We’ve come a long way since fitness monitors came on the scene. Today, runners, cyclists and other sports aficionados can choose from gadgets that guide your route, perfect your posture, and plan your workout soundtrack. Here’s a guide to the latest wearable gear to goose your training routine.
The Heart Rate Headphones
Yes, they play music – and since they’re by Bose, the sound quality is superb. But the Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless Headphones also track your heart rate and pulse, taking measurements from your inner ear. (The earbuds are covered in sweat-repellent cloth, too.) They come with an app you can use to record your heart rate data over time.
The Running Form Perfecter
Perhaps the most unusual and innovative of the new crop of gadgets is Lumo Run, which checks your running form by monitoring foot strike, cadence, bounce, and even pelvic rotation. How does it do it? You clip the device – synced to your phone via bluetooth – to the back of your shorts or pants, aligned against your spine. It takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it it’s like having a real-time coach whispering in your ear.
The Sports Coaching Sunglasses
By far the fanciest of these high-tech virtual coaches is the space-age Radar Pace from Oakley, sort of a runner’s version of Google Glass. The space-age sunglasses feature multiple sensors to record a host of performance data from speed and distance to cadence and heart rate, as well as external factors like humidity and proximity to obstacles. You can even control your phone and music from a touch pad at the temples.
The Magic Shoes
A number of running shoe manufacturers are now offering models featuring built in analytics that can be paired with apps like MapMyRun. Currently a step ahead are the Speedform models from Under Armour, the Gemini and Europa, which boast a feature called Jump Test that actually measures your airtime away from the ground.
The Shoe Guru
If you’re happy with the running shoes you already have, you can get many of the same monitoring functions – and some additional options – with the shoe-mounted RunScribe. Clip it to your laces, and a 9-axis sensor records not just your steps and pace, but stride length, pronation, shock, contact time with the ground, and other data that will help immeasurably in improving your form.
The name says it all; the RunIQ from New Balance ups your game in a panoply of ways. Not only does it map your runs using built-in GPS, but the LAP button opimizes interval workouts based on heart rate and cadence. Thanks to the partnership of Google and Intel, the RunIQ also stores and syncs songs downloaded from Google Play Music so you can create your own playlists.
The go-to monitor for serious fitness buffs is Garmin, and this year’s Fenix 5 ups the game considerably. At close to $600, it’s among the spendiest of the running gadgets, but you get a full-service multisport watch with full connectivity, including satellite tracking, a 3-axis compass and up to 35-hour battery life.