Exercise Gadgets of the Near Future

I'm envious that Carrots 'N' Cake already got to try it out!

Nobody had heard of TRX five years ago and barre classes were only for people in pink tutus.  But a lot has changed in the last few years and those changes will just keep coming.  Last year's kickboxing class becomes this year's bootcamp.  So what's on the horizon for gadgets and group exercise trends?

Shirts That Zap You for Bad Form

A company called Electric Foxy is developing a tank top that is laced through with wires.  The shirt will then cue you with a small buzz if, say, your shoulder is too high, reminding you to keep good form.  The shirt has been developed for Pilates specifically, but can be used for other activities as well.

A Heart Rate Monitor for Your Finger

Also from Electric Foxy is a prototype ring that measures heart rate.  No more clunky watch, no more uncomfortable chest band.  The idea is to stay stylish while you sweat your butt off.  I love the idea but I have concerns about the accuracy.

Feel the Music Through Your Bones

Headsets can be such a bother, plugging your ears with booming noise so you can't hear traffic and your surroundings on your runs.  It's not only dangerous, it's uncomfortable; wires getting tangled and your ears hurting after a while from the buds.  Well the folks at Aftershokz (affiliate link) have come up with a whole new method: a wraparound pair that sits over the tops of your ears nice and snug and places a conduction device on the bones in front of your ears.  The music is transmitted through the bones in your head. Weird and cool, no?  You can still use your ears for hearing everything around you.  They're only about $45 on Amazon too!

Workout Like a Surfer

Wanna workout like a surfer, but indoors in a group class setting?  The folks at SurfSET Fitness have developed a "surf board" that you can ride in your gym.  Using an unstable board and pulleys, you can recreate the surf experience anytime you want.  The piece even has an adjustment for paddleboarding.  Right now the owners of the company are pushing this as a group exercise class, but I'm sure if you wanted one badly enough, they'd sell you a single unit.  By the way, there's a great blog review here from Carrots 'N' Cake.

Log Rolling Gone High Tech

The ViPR was developed by a former NHL strength and conditioning coach.  The long, heavy, padded tube has grips throughout, so you can haul it, toss it, shove it, etc.  The idea behind this is that to work with something about three feet long and weighted takes full body strength, not just one particular muscle group.  The ViPR comes in seven different weights ranging from 4 to 20 kilograms. There you go, some brand new gadgets to play with now or that you'll be able to play with soon.  Any of them can wake up your workout a bit and that's always a good thing.  What gadget do you most want to try?  Have you heard of any other gadgets recently that aren't on this list? Cheers, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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12 Responses to Exercise Gadgets of the Near Future

  1. Phil Earnhardt August 14, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    There are three great exercise machines that are definitely worth checking out. The first is the Concept 2 SkiErg (http://skierg.com). C2 has made the definitive rowing ergometer for many years; this is the same drive mechanism oriented vertically with cross-country handles. This machine can be used for both long-distance work and high-intensity intervals; it is an incredibly robust machine. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbOIlSzH7fQ shows a Swedish athlete going for a personal best sprint. I have no idea what he is saying before the sprint, but it sounds awfully impressive.

    The computer for the skierg is a true ergometer — it’s measuring actual work. The erg includes a magnetic card for logging workout data; the data can then be uploaded to a computer to track or to work with a remote coach. Concept2 regularly holds informal competitions online and has an active community of users world-wide. To vary the workout, various balance/proprioception tools can be used with the skierg: rocker boards, rotating disks, and an Airex balance pad.

    The second exercise machine is the ReACT trainer (originally called the QuadMill; http://reacttrainer.com): a machine about the size of a commercial treadmill. The user stands on a platform that moves both up/down and forward/back. The video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vt9sql2nu8Q shows how the machine is used. The machine is an eccentric training machine: a means of training that has been getting much attention recently both for athletic performance and weight loss.

    What would you get if you crossed a recumbent exercise bike with a Swiss ball? You’d get a ballbike (http://ballbike.com). These machines offer handlebars for stability; they also provide elastic straps for advanced riders to perform upper-body work simultaneously while pedaling. The video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoZEiVcNqh8 shows the commercial machine being used for a group exercise setting. Some participants are deliberately bouncing around a lot; others are keeping their movement controlled (damped). With magnetic resistance, the commercial machine should be very quiet. I haven’t gotten to try a ballbike, but it looks like a fun machine.

  2. Lisa Johnson August 14, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    Thanks for the ideas Phil … :)

  3. Deb August 15, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    I haven’t gotten around to trying a water filled tube. These devices (except maybe the headphones?) aren’t going to make it into my routine for years (if ever).

  4. Lisa Johnson August 15, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    Deb the tube isn’t filled with water … it’s just a heavy plastic thingie with hand grips on it. I’ve played with them a little but I wasn’t ready to plunk down the money for them. :)

  5. [email protected] August 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    ha, these are great. at first i just read the headlines thinking it was things you just thought of, then i saw the links and saw they were real products!

    the posture one is cool, i’d probably get zapped all day though.

  6. Lisa Johnson August 19, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    lol, I know can you imagine office workers wearing the tank under their clothes all day … they’d be exhausted by 5 pm!

  7. Phil Earnhardt October 5, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    New stuff keeps coming out! I see that Stott/Merrithew has introduced their Tower Trainer: a portable Pilates tower that could be used in GroupEx classes: http://www.merrithew.com/shop/ProductDetail/ST02093_Tower-Trainer . I especially like that they include a pair of fuzzy hanging straps.

    Another interesting exercise device is Core Stix ( http://www.corestix.com ). Core Stix is a pair of sticks that can be inserted in floor-mounted brackets at a variety of angles and orientations. The sticks are then flexed to perform weight-lifting operations. The system was invented by a hockey professional who clearly knew lots about flexing hockey sticks during slap shots. Again, the Core Stix system would work well for GroupEx classes and one-on-one PT sessions.

    The SurfSet machines are starting to show up at fitness facilities around the US.

  8. Lisa Johnson October 5, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    Phil the SurfSet machines were featured on SharkTank a couple of weeks ago … their big break L–

  9. Phil Earnhardt October 13, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    Hmmm. Either the September episode was filmed many months ago, or SurfSet already had a bunch of deals with private studios for their gear. In either case, I look forward to hearing your eval of their machine.

    BallBike just commented on FB that their machine will be filmed next Friday for an episode of innovative exercise devices of The Doctors: https://www.facebook.com/BallBike/posts/191374690998460 . They currently have no info when the episode will be filmed. I hope they cover several of the devices mentioned in your article and the discussion.

  10. Lisa Johnson October 15, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    Thanks for the update Phil :-)

  11. Phil Earnhardt November 1, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    The Thursday November 8 episode of “The Doctors” is described as “Must-Know Gadgets Gizmos and Health Trends”. I believe that’s the episode that BallBike mentioned 2 weeks ago. I’m looking forward to see all the toys!

    Thanks for the discussion, Lisa.

  12. Lisa Johnson November 1, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    Phil, you are having way too much with this post! :-)

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