Here is a list of recommended fitness gear, products, and books to help you on your journey to improved fitness and health. I’ve used these products over the last year when I completed P90X and started my CrossFit training. I bought a lot, returned a lot, and broke a lot; so this is the list of stuff that works!

It was really hard to find a brand that doesn’t add flavoring and artificial sweeteners. But, I finally found ALLMAX unflavored pure whey protein isolate. It’s one the highest quality protein powders. No additives at all. After doing a lot of research, I bought the Vibram FiveFingers KSOs. I do trail running and will be competing in a Tough Mudder soon. So, I wanted a shoe that could handle mud and water, with a closed upper and reasonably thick sole to give me some protection from rocky trails and the myriad obstacles I encounter. They do take some getting used to, if you’re not used to barefoot running. You have to build up the muscles in your calves and feet. But the benefits of barefoot running are worth the investment. I have the firm version of the RumbleRoller and I love it! It is a special, knobby type of foam roller, which is great for sore muscle recovery and myofascial release. I use mine every morning to work out the aches and pains, plus warm things up before I work out.
These may seem expensive, but it sure is more affordable than buying a whole set of dumbbells at different weights (which is what I did over the past 15 years). And, having a row of dumbbells takes up a ton of room, so just put these Bowflex adjustable dumbbells on a rack. Each dumbbell adjusts from 5 to 52.5 pounds; in 2.5-pound increments up to the first 25 pounds. Very convenient when you need to keep switching weights as you do different exercises, which you do in P90X, for example. Here is the rack for the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells. Very convenient and keeps them secure with fast-release straps. The rack also puts the dumbbells at the right height for quick, easy, and safe access while lifting. Otherwise you end up picking them up off the ground all the time. Jumping rope is still a great cardio exercise. CrossFit takes that to a whole new level with something we call “double-unders”, which is basically rotating the rope fast enough to go under your feet twice with every jump. Yeah, not easy. I finally decided to spring for this Aero Speed Hyperformance Jump Rope when my rope speed just became too fast for lower-quality ropes that tangle and don’t rotate fast enough. It’s worth it!
My wrists occasionally feel the strain with some lifts that I do. So, I finally got these heavy duty wrist wraps for extra support (from Schiek). They are 24 in long and 3 in wide, and super thick. They provide very firm support, but might be a bit thick for thin wrists. If you’re like most people, you can’t (or don’t want to) permanently mount a pull-up bar in your house or apartment. I had the same issue, so I bought one of these portable pull-up bars that you can quickly set up in your doorway. I was skeptical at first, but it really does work and really will hold your weight. This one is cheaper than the official P90X one. Protect those knees! For me, putting down these cushioned floor mats in my workout space was a must. It really protects your knees, ankles, and back when you jump rope, do jumping jacks, run in place, etc. The interlocking squares make it easy to set up a portable space anywhere.
Under Armour shop on AmazonUnder Armour shop on Amazon
For longer hikes and runs, you really need to stay hydrated. I take a hydration pack with me when I hike and recently used it for a 13 mile run. It was perfect. Good amount of water; could fit my keys, cash, and emergency credit card; and it was light on my back while running. I have tried a lot of different athletic clothing over the years and I’ve been unhappy with most of it. I finally discovered the Under Armour line and love it. I have their shirts, shorts, compression shorts, and even their socks. Great for keeping you cool and dry while you work out! Resistance bands are a great way to add variety beyond free weights and make you focus on stability. It works your muscles in different ways. Another plus is that they are portable, so you can take them with you when you travel.
I tried a lot of home fitness programs in the past, but P90X is the first one that really worked. I think it is due to the variety of the workouts, the quality of the instruction, and the fact that I didn’t find Tony Horton annoying (like so many others are). He uses the right mix of motivation, humor, and practical advice. If you really follow the program, it really works. Foam rollers are a great way to warm up and prepare your muscles before exercising and a great way to recover after exercising. Use it to focus on trouble spots that are stiff or sore and improve flexibility. After exercise, use the roller to increase blood flow to the stressed muscles and speed recovery. I use this one, instead of my RumbleRoller, to roll my IT band and calf muscles. Yes, this is a big purchase. But the Concept2 rowers are regarded as the best available. We use them at my gym. I wish that I had known how good rowing is for overall fitness before I bought my elliptical. Rowing is a great low-impact cardio and strength exercise that engages your whole body.

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  1. […] There are a lot of things that you need to do to recover after hard exercise; do some cool down activities, stretch, drink lots of water to rehydrate, eat some carbs and protein to improve recovery, etc. Another great recovery method is to get a massage, which helps increase blood flow and circulation in those stressed muscles. But, as nice as it would be to get a massage every day, we don’t always have access to a great sports massage therapist. That’s where the foam roller comes in. A foam roller is basically a thick cylinder of hard-celled foam that comes in different lengths. My new one is 3 feet long and works really well. You can see the model I bought on my Gear page. […]

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