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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Top 5 Fitness Devices and Apps You Should Know About


            As with every other facet of our daily lives, the realm of health and fitness is currently going under a tech makeover. Gone are the days where you had to muster up the energy and stamina to complete a workout -  now, you can effectively kiss your personal trainer goodbye thanks to the incredible advances being made in fitness tech in recent years.
            One could argue that it’s part of an overall “remodelling” of how modern Americans view health and fitness in light of the obesity epidemic that’s gripped our nation for the last decade or so. “Healthcare professionals are encouraged to see more people taking a more active, daily role in their well-being,” says Tim Cannon from HealthITjobs.com. “While it’s still ultimately up to the patient to put in the hard work, mobile tech is making it easier to stay motivated, and accurately track your biometrics so you know when you’re making progress.”
            These days, no matter what your schedule, lifestyle, or fitness level, there is some sort of fitness tech that can work for you. We’ve got wearable devices, apps, digital personal trainers, and even scales with Wi-Fi that can create graphs of your progress in the cloud. With all this new technology at your fingertips, it’s understandable to be confused as to where you should start, so let’s look at five of the most used and talked about apps and fitness devices on the market today.

            Pact is one of the easiest programs to stick to, and one that gives you the most motivation to get fit. It’s essentially a betting app, except you’re betting on your ability to complete a number of activities you set for yourself every week. Let’s say you want to workout 4 times a week, you decide which dollar amount you’d like to lose if the weekends and you haven’t completed all four workouts. If it’s set to $5 per workout and you don’t log at least 30 minutes four times a week of activity at the gym or using its motion tracker, you’re out $20 that week. That $20 gets thrown into the pot and distributed to Pact members who did meet their goals for the week. The more workouts you add to your Pact (assuming you complete them all) the more share of the pot you get at the end of the week.
            Yifan Zhang, cofounder of Pact, explained the thinking behind this to the New York Times; “Behavioral economics show that if you tie cash incentives to things that are concrete and easy to achieve like getting to the gym, it’s very effective. People don’t like losing money and it’s one of the strongest motivators, much more than winning money.”

            The Nike+ product line is based off their pieces of wearable tech like their FuelBand, SportWatch and Running App. These devices are partnered with an app that is available on nearly every type of smartphone, so track each and every move you make. On top of that they offer a personal training-style service called Nike+ Training Club which has been praised online.
            If you’re a competitive person or someone who likes to make exercise and fitness a social activity, these devices are for you. You can create groups with your friends and challenge each other in different activities and goals, all while getting fit at the same time.

            As one of the first companies to start selling wearable tech back in 2007, FitBit has somewhat become the leader of the pack when it comes to fitness trackers. They’ve got an extensive product line, but their star is the FitBit Flex, which is worn as a bracelet and tracks your every move, logs your sleep, and can sync with your Aria Wi-Fi scale to provide reports via the FitBit app and website (where you can also log your food intake).
            For those who are concerned in the obtrusiveness of these devices on their personal style, the FitBit is by far the device for you. Thanks to a partnership with the massively popular designer Tory Burch, you can keep your fitbit devices in sleek metal bracelets or medallions, or even purchase a signature Tory Burch printed silicone bracelet for your Flex.

            In the words of Pact cofounder Yifan Zhang “Behavioral economics show that if you tie cash incentives to things that are concrete and easy to achieve like getting to the gym, it’s very effective.” It’s off this principle that Pact was created; an app that monetarily punished you for not working out, or rewards you for going through with it.
            At the beginning of each week you set a number of workouts you’d like to do, and a dollar amount you’d like to set for a missed workout. You can check in at your gym using Pact or use its motion tracking abilities to log a minimum of 30 minute sessions as many times as you’ve set for yourself. At the end of the week, if you’ve missed 2 sessions, and let’s say you set the amount to $10 per missed workout, you’re out $20. That money goes into the pot and is distributed to the members of Pact who completely all their workouts that week (the more workouts you assign yourself, and complete, each week, the more of the pot you get). While it doesn’t amount to much more than $1 or $2 a week, it’s certainly better than losing $20!

            This app is gear specifically for those of us who are constantly attached to our phones (which is most of us it would appear). Instead of pairing with cumbersome and expensive devices that track your movement, Argus uses Apple’s M7 co-processor to track things like running, walking, cycling, and driving. It allows you to set goals for yourself for your daily step number and glasses of water you drink.
            The app essentially turns your phone into a personal trainer by using the iPhone’s numerous sensors. It comes with features such as a heart rate monitor, a fitness trend tracker which it uses to give you tips, and an Instant Fitness feature for your at-home workouts.

As you can see, there is an app or device for nearly all of us, and these are only five of the most popular! There are dozens more out there, and surely more to be released in near future like the rumors iWatch from Apple. At the end of the day it’s up to you to evaluate all of these different devices and decide which one fits your lifestyle, budget, and goals. However, using any of them to live a healthier life is something that should appeal to all of us.


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