Thanks to an arsenal of new fitness technology, going to the gym is no longer just a matter of tossing your sneakers and workout clothes in a bag. You can now track your workouts (and your heart rate, weight lifting reps, running or cycling mileage, and a host of other details) via sleek, high-tech gear and apps. Gone are the days of tracking your workouts in a notebook. What’s more, many of these apps and devices also track your day-to-day routines, letting you know if you’ve been sitting longer than is healthy, sleeping too few hours or consuming too many calories.
Fitness technology is a crowded field. Below are six essential items—apps and wearables—to help bring your workout into the 21st century.
1. Fitbit Aria
The Aria sets out to redefine the old-school scale with more than just a sleek design. The smart scale tracks your weight and body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI), and syncs your personal stats via Wi-Fi to your Fitbit account. Your stats—and your progress toward fitness goals—are organized in handy charts and graphs accessible through your phone (with a free smartphone app) and computer. The Aria sends alerts when you’re close to reaching your goals, as well as when you achieve them. And the device allows up to eight people to use the scale, tracking each person individually.
2. Nike + Fuelband
In a crowded field of fitness wristbands, Nike’s Fuelband stands out for its ability to not only track your daily activity but also motivate you to keep moving. The Fuelband measures your daily activity and assigns “Nike Fuel” points that allow you to compare yourself to other users via a smartphone app. The added element of competition helps keep you motivated as you join groups, invite friends to work out with you, and jockey for the top spot on the app’s leader board. The band also counts those all-important steps, helping you track progress toward 10,000—the daily indicator of a healthy lifestyle.
3. Polar RCX3 GPS
If running or cycling is your workout of choice, the Polar RCX3 with GPS capability might be the wearable tech for you.
Unlike fitness bands, the RCX3 records your route, speed and distance, which can then be synced to Polar’s online Personal Trainer. The online platform’s Smart Coaching includes features like training programs, fitness tests, a calorie tracker, and performance indicators. The watch’s Training Benefit feature provides feedback based on your goals and preset indicators to help maximize each workout. And the watch is compatible with several other Polar products—like heart rate monitors and cadence sensors—to further enhance your fitness.
4. Strava Running and Cycling GPS Tracker
Strava’s free iPhone and Android app turns your smartphone into a fitness tracker. The app tracks your running and cycling routes and measures your performance over time. There’s also an autopause feature that takes note when you stop moving, pausing your progress in the app. You can set personal records and daily and weekly goals based on mileage or time. The app has several social aspects too: you can share photos, follow friends, and brag about your “suffer score,” which indicates the difficulty level of your workout.
5. BodySpace App
This free app from Bodybuilding.com allows users to track their workouts, set fitness goals, and get motivated through the app’s fitness community. Users can access workout routines designed by experts or by other users, and routines can be altered in real time to account for the inevitability of someone else using the machine you need. You can also build your own routine through the app’s extensive database of individual exercises. The app helps you track reps, sets, lifting weights and progress toward goals.
6. Amiigo Bracelet
Amiigo is one of the newer kids on the wearable-tech block, having raised money through an Indiegogo campaign to launch products. The company makes only two items: a wristband and a shoe clip. The wristband’s many bells and whistles help it stand out above the competition. The wristband’s many features track calories burned, hours of sleep, resting heart rate and daily steps, along with workout information like specific exercises, reps and sets. The Amiigo also charges wirelessly, has a three-day battery life, and is completely waterproof. All of your information is synced to a smartphone app that tallies your daily activity and the details of your workout—including a breakdown of upper and lower body workouts.