Personal motivation can only take you so far – whether your target is weight loss, improved fitness levels or competitive sports. With everyone carrying a smartphone and all manner of newer, low-cost sensing technology becoming readily available there’s now a wide array of both hardware and apps that can help you achieve your goals. Martin Bailey, author of The Useful Book of Gadgets, Gizmos and Apps shares the latest tech releases to help you up your game.
First, let’s power up your smartphone with a few essential apps. If any of your activities include walking, running or cycling then Runkeeper (free on iOS and Android) is a must have, keeping track of your route, speed and general progress, building a log over time. If your phone has a flash then there are various free apps on most app stores that can also take your heart rate. Hold your finger over the camera and the flash will light up. The camera is sensitive enough to see changes as your blood pumps, providing you with an accurate heart rate in seconds, and again it’ll keep a history, allowing you to also log what you were doing at the time of measurement.
Music can be a great motivator during a workout, and Lolo have created a series of ‘Beatburn’ apps (from £2.99, bundles available – iOS app store only) for various activities that will not only curate a playlist based on your speed on, say a treadmill or elliptical trainer, but will also change the speed of the music (without changing the pitch) of whatever’s playing to match your workout. A real voice coach also motivates you during each workout, which can also be tailored to fit your profile and aims. They even provide a couple of hours of great running tracks too in the price.
If you prefer to work out at home but are lacking space then the Move It smart home gym (around £175 – www.move-it.club) might be just what you need. The kit comprises of a Bluetooth-enabled smart handle and four interchangeable pieces of equipment – a push up stand, ab wheel, resistance band and skipping rope – which sit neatly on their own stand. Seven different sensing algorithms are capable of detecting 16 unique exercise movements and pass this information to an app on your phone. It also features a social element, so you can challenge friends and see the results on a leaderboard.
Racket sport lovers are not left out, with the Zepp Tracker (around £85, www.zepp.com) for baseball, tennis, softball and golf. A small puck clips to a glove on your ‘batting arm’ and communicates with your phone via Bluetooth, tracking your swing and crunching 90,000 data points to produce a detailed report about what’s good, bad or indifferent about your game. It even provides tips on how to improve, giving you side by side video playback against professionals.
Any professional athlete will tell you that your state of mind is as important as your fitness level. Thync (Around £175 – www.thync.com) is a wearable that allows you to change your mental state in a matter of minutes, either feeling calmer or energised exactly when you need it. The device couples with any iOS handset over Bluetooth to deliver neurosignals using low levels of pulsed electrical energy to the brain, inducing effects similar to either a shot of espresso or a glass of wine. These can last between 30 minutes and an hour, with knock-on benefits lasting for several more. Many have confirmed that the Thync does indeed help them to concentrate, relax or even sleep, and the science behind it is backed up by decades of research by the likes of Harvard, Stanford, MIT and Arizona University.
Whatever your sport, and whatever level you’re at, there’s a gadget out there that can enhance your performance and enjoyment. A little research can pay dividends and really help you meet or hopefully beat your targets.
Martin Bailey’s new book: The Useful Book of Gadgets, Gizmos & Apps is out on the 4th October & available to pre-order from Amazon now for £9.99.