Over the years we’ve seen our technology get more advanced in just about everything. Our phones, TVs, watches, and tablets have all become “smarter.” Even our fitness equipment is getting “smart” features. Yes, we’ve seen it in bikes, rowers, and even fitness mirrors.
But what if the “smart” tools don’t end there? Believe it or not, technology is now being added to fitness apparel! Yes! Hats, socks, leggings, shirts, bathing suits… you name it. We might as well just add a “smart” aisle to every store at this rate since every tool we can think of will have a “smart” alternative.
While we continue to see advances in technology, what does smart tech in fitness specifically mean? The literal definition is “a digital physical learning conversion. It is personalizing and individualizing fitness learning with physical literacy.”
Overall, it is a more engaging and individualized approach to fitness that can provide personalized programming and individual body composition metrics such as heart rate, recovery capacity, etc. “Smart Fitness” tools can be used in the privacy of your home, or group classes.
So, what are some of the top smart fitness machines/tools we’re seeing on the market today?
THE TOP SMART FITNESS APPS & TOOLS
The Peloton bike has a 21.5” HD touchscreen with high-quality sound speakers attached to the handlebars. Peloton offers the ability to join live cycling classes, but also contains a whole database full of yoga and strength exercises.
On Peloton, you can plan and customize workouts ahead of time to map out your goals and stay on track. For individuals motivated by some healthy competition, you can also see how you compare in the live classes to others on the Leaderboard. Peloton also tracks metrics like heart rate, cadence, and resistance during every workout!
Similar to the Peloton bike, the treadmill contains a 23.8” HD touchscreen. While the classes aren’t as expansive as the cycling ones, tons of bootcamp, interval, walking, and even “outdoor” classes are available. Each class is categorized based on your preference of an instructor, distance covered, the time you want to train, and even music preference.
The trainers (live or pre-recorded) are very interactive and give cues to form and function throughout the workout. Each class contains a leaderboard to see where you stand among others in the class if you’re seeking some extra competition.
The Mirror is an easy and modern tool you can easily install in your home — only requiring a blank wall for setup! The mirror comes with a year subscription that contains over 50 different activities to choose from. You can do strength routines, Pilates, yoga, or maybe something more intensive like dance or boxing! The Mirror can sync up with certain heart rate monitors or an apple watch to track your health metrics in real-time. It also monitors your movements and can provide feedback on your form without being too intrusive.
Like the Mirror, the Tonal just needs blank wall space for setup. But unlike the Mirror, Tonal includes adjustable arms that offer up to 200 pounds of resistance that can support both upper and lower body workouts. The tonal also contains a variety of personalized programs and can track reps, sets, range of motion, power, and volume to show how you improve over time!
Hydrow, some might call it the Peloton of rowers! With a 22” HD touchscreen, Hydrow has Bluetooth and wifi capacities and offers live rowing classes taught by world-class athletes, rows on demand, scenic rowing routes, and whole-body fitness routines.
OURA SMART RING
The Oura ring is a smart ring that uses sensors to track a variety of health metrics, which are all available to you on their app. It keeps track of all your workouts, steps, calories burned, inactivity, and sleep. Moreover, it rates each of these factors to give you a “readiness score.”
The biggest feature of Oura ring that separates it from other “smart” fitness tech is that tracks various measures of sleep such as REM, resting heart rate, heart rate variability, number of breaths per minute, body temperature, and nighttime movement to give you a score on how well rested you are. If you’re looking to keep improving certain health habits or keep track of your current routine, Oura ring is great for tracking those metrics! Oh, and was it mentioned that it’s waterproof?
GARMIN SMARTWATCH/HEART RATE MONITOR
Garmin smartwatch is a great tool for a serious athlete, or someone invested in their fitness routines. Like other smartwatches, Garmin watches provide notifications you normally receive on your phone…but that’s unlikely the reason for your purchase if you’re a fitness enthusiast.
Garmin watches do a great job of tracking actual heart rate and track distances via running, cycling, and swimming. Another feature of Garmin is called body battery, which measures heart rate variability, stress, and activity to calculate your energy levels throughout the day.
THE BENEFIT OF SMART FITNESS
What is the benefit of using smart tools and is it worth it? Well, that question largely depends on what your goals are! If you’re someone who is seeking additional motivation but lack the budget to hire a personal trainer then devices like the Peloton, Mirror, Tonal, and Hydrow might be great tools for you since they include a whole database of classes, trainers, and personalized programs.
Moreover, many of these smart fitness machines can track your progress and metrics so you have your database to stay on track with your goals. If you’re looking to improve different aspects of your training and overall health, smart rings and watches might be just what you need to track metrics that would otherwise require you to be in a lab. Nothing is better than personalized field data!
SMART APPAREL: WEARING YOUR FITNESS
What is the coolest “smart” apparel on the market?
Ambiotex is like a muscle tank or t-shirt (think tight fitting Under Armor). However, within the shirt are embedded sensors that record pulse rate, breathing, heart-rate variability, calorie consumption, and exercise in real-time. The shirt has an available app to see and track data during exercise!
Like Ambiotex, Hexoskin is another shirt you can wear that track various measures of heart rate, heart rate variability, distance, cadence, and speed.
OMsignal is a Canadian-based brand that has designed fashionable, “smart” athletic wear. This bra contains biosensors that can track heart rate, calories burned, breathing, and even provide feedback on recovery after exercise.
So, what’s the benefit of smart apparel versus fitness tools? Well, if you prefer to wear clothing that can track movement and metrics all day vs tools that can track data only while you use them… then smart clothing is for you!
Today, everything is becoming more advanced. From our phones to our refrigerators, everything has a “smart” feature. With the idea of improving quality of life, smart fitness tools and clothing can do just the same. Whether you’re looking for some additional workout motivation in the comfort of your own home or looking to push your physical limits and track your progress, smart fitness tools can be great for helping you reach your goals.
Jackie Kaminski is a registered dietitian/ nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology & Sports Nutrition from Florida State University. Her first introduction to working with professional athletes was back in 2017 when she worked at the UFC performance institute in Las Vegas, Nevada. Since then, Jackie has worked with various professional fighters and other clientele and now operates under her company she started back in March, The Fight Nutritionist LLC. The Fight Nutritionist is dedicated to providing the most effective nutrition plans to ensure her athletes are performance at their absolute best. All of her plans are individualized to the athlete and are backed by the latest research to ensure complete safety and efficacy. Jackie is also a member of the international society of sports nutrition, where she often participates in different research projects and data collection with other ISSN members from Nova University. When Jackie isn’t working, you can find her at Combat Club where she trains kickboxing and Muy Thai. As a sports dietitian, Jackie’s aim is to provide her athletes with the necessary fuel to excel in training and provide the proper education to ensure her athletes are engaging in the safest health practices (as they relate to combat sports).