace, and estimated calories burned so you can see how you are progressing and staying motivated. The app can also connect you with other users in your area to join a group. You can even share your fitness goals and results with your social network if you want. Devices such as activity trackers and heart rate monitors are also supported.

The free MyFitnessPal app is also from Under Armor. Millions of food and restaurant dishes are in the database – and you can scan the barcode food products to automatically log the information – to get an accurate picture of your calorie intake for each meal.

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A similar free app is Lose It !. Just set a goal, e.g. For example, lose eight pounds in five weeks and the program will calculate what your caloric intake should be each day.

Apple Fitness + is a new subscription service that offers Apple Watch users a variety of instructional videos from top trainers.

VIRTUAL CLASSES: For home fitness and exercise classes, the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE mentioned above also work with Apple Fitness + ($ 12.99 per month or $ 99 per year). It’s a smart new video workout service that contains the activity metrics captured by Apple Watch that you can visualize on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV.

You can access studio-style workouts offered by inspiring world-class coaches and motivational music from well-known artists. When a workout is selected and started on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, the correct workout type will automatically start on Apple Watch.

Fitness clubs like Planet Fitness also stepped up their game during the pandemic. If you’re on Facebook or have the Planet Fitness app installed, you can access the company’s United We Move video workouts for free Monday through Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. Trainers guide you through a 20-minute (or less) workout that you can do at home.

Orangetheory members (from $ 10 to $ 25 per month) also have access to Orangetheory Live, an interactive and personalized home workout. These virtual classes can be accessed on practically any device via a Google Chrome browser and have a live coach who can monitor members’ movements in real time and provide guidance, also thanks to the OTbeat heart rate tracking device that you can couple with the platform.

Emkfit - Emily Thorne from Toronto - leads several fun, high-intensity interval training classes with great music on YouTube.

Finally, there are some awesome – and free – YouTube workouts out there. This includes those from emkfit from Toronto (real name: Emily Thorne) at youtube.com/emkfit. She passionately and masterfully teaches a huge collection of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) courses that do not require any equipment.

The countless musical themes of Emkfit range from “Guitar Hero” hits from the video game franchise and the disco of the 1970s to the best TikTok tracks, Latin moves, K-Pop and even a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” -Class.

ALSO MENTAL HEALTH

The same smartphone that keeps you physically in shape can also help you stay mentally fit.

Some worthy mindfulness and meditation apps to consider:

  • If you have a few minutes to spare, the newly updated Unplug Meditation app has 750+ videos to help you hit the reset button on a hectic day. All are led by famous meditation teachers from around the world.
  • If you’re one of the millions struggling to fall or fall asleep – especially these days – the free Relax Melodies from Montreal’s Ipnos software has a huge collection of soothing nature sounds, bedtime stories, and more.
  • The Calm app includes guided sessions of various lengths from three to 25 minutes, as well as content for all levels of meditation, including full seven- and 21-day programs.
  • Other recommended calming apps are #SelfCare, Headspace, and Ten Percent Happier.

– Marc Saltzman