The way we work out has been transformed by tech. From yoga to boxing, virtually every type of exercise now has a wearable or sensor-laden gadget that’ll monitor performance, offer coaching, and help you improve your technique.
Sticking on a chest strap is now a common way to make group sessions more fun and competitive; if you can’t be bothered to trek to the gym, you can join boutique-style workout sessions from the comfort of your front room and you can even get training plans that adapt to how well you performed in your most recent sweat session.
Whether you’re pushing for PBs or just working hard to stay healthy, you can now get the kind of data and insights that were previously available only to the athletic elites. It’s not just about performance either; plenty of products help with motivation too. And the good news is that the technology is getting better all the time.
But don’t just take our word for it, here’s the latest crop of tech that’s out to make your fitness efforts more effective and ultimately more fun. As is often the case with tech releases, launches are often regional, so if you don't want to fork out for international delivery be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter for updates.
Buy now: MIRROR (US) | $1495
Home gym equipment has a tendency to be ugly, bulky and tough to store. Not the MIRROR. This slick-looking wall-mounted fitness tool is a window into the future of home training. The connected mirror display packs speakers and a built-in camera and lets you follow workouts on-screen, with real-time feedback from instructors.
There are 70 new classes to stream each week live from New York studio, or alternatively you can dive into a library of on-demand sessions covering HIIT, cardio, strength, pilates, yoga, boxing and barre.
One-to-one personal training is in the pipeline too. And if that hasn't convinced you that you need this in your flat, when you’re done and it’s switched off, you can also use it to admire all your hard work – or snap those #SweatySelfies.
Halo Sport 2.0
Buy now: Halo (US) / Amazon | From $499
A serious weapon for any competitors looking for marginal gains, this second-generation neuroscience-based Halo headset lets you brain hack your way to better performance.
At a basic level, it’s a somewhat bulky set of sports headphones with decent sound and comfort. But while it’s pumping out your motivational tunes, a headband full of nodes fire signals to the part of your brain that looks after the adoption of new motor skills.
All humans learn through repetition. Twenty minutes of neuropriming with Halo puts you in a state of hyper plasticity or hyperlearning, giving you up to an hour’s training time where you’re primed to pick up skills faster, with fewer reps.
You can use Halo before or during any fitness activity where repetition and good form play a major part in building skill, strength and endurance.
FORM Swim Goggles
Buy now: Form (US) | From $199
When it comes to pool-based workouts, watches come up wanting, making it hard to see how you’re performing mid-lap. Form Swim Goggles solve that problem, not just tracking your vital swim stats but putting them right where you can see them – fighter pilot style inside a customisable goggle display.
You can choose to have the readouts display over your left or right eye and the metrics tracked are about as comprehensive as it gets in the water. You get split time, interval time, rest time, total time, stroke rate, stroke count, distance per stroke, pace per 100m, pace per 50m, distance, length count and calories burned.
All your data is fired via a Bluetooth partner training app so you can track progress and improvements. You also get a healthy 16 hours of swim time on a single charge.
The goggles fit like standard swim goggles and come with five nose bridge sizes to fit any hooter. They’re also waterproof up to 10m.
Hyfit Wearable Gym
Buy now: Hyfit (US) | From $139
Billed as a 21st-century portable gym, Hyfit takes the basic principles of resistance-based training with bands and makes it connected and smart. It's ideal for strength and HIIT workouts without the need for loads of weights.
Each Wearable Gym set features two 1m bands each with adjustable resistance – ranging from 22-44lb – so you can easily tailor the toughness of your drills and sessions to suit. But the real smarts are brought by a wrist-based heart rate monitor that’s built into one of the cuffs and sensors that track reps and calories.
There are goal-based workout plans and more than 250 HIIT sessions to follow too, along with coaching feedback via the app to help you hit the right form.
The brains of the band charges wirelessly and you get eight hours of workout time from a single full juice-up.
Buy now: Whoopstrap / Membership from $18 per month (contract)
The wrist-worn Whoopstrap is a subscription-based 24/7 fitness tracker that also has a heavy focus on what’s going on with your body when you’re not working out.
The customisable straps come as part of an ongoing membership package charged at a monthly fee. Its built-in heart rate and motion sensors provide minute-by-minute insights into Strain, Recovery and Sleep, so you can optimise your effort and activity for a more balanced and effective route to fitness.
Recovery readings are based on Heart Rate Variability (HRV), Resting Heart Rate (RHR), and sleep – presented in a handy traffic light system that lets you know when to push harder or back off. The Strain Coach measures the cardiovascular load your body letting you see in real-time how your body is responding to things like stress, travel, and work, so you can adjust your training plans accordingly.
Sleep is tracked down to the REM, Deep and Light stages level, with proactive recommendations on how much sleep you need in order to reach the desired performance level the next day.
The partner app presents all the data in an easy-to-scan form with some of the most useful and digestible analysis of what your key vitals actually mean and how you should respond.
Buy now: Tangram Factory (US) / Amazon | From $79.95
Ok, so all you really need to do some skipping is a long piece of cord, but in the age of tech fitness why would you settle for that when you can have an LED-embedded SmartRope, which displays your fitness data in mid-air as you work out?
That’s right, with the rope in motion, 23 LED lights create a ‘projection’ of your fast-foot vitals right where you can see them, with stats including your jump count up to four digits and calories burned. The data is also sent via Bluetooth to smartphone app so you can track your progress and improvements.
The app itself also includes some interval training sessions for those looking to step things up a gear, social leaderboards so you can compete with friends and awards for when you hit your goals. A 2-hour charge will give you enough juice for 36 hours of toe-tapping – which should be enough for any would-be Rocky.
Buy now: Blazepod (US) / Amazon (UK) | From $279
If you like your workouts fast and furious, then the Blazepod flash reflex training system might be the perfect addition to your everyday routines. The system of interlinkable pods features lights that can be set to flash at intervals, transforming any session into a race against the clock. A bit like a visual version of a bleep test that can be applied to any set of drills, you can sit BlazePods on the floor, strap them to bars and basically position them around any equipment within a 40-metre range.
The partner app offers a range of drills to follow, but the system’s versatility means the drills you can do are limited only by your creativity. Ideal for things like corner-corner sprint sessions, timed box jumps and even stretching sessions, they’re excellent for improving hand-eye coordination, agility, speed, stability and strength.
There’s also a group training mode that lets you challenge your mates for a bit of friendly competition. Each pod gives 12 hours of workout time from a single charge.
Buy now: Theragun (UK) / Theragun (US) / Amazon (US) | $249
What you do for recovery is as important as how hard you work when you’re exercising. Failure to take care of your body can easily result in injury. Luckily tech has stepped up to the mark with the tools to make R&R that little bit easier. This cut-down version of the Theragun – the original percussive therapy device – is a bit like having your own portable sports massage specialist.
It may look a bit like a drill but the powerful pummelling head has been carefully designed to deliver 40 percussions per second and up to 30lb of force, making it incredibly easy to do a bit of DIY on knots and tight spots whilst on the move.
It’s the ultimate weapon for rehabbing grumbling muscles, tending to injuries and speeding recovery, particularly if you travel for events, but it can also be used as a pre-workout primer, to get muscle groups firing before you smash out those squats and deadlifts in the gym.
Buy now: JAXJOX (UK) /JAXJOX (US) | From $299
Kettlebell drills are a regular in HIIT and bootcamp-style workouts but unless you live in a massive pad, it’s unlikely you’ll have room for a whole set of them at home. Step up the space-saving JAXJOX KettlebellConnect.
This smart kettlebell not only squeezes six selectable weights – 5kg to 19kg (12lbs - 42lbs) – into one smallish unit, but it also packs sensors that track your reps, sets, weight and rest time for every swing and lift.
The weights might make this more suitable for beginners, but there is, of course, an app that offers guided kettlebell workouts and you’ll get 14 hours of bell busting from a single charge.
Buy now: Activ5 (US) / Amazon | From $129.99
If we told you that you could put a gym in your pocket you might think we’d necked a dodgy recovery shake – however, this pebble-sized training tool lets you do a huge-rang of isometric-based strength exercises wherever you are.
Inside the pebble are sensors capable of reading and withstanding high levels of pressure, and once you’ve paired it with a smartphone or tablet, there’s an app that unlocks more than 100 seated and standing guided drills that use body force alone to get you into shape. There are challenges and coached sessions targeting key areas such as abs, upper body, hip flexors and a wide selection of 5-minute workouts for quick-fix fitness on-the-go.
Some of the sessions have a gaming tilt, where the pressure you exert controls objects on the screen. There’s one shark hunt game, for example, where you’re challenged to apply just the right amount of force at the right height in the sea to swallow down some fish. It also works off three standard AAA batteries to give you 6-12 months of isometric action.
Corner Boxing Tracker
Buy now: Corner (UK) / Amazon (UK) | £89.99
Ask anyone who’s thrown jabs and crosses flat out for 3 minutes and they’ll tell you just how much respect they have for a boxer’s cardio fitness. Whether you’re interested in gloving up for general fitness or you fancy a tilt at Anthony Joshua, Corner’s boxing trackers turn your heavy bag sessions into cold hard data so you can see how well you’re hitting and how hard you’ve worked.
Corner’s two small sensors fit comfortably under your boxing wraps – or in a set of special wristbands that come included – and keep tabs on your punch type, speed, power and intensity, firing all that data in real-time to your smartphone.
There’s a really useful workrate readout that lets you spot whether you’re tiring later into a round, as well as a few neat little tricks that make the whole setup easier to use, like tapping your gloves together before you begin a session.
The sensors are also sweat and water resistant and you get 7 hours of time at the bag or in the ring from a single charge.
Stryd with Wind Detection
Buy now: Stryd (UK) / Stryd (US) | $219
Stryd was one of the first sensors to pioneer the idea of tracking running power – a metric that’s arguably more useful for monitoring your running output than heart rate or pace. The latest generation of the tiny footpod – which looks much like a marathon timing chip – now comes with added insights to help you pace smartly in any conditions, including wind.
It’s actually the first run tracker to measure the impact of the wind on your running and now gives real-time recommendations on how to adjust your efforts when you’re faced with a head or tailwind. It can even tell you if you’re in the drafting zone, a position you’ll see elite runners get into behind other runners that reduces air resistance and makes life a little easier on the legs.
Stryd covers a lot of the regular running stuff too, with distance and pace plus feedback on your form and your fatigue. You also get recommendations on power targets for different race distances based on your current fitness rather than wishful thinking. All of which can help you optimise the effort you exert and ensure you don’t go too hard and bust or too slow and miss your target time.
Main image credit: JAXJOX