Too ashamed of your spare tyre to get a real personal trainer? The Progio’s virtual workouts will protect your pride and your wallet
If, like us, you’re about as motivated as a self-regulating oil industry in the gym, you need a personal trainer to whip you into shape.
Clearly, that kind of money is better spent on gadgets, so it might be time to shell out on the Progio, which combines both in one glossy white package. Because all of its downloadable trainers are virtual, you’re also saved the shame of being worked like Full Metal Jacket’s Private Pyle at your local gym.
Out of touch
In the hand the Progio is a chunky piece of white plastic with a 320x240 screen, and navigation and power buttons on the top. It’s reassuringly sturdy and sweat resistant with a hook on the back to nestle in your hand or hang onto workout equipment.
Unfortunately, it’s not touchscreen. Rather, you use the nav button up the top to scroll through a very basic menu system. We didn’t find it particularly intuitive to use and accidentally started a workout several times without wanting to.
You can fill up its 1GB flash memory by loading it up with a number of workouts downloaded from the Progio website. These will talk you through a variety of exercises with accompanying videos and images to help you distinguish your squat thrust from your bench press.
You can review your workout and skip to different exercises, and there’s a general introductory video for the workout plus detailed written instructions for each move.
If you need more visual tips, you can view an image gallery of positions to assume and, crucially, video guides. Follow these and you’ll avoid getting a double groin hernia from doing the exercise incorrectly.
During workouts, the Progio times you and counts out rest periods between moves, although it’s up to you to be truthful about how many reps you do. It’ll then plot workouts completed on an inbuilt calendar.
Unlike the Nike + and Samsung miCoach, though, it doesn’t provide anywhere near the level of feedback we’d expect from a training device. It won’t give you information on calories burned, and while there is a heart rate monitor included on some devices, it simply measures rate, not zones.
Visit the website and there are a large number of exercise programmes, ranging from weight training to boxing to yoga with a different overenthusiastic American trainer putting you through your paces.
It syncs with a PC by installing Microsoft Active Sync, which isn’t the most user-friendly or reliable piece of software. But once we connected and reconnected a few times, the Progio quickly and automatically updated software and downloaded a couple of new free programmes.
If you want to use it with a Mac, however, you’ll have to pay for additional Missing Sync software, which seems a little stingy.
Usually you’ll pay from $2.99 for an exercise programme as the site is exclusively US-based for now. If you’re feeling more flush you can pay more to get a specifically customised training programme, and there are separate Progio apps for your iPhone and Windows Mobile device.
The Progio is nowhere near as motivating as having a personal trainer standing over you while you’re sweating it out on the mat, and the lack of feedback makes your workout a lot less satisfying.
In many ways it’s an extremely expensive exercise video, but it’s still worth a look if you want to expand your workout, train for a specific activity or just have a very poor memory.