Gadget-happy consumers spent double the money on digital fitness devices in 2015 compared to the previous year, according to research firm NPD Group. What’s causing that mad dash for connected workout gear? For one, there’s a lot more of it on the market — and the devices are getting better all the time.
These seven new gut-crunching gadgets represent the latest and greatest in digital workout gear. Add one to your workout routine and up your game this year.
Apple Watch Sport
Critics have panned this smartwatch because it’s not as powerful as the iPhone, but it shines as a workout buddy. Packed full of sensors and backed by Apple’s app ecosystem, the $299-and-up Apple Watch is everything you want in a digital exercise partner, especially as the software driving it gets more refined.
In the meantime, the watch’s default Workout app is accurate and full of cardio exercises, third party offerings like Strava and Runtastic will connect you to your years of existing data, and you can even control your music from it without pulling out your iPhone. Nothing is going to slow you down now.
Priced at $199, the Fitbit Blaze gives the Apple Watch a run for its money, especially for activity tracking addicts who have long been counting steps with the Fitbit’s system. The top-of-the-line wearable goes toe-to-toe on features with Apple’s wearable, including a color touchscreen, heart rate sensor, notifications and music control. It even packs onboard GPS so you can leave your phone behind and run free. And FitStar, a digital coaching program, introduces wrist-bound workouts to your routine, showing you how to do new exercises without having to watch examples on your handset.
As you sweat it out, you need to put it back in. The Hidrate Spark app-enabled water bottle can help count every sip you take. A 24-ounce, dishwasher-safe, BPA-free plastic sports bottle, the $55 Bluetooth canteen has a sensor that measures the amount of water you drink. The accompanying app tracks your progress throughout the day (and over weeks and months) and can even connect to popular fitness apps like Apple’s HealthKit, Fitbit, and Jawbone Up. And, of course, there’s a social element which lets you connect to your Spark-owning friends. Time for a 21st century water fight.
Jaybird X2 Headphones
Great wireless earbuds are a marriage of fit and function. All too often, mediocre buds botch the former, the latter, or both. Jaybird’s X2 sticks the landing on both of them with a mixture of clever design and cutting edge technology that ensures you can hear your workout mix without interruption.
The best thing about these $179 Bluetooth buds is their fit — the ear fins keep the headphones from falling off, while the foam ear tips seal the sound into your ear canal. An eight-hour battery will outlast any workout you throw at it, and its “Signal Plus” technology claims you can wear your smartphone anywhere on your body without losing the connection. In testing this didn’t exactly hold up, but it performed better than any wireless headphones I’ve worn yet.
Forget merely competing — users of this Bluetooth-connected fingertip pulse oximeter are in it to win it. A small wireless device designed to measure oxygen saturation, pulse rate, the wearer’s perfusion index, and pleth variability index, the MightySat is a pro-level tool for measuring cardiovascular health.
Compatible with Android and iOS gear, the $299-and-up device slings your vitals over to your smartphone where you can track long-term trends, but it also has a full-color screen for displaying your body’s current score. Compatible with Apple HealthKit, the MightySat isn’t just good for athletes. It’s also a great way to get vital information for an overall snapshot of your health.
Sensoria Fitness Socks
Running is a deceptively complex sport. Nearly anyone can do it, but when the rubber hits the road, few do it right. The Sensoria Fitness Socks have textile sensors woven into them and connect to a Bluetooth-powered anklet to send cadence and foot landing information into an Android or iOS app. The $199 system can tell whether you’re landing on the ball or the heel of the foot, provide form and performance feedback, and even pipe a metronome into your headphones when your stride goes off cadence. All that, and they’re machine washable to boot — or to sock, that is.
Under Armour HealthBox
A connected scale, wristband, heart rate monitor and app, Under Armour’s $400 activity tracking system is a multi-device setup that’s as ambitious as any fitness goal you throw at it. In addition to monitoring your movement, the wristband measures sleep overnight, to ensure you’re recovering after hard workouts. Telling the app about your daily diet will dictate the terms of your next workout — so if you order the breadsticks, you’ll pay for it later. The heart rate monitor makes sure you get the ol’ ticker thumping when it’s time to get sweaty. And the scale that streams the results back to your app to keep you honest. (And motivated.)