A question I was recently asked was about fitness aids and if they are worth getting, not just for the function they supply, but to help keep you motivated. The one I was asked about was the Garmin Vivofit, but I am going to talk about fitness gadgets as a whole. There is a massive array of techy toys out there, from the wrist band I was asked about, to techy weight scales that measure body fat, lean muscle, BMR etc. There are also hundreds of apps on your smart phone, to virtual personal trainers on things like the Xbox Kinect. I like to think of myself as a bit of a geek and I will always have a nose about any new gadgets that I can get my hands on, but I have made some silly mistakes. I’ve bought a new toy because it looks ‘cool’ or out of ignorance thinking I will use it all the time, when in fact it doesn’t live up to expectations and simply gets left in the cupboard. My personal view is that I love having a gadget to train with and if you don’t have a training partner it can be the next best thing (although I don’t think they have one that can spot you in the gym).
So when buying a new toy do a bit of research, read the reviews and make sure it will help with what you want. You get what you pay for and the Garmin Vivofit is coming out at roughly £60-£70, although there are bands out there up to £200. These may come with better accuracy and more functions, but how accurate and how many functions do you need? They are intended to help track and motivate, but some can cause demotivation. The best to describe this is by using scales. I use these with my clients along with a fitness test and after a month or so we redo the stats and test. At first it can be great seeing a digital reading saying that body fat has gone down or metabolism has risen, however after a while it just turns into numbers and it’s never enough. The fitness test normally shows better results, knocking 30 seconds of your personal best half mile run or any physical improvement. Even better is when your body shape changes (not shown on any household gadget) and you can get back into those old jeans. So understand that they have limitations and no matter what they say on the website or side of the box, it’s a sales pitch and this “all in one” still has limitations. You can put trust into a gadget knowing it won’t lie to you, just don’t put the responsibility onto them, at the end of the day its still down to you and the work you put in.
I use a Suunto Ambit2 watch with HR strap. This may be over kill for a lot of people, but it comes equipped with stopwatch/countdown, GPS to track any mountain biking trails and times to beat, HR monitor and can calculate calories burnt, peak speeds, average speeds, split times – the list goes on and they are simply functions that I use.
Think about what you would like, set a price limit and don’t be drawn in to ‘newer is better.’ For example, I have last years Blu-ray player, £40 cheaper than this years model, with the same stats, the only difference – the faceplate.