Contrary to the popular prediction that technology would eventually turn us all into slothful layabouts, reality has proven to be quite something else. Hundreds of millions of people around the world already use technology to stay in shape, and that number is growing quickly. From smartwatches to smart bikes, there’s a bounty of new ways to use tech to not only get fit, but also to track your health, and to keep up your training regimen. We’ve put together a list of some of the best ways to do just that.
Billed as an “intelligent resistance band” designed to provide active corrective feedback to your workouts, the Straffr Band is built for those who want great workouts with minimal fuss (and minimal equipment). The band connects to a companion app using Bluetooth, and starts to track your movements as soon as you begin stretching; it then provides feedback on your training session, both in terms of the quantity, as well as the quality of your exercise.
Made from an expandable silicone-rubber composite that’s electrically conductive and highly flexible, the whole Straffr Band is actually one big sensor. It keeps track of your reps, as well as the power and velocity with which you pull. The connected app gives you realtime feedback throughout the session, letting you know if you’re pulling too fast, for instance, or nudging to keep you on track with a reliable cadence to your pulls. The app also includes a selection of workout videos, including total body strength training, quick exercises for those in-between moments throughout the day, and HIIT-focused workouts.
Ekrin B37S Massage Gun
Massage guns have seen increased popularity in recent years, and for good reason. Not only do they provide enough force to ease muscle tension and work out knots (thereby reducing recovery time between workouts), they also increase blood and lymphatic flow, help relieve muscle spasms and stiffness, break up scar tissue, and improve lactic acid clearance. Take Ekrin Athletics’ B37S: it’s equipped with a high performance, commercial-grade brushless motor system, which vibrates at five speeds, ranging from 2000 to 3200 RPM. A relative force sensor displays how much pressure is being applied, and its eight hour battery life will keep it oscillating through multiple workouts. Finally, six attachments are included, with different shapes and materials providing different benefits: the round silicone attachment is low impact for treating sensitive and sore areas, for instance, while a “fork” shaped attachment is designed to treat the spine and neck.
Brrrn Board & Streaming Service
Popular among both young professionals and professional sports teams alike, slide boards are definitely in vogue. These low-impact training tools can help in a myriad of ways, including improving big ones like heart health, endurance, balance and strength. They’re also accessible to all levels of physical fitness, store easily, and provide a wide range of targeted workout options. While the Brrrn Board itself isn’t a piece of smart home gym equipment per se, it’s designed to be used in combination with the Brrrn At-Home workout streaming service ($7.99 per month). As with, say, Peloton, the service offers on-demand, trainer-led classes and solo challenges to get you into top form. To start your workout regimen, simply create a Brrrn account, download the iOS/Android Brrrn At-Home app, and choose from hundreds of workouts, ranging from ten minutes to an hour. The board itself features a black slide surface made from a custom polymer blend, with wood bumpers and an underside with recycled rubber anti-slip grips to keep it from sliding around under your feet. It’s worth noting that you can use Brrrn’s excellent streaming service with essentially any slide board out there, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than the official one.
MiHigh’s sauna blanket is essentially exactly what it says on the tin: A form-fitting sauna, which turns you into a humid, human burrito. It envelops your body using velcro fasteners, and plugs into a standard wall socket. A control box controls the device, which warms your body with infrared light — heat settings range from 95 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and it takes around 15 minutes to heat up. The concept here is that infrared light warms up your body from the inside, as opposed to heating up the air around you. It’s designed to be used on any flat surface (at least, any surface that can handle the heat — don’t use it on your water bed), and the waterproof liner prevents your sweat from soaking whatever it’s on top of. MiHigh recommends spending 30 minutes to an hour inside the blanket for maximum sweating (and maximum benefits).
Aimed at training cyclists, Dutch brand TrueKinetix unveiled the TrueTrainer at this year’s CES, which allows any road bike to be attached via the rear cassette. The device’s robotics-based resistance creates something TrueKinetix calls Virtual Gears, allowing the user to select any crankset and any rear cassette its companion app. Using mechanical models, the robot scales the force of the pedals to reproduce the selected gear. Unlike the industry-standard flywheel, the device uses robotics to create a more accurate simulation. The trainer runs solely from the energy generated by the user and never needs to be charged, with residual energy available to charge USB devices via built-in ports. There’s an HDMI port so users can plug into almost any external display to see performance data, whether that’s a big-screen television set or a tiny portable monitor. Finally, any data generated by the training sessions is immediately uploaded to the cloud via the device’s built-in Wi-Fi adapter, where it can be shared with a range of third party cycling apps.
Using what’s known as NIR technology — that is, near infrared analysis of the naturally occurring electromagnetic spectrum — Olive Healthcare’s Fitto almost sounds like something out of Star Trek. The device is being billed as the first data-driven training improvement system designed to help analyze muscle growth. Fitto measures 15 different muscle groups — arms, legs, lower back and belly, to name a few — and provides fitness goals, workouts and nutrition plans tailored to the user. The resulting muscle data is then exposed in detail, to target attributes like health index, muscle mass and muscle quality, all of which is accessed via the accompanying app.