What can you wear to improve your workout?
The latest trend in fitness wear isn’t a fur sports bra or a minimalist running shoe, it’s information. Everyone from Apple to Nike is literally arming consumers with wearable fitness trackers that provide easily accessible, real-time information about their bodies at play and in some cases at rest. Here are the latest products that promise to improve on wearable technology by helping users be more active as well as to make their workouts more effective and even safer:
Apple Watch: Apple’s latest gadget is poised to revolutionize the wearable fitness tracker market. In addition to several iPhone-esque features, the device offers numerous ways to chart activity, including an accelerometer and heart-rate monitor, and also motivates its wearers to be more active by reminding you to stand up for a minute every hour during your waking hours and counting down to your daily goals. It will also offer workout-specific tracking for activities such as running, cycling and cross training. The effectiveness of this technology, however, is still very much dependent on personal initiative to design, execute and stick to a fitness plan.
Athos: Two fitness-minded electrical engineers have developed this intelligent new activewear1 with strategically placed sensors (in the shirts, shorts, and pants) that track muscle groups, heart rate, breathing and more. The sensors transmit data to a module (inserted into the garment) called the core, which is then translated wirelessly into actionable information and tracking via Athos’ proprietary mobile app. One of the benefits is that you can instantly see if you are overworking or underworking a muscle group during any fitness activity.
Jake Waxenberg, director of brand strategy for Athos, emphasizes that the garment itself looks, feels and can be treated exactly like any other workout clothing (it’s machine washable) and won’t disrupt your routine because the thin sensors are imperceptible on the skin and do not heat up, even during exercise. As for the technology, “unlike other wearables, Athos tracks complex muscle effort—heart rate and movement are only small pieces of what matters. The best way to improve is to know what your muscles are doing and then adjust accordingly to fine-turn form and meet recommended training levels,” adds Waxenberg, "lactic acid levels can be tracked through traditional EMG technology. This is one of the many possibilities that Athos can go in the future."
“Technology may motivate people to participate and be held accountable for their commitment to exercise,” says Sinead FitzGibbon2, PT, Orthopedic Certified Specialist, and multi-sport coach. “However, if the gee-whiz factor of new gadgets is the main motivator, then these products could end up in the back of the closet with those GPS watches and pedometers.”
As it has always been, getting fit and staying fit has to be the ultimate goal. Until technology innovates to the point of figuring out how to do our workouts for us, we’re left to our own devices, so to speak. But if the latest wearable tech motivates us to get up off our booties and get our sweat on, then the investment could be worth every penny.