myTREK Pulse Monitor: A heartbeat away from fitness.

Let’s face it; your pulse is a very important part of your daily body function. After all, without one we wouldn’t be very alive would we?  Whilst your heart and pulse are doing their  things correctly, you tend to forget about them and concentrate on other pressing matters in your life, but when it comes to exercise and in particular gym work or outdoor activity like mountain walking or trekking, well that’s a different matter altogether.

MyTrek

For those in the know, a chest strap monitor has up to now, been the product of choice to keep tabs on what going on in the heart department but now phone app specialists Scosche have released a monitor that pairs with your iPhone via a free app, to let you track your pulse and calorie count as well as calculating distance, speed and pace when you’re out running, walking or just generally exercising in the gym.

The myTREK is a device that attaches to your forearm and using two combined LEDs and a photo sensor, monitors the changes in your blood pressure and measures your pulse rate.  There’s also a nice touch where a male or female voice gives you up to the minute updates on how you’re doing and presumably warns you of any impending demise!  Then, after your exercise, your work outs are stored and viewed in the app’s calendar so you can see whether or not that gym session the day after the late night party was really worth the effort.

Kas Alves, Executive Vice President of Scosche Industries points out  “We are thrilled with the end result of the myTREK and its accompanying app.  Users now have the ability to track their activity, train when it suits them and monitor progress, all at the tip of their fingers.  It’s lightweight and bulk free, we hope users benefit from this gadget during their everyday activities”.

The myTREK monitor is £125.99  www.scosche.com/mytrek

The Bite Counter and other weight loss gadgets – An even more gruelling way to lose weight!

When you are happily munching away on a plate of your favourite food, don’t you think that you’d be put off if a widget on your wrist was counting your every mouthful? Uninspiringly titled the ‘Bite Counter’, the latest gadget aimed at helping you curb calories and prevent overindulgence has been developed two researchers at Clemson University.

Bite-counter

At a press of a button, oh yes and departing with 800 bucks, dieters, or wannabe dieters, will know how many bites of food they have taken, which is then estimated into calories, the same way exercise equipment estimates the number of calories burned. But surely quickly stuffing your face with a cream cake contains a higher calorific content and will track less ‘bites’ then gruellingly munching your way through a virtually calorie-free carrot? Hmm, not surprisingly the guys at Clemson have been faced with such judicious questions, and their answer to such obvious flaws in this technology is that “caloric content of a bite averages out over the long term”, and that “people tend to eat the same foods week to week, further stabilizing the calorie/bite relationship”.

Slightly presumptuous don’t we think? Oh well, it will only cost $800 to test out.

http://www.icountbites.com/

Fitbit

Other weight loss gadgets to catch LG’s eye is Fitbit and the Gruve. The former comes in the form of a tiny clip device, which, once clipped to a dieter’s shirt, belt or armband, essentially acts as an accelerometer, tracking your every move throughout the day and then reporting back on your activity. Its motion detecting sensor digitally records the number of steps you have taken, calories burned and even your sleep patterns. While Fibit won’t cause miracles, it’s supposed to enlighten its users to what is preventing them from achieving the body of their dreams.

Fitbit costs a more reasonable $99 from www.fitbit.com

Gruve

The Gruve is essentially a lazy alarm that tells you when you’ve been lazy for too long! Unlike Fitbit and other pedometer gadgets, which just inform you of your daily activity, Gruve bullies you moving. If you have been sedentary for too long, it flashes lights, starts buzzing and vibrates around the room, until you are that embarrassed or irritated by it that you go on a 5-mile run – in theory anyway.

For $199.95 the Gruve could be worth a try!

Polar RCX5 training computer: The pocket-sized personal trainer

Think all personal trainers are muscle-bound blokes in skin-tight lycra or impossibly lithe, enthusiastic women who think nothing of a completing a 20-mile run before breakfast? It’s time to think again.

Heart rate monitoring expert Polar has launched its RCX5 training computer – which you can wear on your wrist or slip in a pocket. The monitor has been designed to be a personal trainer for triathletes, runners and endurance athletes. If you’re looking to make the most of every part of your training, the RCX5 could be for you.

Polar-Heart-Rate-Monitor

Mind you, you don’t need to be a really serious athlete to try it out – we reckon it could be just as useful for anyone simply looking to get fit, who likes to feel in control and see exactly what sort of progress they’re making.

The RCX5 has a sturdy aluminium frame, has easy-to-use buttons for when you’re on the go, and a waterproof and disturbance free WearLink+ Hybrid transmitter, which gives heart rate even in water when you’re swimming.

Features include ZoneOptimizer, which adjusts your personal heart rate zones for each training session based on your current condition (or out-of-condition!) so you can take into account factors such as fatigue, recovery, hydration and general well-being, helping you to train safely.

Race Pace, meanwhile, lets you set a target time for a set distance – and then you can see how far ahead or behind the pace you are – perfect if you’re in training for a specific event, be it a marathon or a 5km run.

The GPS unit is a neat, cigarette lighter sized device offering 18 hours of battery life, charged through mini USB. It can be worn on the provided armband or popped in a pocket or bag. It offers training load data, route mapping and speed and distance.

If you take part in various activities, the device allows you to switch between sports such as running, swimming and cycling at the touch of a button, to offer the relevant data.

You can also download Endurance Programmes to help you improve performance, view Training Load to find out the cumulative training load and recovery time after every session and see a Map view, which shows your training route with training load colour-coding, through Google Earth. It is also possible to see graphs showing training load and recovery status to help you to adjust your training plans to achieve optimum results.
There are some serious facilities available for serious athletes and at a price of £359.99, maybe it has a serious price too. But if you are serious about getting fit, the Polar Heart rate monitor may take you from first beginnings right through to that first marathon or triathlon and beyond.

Find out more at http://www.polaruk.co.uk

‘The-Swing’ range of innovative swings: A relaxing way to burn calories?

Recognising that swings do not have to be confined to the enjoyment of children, the Outdoor Toy Company, have launched a range of award-winning high quality swings for the home and garden designed for children and adults alike.

Swing

The aptly titled ‘The-Swing’ series comprises of a unique multi-swing which can carry as many as ten children at the same time, a super-stylish ‘Dreamliner’ range that provide an extremely relaxing alternative to the settee or outdoor canopy, as well as a range of therapy swings designed to provide relief and rehabilitation techniques to neck and back pain, as well as, the Outdoor Toy Company informs us, even ‘burn calories’.

If you are looking for an alternative to snuggle up on in front of the TV, or looking for a conversation-provoking piece of outdoor furniture to gaze up at the stars on a clear summer’s night, or looking to keep the kids entertained at your child’s birthday party, this German-made range of innovative swings may be just what you’re looking for.

Unlike ‘made in China’ products, like most things made in Germany, ‘The-Swing’ range is robust and is unlikely to break at the first slightly overweight adult or child for that matter unable to resist the comfort, luxurious and fun oozing from these products.

The-Swing range comes in a variety of colours and sizes and consequently are highly flexible in where they are positioned. Not only can each swing be attached indoors onto wooden beams and ceilings but they can be fixed outdoors onto tree branches, as well as being attached to a standard swing frame using the supplied standard fixing ring.

Prices start from £198 but obviously vary a great deal depending on what model of swing takes your fancy. Personally I’m in favour of that one that burns calories whilst you lay there.

http://www.the-swing.co.uk/

Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom review

For the second time this year, a PR company contacted me and said “fancy loosing some weight? Try this out!” I’d be outraged but both times there was a doughnut to my immediate left, waiting to be eaten. The first was the Philips DirectLife Monitor – an odd pedometer thing that tracks your movement throughout the day and then chastises you for sitting in a chair all day typing. The second is the Nike TomTom GPS sports watch, which demands even more effort from you – you actually have to run.

For a sports product the Nike watch is incredibly cool looking. I’d happily wear it just as a regular cool looking retro watch. The funky black and neon green design, large font display and big chunky buttons are hip enough to walk around the hippest parts of East London without ostracism and the Nike Swoosh is tastefully downplayed. For someone who’s spent ages staring at this timepiece with longing, it’s a lovely piece of kit. I know it’s a functional item, but a watch is something you spend a good deal of time wearing so it’s important that it

But what about running? The watch works with GPS and a Nike+ shoe sensor to record distance, pace, elapsed time, BPM (if you buy the heart rate monitor), and calories burned while running. You simply hit the green button and get going. Well if you have a Nike+ shoe sensor. If you try GPS only it seems to take a little longer to connect. On occasion it took minutes to link to the satellite, which was a little frustrating but as Louis CK says “it’s going to space! Give it a second!” As you run, you can use the scroll button to toggle through your distance, pace, elapsed time, calories or time of day. You can slap the screen – either to illuminate the watch or to log laps/intervals. At the end of the run you get an “Attaboy” encouraging remark and if you haven’t run for a while the watch will remind you – both of which are pretty cute.

To set the watch up you’ll need to download some special Nike+ software, that thankfully runs on Macs and PCs. I had to do a bit of Googling to get the right version of the Mac software but accord to forums this is a “known issue” and should be rectified soon. The USB connector is built into the end of the watch strap – which is relentlessly badass – and the software allows you to update the watch settings – leaving the onboard interface as simple as possible. When I first heard of a TomTom GPS enables watch I assumed it would have some sort of map built in on the screen. However this is not the case – the watch knows where I am, it just refuses to tell me (what a jackass!) unless I log into the Nike running community which allows me to explore routes and compare with other runners in my area.

At £176 this is far from cheap and certainly is no toy. And you can get lots of these features built into any smartphone capable of using RunKeeper. However, it is an excellent watch, with a cool design, innovative functionality and incredibly simple to use. If you’re serious about your running I’d definitely give it some careful consideration.

‘Get the edge’ on competitors and fellow spectators with the latest sports apps

As the weather warms up so do the joggers, who are coming out of the woodwork fast and furious, all determined to shed a few pounds before that much anticipated summer holiday. In-conjunction with the warmer weather and increasing number of joggers seen pounding the streets, is the escalating number of sports apps being produced. Given their surge in popularity, our sport-loving readers may appreciate being informed about three of the more inventive sports apps currently available.

Sports-Apps
Image courtesy of Flickr user MShades

The Fun Run Trainer app

Now let’s be honest treadmills are painfully boring. Recognising this fact are the creators of the Fun Run Trainer app, which enables runners to execute their training runs virtually anywhere in the world, with virtual being the operative word.

Users are represented by a cursor and placed almost anywhere in the world, via a Google Earth satellite map. Runners can then carry out their run on courses such as the Katy Trail, Missouri’s most famous run, or the Champs-Elysees in Paris, to make their run on the treadmill infinitely more enjoyable. The app can also be used as a serious training aid, as, by providing users with 200 complete international race courses, runners can complete their training on the course, as distinct advantage over their competitors.

To transform your treadmill training session, or to ‘get the edge’ on competitors, the Fun Run Trainer app, can be downloaded for free here

Tiger Woods: My Swing

He might not be able to keep his pecker in his pants, but you have to admit it, Tiger Woods is a great golfer. For any budding golfer looking to improve their swing, the Tiger Woods: My Swing app may prove an invaluable tool. A series of videos and instructions by Mr Woods himself are designed to help golfers of all abilities improve their game. Talking about his legendary app, the golfing maestro said:

“I believe practise and analysis are the keys to improving your game. The app also includes all the tools necessary to analyse and break down your swing, and best of all you don’t need another set of eyes or expensive equipment to do it.”

Although hoping the Tiger Woods: My Swing app could be downloaded for free, would be expecting a little too much from the ‘first reported athlete to become a billionaire’, as this golfing tool can be downloaded for $9.99

Formula One 2011

Now this one might be cheating a little, as it’s not really meant for those participating in the sport, but really for those who follow it. Nonetheless, following on from the success of last year’s 2010 app, Formula1.com has revamped its app so it now enables motor racing enthusiasts to keep on top of what is going on the world of Formula One. As well as providing result listings and fixture dates, users are provided with straight line speeds, text commentary, and a circuit data screen which shows up-to-the-minute air and track temperatures, humidity levels, air pressure, rainfall and wind speed and direction.

If your love for Formula One borders on the obsessive, this comprehensive app will be the ideal companion whilst watching the race and can be downloaded here:

Nike+ SportWatch GPS: Keeping you on track?

Nike has teamed up with TomTom, one of the world leaders in GPS mapping systems, to provide runners with the ideal digital performance coach. There are specific runner watches already on the market, Polar for instance, has been in exercise technology for years, but Nike does it with style. Large digital numbers and a dark black band with a green/yellow underside screams latest fashion to me.

Nike-TomTom-SportWatch

With just three buttons to worry about plus tap screen navigation, you can capture local information as you run, whilst checking out your time, distance, pace and the number of calories you’ve burned. The GPS receiver also works in tandem with the optional Nike in-shoe accelerometer sensor to provide you with accurate live pace and distance data during the course of your run.

This is a watch with attitude. It will log your run history and give you run reminders if you haven’t logged a run in five days, it’ll give you post run acknowledgement and encouragement and it’ll even monitor your heart rate throughout your exercise.

You’ll also be keeping in touch with fellow Nike runners the world over through the Nike+Connect USB interface which plugs you into Nikeplus.com that has up to now logged over 150 million global runs since its launch in 2006. It’s a useful database of run routes posted by its running community broken down by location, length and difficulty.

At £179 this is serious kit, so go on and break some records. www.nikestore.com

ElliptiGo: the cross trainer for the outdoors

Many people will tell you running is tough on the joints. For people with back and knee problems running can be an issue. However, this should not confine you to cross trainers in the gym. Sometimes you just want to get outside and get some fresh air. Well enter the Elliptigo.

ElliptiGO

What’s an ElliptiGo, you ask? Well it could be the next big thing. Simply, it is an elliptical trainer for outdoors. Studies show that people tend to exercise for longer and more intensely when outdoors. It works by being propelled on 2 wheels by an elliptical motion that emulates running. Developed by runners, you stand just like you would on a cross trainer and off you go. In terms of speed and handling, it performs like a road bike. It is quite large, think the size of a cross trainer, so you may need to store this is a garage.

It has a lot of comparisons to a bike so why have an ElliptiGo over a bike? Well the ElliptiGo uses different muscle groups to a bike as it designed to resemble running. Also cycling can cause back pain due to the hunched over position during cycling. When cycling you come across all sorts of obstacles like potholes which will test your balance. The ElliptiGo claims to be more stable as when you stand you have more balance. I once saw a cyclist fall over badly in the middle of a busy road as she lost her balance so I recognise how important balance is when exercising.

It is safe to assume there is nothing quite like the ElliptiGo. When out and about on this you will definitely draw a few glances. But do not think this is for outdoors only! You can use a stationery trainer to ride your ElliptiGo for those rainy days. At a hefty £1599, it is definitely pricey. But this can help people with bad joints enjoy the outdoors again. Perhaps you can persuade your gym to invest in one?