There’s a problem with fitness and weight-loss gadgets. Features like step-tracking on a FitBit and recording your heart rate with the Samsung Gear smartwatch are certainly impressive and helpful. The apps let you see a history of how often you hit the gym and whether you are making progress. However, a gadget alone is often not enough to actually promote weight loss. Sometimes, a shiny new gadget ends up collecting dust. The good news? Well, the dynamic duo of technology and accountability can help you achieve your goals. These devices offer a few social networking features, live video, and even one-on-one accountability sessions.
A stationary bike doesn’t need to be completely isolated from the world. This expensive but high-tech bike has a built-in 21.5-inch HD screen. It uses a magnetic resistance system, is made from carbon steel, and connects to the Internet over Wi-Fi. You see a dashboard that shows distance, cadence, calories burned, and other data. What’s the important feature? A live instructor holds daily classes and can see when you attend and how you are progressing. They’re highly motivational and animated, and classes are included in the price.
Accountability through social networks can be helpful. People can see if you are hitting milestones for your workout when you use a FitBit or take a run with the Adidas MiCoach-enabled running shoes. Retrofit goes a big step further. You meet weekly with a registered dietitian, an exercise physiologist, as well as a behavior coach over a Skype call to talk about weight loss. They track your food logs, weigh-ins (using the FitBit Aria scale), and steps. Eat a whole pizza for dinner? They won’t scold you, but they will hold you accountable. Also, a mobile app keeps you connected with their feedback and logs on a daily basis.
A fitness shirt reveals a ton of data about your workouts. For example, with the OMsignal shirt for $249, you can see your own heart rate, calories burned, steps, and breathing patterns. As you sweat, the shirt minimizes odor and encourages good breathability. That’s helpful, but a new training program encourages you to stick with your workouts. Over a live video feed, an instructor watches your OMsignal stats and suggests how to breathe better or pushes you to keep doing those push-ups, then tracks your progress over time. Available this spring, the video instruction feature will be included free in the app but trainers will charge a separate fee for the workouts (or you can look for the OMsignal training at your local gym).
Weighing your food is one of the best ways to control your calorie intake. This SITU food scale, available in March, uses the USDA food database so when you weigh a piece of cheese or the sandwich and chips you’re having for lunch, you’ll know what it will “cost” you in calories. You can then stay within a calorie budget for the day — and your friends can make sure you actually stay on top of it. You can share scale data from the iPhone or iPad app using Twitter and Facebook. If you forget to weigh your food, your friends can check in with you. The company, started by a former Apple employee, will eventually add more sharing features to the interactive scale.
Like most fitness bands, the Polar Loop displays your daily steps, calorie intake, distance, and fitness goals (such as how many steps you want to take in a given day). It’s available in three colors and there’s an optional heart rate sensor you wear around your chest. The Flow app, available for Android and iOS and also online, is more extensive than most. It’s included for free with the Loop band. You can follow other users and they can chat with you, follow your progress, “like” your workouts, and cheer you on. The Polar Loop gives you motivation to exercise – other people will know when you skip your workouts.
When friends and relatives track your progress, it helps you get serious about losing weight and maintaining consistent workouts. The Misfit Shine fitness band comes in ten colors, lasts six months on a charge and — at just .33 ounces — is light enough to wear 24 hours per day. The app for iOS and Android lets you connect with other users who can see your stats. For example, they can see your best workout as well as how many times you’ve exercised. The “Shine with Friends” accountability features are included for free with the device.