Can tech really make you fitter? Are all these metrics that you get from a fitness band like steps, calories burnt or distance covered make you a better athlete? Do body hacking devices that claim to take you on a journey to a new healthy you actually work?
The debate between pure fitness versus tech-assisted fitness is at an all-time high and it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff and the hype from reality. Too many devices masquerade as real fitness gadgets, but many of them are completely useless and not worth the paper box they come packaged in. Here are some workout devices I’ve discovered that work, are fantastic motivational tools and will turn you into a lean fighting machine.
Doctor on call
GOQii revolutionised the fitness band business by marrying all your activity data to a real-time coach who gets all those numbers and then suggests, cajoles, threatens and guides you on what to do next. But with the GOQii 2.0, it’s taken things to a new level. Now all that data also flows to a professionally qualified doctor. If you’re not feeling well or not sure what’s up with you, the GOQii band gets you online with a real doctor who you can talk to, and who, on the basis of all your data can guide you on what to do next. Also connected into the ecosystem are hospitals, testing labs and a plethora of other health professionals. Your coach then does follow-ups to make sure your fitness and health are in top form. GOQii 2.0 also allows for payments, with a NFC chip inside that can be used to make payments at thousands of outlets. Apparently another huge announcement is about to be made that may shake up the entire world of fitness bands globally. Can’t wait!
The rolls of sports watches
For many, this would be overkill, but look closely and you’ll discover that this is nothing short of a miracle. The Garmin Fenix 3 HR is a pure breed runner’s watch, besides tracking a dozen other sports such as swimming, biking, triathlete and skiing. It’s also an activity recorder, a GPS tracker, a fitness band and a smartwatch. It looks stunning, has multiple watch faces that convert it from a geeky sports data machine to a luxury evening watch, is laden with multiple sensors like heart rate and body temperature and has options to add and subtract apps and widgets, just like you do on your smartphone. But it’s in the running department that this just torches the competition. It can measure your oxygen levels during an exercise, your lactic acid threshold, analyse how long your foot touches the ground, how much you bounce, your running style and where you may be going wrong. It’ll even tell you how long it’ll take for you to recover for your next activity. The Fenix 3 is like the Rolls-Royce of all sports watches.
The no-nonsense instructor
Yes, another generic product that has taken on the term ‘smart’. But the SmartMat isn’t kidding as it’s actually very smart. Think of it as the ultimate no-nonsense yoga instructor that won’t let you go wrong with pose, form or function. It’s also relentless as it will make sure you get things done. This is a hi-tech yoga mat that gives you step-by-step instructions and follows that up with suggestions on how to improve your posture and perfect different moves. It’s got various sensors built in at various spots. After a quick series of analysis steps, it’s good to go and will also learn about your body over time. It’s smart enough to know where your hands and feet are, how balanced you are and what amount of pressure is being exerted for each pose. It obviously comes with a connected app that will teach you proper yoga visually, and can be programmed on your own for a custom class. You may just be able to replace your expensive yoga instructor with a mat.
Dumbbells! To many in a gym, they are the holy grail. By using a set of dumbbells you force your body to not only work out but also stabilise the weight. But what if your dumbbells could become smart? Super-smart! The Bowflex dumbbells are modular (just choose the weight you want to lift on a dial), movement aware (they will count your reps for you as well as check your form and style), and connected (the dumbbells connect to an app on your phone where you can choose your workouts and challenges while the dumbbells track your progress).
In real life, I found that these actually lived up to the expectations, the reps counted were always accurate and the fact that I could change the weight I was lifting at any point to be a real boon. The only downside: almost impossible to get them in India and getting them from abroad means that you can carry only them (they obviously weigh a lot) and no other luggage!
It seems that the world of fitness is finally learning its most important lesson. Just putting a sensor in a device and calling it the next big thing in health or fitness isn’t going to cut it. Functionality that wasn’t possible before, features that really help and also motivate you to take things to the next level are the real deal. These four are a good start and also show that the future of fitness looks very healthy.
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3
From HT Brunch, August 14,2016
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