“Ankle weights are cool again, thanks to Instagram”
With group workouts off the table for gym bunnies on coronavirus lockdown, ankle weights have re-emerged as the latest It accessory. Perfect for socially distant walks and at-home workouts, the latest iterations of wearable weights are designed to look sleek, bright and perfectly Instagrammable — and they’re everywhere.
Google searches for ankle weights have nearly tripled since this time last year. And while celebrity street-style moments are few and far between these days, James Franco and his girlfriend, Isabel Pakzad, were photographed wearing weights on their wrists during a run in April and had fans swooning. Hannah Ann Sluss, a model and this year’s winner of “The Bachelor,” has also been spotted out and about in LA wearing a beige pair over her leggings.
“I probably use them several times a week, almost every day. I’m actually walking in them right now,” Sluss, 24, tells The Post in a phone interview. “You can put them on and go to the grocery store or go on a walk and it doesn’t look weird.”
Sluss and the Franco duo were both rocking weights by Bala, a lifestyle brand that launched in 2018. It got a boost in buzz this February when the founders appeared on “Shark Tank” and scored a nearly $1 million investment from tennis star Maria Sharapova and entrepreneur Mark Cuban.
The brand’s Bangles, which retail for $49 and can be worn on ankles or wrists, are sold out or back-ordered nearly everywhere, including Goop, Free People, Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters. Charcoal and baby pink are the most popular shades, and they’ve recently launched a tie-dye pair that’s also currently sold out.
The demand is due to their millennial-chic vibe.
“We wanted them to be sleek, like part of your outfit,” Natalie Holloway, the 32-year-old co-founder of the brand, tells The Post. “Because of the fitness boom on Instagram, everyone’s showing their new outfits, their new tools.”
For trainer Kodi Berg, designing cool ankle weights was a way to “incorporate fitness into our daily lives.” Her Equipt brand’s UWraps ($48 at Bandier.com) are made of vegan leather with gold-toned hardware, and she highlights customers who have styled the weights with flowy maxi dresses and distressed jean shorts on Instagram. They can also be worn while swimming.
“I want things that are durable, but you also feel sexy in,” says Berg, who squeezes in tricep extensions while wearing the wrist weights out with her 3-year-old. “We’re putting all this money into our leggings and our shoes and our lipstick, but the equipment wasn’t matching up.”
The appeal of the accessories goes beyond the look: Fitness instructors say incorporating ankle weights into your daily routine — even just for a brisk walk — has real benefits.
“Adding even 1- or 2-pound weights can increase your heart rate by 30 percent,” says Aly Giampolo, co-founder of the Ness, a trampoline and muscle-sculpting studio in lower Manhattan.
And when worn on wrists, weights can “strengthen upper back muscles to improve poor posture,” she says.
Just skip using them for high-intensity workouts.
“Stay away from fast, vigorous movements,” urges Giampolo. “It is tricky enough to maintain safe and proper form when moving quickly. Combining extra weight with rapidly paced exercise can potentially result in pulled muscles or lower back strain.”
Sluss, for one, says she’s seen real results from using the little bun boosters.
“All of my friends are like, ‘Oh, my gosh, you actually have a butt now,’ ” she says.
Trainer Aly Giampolo’s quickie 10-minute ankle weight workout
With ankle weights on both legs, lie on one side with your legs stacked on top of one another, toes pointed and your head resting on your bicep. Do each of these five moves for one minute, then switch sides.
- Lift and then lower your top leg slowly. “Think of lengthening through the outside of your upper thigh on the lift and engaging the inner thigh on the lower leg,” Giampolo says.
- Hover your top leg above your bottom leg at hip height and hold. Add pulses with each breath if you like.
- Bend the top leg so there are 90-degree angles at the hip and at the knee. Raise and lower the shape from the floor up to hip height while the bottom leg remains straight.
- With your top leg still bent at a 90-degree angle, place it on the floor in front of your body. Keeping the bottom leg straight, pulse it up and down, squeezing the inner thighs towards one another.
- Keep the top leg on the floor in front of you. Engage your core to stabilize the rest of your body. Raise the bottom leg a couple inches above the floor and slowly draw softball-size circles with your toes for 30 seconds. Then circle in the reverse direction for 30 seconds.
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