Tech Innovations Pump Up Fitness Options
Technology is constantly evolving — not unlike a living organism. It isn’t static. It isn’t constant. Which makes it disruptive. Businesses, even niche businesses, often forget to, or choose not to, evolve with technology and are turned upside down — because their products, their policies, their customer interface becomes, simply put, outdated. We live in a consumer-driven world, and we are often drawn to technology everything — from convenience to novelty. This is Insight’s Disruptive Technology series. We will be addressing how technology enters an industry and does exactly that — disrupts.
Yoga mats that correct your downward dog move. New cardio workouts delivered daily to your phone. Podcasts that boost your eating habits.
Innovations are changing the way we stay fit, elevating our workouts, helping us achieve (and share) goals, improving our nutrition and giving us great soundtracks to get going.
Convenience is driving the biggest shift — how we stay active. Mobile apps and websites with workout videos offer something for everyone, at every fitness level.
“Not everyone has access to a gym or fitness studio, whether it’s due to location, cost or an inflexible work schedule,” says Zen Planner. “Plus, people like the flexibility of taking classes when it’s convenient for them, in the privacy of their own homes. Because of that, online personal training and fitness classes are a hot trend this year. They’re becoming more and more popular because technology easily supports them, and trainers and instructors are seeing the demand for them.”
Here’s a roundup of different tech innovations that can help keep you moving.
Fitness on the fly
Today’s workout partner may well be a mobile app. You’ll find on-demand cardio workouts, personal trainers and health coaches, warm-up and cool-down exercises, fitness trackers and lots of ways to share your successes with your social network.
Of course, working out is just part of the picture. A host of apps help promote healthy eating, weight loss, healthy lifestyle changes and more. And if you still have a little time to spare, a health-related podcast might fit the bill.
No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find a range of health and fitness apps. Here are a few to get you started:
- Tracking and sharing fitness goals is a breeze with MapMyFitness, which uses your mobile phone’s built-in GPS to track workout details like distance, elevation, calories burned and the route traveled. It’s a perfect fit for just about any outdoor activity. Save and upload your data for a full workout history.
- Need to switch up your routine? Try PulseTread, a subscription-based app that delivers a new 30-minute cardio workout every day. Pick your favorite tunes from your library and jump in.
- On-demand app Stitcher connects people with news, podcasts and public radio on the go. Choose from a long list of health-related podcasts, from The Lifestyle Accountability Show, to Get-Fit Guy's Quick and Dirty Tips, and Slim Down and Shape Up.
- The Fooducate app rounds out any fitness plan. It’s simple: scan and find healthy food at the grocery store, ask questions and get feedback, and track progress. You can also post diet frustrations or fitness successes, and watch the supportive and helpful comments roll in.
Video for everyone
Squeezing in a workout gets a whole lot easier with websites that make fitness accessible, affordable — and even free.
- Fitness Blender offers free, full-length videos for just about anything: at-home cardio, upper body dumbbell workout, brutal abs workout, total body strength training, and the list goes on and on. The site also has individual workout exercises, like a band bicep curl, to make sure you get the technique just right. The site has plenty of extras to enhance fitness goals — from workout programs and meal plans, to healthy recipes and informative blogs.
- Two similar sites, Crunch Live and Booya Fitness charge a monthly fee but offer free trials so users can check out the range of videos, such as cardio, yoga, strength training, Pilates and more.
- Need a push? Cody offers fee-based video training from coaches. Tackle strength training, weight loss, yoga and other goals with some virtual help. Track your progress, keep a fitness calendar, and get support from a large community of users.
Rock your workout
No workout is complete without music, right?
- Songza is a favorite among cardio devotees for its large selection of songs. Whether you’re going on a long ride or getting pumped for a Twerkout, you’ll find just the right tunes here. A bonus: training for a marathon gets a boost with Fitness magazine’s energetic (and long) playlists.
- A new deal between two huge names in fitness and music gives runners a few more ways to stay motivated. Using the Nike + Running app, users can stream Spotify’s 30-million-song catalog. Exclusive Pace Stations do even more. Users input their pace goal and musical preference, and the app kicks back a target BPM (beats per minute) and personalized 100-song playlist.
- Another app focused on runners, RockMyRun, brings high-energy mixes with motivational names like “inspiration 4 perspiration.” Pick the genre, duration, BPM and lyrics (clean or explicit), and you’re off and running.
Wearables — watches, bracelets, clip-ons — are still the big winners in the fitness innovation race. Consumers have plenty of choices, depending on budgets, activity level and special needs like waterproof trackers for swimming.
- Leader Fitbit offers a bit of everything. Devices track every part of your day — including activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep. Users can pick from a range of bracelets for all fitness levels. Bonus fee-based services like FitStar give you digital coaching via mobile devices. A partnership with designer Tory Burch even gives consumers stylish Fitbit options.
- The growing wearables market has spawned Lumoid, an online service that allows you to rent wearables and other gadgets before buying. You can try out as many as five items at home for two weeks. Purchase what you like through the site; return the rest. Kits make it easy — go for the gym rat, runner’s kit, Fitbit kit or heart rate kit.
- The wearable trend is growing to include smart clothing. Think shirts, shorts and full body suits that track all kinds of biometric data, and even offer compression features that may help with circulation and muscle recovery.
- Tech is even making its way into your tree pose with the interactive SmartMat. The yoga mat relies on sensors to tell you when you’re out of alignment and offers real-time feedback to correct the pose.
The downside to all these innovations? No more excuses — better health and fitness has never been more accessible.