Fitness doesn't have to be high tech. Humans have worked out for thousands of years without the aid of gadgets and apps. Sometimes keeping it simple is what makes exercise so effective. Maybe all you need to keep in shape is your bodyweight and a floor. Maybe tying up the laces on your running shoes or punching seven bells out of the bag hanging in your garage is enough.
Aids to exercise in the past were born of functionality. You might be of an age to remember when high tech meant clipping your Sony Walkman to your gym shorts and running on a treadmill that had the footprint of a family car. Now you don't even have to plug in; you can wear your wireless headphones, turn your Bluetooth on and stream playlists from a phone twenty meters away.
And that's not even high tech anymore; it's what we use every day.
They'll always be peacocks in the gym: those more interested in flashing the latest gadgets, posing in their box-fresh Beats headphones and dripping in screens and apps BUT there's no shame in using technology so long as it facilitates your workout and gets you sweating.
We're not suggesting that you become the million dollar man or woman of wearable tech but on the journey to getting fitter, getting faster, bigger and stronger, maybe technology can help you become the best version of yourself. Our list is by no means exhaustive but here’s what tech we think is looking pretty cool in 2018.
Garmin Forerunner 645 Music
- Garmin has been at the forefront of GPS technology for decades and is one of the biggest brands of wearable sports tech. The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music stores over 500 hours of songs which will appeal to those who enjoy the benefits of working out to music. Another helpful feature is contactless payment and frankly, anything that stops us keeping cash in our shoes or clipping on a super-sexy bumbag is alright with us.
Expect top-end performance monitoring as standard including heart rate and performance which will update you on your stride length, running power and vertical ratio. It'll monitor your training performance, too, in case you're going too hard. Connect headphones via Bluetooth quickly and easily, so you can make the most of the music storage. Remembering, of course, to add EarHugz to your headphones to save them from sweat damage.
The Garmin Forerunner 645 music will appeal to runners, however, you'll find tracking for cardio, swimming and more. There's an impressive battery lasting around a week on smartwatch mode or twelve hours in GPS mode.
Unlike other wristwatch-style GPS devices, this has a good looking unisex fascia and strap and is the perfect example of how technology and fitness can intersect in a useful and understated way.
Buy: Garmin Forerunner 645 Music £399.99
Tangram Smart Rope
- Okay, hear us out on this one.
Do you need a smart-tech skipping rope? Probably not and at £50+ it's easy to dismiss. Skipping ropes are fine as they are, sure, and you can pick them up for a couple of quid on the high street BUT if you're serious about skipping (and at 200 calories burnt in 10 minutes why wouldn't you be?) it does have some impressive features. The Tangram Smart rope is LED-embedded allowing you to track your workout in mid-air in real time. With each revolution, the LED lights will display your stats as if they're floating in front of your face. You can see how many calories you've burned and the time it's taken you to do it.
The rope's magnetic sensors are in the handles so it's way more accurate than the manual counters of regular ropes. And despite the additional tech, it's still lightweight making it ideal for a workout when you're travelling and small enough to pack in a suitcase or carry-on bag. Once you've downloaded the app you'll see how many jumps you've done, how many calories burned, time elapsed and how close you are to any goals you've set. The rope can't be adjusted but it does come in 5 different lengths with a battery life of around 48 hours. Charging is via micro-USB cable.
Buy: Tangram Smart LED Skipping Rope £45.99+
Nadi X Smart Yoga Pants
- Wearable technology is a huge bonus for exercise when you need your hands free. Nadi X Smart Yoga Pants have 'woven-in technology with sensors around the hips, knees and ankles' acting as a kind of in-trouser yoga instructor (if you're into that kind of thing...). Sensors inside the fabric communicate with each other, gently vibrating to let you know when to improve your form or adjust position.
The sensors are powered by a battery pack which fits behind the knee and is charged by USB. Yoga can be a very effective way to work out and it's used by more people than just the dreadlocked vegan you met backpacking around Thailand. Yoga is perfect when you're travelling, though, and these smart pants won't take up much room in your bag. Only available for women at the moment, the Nadi X Smart Yoga Pants will eventually have a men's range, too.
What impressed us on top of the tech is that they're safe to hand wash (ideal for when you're away from home) and they're sweat proof, just like EarHugz.
Buy: Nadi X Smart Yoga Pants $250
- One for our American friends, The Peloton Bike isn't currently available in Europe BUT it's pretty impressive, and if you live stateside, then it could be a great addition to your home gym. Men's Health calls it “The best cardio machine on the planet”. Think of it as having your own personal cycling studio as it doesn't just pedal but it streams 14 live studio classes each day from Peloton's New York studio and gives access to over 5,000 on-demand workouts. It's a good looking bike, too, with a relatively compact 4' x 2' footprint that should fit any room in your home. With a carbon steel frame, it's also got a super quiet belt drive, too, and delivery isn't just to your door but into your house where its assembled for you.
Expensive? Yes, but you can monitor your progress, check on how you're improving and workout with thousands of others on the live stream. Much like the Garmin, this is an attractive piece of kit that has a serious practical application for your fitness. Customer reviews on the website declare it as truly life-changing.
Buy: Peloton Bike $1995
The Beast Sensor
Fitness trackers are everywhere at the moment but most seem targeted to monitoring cardio. For those interested in strength training, the Beast Sensor is designed to help you see what's really going on with your workouts. As its magnetic, it's ideal whether you workout with weights, machines or with bodyweight.
Using motion sensors (accelerometers, gyroscopes and compasses), it gives accurate information and, therefore, a better idea of your progress. The battery is reasonable: one-charge will last around 8 hours, and it's compatible with iOS and Android devices. The sensors stream in real time to the app so you can self-correct any issues and track your progress. You can measure power, speed, strength, explosiveness, volume (Kgs and lbs), reps, weekly progress and more.
Opt for the trainer version and you can export your data to an excel sheet.
Buy: Beast Sensor from 249 euros.
Technology and fitness can work exceptionally well together but remember that the tech can't do the workout for you. It's more important to do the work than look the part. Gym accessories don't have to be high tech. EarHugz is a no-tech solution to sweat damage but is highly effective. Moisture from excessive sweating can cause unpleasant odours and wreck the internal workings of your headphones. Antibacterial, machine washable and in a range of awesome designs, EarHugz is the best way to protect your sound during your workout.