by Lisa Snow, MVLCE
posted Dec 22, 2020
Whether you’re a vegan athlete or your “sport” is walking your four-legged friend, 2020 has undoubtedly disrupted your fitness routine. If your gym is closed—or you don’t feel safe going back yet due to COVID—you can create your own vegan and environmentally-friendly home gym.
Yoga is popular with vegans and it improves flexibility, balance, posture, and breathing. Many instructors are vegan or at least veg-friendly. Unfortunately, many brands of yoga mats are made from PVC and contain a variety of scary chemicals.
Natural rubber yoga mats are a great alternative. Jade Yoga mats have very little rubber smell, even when they first arrive. They’re all solid colors, but they have comfy, extra thick options. Manduka EKO Series mats have a strong rubber smell at first, but it goes away after a few weeks. They have a much wider range of beautiful designs. Both brands have an awesome grip, so you won’t slide out of your Downward Dog or wobble in a Warrior. Want to stand on an actual tree while doing your tree pose? Yoloha Yoga mats are a blend of cork and natural rubber. Cork has a better grip wet than dry, so it’s great for tough, sweaty classes. All three of these companies also make yoga blocks.
Treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes take up a ton of space (not ideal for a small apartment in a big city) and use lots of electricity. Some boxing gloves contain leather, but most fitness equipment is naturally vegan. Fitness equipment manufacturers typically don’t say their products are vegan, because they think it’s obvious.
The TRX Suspension Trainer replaces an entire gym’s worth of weight machines, but fits in a sock drawer! If you were only going to buy one item, this might be it. The TRX Full Body Bundle has the TRX, a set of glute bands, and a metal water bottle.
Resistance bands and Mini-bands are the most affordable home workout tools and still some of the best. They can be used for squats, shoulder presses, and rows, plus they’re great for stretching the calves, hamstrings, etc. As a trainer, I’ve used CLX bands for everyone, from beginners to professional dancers. Because there is a series of loops along the band, they work equally well for taller and shorter individuals. Get the blue or green for exercise; the other colors are very light (for rehab).
With the pandemic, everyone had the same idea simultaneously, “My gym is closed, so I’ll buy weights!” Dumbbells and kettlebells became expensive and hard to find. Demand is still intense months later. What kind of dumbbells should you look for? In a house, neoprene dumbbells are excellent. But in an apartment where space limits you from storing a whole set, regular dumbbells aren’t a good investment. For example, if you buy an 8 pound pair, you’ll soon outgrow them and need 10s. Adjustable dumbbells are your best bet—you buy one pair, and they change from 5 to 50 or more pounds each. Get on the waitlist for Power Blocks adjustable dumbbells at Rogue.
Many sizes of kettlebells are already available again at Perform Better. If you have wood floors, solid metal kettlebells aren’t recommended. Neoprene-coated kettlebells will spare your floor and make less noise.
Want to hit the bag? Danger Boxing Shop has gloves made from vegan “semi-leather.” They also carry real leather gloves, so read product descriptions before purchasing.
Fuel Your Home Workouts
Vegan Strong created a brilliant monthly box with food and snacks from many brands. You don’t need to be a bodybuilder to enjoy the crackers, pastas, protein bars, and other deliciousness. It includes $150 of products for under $50 (plus free shipping).
The most important part of fitness isn’t equipment, it’s support. Find a friend, spouse, yoga teacher, or personal trainer who can laugh with you, commiserate on tough days, and cheer you on!
Lisa Snow is an ACE and NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, Main Street Vegan Academy Master Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator, and owner of On the Mend Customized Fitness & Massage and NYC Vegan Vacations. A vegan for over 23 years, she helps vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores build strength and confidence.
On the Mend offers monthly subscription boxes with new fitness equipment each month. Lisa and her team provide personal training, yoga, and nutrition coaching nationwide via Zoom. In-person fitness training and massage therapy house calls are available in New York City and Westchester, NY. When not cooking or teaching fitness, you can find her in the audience at a Broadway musical. When it’s safe for people to gather again, NYC will come back stronger!