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The end of the year is a time for reflection, a time to look back, and a time to reminisce. Here at Garage Gym Reviews, it’s also a time to daydream and ruminate about all the new fitness equipment released over the last year.

From Olympic barbells to supplements to cold plunge tubs, we’ve reviewed hundreds of products over the past year, with dozens being new releases, updates, or re-releases of gym equipment. Our team of expert testers and reviewers gathered to brainstorm their favorite new equipment, supplements, and apparel to make our list of our favorite releases this year.

Top Fitness Releases of 2023

Shogun Sports NORD-EX

Coop’s Pick

MR1NF1N1TY x Shogun NORD-EX

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 2 machines in 1
  • Nordic curl bench and back extension machine
  • Fully adjustable to fit most people
  • Compact footprint at 41” x 25”
  • 11-gauge carbon steel main frame
  • Custom-molded self-skinning polyurethane foam
  • 35- to 55-degree adjustments for back extension
  • 15, 30, or 45 degrees for assisted Nordic curls 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Adjustable angles for back extension and assisted Nordic
  • High-quality, heavy-duty materials
  • Compact footprint
  • Able to store with caster wheels and handle
  • Innovative design
  • Free shipping in the Continental U.S.

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Ships in 3 separate boxes

Bottom Line

A truly innovative product, the NORD-EX is a fully adjustable Nordic bench that can be converted into a fully adjustable back extension machine. Able to adjust in multiple angles for a back extension as well as an assisted Nordic curl, the NORD-EX can also be folded and stored away, leaving it a very compact footprint when not in use. At just under $1,000, it’s a bit pricey, but the innovative design is built with quality, heavy-duty materials.

Few products innovated as much as Shogun Sports this year with their Shogun NORD-EX, a collaborative piece between Shogun Sports and MR1NF1N1TY or Derek Williams. Not only does this piece allow for Nordic curls, it solves a major issue for home gym users wanting a Nordic bench or back extension machine by combining the two bulky pieces into one compact piece of equipment.

Coop performing assisted Nordic curls on the Shogun NORD-EX

Made with heavy-duty steel and high-density molded foam, the NORD-EX is well-built and durable. It’s also easy to adjust between the back extension and Nordic bench. The machine is also equipped with a built-in Nordic curl progression to help you train to a full Nordic curl. 

 “If you’re looking at a Nordic curl board and a back extension, I highly recommend this one,” says Garage Gym Reviews Founder Coop Mitchell “I don’t often say that, but this has really impressed me.”

Nike Grind Rubber Bumper Plates

Brittany’s Pick

Nike Grind Rubber Bumper Plates

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Bumper plates made with Nike Grind rubber exterior, a recycled material made from manufacturing scrap
  • Available in 10-lb, 15-lb, 25-lb, 35-lb, or 45-lb plates
  • Sold in pairs
  • Weight tolerance of +/- 1%
  • Moderate bounce with a durometer rating of 65

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Weight tolerance of +/- 1%
  • Uses recycled materials
  • Affordable
  • Aesthetic design

Cons

  • Heavier plates are wider than competitors
  • 10- and 15-lb plates shouldn’t be dropped

Bottom Line

Nike Grind Bumper Plates have an exterior made with their Grind rubber, a recycled material made from Nike manufacturing scrap. Sold in pairs, these bumper plates are available from 10-pound plates to 45-pound bumper plates. With a durometer rating of 65, these bumper plates will have a moderate bounce when dropped.

Nike made a big splash in the fitness world when they released their Nike Strength equipment earlier this year. While some of their products weren’t as innovative as others, one of the most interesting pieces to be released were the Nike Grind Rubber Bumper Plates. 

These bumper plates are made with Nike Grind rubber, manufacturing scrap of their apparel. The ground up scrap creates a sharp look on the exterior of these plates, with a fleck pattern contrasted by the sharp black text and the Nike Swoosh. Every new run of these plates will use different scrap, making each bumper plate a little more unique.

Cover image for the Nike strength equipment review

RELATED: Best Bumper Plates Guide

But how do they stack up in the gym? The GGR team found during testing that the Grind Bumper Plates have a moderate bounce, similar to high-temp bumper plates, and are pretty durable, too. Meaning, there were no signs of wear after frequent drops. 

These plates really showcased the design aesthetic that Nike can bring into the strength equipment industry, and we’re excited to see more.

REP Quickdraw Adjustable Dumbbells

Andrew’s Pick

REP Fitness QuickDraw Adjustable Dumbbell

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Adjustable dumbbells ranging from 5 to 60 lbs
  • Patented Lock-N-Load steel switches for quick weight changes
  • Can be bought as 30-lb, 40-lb, 50-lb, or 60-lb pairs
  • Fully knurled handle
  • Durability tested for drops
  • Lifetime warranty

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Very durable and tested for drops
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Can be expanded from 30 lbs up to 60 lbs
  • Quick weight changes

Cons

  • Adder weights can be a bit slower to add or remove
  • Longer dumbbell at max weight
  • Max weight is only 60 lbs

Bottom Line

The REP Fitness QuickDraw Adjustable Dumbbell is the latest piece of innovative equipment for the company, with patented Lock-N-Load switches for quick weight changes. The dumbbells can go up to a maximum weight of 60 pounds, although they can be purchased at lighter weights and expanded from there. These dumbbells are extremely durable as well, tested for drops at various heights and angles; plus, they’re backed by a lifetime warranty.

When we learned that REP Fitness was entering the adjustable dumbbells market later this year, the team at GGR was giddy. REP has been pushing innovation the last couple of years with weight benches and cable systems like the REP AB-3000 2.0 and the REP FT-5000 Functional Trainer, and we weren’t disappointed by their riff on selectorized dumbbells.

With a weight range from 5 to 60 pounds and a price point of $500, the REP Quickdraw Adjustable Dumbbells absolutely live up to REP’s rightly earned reputation for churning out elite-quality training gear. The most notable difference between the Quickdraws and other top adjustable dumbbells is their Lock-N-Loaded switches, which sit on the side of the dumbbells. REP boasts that this weight change system is one of the fastest on the market.  

Man performing chest-supported rows with the REP QuickDraw adjustable dumbbells

More impressive still is that these adjustable dumbbells are backed by a lifetime warranty, which covers drops. You’d have to have pretty durable dumbbells for that, and the QuickDraw dumbbells took any drops and abuse we gave to them with ease. You can check our REP Fitness discount code page for any deals on these and other REP equipment, too.

Renu Therapy Cold Stoic 2.0

Lindsay’s Pick

Renu Therapy Cold Stoic 2.0

GGR Score: 3.8 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Sleek cold therapy tub
  • Superior insulation
  • Integrated water chiller
  • Built-in filtration system

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Insulation Indoor or outdoor use
  • Made in the USA
  • Standard 110 volt power

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Super expensive
  • 6-10 week lead time

Bottom Line

The Renu Cold Stoic 2.0 is a high-end cold therapy unit that can be installed indoors or outdoors. It not only features superior insulation to keep water cold, the 1/4 horsepower chiller lets you regulate the temperature of your choice, all the way down to 36 degrees Fahrenheit (brrr!). Plus, the insulation works well enough that Renu Therapy’s tests indicated that water stays below 60 degrees even 24 hours after being unplugged.

The past year saw the Garage Gym Reviews team dive deeper into the world of cold plunge tubs. The latest edition of the Renu Therapy Cold Stoic certainly caught our eye. Made from quality materials, this cold plunge tub is built to last and provides a premium cold plunge experience—albeit at a premium price.

The Cold Stoic 2.0 holds about 95 gallons of water and can drop the water temperature as low as 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, the tub has built-in water filtration and an ultraviolet ozone generator to help eliminate bacteria, viruses, and metals from the tank and water. 

Wide shot of the Renu Therapy Cold Stoic tub

The cold tub has a high-end look as well, with a customizable exterior and wooden top, and the chiller is hidden away to keep the sleek look on the exterior. So all you need to do is relax in your tub—or freeze, depending on your tolerance for cold water. GGR Everything’s Lindsay Scheele adds, “It’s not suited for taller people, but for me at five feet and four inches, I can enjoy the cold plunge, or at least as much as the cold water will let me enjoy it.”

Nike Metcon 9

Anthony’s Pick

Nike Metcon 9

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Released August 2023
  • Versatile, durable training shoe
  • Meant for CrossFit workouts and training
  • Enhanced rope guard
  • Larger Hyperlift crash pad
  • 11 colorways available at launch

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Versatile training shoe
  • Rope guard wrap-around
  • Rigid heel great for stability
  • Multiple colorways to choose from
  • Lace locking system
  • High-traction outsole
  • Durable upper
  • Breathable woven textile upper
  • Wide toe box

Cons

  • Not great for running or WODs with longer run intervals
  • Some people may find them too rigid
  • Expensive at $150 a pair

Bottom Line

The Nike Metcon 9 training shoes were released in August 2023 and build upon the Nike Metcon 8s with an enhanced rope guar wrap-around, plus a larger and more rigid crash pad. They feature a tightly woven and durable, but breathable, upper. The patterned, grooved outsole provides great traction during most weather conditions.

Nike has been a juggernaut in the cross-training shoes department with their Metcons, and their latest release in August was no different. Released with the running-friendly Nike Free Metcon 5, the Nike Metcon 9 is a cross-trainer made for lifting and a bit of running. If you’re planning on doing CrossFit, lifting, or cross-training, these are a solid pair of shoes for just about anything in the gym.

With the latest release, the Metcon 9 adds a crash pad in the heel as well as a rubber rope wrap, making it durable for just about any functional training you throw their way. And, as always, there are plenty of colorways to choose from, or you can customize and design your own Metcon.

“Personally, I’ve worn these things everywhere — on hikes, through the city on rainy days, walking dogs, and just running errands,” says GGR’s Performance Editor Anthony O’Reilly “They’re indestructible, and my feet have never felt better.”

Freak Athlete Nordic Hyper GHD Bench

Sam’s Pick

Freak Athlete Nordic Hyper GHD

GGR Score: 4.22 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 6-in-1 workout functionality
  • Nordic hamstring curls
  • Glute-ham raise 
  • Sit-up bench
  • Reverse hypers
  • Back extensions
  • Hip thrusts
  • Vertical storage 
  • Patent-pending
  • Lightweight, 105-lb design

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 100-day money back guarantee
  • Priced under $1,000
  • Perform Nordic hamstring curl progressions

Cons

  • Pre-orders only
  • Welds are just OK
  • Subpar transport wheels

Bottom Line

The Freak Athlete Nordic Hyper GHD has many different uses including Nordic hamstring curls (with 10 different incline progressions), glute ham raises, GHD sit-ups, 45-degree back extensions, and hip thrusts. It’s designed to support folks ranging from 5 to 7 feet tall and offers 12 different positions with easy-to-read laser etched numbers.

Solving the issue of limited space in most home gyms, Freak Athlete delivered with their six-in-one machine, all focused on developing posterior chain strength. The Freak Athlete Nordic Hyper GHD allows for Nordic curls, glute ham raises, sit-ups, reverse hypers, back extensions, and hip thrusts—all in one machine.

RELATED: How to Do Back Extensions At Home

With six configurations to choose from, the adjustments might appear overwhelming, but there are engraved numbers on the arms to help you remember each setup. Just be a little wary, as the machine can drop fast if a pop-pin slips; it happened to GGR Operations Manager Sam Presley, although he still loves and recommends the machine.

Xero Shoes Speed Force II

Frieda’s Pick

Xero Shoes Speed Force II

GGR Score: 4.4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Lightweight, minimalist running shoes
  • Welded components for extra durability
  • Breathable upper
  • 4.5-mm thick rubber sole

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Wider toe box
  • Breathable upper
  • Durable rubber sole

Cons

  • Not ideal for those wanting cushioning in their running shoes
  • Can be pricey

Bottom Line

The Speed Force II from Xero Shoes is a redesign from their popular running shoes, with an upgraded breathable upper and welded components for added durability. The minimalist shoes provide a surprising amount of support, with instep straps that keep the shoe connected to the foot. Additionally, the 4.5-millimeter thick rubber soles are rated to last 5,000 miles.

Xero Shoes had a few major releases this past year, one of which was an update to their Speed Force performance running shoes. These minimalist shoes are made specifically for running with a mesh upper and flexible outsole. The Xero Shoes Speed Force II improves upon the original design by adding a breathable upper mesh and adding durability with welded components.

If you’re new to barefoot or minimalist running shoes, it will take a bit of getting used to before they’ll feel very comfortable. The design of the shoes helps you feel more connected to your environment, making them about as stable as your feet are.

Woman wearing the Xero Shoes Speed Force II inside

This is Xero’s lightest shoe yet, ideal for road running as they help encourage runners to aim for the balls of their feet rather than their heels when striking the ground, and should last you despite their light feel. The rubber outsole is warrantied for 5,000 miles and makes for a durable shoe.

The Speed Force II comes in only three colorways, but according to Frieda Johnson, GGR Editor, “They all look pretty nice: A little sporty but not too in your face.”

NordicTrack Commercial 1250

Lauren’s Pick

NordicTrack Commercial 1250

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Indoor treadmill with incline and decline capabilities
  • Hands-free adjustments
  • 10” screen that can rotate
  • iFIT-enabled 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Machine learning adjusts workouts based on user
  • 30-day iFIT membership included
  • Use Google Maps to workout in various places worldwide
  • -3% decline to 12% incline
  • Keep track of your stats

Cons

  • Users have to purchase iFIT after trial ends
  • Relatively expensive
  • Screen is not very big

Bottom Line

The NordicTrack Commercial 1250 comes equipped with incline and decline capabilities, Bluetooth and heart rate connectivity, workouts with iFit trainers and more.

NordicTrack’s Commercial series has been a long-time favorite of the GGR team, with the Commercial 1750 being one of our favorite treadmills to recommend. However, that very well might’ve changed this year with the rerelease of the NordicTrack C1250 Treadmill, which was previously discontinued but is back on market with a sleek redesign and a reasonable price tag.

In our testing, the 1250 performed comparably to the 1750 and has many similar features, but for about $700 less. With incline and decline training, the treadmill also features a touchscreen console, heart rate tracking, and a quiet drive system, too. And even though this is a bulky, 280-pound treadmill, it can still be folded away while not in use.

The Commercial 1250 can be connected to iFIT programming, which we highly recommend, as the iFIT workouts and interactive programming of the app will truly bring you the most value out of this treadmill.

REP Fitness Alpine Weightlifting Bar

Caine’s Pick

REP Fitness Alpine Weightlifting Bar, 20 Kg

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Weightlifting barbell made within IWF specifications
  • 28 mm shaft diameter
  • Hybrid needle bearings
  • Medium volcano knurling with a passive center knurl
  • Hard chrome, black chrome, or stainless steel finish
  • Tensile strength of 190K PSI

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • IWF specifications
  • Hybrid needle bearings
  • Medium knurling with a passive center knurl
  • High tensile strength
  • Affordable Olympic weightlifting bar

Cons

  • Not an ideal barbell for powerlifting
  • Thinner shaft than most multipurpose bars

Bottom Line

Designed specifically for Olympic weightlifting, the 20-kilogram Alpine Weightlifting Bar from REP Fitness is an affordable Olympic barbell that falls in line with IWF specifications. Available in a hard chrome, black chrome, or stainless steel finish, the sleeves use hybrid needle bearings to ensure a fast but controlled spin on the barbell. Because it’s made for the snatch and clean and jerk, this may not be the best choice for a powerlifting or multipurpose barbell.

The new line of Olympic barbells from REP Fitness caught the attention of Garage Gym Reviews writer, Caine Wilkes, a competitive weightlifter with 22 international medals and an Olympic Games appearance (2020 in Tokyo) to his name. According to Wilkes, REP improved upon their previous line of bars with new staples like the multipurpose REP Fitness Colorado Bar and their Olympic lifting barbell—the “mouth-watering” (in Caine’s words) Alpine.

The Alpine Weightlifting Bar was made in collaboration from Olympic weightlifters to design an optimal lifting bar with good spin, whip, and knurling. And in our testing, the bar excels in all those departments—although the knurling may be a bit more aggressive than you’re used to for a weightlifting barbell.

rep-fitness-alpine-bar

With a solid tensile strength and hybrid needle bearings, the bar has good flex and whip during the snatch exercise and clean and jerks, and the spin is controlled. 

RELATED: Best Powerlifting Workout

Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout

Nicole’s Pick

Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Formulated to help support muscle gain 
  • 20 grams of research-based active ingredients per serving 
  • 8 flavor variations are available
 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Transparent ingredient list
  • No artificial sweetener or color
  • Moderate dose of caffeine
  • 8 flavor options
  • 60-day money-back assurance

Cons

  • No creatine
  • Some users report it tastes bad

Bottom Line

Transparent Labs’ BULK supplement is attractive to those whose primary focus is split between potential muscle gain and a pre-workout pump. While the taste is questionable, the product works well for most users.

We already liked Transparent Labs BULK because of its research-backed doses of high-quality ingredients and good taste, all at a reasonable price. However, Transparent Labs updated the pre-workout formulation this past year to include 8 grams of citrulline malate, which is considered the optimal dose for the nitric oxide booster that helps with muscular endurance and improved blood flow, according to a 2021 review1.

transparent labs bulk product bottle by plant on table

Along with citrulline malate, the pre-workout has other key ingredients: beta-alanine, BCAAs, taurine, B vitamins, and caffeine. With 200 milligrams of caffeine per serving, considered a lower dose than average2 for sports performance, this is just enough for those craving the energy boost but not quite enough to get jittery for those with lower caffeine tolerances.

Transparent Labs BULK comes in an astonishing 12 different flavors, and the one we’ve tried—blue raspberry—tastes great. Plus, Transparent Labs doesn’t use artificial sweeteners, dyes, or preservatives, so the flavor doesn’t have any artificial taste to it.

Reebok Nano X3

Kate’s Pick

Reebok Nano X3 Shoes

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 13th iteration of Reebok Nano
  • Unisex sizing
  • Lift And Run Chassis in midsole
  • Mesh upper
  • Durable rubber heel clip
  • Great traction on outsole

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • More comfortable for running than other CrossFit shoes
  • Lift And Run Chassis
  • Responsive midsole
  • Breathable upper
  • Sick colorways
  • Reflective detailing
  • ROPEPRO rope guard
  • Durable heel clip
  • Wider crash pad
  • Wide toe box

Cons

  • Sizing is kind of funky and confusing
  • Feels wider/looser than previous iterations
  • Pricey (but not any more so than other CrossFit shoes)

Bottom Line

The Reebok Nano X3 training shoes are the 13th iteration of the popular Nano and are supposedly the most "runnable" CrossFit shoes to date. They are also available in unisex sizing.

Shoe releases get us excited year after year, and the Reebok Nano X3 wasn’t any different. Released globally in February, the latest cross-trainers from Reebok comes with a new midsole technology labeled the “Lift and Run Chassis System,” which is supposed to perform under heavy loads while still providing shock absorption during runs.

reebok nano x3 review best training shoe

These shoes certainly can add versatility to your training, as they’re built to do anything. While they may not be great for specialized training like long-distance running or competitive powerlifting, if your exercise takes you from power snatches to rope climbs to short sprints, these will perform well throughout your entire MetCon.

Colorways have been released throughout the year to the point where if you can imagine a Reebok Nano X3 colorway, it’s probably available. Although there are mostly unisex sizing and colorways, Reebok offers exclusive women’s-only designs, which are also in women’s sizing.

XeroShoes HFS II

Erin’s Pick

Xero Shoes HFS II

GGR Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Minimalist road running shoe
  • Lightweight at 8.3 oz in mens size 9
  • Tire tread-inspired outsole the stay secure off the road
  • Thin Barefoam layer of protection added to sole
  • 0 mm heel-toe drop

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Durable tread and outsole
  • Lightweight
  • Wide toe box
  • Break in easily

Cons

  • Can heat up quickly
  • Fairly pricey

Bottom Line

The HFS II from Xero Shoes is a lightweight minimalist shoe designed for road running, although it can be taken off-road as well. These shoes have a durable rubber sole, rated for 5,000 miles, and a thin Barefoam layer added to the shoe for extra protection. If you prefer minimal shoes for barefoot running, this is a solid choice.

Another release from Xero Shoes, the Xero HFS II, proves to be a versatile shoe. Designed for running, these shoes also appeared to be great for anything thrown at them—jogging, walking, lifting, cycling, and more. Plus, there was little to no break-in period required, although you may need to get used to barefoot shoes if you’re new to them. 

They surprised Erin, product tester and GGR senior editor, who says, “They’re not my normal style of gym shoes at all, but I really like the fit and will continue to use them.”

Xero HFS II on exercise mat

With three men’s colorways and three women’s colorways, the shoes are pretty stylish without being overstated, a plus as minimalist shoes look very different from typical footwear aesthetics.

Albeit a minimalist shoe, the HFS II provides good durability, with a solid rubber sole and support that wraps around your foot. The wide toe box of the shoe also gives room for your toes to splay during runs. Your stability comes from the great connection between the shoe and your foot.

Looking Forward to 2024 

There were many new releases that caught our team’s attention over the last year, and this is really just a small sampling. But with a list like this, we can’t help but look forward to what innovations and updates we see in the coming year; be sure to check out our 2024 home gym wishlist. Here’s to a great year of plenty of outstanding garage gym equipment to come!

GGR Staff Who Contributed to This Article

References

  1. Gough LA, Sparks SA, McNaughton LR, Higgins MF, Newbury JW, Trexler E, Faghy MA, Bridge CA. A critical review of citrulline malate supplementation and exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2021 Dec;121(12):3283-3295. doi: 10.1007/s00421-021-04774-6. Epub 2021 Aug 21. PMID: 34417881; PMCID: PMC8571142.
  2. Spriet LL. Exercise and sport performance with low doses of caffeine. Sports Med. 2014 Nov;44 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S175-84. doi: 10.1007/s40279-014-0257-8. PMID: 25355191; PMCID: PMC4213371.

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