We're at the midway point of Fit&Well Awards week, and things are hotting up!
This list pays tribute to the fitness apparel and accessories that have the power to elevate your exercise and post-workout routine, including the best running shoes, sports bra, yoga mat and foam roller.
We considered a wide variety of factors when selecting our winners, including value for money, user feedback and how they performed in hands-on testing.
However our main guiding principle, as it is across all categories, was "does this product help people achieve our mission statement of 'healthier, happier living'?"
The products listed below fit the bill - so allow us to introduce the winners of our Hot Fit Kit category!
Best running shoes for men
Winner: Brooks Ghost 13
The Brooks Ghost 13 is an excellent everyday running shoe, which we rate for its smooth ride, overall comfort, durable construction and great cushioning. In testing, we found that it delivers on all of its promises for an oh-so-soft and smooth road running shoe. Support is found in all the right places, especially around the heel and ankle area, while the forefoot feels nicely cradled. Meanwhile, our Florida-based tester found the lightweight engineered mesh upper to be super breathable. All in all a great running sneaker, and deserving winner of our best running shoes for men title.
Best running shoes for women
Winner: Asics Gel-Nimbus 23
When it came to picking our best running shoes for women, we were looking for a pair that ticked the holy trinity of comfort, durability and support. The Asics Gel-Nimbus 23 delivers on all fronts. These will go the distance for the most enthusiastic of runners who pound the pavements regularly or those who like to clock up long runs. Improvements to the shoe's Trusstic technology under the arch and Gel technology in the arch make for the softest cushioning yet, whilst still providing that all-important stability. We also love how Asics take a gender-specific approach to the design of their shoes, investing in research to address the ways women differ in gait and lower-limb biomechanics to men. A worthy winner.
Best shoes for walking
Winner: On Cloud
The On Cloud shoes are as light and dreamy as the name would suggest, and our pick for best shoes for walking. Superior cushioning comes courtesy of the brand's Zero-Gravity foam and CloudTec technology, whilst design details such as a molded heel ensure a snug, supportive fit. Perfect for those who've taken to walking as their chosen form of fitness, although they're equally suited to anyone who finds themselves on their feet all-day, whether through work or a busy home life. And with 11 colors available for both men and women, there's a style to suit everyone.
Best sports bra
Winner: Shock Absorber Ultimate Run Bra
The main job of a sports bra is to provide adequate support - and we've not tried one that does that job quite like the Shock Absorber Ultimate Run Bra, winner of our best sports bra award. Even during the most high-impact of activities (we tested it playing netball and during plyometric training), we found there's barely any bounce, leaving you free to concentrate on the task in hand and giving you the confidence to go as hard as you can. This is all thanks to the bra's much-research design, featuring the perfect combination of encapsulation and compression. A wide chest band combined with a high racer-back clasp spreads the supported load over a larger area of the back and shoulders, eliminating pinch-points or chafing. We also like that it caters to a wide range of shapes and sizes, available in 30A up to 38G.
Buy direct from Shock Absorber
Best yoga mat
Winner: Yogamatters Eco Rise Yoga Mat
What were we looking for in our pick for best yoga mat? Superior grip, for one. We also wanted a mat thick enough to provide a little comfort yet firm enough to provide a stable surface for advanced yoga moves. The Yogamatters Eco Rise Yoga Mat delivers on all these points, offering a firm base for any kind of practice. At just 2.3kg, it's lighter than other top-end mats too. And its sustainability credentials only sweeten the deal; it's made from natural tree rubber, with no chemical nasties used in the production process. All in all, this is an exceptional mat at a great price.
Buy direct from Yogamatters
Best foam roller
Winner: JAXJOX Foam RollerConnect
A connected roller may seem like overkill, but when it comes to meeting our criteria of helping people live healthier, happier lives, the JAXJOX Foam RollerConnect knocks it out of the park thanks to its clever technology. Our pick for best foam roller delivers next-level muscle relief, with five vibration intensity levels that can be controlled from your smartphone. What's more, inputting your exercise and muscle groups worked into the JAXJOX app results in a personalized recovery program, with vibration and intensity levels tailored to your body's needs. It's a great, smart system, providing valuable intelligence and guidance to the frequently neglected but oh-so-vital process of recovery.
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Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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