These Retro-Chic Workout Accessories are Giving Low-Resistance Weight Training a Modern Makeover | Vogue

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I was strolling along Manhattan’s East River this summer when the sight of a woman carrying a red Netflix envelope stopped me in my tracks. What year are we in? I thought to myself, marveling at an artifact from the DVD era. As a trio of in-line skaters swooshed into view, my disorientation only intensified—until I noticed the sherbet-colored cuffs encasing one of the Rollerblader’s wrists. The accessories immediately registered as Bala Bangles, the retro-chic workout wear that has been lighting up my In­stagram feed of late. Forget about cottagecore. Fitness-wise, we’ve boomeranged back to the cottage cheese and cantaloupe days. Here we go again, embracing low-​intensity, resistance-based routines that have been retooled for our new hybrid lifestyles.

All you need to do is Velcro on a pair of itty-bitty wrist weights, fire up the Kate Bush, and smile your way through the tucks and twists and double taps, as I found myself doing before a recent camp drop-off. Intrigued by Bala’s suite of appealingly blobby, silicone-coated accessories that are sold at retailers such as MatchesFashion and Net-a-Porter, I log on to “Balacize,” the streaming service the Los Angeles–based company launched this past May, to capitalize on the popularity of its products. Using best sellers like a 15-pound curl beam that resembles a squiggly worm, and grip­pable dumbbells that look like jumbo pharmaceutical capsules—catnip for the influencer set—a team of instructors in shimmery costumes that make them look more like Teletubbies than trainers lead eight-minute classes filmed on a set codesigned with Glossier alum Madelynn Ringo. “We wanted to be nostalgic and futuristic,” says cofounder Max Kislevitz, a former advertising executive who created the line with his wife, Natalie Holloway, a certified yoga instructor. When Danny Saltos is not training hair guru Jen Atkin, he is the star of several of these Bala videos. He is recovering from COVID, he tells me over Zoom, but still up for guiding me through 45 minutes of muscle- and bone-density-​building moves from his sunny backyard in West Hollywood. At the end of my squiggly worm–assisted session, I feel energized, but not sweaty enough to necessitate a shower.

“Workout culture was so performative and millennial before the pandemic,” says Danielle Friedman, author of Let’s Get Physical, a cultural history of fitness in America. “Now, there has been a move toward treating ourselves more kindly and gently.” This is the guiding principle of P.volve, a workout studio and streaming company specializing in what feels like a mash-up of Pilates and tai chi. “You should feel like you’re moving through molasses,” Chicago-based trainer Kimmie Prokurat tells me as she leads me in a round of P.volve’s ankle-weighted leg lifts. All this attention to balance and form is surprisingly enjoyable—and challenging; I quickly develop a newfound respect for Sheila Rubin, Rose Byrne’s gorgeously unhinged ’80s aerobics guru at the center of the hit AppleTV+ period drama Physical.

It can also be quite impactful, confirms Daniel P. Credeur, PhD, an associate teaching professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri, who notes that unlike the bulky sandbag weights of yore, today’s updated crop of wearable accessories—which tend to cap out at two pounds—can help build muscle tone while minimizing the risk of joint strain. “You can add them to your normal daily activities just to increase the intensity a little bit,” he says, cautioning that it’s important to take breaks to avoid overuse.

This content was originally published here.

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