Hi-Tech Fitness Gadgets
These gadgets make working out more fun by offering tunes and video, accurate feedback and even a virtual sparring partner.
Portable, personal electronics are perfect workout companions, whether you're burning calories in your living room or at the local Y.
Work out while enjoying your favorite music or video and you just might exercise longer. Get personalized feedback and you'll be motivated to be active more often, too. Some tools will help you track your progress, making fitness goals quantifiable and that much more attainable.
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No, this is not the stiletto heel that makes your legs look sexy; it's a sleek, portable receiver, recorder and player for Sirius satellite radio service. The Stiletto can pick up Sirius's Internet offerings via Wi-Fi as well as satellite, so you can use it even in the deepest, darkest gym or basement.
The benefit: You can work out while enjoying commercial-free audio from the Sirius library—everything from The Beat to Howard Stern. You’ll be happier—and fitter—for it. Cost:
$349.99 (plus service, $13/month)
Nike + iPod
Now you can transform your iPod nano into a workout coach. Nike and Apple married their products into a system that acts as pedometer, coach and exercise diary. With a sensor in your Nike+ shoe and a receiver in your iPod, you’ll hear your speed, distance and calories burned while you run—in addition to your usual tunes.
Back home, download your nano onto the Nike Web site to create a personalized training page with charts of your mileage, exercise days, speed and distance. Cost:
The Sport Kit, which includes the sensor, receiver and software, is $29; Apple nano, $149 and up; Nike+ running shoes, $85 and up
Tanita BC-550 InnerScan Body Composition Monitor
When you exercise as part of a weight-loss program, you could lose fat but your scale wouldn’t tell you. Regular scales only measure pounds. But scales that use bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) can measure changes in body composition—information that can motivate you to exercise regularly.
This Tanita BC-550 factors in your height and calculates your total body fat and bone mass. Then, this smart little coach estimates the number of calories you’ll need over the next 24-hour period to maintain your current weight. Cost:
Philips PEG 320 Portable DVD Player
If another day at the gym means another hour stuck in front of reruns of Friends
on the overhead TVs, consider bringing your own show. With a portable DVD player, you can burn through your NetFlix DVDs while burning calories.
The Philips PEG 320 has a 3.5-inch screen display and adjustable stand for watching movies anywhere. Battery life will deliver you two-and-a-half hours of playback, so chances are you'll need a recharge before the battery does. The unit also hooks up to your home television to serve as a regular DVD player. Cost:
XaviXPORT System and Interactive TV Games
Exercise DVD’s are convenient, but without feedback from a trainer, it’s easy to coast through the workout. Use virtual technology and get ready to sweat. Put on the wireless boxing gloves that come with XaviXPort’s Jackie Chan PowerBoxing game and you’ll be jabbing and dancing in order to land punches on your on-screen opponent. Stand on the J-Mat fitness mat and you’ll run, jump, lunge and leap, chasing an on-screen Jackie. Both games track how many calories you burn.Cost:
XaviXPORT, $79.99; PowerBoxing
, $59.99; J-Mat
Polar F6 Fitness Monitor
If you want to burn fat, you should know how hard you’re exercising. Polar's F11 Heart Rate Monitor determines a target heart rate for each of your workouts—whether you’re walking around the block or training for a 10-kilometer race. Then, the watch displays your heart rate as well as measures and displays the total calories and percentage of fat calories burned. When you’re done exercising, upload your results to Polar's companion software to track your progressCost:
Suunto t4 "Coach"
Since sessions with a professional trainer can be expensive, Suunto's virtual coach is a cost-efficient way to get fitness feedback. The t4 not only tracks your workouts—heart rate and calories burned—but it also makes five-day training plans for you, indicating how often, how long and how hard you should train based on your progress and feedback. Add a speed and distance monitor POD for running (Foot, $109) or cycling (Bike, $59.99) to gain more insight into your exercise; add a wireless PC POD ($109) to upload the stats from all your physical activities to your computer for analysis. Cost:
About the Writer
Matt Schneiderman is a New York-based freelance writer who writes for Runner’s World, Stuff and Cosmopolitan magazines.