Ariel had gadgets and gizmos a plenty, whozits and whatzits galore; but if you want thingamabobs (you know, for walking around on those – what do you call ‘em – feet), there are enough Fitbits and FuelBands on the market to send you into a complete tail spin.
Little Mermaid references aside, the point is, today’s fitness means more than just sweat and sneakers. Professionals and amateurs alike are turning techy when it comes to performing their best.
So with all the fitness gadgets and whatzits out there, how do you find the one that’s right for you?
Start with an app
Just like ordering an appetizer before your fancy dinner, start with an app on your phone to test the technological waters before committing to a device. Map My Run and NIke Running are great for – you guessed it – running. These apps will keep track of your miles and include key features like GPS/distance mapping, approximate calories-burned count, and motivation along the way. Other fitness apps range from activity planners to nutritional guides and will cost you nada to a whopping $3.
Once you’ve grown accustomed to tracking some of your progress and seeing results via your phone, it might be time to consider the next level – customized movement tracking in the form of one of the below gadgets.
This may look like the latest trendy rubber wristband, but it does so much more than serve as an edgy accessory. Nike’s FuelBand measures your “fuel.” Aside from calories, height, weight, and all the other factors that typically yield a value for your physical activity, Nike’s device measures patterns in your movements. In combination with other measurements like speed and distance, it predicts the amount of oxygen required for this movement pattern and matches it with an algorithm, which is how your score is calculated. Whether you’re jumping rope, dancing in front of your mirror, or chasing after your runaway dog, the FuelBand measures the “value” of all these activities and how they compare. Hey, maybe you’ll find you get a better workout when Fido escapes from the yard than you do when you’re slogging through spin class.
Addicted to checking Facebook and Twitter? Fitbit says it makes getting in shape as habitual as scrolling through your social media. Similar in style to the FuelBand, these wrist buddies are meant to help you get active, eat healthier, manage your weight, and even sleep better. Multiple products are available in the Fitbit family. The One is a wireless device that can slip in and out of a wristband and measures both your physical activity during the day as well as your sleep quality and duration at night. The calories measured are specific to your body, and your snooze time is tracked with the goal of revealing patterns to help you live an overall healthier lifestyle. Bonus: it has a silent vibrating alarm, so your 5 a.m. workout-wakeup call won’t interrupt your mate’s beauty rest.
Listen to your heart
If you’re really looking to up your game where working out is concerned, your heart may reveal the most about how much effort you are – or aren’t – putting in. The Polar H7 heart rate sensor will let you know just how much you’re actually pushing yourself. This soft, flexible chest strap monitor uses Bluetooth technology to transmit your workout data bits straight to your smartphone, allowing you to see the history of your training and realize what your effort zones truly are.
Don’t worry, haven’t abandoned the Ariel quips quite yet. If swimming is more your thing, better add a Garmin to your pool bag. Garmin Swim looks like your average (cute) waterproof watch, but it can also detect your stroke type and track the number of laps you swim, overall distance, and time. Best of all, when you’re home, showered, and chlorine-free, you can wirelessly upload the data to your computer and view calories burned, pace, cadence, and more.
Whatever your preferred workout is, consider stepping your game up with a tech tool and be prepared for some major progress.
By Rene Beight