With Google announcing its decision to keep its US employees home until at least July next year, and many UK companies also reticent about returning to traditional office working, one thing the lockdown has afforded many people is time.
In England, average daily commuting time has risen from 48 minutes in 2017 to an hour, and one in seven commuters were, before coronavirus, spending two hours or more each day travelling to and from work. Now you have (in theory at least) an extra hour at each end of the day, here’s some ideas of how to spend those precious minutes wisely, from working out to playing with pets.
FORME Life Home Studio
Four years in development but now finally available to buy, this futuristic interactive fitness studio is the socially distanced dance studio, pilates class, weights gym and yoga studio for aesthetes. Designed by Yves Béhar – previous products include the Samsung Frame – this wall-mounted system is based around a mirrored 43-inch 4K UHD display with voice control, touchscreen, webcams and a library of on-demand fitness and wellness sessions. It’s available in two versions: Screen for face-to-face free weight and floor-style classes; and Full Studio, which ingeniously transforms the mirror into a full home gym, with collapsible weight bench, retractable pulley arms for strength training, hidden free weights and even a ballet barre.
Price: From $2,245 | Forme Life
Put down the loofa and sling the soap on a rope, for there’s a new sponge in town, and it’s made from Japanese Konjac Plant Root. This root vegetable is backed with soluble fibre that looks rather like a wonky potato before processing, and is infused with bamboo charcoal that’s both gently exfoliating and anti-microbial. The grooved surface texture helps you to lather up more luxuriously, while the charcoal helps reduce oil and balances your skin’s pH.
Price: $29 | Orijin
Husqvarna Automower 315X
Astonishingly, Husqvarna has been selling robot mowers for 25 years – and to celebrate everyone else finally catching onto the idea, they’ve launched this limited edition autonomous greenkeeper that can tackle lawns up to 1600m² at 68m² per hour, on inclines up to 22° (40 per cent). It uses a mix of GPS-assisted navigation and guide wires, and is all controlled via the Automower app – and there’s remote GPS theft tracking if a jealous neighbour runs off with it. To celebrate this robotic quarter-century, Husqvarna has thrown in a weatherproof dock to protect your 315X against the long-term effects of rain and Sun exposure.
Price: £1,999 | Husqvarna | Amazon
A pod system for skincare, that, just like its caffeinated cousin, delivers the freshest possible product at the touch of a button. In this case, the espresso grounds have been replaced with either a face cream or wash solution base, which is mixed with your choice of active ingredients to produce the ideal product for the way your skin is feeling. Each custom-blended formulation is then squirted out onto a spatula for easy application. The HyLab has 28 outstanding patents on its design and can be used by the whole family, with custom creams for all. Your skincare routine can also be uploaded and tracked by the app, which can help prescribe the ideal blend according to your skin type as well as how late you stayed up last night.
Price: £350 | Romy
Orbit B-Hyve timer and coil hose
Since the company launched in 2016, smart water management system B-Hyve claims to have saved a staggering 30 billion gallons of water. The principle is elegantly simple: you attach the Bluetooth Hose Tap Timer (45m range) to your existing outdoor tap and control when, how much and for how long it waters your plants. There’s an easy override system if you just want to use the hose or don’t have your phone handy, but the little and often approach to irrigation has been proven to save water and improve plant health, and you’ll never come home to a waterlogged lawn again. Paired here with the 25ft (7.6m) ORBIT hose that features eight spray patterns including shower and mist that takes up very little space and is designed to resist tangling.
Price: From £49 | Amazon | Orbit
Apex exists to give you an affordable, Anglophile alternative to Peloton, without resorting to a basic sit-up-and-beg exercise bike. The impressively designed 45kg pro-studio Bluetooth-connected spin bike with magnetic resistance and protected flywheel offers a super smooth cycle and, if you care about aesthetics, it’s available in a range of colours to blend with your decor. Live and pre-recorded classes come via a partnership with London’s Boom Cycle, but, unlike Peloton, there’s no built-in screen, so users instead log in to the app (£30 per month) on iPad/iPhone (iOS only), then connect via Bluetooth and start pedalling.
Price: £1,200 | Apex
Wahl 100 Year Anniversary Clipper
Released to celebrate Wahl’s century in the barbering business, these exemplary clippers (a WIRED Recommends Best Buy, BTW) are designed for professional hairdressers, and not typically available to the public. However, with the recent unprecedented demand, Wahl has made them available to all. The solid metal body is weighty and balanced while the powerful motor purrs calmly, even when removing the thickest lockdown locks. Despite the old-timey looks, these clippers have a 70-minute run time from just a 70-minute charge. Be warned, though, you’ll need a separate set of combs (£33) if you want anything besides a grade 0.
Price: £180 | Coolblades | Amazon | Direct Hairdressing Scissors
Hear us out before you file the Chopper alongside the chest expander and toning shoes, because there is plenty of method to this axe-wielding madness. It’s based around the idea of functional fitness – exercises made popular at CrossFit gyms that train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements, rather than unconnected gym-bunny repetition. So, by swinging the app-connected rubberised axe you will use muscles in the upper and lower body, engage the core, and get your heart rate flying. And while it weighs only 1.8kg, you can alter the load significantly by adjusting your hand position on the handle.
Price: $139 | Chopfit
The canine equivalent to a cat toying with a live mouse in the living room, GoBone is a chewable and chaseable mini-droid for your bored dog that can either be set to spin around randomly for 15-20 minutes in AutoPlay Mode, or, if you really can’t be bothered to go out for yet another walk in the rain, you can take control using your smartphone and gamify playtime. The slobber-resistant rubberised exterior and wheels are chewable and replaceable ($30), and you can stuff treats inside as an added incentive.
Price: $129 | GoBone
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