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Home / Features / Upgrade Yourself: 6 ways to supercharge your tracking

Upgrade Yourself: 6 ways to supercharge your tracking

Exercise is gruelling enough without doing maths at the same time, so let tech count your reps, heartbeats and more

How’s that New Year’s resolution going? 

For those of you who are powering hard through month number 2 of your gym membership, as well as you well established gym junkies – your motivation is always going to be based on seeing results. So we’ve put together a list of some of the best ways of making sure your hard work is shown in facts, figures and helpful fitness plans.

Get that sweat on!

The virtual personal trainer: Hoolio

The virtual personal trainer: Hoolio

If something is aiming to be ‘the Netflix of fitness’, that doesn’t mean you’re meant to wallow in front of it all weekend, mainlining Dr Pepper and Pringles, and only getting up to answer the door to the pizza delivery guy – quite the opposite, in fact. Hoolio lets you and your friends participate in high-tech workout videos, initially drawn from YouTube but soon to be joined by its own original workouts, made in partnership with TechnoGym. It’s more Mr Motivator than Mr Robot.

The idea is to remove the isolation of online workout videos, so you can dial in friends (a bit like a sweaty Skype call) and take on a session together. Taking part as a team (it supports up to four people per session) adds an element of friendly competition – nobody wants to be the first to say they can’t hack the pace. Hoolio has seen completion rates of workouts hit 80%, rather than the 20% seen when people go solo.

“By working out with a partner, you’re more motivated and you’re going to get better results,” co-founder and CEO Nicholas Douzinas told us. “They don’t necessarily work out for the entire time,” he admits, “but as long as people are connected, we can motivate them.”

Hoolio is primarily web-based, but it is possible to cast it to a Chromecast (see below) and an Apple TV app is planned, as is an iOS app that functions as a remote control. Use it while wearing any HealthKit-compatible activity tracker (an Apple Watch, for example) and it can display live heart-rate info on the big screen, and there are plans to introduce live feedback based on how hard you’re working. Good news for everyone who isn’t a personal trainer.

Helping hand for Hoolio

Hero quest

Cardio, pilates and yoga form the core catalogue of workouts but Hoolio wants to offer all kinds of special sessions throughout the year, including one designed to give you the physique of a superhero. Presumably that means post- not pre-snack Bananaman.

Telly tubby

Don’t have an Apple TV? Hoolio runs in Chrome, so just pick up a Chromecast and you can beam your browser tab to the telly and feel the burn working out in the living room. There may be more space there but try not to drip sweat all over the new carpet and sofa set, eh?

Best tracker on a budgetMoov Now review

The best alternative trackers

The best alternative trackers

Nabi Compete ($40): the one for competive dads

Getting kids to move isn’t normally the hard bit, it’s sitting still – but this sprog-friendly activity tracker connects to an iOS or Android app over Bluetooth and turns steps into food for a virtual Tamagotchi living inside a phone. You won’t need to buy your nipper a £600 phone to use it – the Compete is sold in pairs so you can connect both of them to yours and challenge Isambard Jnr to a distance goal. Well, a win’s a win, right?

Gymwatch (€100): the one for weightlifters

If you spend more time pumping iron than an Arnie impersonator, the Gymwatch is your ideal spotter. Whether you’re using free weights or gym machines it’ll scrutinise your arms or legs (it can be worn on either) to count reps and check you’re doing each exercise correctly, with real-time feedback on the iOS and Android app. It knows over 900 movements and will correct you like a tiny robotic personal trainer.

BSX Insight (from $300): the one that knows exactly how hard you’re working

While most trackers ride on your wrist, the Insight’s sensor has its own compression sleeve that’s worn on the calf; this takes oxygenation readings directly from your muscles, so it knows how hard you’re working. If you want to measure heart rate as well, it’s compatible with ANT+ monitors. Back at base, check out the data in the Android or iOS app to work out where you can push a bit harder.

Track My Fitness (£free): the extra sensitive one

It’s quite possible you’re already wearing a fitness tracker. It’s called your smartwatch. Track My Fitness from Vimo Labs (available for Apple Watch and Android Wear) supercharges the sensors in your wearable, detecting what exercises you’re doing, tracking reps and calories burned, with routines and instructions delivered by a ‘personal trainer’. New workouts are added every week.

Whoop (£poa): the one for the pros

As if any more proof were needed that pro athletes get treated differently to the rest of us, they have their own tracker. Designed to be worn 24/7, Whoop’s wristband collects data on heart rate, body motion, skin conductivity and ambient temperature over 100 times a second, and feeds it back to an online analytics platform where a coach can make sure they’re not being overworked, poor lambs.

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