December 8, 2012
Yoga and Pilates are the missing ingredients in many fitness plans, the ideal complement to cardio and strength work. Here, just in time for the holidays, are four convenient, space-saving innovations and the timeless gifts of flexibility and postural alignment.
Yogahitch: Ring-shaped, 7.6-by-33-inch cotton towel that can be used as a mat carrier, yoga strap and towel.
Likes: It's a multitasking, space-saving wonder — ingeniously simple, stylish and functional. The efficient loop configuration allows you to cinch it to a rolled-up mat almost instantly and use it as a strap during yoga positions, as well as keep dry.
Dislikes: If it had a pocket, it could also store your gloves and booties.
Price: $45. (877) 964-4824; yogahitch.com
Pilates on the go
Empower Pilates Studio: Portable Pilates trainer that includes a 3-foot-long padded bar with two handled stretch cords attached. A three-workout DVD is included.
Likes: A great workout, especially for the price. The DVD, directed by aerobics legend Gin Miller, includes about 20 exercises, including side-lying leg lifts, double leg pulls, bridges, V-ups, arm curls and overhead presses. You definitely feel your core struggling to keep hands and feet in line, due to the stretch cords not being anchored to a fixed point (as they are with the Pilates Stick, reviewed here). To increase the resistance, just roll the bar to take up slack on the stretch cord. The two-section bar assembles/disassembles in two seconds, making it portable enough for travel.
Dislikes: I would have paid $5 more for a carry bag and spiral-bound exercise book with all the possible exercises, rather than a folded-up piece of paper with just six exercises on it.
Price: $24.95. (800) 704-5561; http://www.empowerfitness.com
Pilates door prize
PeakPilates PilatesStick Basic Kit Package: Doorjamb-mounted exercise system that allows many Pilates-style exercises. System includes a 26-inch-long, 1.25-inch-diameter wooden stick with padded hand-holds, 5.5-foot-long stretchable Slastix tubing, two foot straps, a ground pad and an hourlong workout DVD.
Likes: A variety of fun and challenging leg and upper-body strength and stretching exercises, done laying down, kneeling, and standing with and without the stick. To increase resistance of the Slastix cords, move farther from the door. A bag holds the mat and the stick, using the Slastix as the carry strap.
Dislikes: The fold-out wall chart displays only a dozen exercises; for the price, I think a dedicated manual with dozens of exercises should be included.
Price: $149.95. (800) 925-3674; http://www.peakpilates.com
Yoga block Party
Stick-e Wrist Saver Block: Traditional foam yoga block with an added internal handle to position the wrist for upper-body movements.
Likes: Very functional and effective, allowing for additional exercise options. Along with standard block uses (assisted toes touches and squeeze-between-the-knees situps and leg lifts), they allow for deeper dips, pushups and chatteranga.
Price: $19.95 (one block). (708) 960-4855; http://www.stick-e.com
Wallack is coauthor of "Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100" and "Barefoot Running Step By Step." firstname.lastname@example.org