Any regular gym goer can benefit from keeping tabs on their training through the use of 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 (read: bearable).
Nevertheless, 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.
Available at Skulpt.me for $99 or part of PT Enrico Argentin’s training program
Keeping track of muscle and body fat composition is an important task for those concentrating on their fitness development, especially athletes. It offers the vital information needed to perform better, eliminate muscle weaknesses and imbalances, and reduce the risk of injury.
Once upon a time this type of tech was expensive and exclusive. However, it can now be done with a simple home gadget, in this instance: Skulpt, a portable hand-held body fat and muscle scanner. Working alongside an app to measure muscle quality and body fat percentage of 24 individual muscle groups using Composition Myography, Skulpt helps convert the data from measured from your body into actionable fitness guidance that is tailored to each person’s unique physiology.
It’s used by one of London’s top personal trainers, Enrico Argentin (RJ), who integrates the Skulpt device and app into his fitness program, measuring the quality of individual muscle groups, and identifying imbalances to become stronger and more fit. RJ gave me a Skulpt-integrated session over at the Body Studio gym in Shoreditch, London, advising me where my muscle weaknesses were and what workouts we could do to address them.
Jabra Elite Sport: the BEST wireless headphones for music with total freedom of movement
Available for £230 at Jabra
Believe me when I say I’ve tried plenty of wireless “sports” earphones made for the gym. But what has always surprised me is that most of them just aren’t really that comfortable, and quite shockingly, aren’t well designed for exercise. In most cases, wireless sports headphones are bulky, and in my experience, 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, or at least feel like they could.
So, I was rather dubious before trying Jabra’s latest Elite Sport wireless headphones. Not only do they look bulky, but they have no wires connecting the two ear pieces, meaning each one sits in your ear and is expected to stay there. However, I’ve been using them for almost three weeks now and have found them to work perfectly. They stay in my ears, they are comfortable and the sound quality is actually really good with a decent bass range. Apparently, they are also waterproof (with an IP67 rating). I’ve not tried this feature yet, but according to Jabra, it means they can be submerged in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. I’ve also been quite impressed with the battery as like the Apple AirPods, the case they come in charges them while on the go. And if you thought that was it, it isn’t. They have built-in heart-rate monitoring, too. These beasts literally have it all. Well, apart from a cheap RRP; the earphones’ only downside.
Naboso yoga mat: the most technology-rich yoga mat you’ll press your hands on
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 with numerous studies has 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 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!
TomTom Spark 3: the best smartwatch for any workout
Available from £119 at TomTom GB
With GPS, heart rate monitoring and timing tools all in one fitness tracker, the TomTom Spark 3 is – and has been for some time – my favorite fitness tracker. It’s an ideal wearable for those that don’t want to fork out for an Apple Watch but are still looking to get in shape. Aimed at runners, cyclists and gym-goers fed up with taking their smartphones on the gym floor, the Spark 3 lets users track activity every sprint, stroll and step as well as see the total time, distance and the calories burned. The Spark 3 also features built-in storage for songs and uses Bluetooth to sync to wireless earphones (included) so you don’t have to take your phone with you when working out, giving you more freedom to move.
But what I like about the TomTom Spark 3 smartwatch is that it’s not only an ideal wearable for tracking all your vitals during any type of exercise, but because it’s able to withstand any extremities thrown at it, it’s perfect for endurance events. I’ve used it for three Tough Mudder races in the past year or so, and I swear by it. And no matter how deep you get submerged in mud or water, you can share all your data with friends afterward via social media thanks to the TomTom Sports app that it connects to. The battery would easily last long enough to get you through two Tough Mudder events if you were crazy enough to do so, and it easily cleans up afterward.