As an exercise physiologist, I enjoy experimenting with new products designed to make working out more fun and effective. I look for gadgets and apps that offer a unique twist on exercise and those with user feedback built-in — and avoid gimmicky, too-good-to-be true products.
I haven’t tried everything out there, but here are some of my favorites, so far:
My Fitness Pal — This free smartphone app — also available via website — makes tracking daily exercise and food intake easy and fun. But I love the built-in social support most of all. Users invite friends to join, and receive updates on each other’s daily workouts in the form of a timeline. Fitness pals can comment on each other’s updates, offering encouragement and virtual high-fives.
Daily Burn Tracker —Most fitness professionals love exercise data — and this smartphone app/website gives me a personal data fix anytime I want. You can set up a graph-style report to view your progress in total exercise time, calories burned, or daily weight, for example. Users can choose from a number of different training plans to follow, or enter a custom workout. This tracker also features nutrition and social networking components.
GymBoss — Good things come in small packages, and this user-friendly gadget is no exception. About the size of a pager, the Gymboss is your best friend if you’re into Tabata training or any other kind of interval workout. Simply enter the length of your speed and recovery intervals along with the number of cycles you want to complete. Set it for vibe or beep, press the start button and you’re on your way. I run or bicycle with the Gymboss attached to my waistband on vibe — the silent alarm keeps my intervals on track for a high-energy workout without having to fiddle with my sports watch or endure an annoying beep.
Kangoo Jumps — These smile-inducing rebound shoes are what I slip on when I get bored with my workout routine, need an instant mood boost, or take my kids to ride bikes on the playground. Kangoo Jumps look like in-line skates with football-shaped shock absorbers where the wheels should be. I love them for three reasons — when I put them on, I’m about 9 inches taller; I laugh the entire time I’m running and jumping; and they give my aging joints a break from pounding the pavement in regular athletic shoes.
Adidas MiCoach Pacer — This product wirelessly gathers real-time workout data via a strap-style heart rate monitor and stride sensor that you clip on your shoe. Users program the Pacer unit with desired workout format via a USB connection. During your workout, you plug headphones into the Pacer unit to get real-time feedback from your virtual coach based on your exercise heart rate and your workout goal. I’m always amazed at how hard I’ll push myself to get a little praise from the man in my ear.
What are your favorite fitness apps and gadgets? We’d love to hear what you’re using to keep your exercise program fresh, interesting, and fun.
Beth Shepard, MS, ACSM-RCEP, ACE-PT, has a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Arizona. Beth is an expert in fitness and health promotion and a certified wellness coach, helping people thrive by adopting sustainable lifestyle changes. She and her family love to hike, bicycle, and try new sports.
Disclosure : The author and Zing Bars report no affiliation with any of the companies whose products are mentioned in this post.