Fitness Gear & Trends To Kickoff 2016:
The assignment: Identify top fitness trends for 2016.
The reality: This is harder than it seems, because fitness has become so personalized that trends branch off in many directions.
That being written, probably the biggest ongoing trend is technology gadgets that virtually take the guesswork out of a workout. Several years ago, we were introduced to pedometers, which blossomed into heart rate trackers popularized by FitBit, Polar and other companies. These tools measure your resting heart rate, identify your target heart rate, and tell you if you reached it. Some also tell you how many calories you’ve burned during a workout.
So you thought your spin class, which had you gasping for air, got you to your target heart rate of 150? Wrong, your pedometer will tell you that you only got to 140, now there is no question that you will have to push harder next class. The power of the truth.
Below is a sampling of the growing fitness tech craze, which is getting more informative and personal.
- The October issue of Shape magazine featured next-level technology including a Jump Rope that sends your fitness data to your phone, so after your workout you can analyze it and share it with friends. It also tracks data as you jump, so like a tireless master, it will make you jump higher and faster. Whew!
- The issue also highlights SmartMat Yoga Mat , a high tech yoga mat that tracks your form. It connects with your phone via a free app to tell you when you’re out of balance. It can be used at home or in a class—and it’s even hot yoga-friendly!
- Another interesting find is the Spree SmartCap, a baseball hat that tracks your heart rate, calories burned, and body temperature. It has a sensor that syncs with your phone for real-time feedback.
- And to go with that cool cap is this Athos shirt that is being promoted as the first piece of apparel that measures your muscle activity, heart rate, and breathing rate. Its real-time data tells you how hard specific muscles are firing and in what sequence, so you can fine-tune your form.
- Another interesting find is the Zepp Kit, which can monitor and improve your golf, tennis or baseball swing. It comes with a small sensor that mounts to the base of your club, racket, or bat. The companion app shows 3-D views of your swing, areas for improvement, and tips.
- In the future, we we will be able to tattoo ourselves to track our workouts. Tech Tats will combine all the functionality of a fitness tracker with the beauty of body art. According to Texas-based developer Chaotic Moon Studios, it works by embedding tiny computer chips into a slightly raised tattoo, which the company says would then be capable of monitoring everything from step counts to workout times. Also, because they’re on your skin, they could also track your blood sugar, heart rate, body temperature, and metabolism.
“This is going beyond what the fitness tracker is. This is something you can put on your body once a year that monitors everything [a clinic] would do in a physical, and sends that to your doctor. If there’s an issue, they could just call you,” Eric Schneider, creative technologist for Chaotic Moon, explained. He added that, theoretically, the tech tats could go beyond health-related data and be used to pinpoint a person’s location, act as a virtual wallet, and integrate with home and car automation systems.
- Another current trend is working out by playing. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, functional fitness is a continuing trend and is based on the idea that the workouts we do should mimic and support the activities of daily life, like bending down, picking things up, walking upstairs, pulling or pushing open doors, etc.
In that vein, “self-limiting” exercises are an extension of this trend. These are movements that require “complete engagement,” according to Gray Cook, the founder of Functional Movement Systems, a group that educates trainers on movement pattern screening and assessment. Movement-focused exercise is already popular in adventure races and mud runs, and in the obstacle courses on hit TV shows like American Ninja Warrior. On a novice level, exercise classes are prescribing more movements associated with children’s games. Bear crawls, tree climbing, and carrying logs and rolling tires, are all functional ways to build strength, stamina, and mobility while making training feel less like work and more like play. Yes, let’s keep exercise fun and functional!
- And for your diet, Men’s Fitness Magazine notes that newer fitness apps are so advanced it may not be long before they chew your food for you.
- Fooducate revolutionizes grocery shopping by placing the power of a nutritionist in the palm of your hand. Simply snap a picture of the UPC (bar code) on the food you want to buy, and the app will provide you with nutritional information. Does this food contain gluten? Is it vegan friendly? Will it provide enough protein to be suitable for my diet? Fooducate does all the work for you.
- Meal Snap is a great app for when you’re eating out at a restaurant where you can’t see bar codes. Like Instagram but with calorie counts, you take a picture of your food and it will immediately estimate (with impressive accuracy) what you’re about to put into your body.
So for 2016, you have your many choices of how to stay with the trends as well as staying healthy and fit.