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Activity Trackers

I like technology. Anything that makes it easier to manage my life and keep track of what’s going on is a good thing in my opinion. I see the pitfalls too. It can be distracting at times and take the focus away from what we should be doing. Let’s be honest, technology is partly responsible for kids looking like sloths these days. They’d rather run their fingers over a video came controller or iPad instead of running outside.

But in the same way “The Force” can be used for good (think, Luke Skywalker) or bad (Darth Vader), so can technology. One trend I’ve watched grow over the past year has been the use of wearable activity trackers—products like Fitbit, Jawbone, Polar, and Nike Fuel Band to name a few. These products keep tabs on the number of steps you take, calories burned, heart rate, hours of sleep, and more. I’m pretty sure soon they’ll track bowel movements also.

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One product that will be coming out soon that I’m really excited about is called Atlas. Not only does it do everything that every other wearable does but it will also learn your exercise form and alert you when you’re not doing it properly. Also really cool is that it will track your reps and not count the bad ones. As a personal trainer I like the possibilities. I know that may sound counter intuitive—why would I want people using a tool that does part of my job?

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People still need direction on how exercise correctly so they don’t hurt themselves and can be more productive. That will never change. If a client is using a device such as this. And the device learns their form as I the personal trainer instructs them. Then when that client is on vacation, or is performing workouts on their own, we both can rest assured that they are at least doing their exercise properly.

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A device won’t be able to push them harder or make educated decisions about the direction of their program but, it will make their unaccompanied workouts better. And that has tremendous implications for someone’s long-term success. I love that!

Over the past year or so I’ve noticed the growing trend of clients using wearable activity trackers. The biggest plus is that they tend to be more conscious about being active outside of the gym. It becomes sort of a game. How many more steps can I take today compared to yesterday? How high can get my heart rate? How much longer can I keep my heart rate elevated? Can I burn 100 or 200 more calories each day?

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If being aware of your activity encourages you to be more active, I’m all for it. Not to mention the ability to measure your progress. What’s really cool is that most of these wearable’s sync up with your home computer or smart phone and automatically uploads your data each day. This gives you the opportunity to analyze what your body is going through over several weeks and months. So if you’re questioning why you put on two pounds in the past two weeks you can pull up your report and see that you were 30% less active than normal during that time. Or maybe you were just stuffing your face with pasta. (Unfortunately the activity trackers can’t keep tabs on what you put in your mouth…maybe that’ll be part of the next version.)

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