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As a big fan of in-person fitness classes, the transition to working out from home has been a challenging one for me. Over the past year, I’ve tried YouTube fitness challenges, signed up for various free trials of workout apps, and even attempted to finally become a runner — but nothing really stuck. Eventually, I realized I was overlooking one simple thing that helped me stay active in my pre-pandemic life: walking. With the transition to work-from-home life, I just wasn’t getting enough daily steps in.
I’ve heard friends talk about their new habits of taking neighborhood strolls mid-day, but by the time I considered doing the same, it was wintertime, and a trip outside of my cozy Brooklyn apartment didn’t sound all that compelling. That’s when I found a budget-friendly device that changed everything: Sunny Health & Fitness’s Mini Stepper (Buy It, $50, amazon.com).
I’d avoided buying new fitness equipment during the pandemic because I simply don’t have room for it (no matter how jealous I was after seeing other people’s DIY Peloton set-ups). But when I came across the mini stepper, I realized that having a small device I could easily stow away in my closet between uses might be the perfect solution. At just 16-by-12.5 inches, the exercise machine hardly takes up more room than a stack of books — but it certainly delivers an impactful workout. (Related: Barbell Sets On Amazon That’ll Elevate Your Home Gym)
The stepper has adjustable resistance and an LED screen that displays the number of steps you’ve taken, the time you’ve spent on it, and the calories you’ve burned. At first try, it didn’t seem like it would result in any real muscle burn, but within minutes of using it, I felt my heart rate go up and my body grow warmer. At a high resistance, it’s not quite as challenging as the StairMaster in the gym (which is, admittedly, really challenging for me), but it’s harder than a simple walk around the block. In terms of effort, it’s more of a steep hike — but a hike I can do while watching my latest favorite TV show.
I’m not alone in my love for this handy little device. More than 8,000 Amazon shoppers have given it a five-star rating, and several mentioned using it in the past year, like me. “I do thirty minutes a day on high resistance and end my workout drenched in sweat! It’s perfect to get a workout in during quarantine,” one wrote.
Another reviewer said: “I live in an apartment and space is limited. This is perfect! I don’t have to go outside in the hot sun to walk or run. After 45 minutes, my legs are sore, but I’ve seen a difference in a month just by using it every other day. I swear, after 20 minutes it gets my heart rate up.”
The stepper conveniently comes fully assembled — all you have to do is use the dial to adjust the resistance to your liking, then start stepping. It also comes with removable resistance bands that can be pulled up and down for an arm workout while you’re stepping. While I don’t use them often, they do offer a considerable extra challenge, especially for taller users (for context, I’m 5’7).
Since placing the device next to my work-from-home setup, I find myself taking a few steps whenever I need a quick break or start to feel restless — basically, it provides a substitute for the coffee run I might have taken if I were in the office, with the added bonus of giving me a glute and thigh workout. Other times, I’ll set my laptop on my tall dresser and use it as a standing desk while I take a walk with the stepper.
For just $50, the Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper has been the best investment I’ve made in my at-home workout routine. Consider this a deceptively powerful tool in a small apartment-friendly package.