Regular exercise and keeping healthy used to be straightforward. Now, all that has changed, with the digital-minded society of today having spawned a never-ending stream of new technology designed to tell us just how well we’re doing on the path to our goals. From a heart rate monitor or activity tracker to a health coach at the tap of your smartphone, we can all use a little boost in motivation every now and then.
1. Smart jewellery
As beautiful in design as it is in intention, LEAF is a high-tech tracker masquerading as a chic accessory. Caring for both your body and mind, it monitors your activity, sleep, stress and menstrual cycle, with the aim of helping you improve these aspects of your daily routine to keep you feeling at your best. Together with the LEAF app, it guides the wearer through goal-oriented breathing exercises that help you to be mindful, take control of stressful situations and find focus. Unlike other wearable technology, LEAF can be personalised not just in terms of colour (it comes in silver and rose gold), but also how you wear it; allowing you to indulge your fashion-conscious creativity and change it up from necklace to bracelet, clip it onto your clothing or attach it to other LEAF accessories.
2. Competition is key
Runners, cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts have a whole host of tech to choose from, but for those with a competitive nature, they don’t get much better than Strava. In a nutshell, this is the app for sharing and comparing. Run or ride a particular section of track or road, and Strava will connect you with a community of people who have tackled the same segment. This way, you can compare your tracked performance against others, as well as against your own past efforts. By checking out your ranking, your competitive nature will soon kick in, motivating you to start moving up the leaderboards. Explore new routes, join ongoing challenges and keep tabs on your gear and equipment, all via Strava, as the app will alert you when replacements or maintenance are needed, ensuring you work out as safely and effectively as you can.
3. Straight from the heart
The Fitbit Charge HR is one of the best wellness trackers on the market today, ticking the boxes as an effective monitor of heart rate, steps, distance, calories and sleep. Whatever your workout, at the touch of a button your new on-arm gadget will tell you how hard you’re pushing yourself; breaking it down into heart rate zones of ‘fat-burn, ‘cardio’ and ‘peak’. Its innovative PurePulse technology offers continuous heart rate tracking, thereby noting resting heart rate too, for a more complete picture of your health and fitness. Post-workout, it automatically summarises your performance to help track your progress. Fans of multitasking will love the Fitbit’s ability to sync to your phone so you’ll know who is calling, even when mid-squat or sprint. Don’t have the wearable device? The easy-to-use app can still be of use to count calories, log your weight and record other health information such as blood pressure. Even better? Designer Tory Burch developed a line of trend-led Fitbit covers to add a little style to its fantastic functionality.
4. Train like a champion
Want muscle-boosting routines at your fingertips? Download Touchfit: GSP. The ‘GSP’ in its name stands for Georges St-Pierre – MMA World Champion and your in-app personal trainer. Before you get set to sweat, you’re required to take a nine-minute fitness test in which St-Pierre demonstrates each move, for you to then perform and rank according to difficulty. Using this information, the app adapts its selections for the workouts that follow, offering easier or advanced modifications where necessary. You’re then free to choose from 500 videos that range from 20 to 60 minutes. Each consists of three to seven rounds of interval-style training that targets the upper body, lower body and core. St-Pierre delivers advice on good form and technique throughout each video, to help you progress and avoid injury. You don’t need any equipment (except maybe an elastic resistance band), meaning you can follow St-Pierre’s lead, wherever you are in the world.
5. High-tech goes high-class
There can’t be many people in our tech-savvy society who have not heard of the Apple Watch. But did you know that it can do more than notify you of calls, map your route, pay for groceries and (of course) tell the time? To help keep you fit and healthy, its designers added a built-in heart rate sensor and accelerometer to measure workout performance; displaying stats including total time, distance, calories, pace and speed, depending on which activity you choose. Being water-resistant means rainy days are no problem, and they added customisable coaching reminders for well-timed encouragement. Outside of dedicated exercise, the Apple Watch keeps you from being inactive; reminding you to move and preventing you from sitting still for too long, as well as calculating total body movement, steps and calorie-burn throughout the day. Providing all this capability plus high-class elegance is the Apple Watch Hermès. With its handmade leather strap and Hermès watch face reinterpreted by Apple, this unique timepiece is sought-after by fitness-fashionistas worldwide.
6. Dress to impress
Pioneering fitness brand Athos has brought the concept of wearable technology even further into the future. Small bio-sensors built neatly into their range of compression activewear track heart rate, breathing and muscle activity. These then sync with an app on the wearer’s phone to give real-time feedback and tracking of performance from session to session, without the need for an on-arm tracker. By incorporating into apparel what was previously available only via expensive machines and electrodes, Athos has successfully captured a demographic of fitness lovers who want to monitor the effectiveness of their workouts without generic results or an external accessory that could inhibit their performance. The sensors provide a unique insight into the way the body moves and which muscles are working during any particular exercise, helping you to manage and adapt your form and workout to make them ever more effective.
7. Motivation to move
Even the most committed of exercise enthusiasts have days when hitting the mat, track or treadmill can be something of a struggle. It’s during those times that having a personal motivator in your pocket can make all the difference. Enter Runtastic Pro: a workout tracker that doubles as a coaching app to keep you motivated towards your goals. Despite its name, Runtastic Pro is also suitable for cycling, skiing, kayaking and more. It’s full of quirky additions that combine to make your workout that bit easier: from a ‘power song’ that plays automatically when you need a boost, to the voiceover that kicks in at each mile marker informing you of your total time so far. The app even records the average temperature of your location and allows you to log extra details such as your mood and the terrain (eg hills, sand, etc), or any factor that may account for a slightly slower time or shorter route. Post-workout hydration advice is another key feature, taking care of your fitness and health from start line to finish post.
8. Your soundtrack to Zen
Finding a yoga practice and instructor that are right for you can be a long process, and can be frustrating when your lifestyle doesn’t fit around the studio schedule. That’s where apps like YogaStudio by Gaiam come in. Its library of 65 high-definition yoga and meditation videos are developed and taught by a certified instructor, come divided by level and focus (balance, relaxation, strength or flexibility), and can be custom-made to suit you. By selecting your favourite poses or ‘stitching’ together your preferred parts of existing videos, you can create your own practice to perform at your convenience. The app syncs to your iTunes account too, allowing you to flow smoothly to a soundtrack of your choice. YogaStudio is great for experienced yogis and beginners alike, with step-by-step instructions and modifications for each pose, as well as explanations on the benefits and cautions. The app works on smartphones, tablets and Apple TV so you can find Zen on whatever device you choose.
9. You run, it runs
That moment when you find your stride and your breathing falls perfectly in time with your steps is a moment to be savoured. That is, until your fitness tracker dies of battery and your new personal best fails to be recorded. This is when the Garmin Vivoactive becomes a must-have. This waterproof fitness-band meets lightweight smart-watch has foregone the unnecessary embellishments, focusing instead on what you need most. Its fantastic battery life, lasting up to three weeks, is thanks to high-efficiency, low-energy tech that keeps it on all the time while using very little power. It tracks GPS and elevation and also recognises the need for calculating different metrics for each sport. Swimmers, for example, will enjoy its accelerometer that monitors strokes and pauses as you complete a length and turn at the end of the pool. Ideal for interval training, it automatically calculates the size of the pool and time per length. Golfers too, will relish this device for its built-in knowledge of 39,000 world- famous courses, letting you know how far you are from each hole on the course. It can also control your music, provide weather reports and monitor sleep.
10. The life you lead
Vida Health Coach is a revolutionary idea that brings the concept of wellness into the digital age. Described as a ‘marketplace for expert health coaches’, the app is linked to nutritionists, personal trainers, physicians and nurses. So how does it work? A series of questions helps to establish the area of your health that you’d like to address (such as detoxing, improved fitness, weight management, lowering blood pressure, etc), and your preferred style of support. These include ‘Innovator’, ‘Listener’ and ‘Challenger’, which ensure the industry professional and type of coaching are right for you. Throughout your journey, Vida becomes the platform for connection with your health coach, who is available 24/7 via messages and video conferences to discuss your progress and provide advice and support.