How Technology Can Aid Fitness
Finding the newest method to lose weight and keep fit is a perennial concern for thousands of people every year. Good news is one does not need to continue approaching the battle of the bulge or fitness with old school techniques.
As technology continues transforming society's fabric through continued penetration, fitness itself is transcending its traditional bounds as new approaches to weight loss arise from digital means.
Which Fitbit Should You Buy? [Video]
1. Wearable Technology
Wearables have steadily been gaining ground in the past year or two due to efforts from companies like FitBit and Jawbone popularizing the concept. Wristbands and other wearable devices can be linked to the body and used to measure health metrics like heart rate, calorie burn, etc. in a greater effort to keep track of one's workout efforts and results.
MyZone has gained considerable popularity, especially with the large chain gyms. This wearable tech tracks your effort of intensity rather than steps and rewards you with points, companies such as Fitness First use this to motivate its staff members ensuring that they partake in regular vigorous physical activity.
Sleep trackers are also now being utilised in health and fitness. Regular, quality sleep is a high priority of any who is looking to optimise their results, trackers now give you information such as duration of REM sleep (the heavy type of sleep we want to be in for as long as possible), if you have a disturbed sleep and how long it takes for you to fall asleep. Once you collect this information you can then work on improving the areas needed to ensure a better night's sleep.
While these startups have helped push the concept into the mainstream, it is also being picked up by major manufacturers like Apple and Samsung, who are incorporating wearable-like software into their major smartphone and tablet releases. While the trend has yet to reach critical mass, it is only a matter of time at this point.
MyZone Review [Video]
2. Genetic Fitness Training
Perhaps the most revolutionary trend to hit the fitness market is genetic fitness training. This concept, in which companies analyze individual's' genetic makeups to determine what kinds of exercises are best optimized for their bodies has made the transition from concept into available reality.
Companies are banking on this couture-like approach to personal fitness to re energize an industry that has settled on recycling workouts and supplements with new names. Genetic fitness training is the first genuinely groundbreaking development for the health industry in quite a while.
In addition to this, genetic nutritional testing is also increasing in popularity, although it is still in very early stages of development it shows great promise in helping people get very specific with their diet and supplements. Companies like FitnessGenes and DNAfit give you lots of different information to improve your diet and tailor diets specifically for those who want weight loss or muscle gain.
What Is Fitness Genes [Video]
3. Interactive Journeys
For cardio aficionados, overcoming the monotony and boredom associated with treadmill and bicycle workouts is paramount. Getting past the feeling of putting in energy yet not going anywhere not only creates boredom but can drown out motivation, when putting in work on a cardio machine.
New interactive programs though defeat this problem by providing simulations that transport users into situations perfectly tailored around their exercise. Instead of bicycling in place for twenty minutes, participate in the first leg of the Tour de France. Instead of running on a rotating strip of rubber, try to finish first in the Boston Marathon.
These interactive programs are slowly coming onto the market but the potential and proof of concept are already solid.
These three major trends build off of the concept of making workouts more efficient and fun. By boosting one's enthusiasm to put in the effort and effectively measure how many calories and pounds are burned off, overall effort increases. A positive feedback loop is established that even the most diehard couch potato cannot argue with logically.
If you are looking for a treadmill that has the ability to transform your workout, take a look at the ProForm Pro 2000 review. This hi-tech machine has IFit capabilities that allows you to run famous routes and terrain, it also has brand new wearable tech that helps you track data more efficiently.
Life Before Fitness Tech
When I first started in my early twenties, Sony hadn't introduced the Walkman in the United States yet, and I didn't even wear running shoes, just an old pair of low-top Converse I'd had since I was a kid.
Back then, we had no gadgetry at all, and in many ways that was a good thing: no distractions except what your mind could conjure up. It definitely made you tune into your own body in a way that can be hindered by constantly staring at readouts and futzing with settings and whatnot. But I do appreciate having music now, especially when distraction will help me get through a tough spot and let me "zone out."
Recently, Dave Heckman and I used GPS during our trek around the Death Valley National Park, as we'd recorded coordinates for food/supply caches we'd buried along our route. We also carried a satellite phone to call for help if we needed it.
But I think it's important not to rely too much on these things. We'd also taken photographs of the surroundings where we'd buried caches. We always knew where we were on a map (using a compass), as sometimes the GPS couldn't tell us what we needed to know when traversing around tricky terrain.
It was most effective if we used our senses in conjunction with the GPS to maximize efficiency of movement. And we'd prepared ourselves to be as self-reliant as possible - we never did have to use the sat phone for an emergency.
You're not doing yourself any favors if you can't run without music blaring in your ears, or if you think that technology will get you out of a serious jam. This stuff can get in the way of real adventure, of being present to your surroundings and your own experience of running.
Interview with a Sports Scientist
Q. How do you use tech for testing your athletes?
A. For daily training activities we mostly utilize video feedback, both in the weightroom and the practice setting. In Strength and Conditioning we are always trying to gauge our athlete's state of preparedness, so we measure power outputs using Tendo units and force plates; this gives us feedback on how intensely we can train each athlete on a given day.
At pre-determined times of the year the Sports Dietician tests athletes blood lactate levels during "live" practices to evaluate the physiological demands they face in competition. We've even had some Wrestler's get their blood lactate tested immediately following actual matches.
We are currently developing an app for athlete's phones to monitor nutritional, psychological, training and recovery status. This is a short list; we have many other modes of technology we use as well.
Q. It seems as if Olympians have been using technology in their training programs long before the recent consumer craze, would you say that many of today's fitness gadgets are a result from what has been tested and proven in the Olympic arena?
A. Not that I am aware of, when training world class athletes for Olympic competition we simply don't have the time to test technologies that have not been tested and proven in the field.
We will receive some emerging technology from companies such as Nike and Samsung, but are confident when they hit our desk they have been proven effective.
Q. Do you believe emerging fitness and health applications and gadgets will improve our nation's health outcomes and help citizens become more informed and active participants in their personal health?
A. I hope so; it mainly depends on the person and their goals. If the consumer is serious about getting in shape, I suggest they do their research and ensure they are purchasing equipment from reputable companies that are proven in the market.
Q. One last question, any basic tips for those looking to begin personal strength and conditioning training?
A. I would start by joining your local 24 hour fitness and getting some personal training sessions. There is nothing better than an experienced trainer to provide feedback and steps for improvement.
It is not recommended that people surf the Internet for training advice or tips as there is no professional feedback and the information you are receiving may not be credible or suitable for your personal goals. (Unless of course, you read advice from a trusted Personal Trainer like our Editor, Luke Keating!)
I am also a firm believer in video feedback for athletes, as with a current world champion boxer that I train when the fight is over the first thing we do on our plane flight home is review video on our smart phone and begin preparation for the next fight.
To learn more about the United States Olympic Training Center or to plan a tour visit them at TeamUSA.org and possibly rub elbows with America's premier Olympic athletes and coaches.