Susannah Taylor: Get fit at home – on a budget

The year 2020 certainly has its shortcomings, but the at-home fitness revolution is not one of them. You can now join a class in your living room wearing performance-enhancing leggings, an activity tracker on your wrist, drinking from a water bottle that cleans itself with an LED light. And, even better news, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get fit. There are hundreds of free online workouts and apps, and some of the best activewear is now found on the high street. So how do you choose? Here’s a rundown of my favourites for £20 and under…

Resistance is essential and will raise your fitness game. Image: Getty/Eyeem

Elastic essentials

A resistance band is the best piece of home kit you can buy. These supersized elastic bands, a personal trainer (and physio) favourite, are the equivalent of five pieces of gym equipment in pocket-sized form and cost as little as £5, adding resistance to hundreds of moves. Different thicknesses and sizes offer varied levels of resistance. Mad-hq.com has lots to choose from and the medium band with user guide, £8.50, will take you through the starter moves.

The abs attacker

Sliders – a pair of discs you place under your feet – can take your workout to another level. For example, place under feet in a high plank pose and sweep your feet in and back out. I recommend Bala sliders, £17, shopbala.com.

Best brand to pass off as designer

Some of my most used and most commented-on pieces of fitnesswear have come from H&M online (hm.com). This season my picks are seamless high-waisted tights, £19.99, which cover your stomach (thank goodness), have a jacquard pattern and come in an array of muted marl shades. Their sports vest top, £9.99, is fitted without being too tight, and believe me, the cropped camel sports hoodie, £19.99, gives the illusion of a waist and longer legs.

Socks that rock

You may think it weird that I get excited about a sock, but Sweaty Betty trainer liners, £6 (or three for £15, sweatybetty.com) are not the same as an everyday sock. Soft, slightly cushioned and in stylish designs, they make lacing up your trainers a little easier.

Best free training app

Why spend a fortune on private Zoom classes? The free Nike Training Club app is hard to beat, with more than 115 expert-led workouts for all levels, from HIIT classes to yoga, abs to upper body. You can also follow one of their four-week trainer-led programmes to keep you busy through to Christmas.

The statement bra

The upside about exercising at home is that I can wear whatever I want and not feel inhibited. The leopard-print Gapfit medium-impact crossback sports bra, £19.95, gap.co.uk, also looks great peeking out under a top.

The yoga mat

Not all yoga mats are created equal (I have tested a lot), and it’s important to have one with grip. The Sticky Yoga Mat (yogamatters.com, £20) is great value for money.

Foot note

Never scrimp on trainers – your feet take the brunt of your exercise.

The portable peanut

If you suffer from tight muscles or ‘desk-itis’ (aka stiffness from spending long hours sitting slumped over your computer) then the Peanut Massage ball (mad-hq.com, £5.99) is your new best friend. Small and lightweight, it’s great for releasing tension and for self-massaging shoulders, legs and upper back.

…And breathe

Feeling bruised mentally or physically? Check out the all-new range from Aroma Active Laboratories, affordable sensorial self-care products that have been created to calm body and mind. It comes in Soothing, Sleep, Muscle and SOS versions. My favourite for post-exercise is the Muscle Recovery Soak (£15, boots.com), containing turmeric, rosemary, cinnamon and ginger to help relieve tension.