As technology expands rapidly into every nook and cranny of our lives, companies and creators are dreaming up smart new products for formerly analog-only areas. One such space? The gym. (Or the streets, or your living room—wherever you’re comfortable getting sweaty in spandex!)
In recent years, smart tech has exploded onto the fitness scene with a plethora of cool gadgets, from now-ubiquitous wrist wearables like Fitbit and the Apple Watch to Bluetooth-enabled dumbbells and remote training apps like Aaptiv. Heck, even the 2016 smartphone phenomenon Pokémon Go had couch potatoes and athletes alike trekking all over the city an effort to catch ‘em all.
With so many product options on the market, it’s easier than ever to create a workout regime that really suits your style, whether you prefer to gamify your gains or simply enhance your old-school routine with a dash of new tech. Here are just a few of the ways smart technology is changing how we stay fit and healthy.
From AR to VR and everything in between, workouts nowadays often blend digital and real-world elements in order to create a more enjoyable, motivating fitness experience.
Who wants to stare at a wall while they pedal away on a stationary bike when they could be cruising through the virtual tropics or zipping past CG penguins in Antarctica? Global VR fitness company Holodia would say “no one”—their futuristic HOLOFIT™ software (delivered to your eyeballs via a snazzy set of VR goggles) lets you pretend you’re anywhere but the gym, which, let’s be real, is pretty enticing.
On the thriftier end of the spectrum, uber-popular smartphone fitness game Zombies, Run! offers runners a dose of horror-inspired motivation and a killer story. You star as the silent protagonist Runner 5, tasked with collecting critical supplies to help rebuild your base in an apocalyptic world overrun by zombies—an immersive storyline set to the combined tune of heart-pounding audio drama and fast-paced songs from your own playlist. With 200 unique missions available and the ability to complete them anywhere in the world, Zombies, Run! will have even the most reluctant joggers looking forward to working out.
With recent studies claiming that millennials put a higher priority on fitness than any other generation, it’s no wonder that health and fitness companies looking to snag this coveted demographic work hard to tweak their marketing accordingly. That means amping up the personalization factor—something that’s important to the digitally native, ad-savvy millennial crowd.
And what could be more personal than a personal trainer? Companies have taken the one-on-one attention and human motivation of a PT and combined them with technology that allows you to avoid actually interacting with anyone in person (a quintessentially millennial concept if I ever heard one).
Exhibit A: Mirror, a $1,500 smart device that allows you to take fitness classes from the comfort of your own home. Part actual mirror and part high-powered workout gadget, Mirror allows you to choose from over 50 live classes a week or select a pre-recorded class from its on-demand library. While “in class,” you’ll be able to see the instructor onscreen along with other metrics such as your heart rate and can even receive real-time feedback from your remote trainer. Creepy or convenient? You decide!
Also vying for a place in your high-tech home gym is the Peloton bike, a “convenient and immersive indoor cycling experience” that streams daily live classes right to your home. Built-in extras like in-depth ride metrics, thousands of on-demand workouts to suit your schedule, and a leaderboard that updates in real time further bolster the experience. For spin class addicts who also happen to be homebodies, this could very well be a dream come true.
Health and fitness tracking
It’s not just gym equipment that’s getting a high-tech makeover—health and fitness trackers are a huge part of the smart workout experience.
Wrist-worn wearables like Fitbit have been around for a while now, but a new era of more discreet and personalized devices seems to be dawning. According to Gina Lee, founder of the Legacy Sports Institute, the future of smart trackers lies in developing “the most invisible, smallest, least detectable technology for consumers… [Tech] that can track the most biometric data and be consumer-friendly and have accurate outcomes.”
We’ve made strides in this direction here at SKIIN with our bleeding-edge technology—specifically the SKIIN Smart Underwear, which can track a whole slew of metrics including sleep stages, heart rate, breathing patterns, body temperature, and periods of activity or rest. Odds are you’re already wearing underwear every day anyway, so incorporating health tracking into your daily life with SKIIN is a cinch.
Some trackers, like the Skulpt Scanner, have diverged from the wearable route altogether. Fitness buffs will appreciate Skulpt’s ability to rapidly analyze body fat percentage and muscle quality through simple skin contact, as well as the customized workout guidance offered by the corresponding app.
Smart tech has even crept its way into fitness-adjacent products like the H2OPal—an intelligent water bottle that tracks your daily water intake and syncs with your phone in order to send personalized reminders and encourage you to meet your “hydration goal.” There’s no doubt that making sure you’re drinking enough water is crucial to your overall health, so if you’re someone who needs the extra nudge, a smart bottle might be a worthwhile investment.