We can all benefit from keeping tabs on our training by using technology. Whether that’s to track data such as calories burned, distance covered and new personal bests, or simply to make a workout more enjoyable, or bearable.
There’s plenty of tech out there promising to enhance your workout experience, suggesting training routines and exercises, and pulling your data into one place so that you can be at the top of your game. But with the barrage of such devices on the market, it’s almost impossible for the non-tech savvy among us to know which are really worth investing in. Luckily, I’ve tried plenty, and am in the position to let you in on what tech is actually worth splashing out on. So with that, here’s my rundown of the best tech to take to the gym – or any type of exercise for that matter – so that you’re suitably kitted out for any workout.
Fitbit Ionic: Track and improve your workouts
The Ionic is Fitbit’s strongest smartwatch yet and fitness fanatics are bound to love its list of features, and so it’s definitely got the potential to take on the smartwatch market. Its ability to track whatever workouts you can throw at it, with ease, all with a beautiful yet comfortable design that I’m sure will get heads turning at the gym, but for all the right reasons. The perfect smartwatch for those serious about fitness.
Jaybird Run: Complete audio freedom
Surprisingly, in my experience, many earphones that are designed for running just aren’t really that comfortable. In many cases, wireless sports headphones are bulky, and a chunky or heavy set of earphones do not bode well for active pursuits, as any kind of strong movement usually means they just fall out.
But JayBird’s latest pair of fitness buds, the JayBird Run earphones, are quite the opposite. Not only do they have no wires connecting the two earpieces to give you more freedom, but they actually stay there. They are also one of the most comfortable sports earphones I’ve ever worn. Better yet, the sound quality is also superb, and best of all they are loud if you need them to be. (Something that many earphones suffer from these days, I think.) I’d recommend these for any long distance training when the company of audio will most likely become your best friend.
Naboso yoga mat: A high-tech yoga mat
Available for $110 (£90) from Naboso
You might not associate a yoga mat with technology, but Naboso is looking to change that perception with its special yoga mat material that can help improve your vinyasa technique.
The firm has done plenty of research into this idea, and numerous studies have found that the material used in current yoga mats actually de-activates and blocks the proprioceptors in the feet and hands. “This translates to decreased stability and neurofeedback during yoga exercises,” the company says.
The Naboso mat counteracts this thanks to its technology that works via a small nerve proprioceptive material, which stimulates the (small nerve) proprioceptors in the skin on the bottom of the foot and hands. These are sensitive to different stimuli including texture, vibration, skin stretch, deep pressure and light touch, so when stimulated, the proprioceptors help us maintain an upright stance, activate our postural muscles and dynamically control impact forces.
I’ve been using the mat for a few weeks now, and not only is it lightweight and travel-friendly, but its unique texture and the enhanced grip of the Naboso Technology makes really does help achieve poses or inversions that require increased balance and stability. If you’re looking for a high-tech yoga mat that will help support your poses, this is the one
MyZone MZ-3 heart-rate monitoring chest strap: When you really want to push yourself
Available for £130 at MyZone
If you want a more accurate reading of your heart-rate than using a smartwatch, then the MyZone chest strap is a great option, with some really compelling bonus features, too.
The MZ-3 has been around in the UK for a good year or so now, but it’s still a great device. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a heart rate sensor that snaps into a chest strap. But this isn’t just any old chest strap, as it also has built-in heart rate monitoring electrodes, which, when combined with its custom Bluetooth and ultra-low power wireless sensor module, is meant to provide more accurate measurements of your workout than your typical wrist-based fitness tracker or smartwatch.
The idea behind the MZ-3 is simple. You exercise with the chest strap and earn points based on your bpm measurement. These can then be used to improve your rank within the MyZone app, compete with your friends and family and unlock badges for sharing on social media. It works incredibly well as its emphasis is on effort rather than mere calorie burn helps to motivate you to do your best. It’s easily one of the most accurate and fun heartrate trackers I’ve used.
Under Armour SpeedForm AMP 3.0 training shoes: Workout in comfort
Runners love Under Armour shoes due to their lightweight construction that has also been adapted for use on most terrains. Running in a triathlon, you’re never going to know for sure what type of ground you’ll be sprinting across, so the firm’s latest SpeedForm Amp 3.0 trainers have proven a good training aid in that respect. The fully knit upper and sock-like design has also been built in a way to help you move fast and provide the lateral stability you need when jogging or sprinting. And I found the lacing system has provided some good stability in the forefoot. Another favorite feature of mine is the open, floating space between the foot and the midsole, which allows for natural arch movement while zooming from A to B.
There’s also a something Under Armour call a “Micro G” foam midsole, which turns cushioned landings into explosive takeoffs. A really nice, lightweight pair of trainers for any kind of workout.
Patagonia Refugio Pack: Something to carry it all in
Available for £75 from Patagonia
I’ve tried many a rucksack in my time, whether it’s for carrying all my gear to and from the gym, or gadgets and tech to and from the office. One of the best I’ve tried of late is the Patagonia Refugio Pack. Not only is it super comfortable, but being a brand focused on sustainability and creating durable products, the bag is actually used from recycled materials. It’s also waterproof, has a removable sternum strap and a built-in shoulder harness, so ideal for use on any adventure: running or cycling. One of my favorite features, however, is the two large water-bottle pockets on the sides, which stretch to fit your vessels of choice.