The Best Fitness Tech of 2017
Christmas and New Year are just around the corner and there’s lots of ‘fitness tech’ out there that would make ideal presents for fitness enthusiasts or people looking to kick start their new year’s health and fitness journey. Fitness tech covers a wide range of technology and gadgets, from smartphone apps to interactive virtual reality systems, which can cost thousands and thousands of pounds. Let’s take a look at some of the best fitness tech 2017 has given us…
Undoubtedly, the must have fitness app of 2017 – and over the last few years for that matter – is My Fitness Pal (MFP). MFP is a free food logging app that allows you to input the food you eat so you can get an idea of your daily calorie and nutrient intake. MFP can be set up for specific goals and is a great way to create accountability and educate yourself on the nutritional value of different foods.
The truly brilliant thing about MFP is the fact it has pretty much every single food from every brand you can think of, many of which can be added to your food log simply using your smartphone’s camera as a barcode scanner. A wide range of restaurants are on the MFP database too, so even when you’re eating out you can keep on track and stay within your daily targets.
There are more free apps – Map My Walk, Map My Run and Map My Ride – that allow you to design and track various routes, measure distance and give some basic information on performance. For those people who don’t want to spend lots of money on GPS watches or trackers, then these apps are a great way to monitor your activity in and out of the gym.
For those who want to really keep on top of their activity – count steps, calculate calories burned throughout the day, measure heart rate during exercise, etc – then the Fitbit watch range is one of the most popular activity tracking watches available.
These are reasonably priced from £20 to around £300 depending on the model, its accuracy, functionality, and the amount and type of data it can produce and store. Other companies such as Garmin and TomTom, more famous for their navigation systems, also have some quality activity trackers and watchers that fit within this price band.
The choice of activity monitor really depends on both your budget and what you want from it. However, there’s certainly something for everyone within this category, whether you want a basic step monitor, or an all seeing, all dancing, interactive fitness and health tracking machine!
These differ ever so slightly from activity monitors in the sense they tend be a bit more focused on specific outcomes we might be concerned with for sports performance. Of all the ways we can manage performance in and out of the gym, heart rate monitors are most often used by the more serious performance athlete.
Unlike many fitness watches/trackers, these are specifically designed to be worn around the chest and give a more accurate heart rate reading. This is helpful to work out training zones for specific goals, measure how hard you are working and for how long. Arguably the most popular brand of heart rate monitor is Polar, but much like fitness monitor watches there is a number of alternatives on the market that are all competitively priced between £20 and £100.
These tend not to be as expensive as fitness watches, simply because they do not offer all the ‘bells and whistles’ but for what they are designed for are typically more accurate. Heart rate monitors come with their own simple tracking watch to store and view your data, but the more high end models can be compatible with ‘smart watches’ that have a whole host of fitness compatible technology and applications so you can get a more detailed overview of your daily activity, energy expenditure and even sleep quality.
For those who take part in team sports, the Playertek GPS system is a piece of kit commonly used in professional sports and is now available to the recreational athlete for around £200.00. Unlike other GPS systems, the Playertek GPS system is designed to be concealed in a special vest and is built to withstand the demands of contact sports. It collects data on the move, which can then be downloaded and analysed using an app on a smartphone. This doesn’t just tell you the distance covered, but can also be mapped to determine positional play, top speeds, accelerations and number of sprints both in-game or in-training situations. This can then be compared to friends, teammates or even other professional athletes to see how you measure up to the very best.
Many of us love to listen to our own music in the gym, whether that’s for motivation or just to simply help distract us from the pain we might endure during a heavy session! There’s nothing more frustrating than dangling wires when you’re trying to train, so wireless headphones have become increasingly popular in the gym.
Beats by Dre are one of the more popular ranges of wireless headphones or earphones and are available from around £100-£150 depending on the model. However, if you take your workout music quality very seriously, then the Bose range of wireless headphones and earphones are the way to go. They’ll cost you a little bit more – about £150 to £200 – but are capable of producing the highest quality audio available in earphones specifically designed for use in the gym.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
Whatever your sport, activity or stage in your fitness journey, there is plenty of tech to help support you in reaching your goals, whether that’s simply to be healthier and more active, lose weight, build muscle or to improve sports performance. The good news is that as technology advances, the tools that were once only available to elite sports and health and fitness researchers are becoming available to the general public and are not only easy to use, but affordable and allow you to monitor your health, fitness and progress providing you with levels of individualised and accessible support than ever before.