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Upgrade Yourself: connect your clothes

Smartwatches and fitness bands are great, but tomorrow’s fit-tech will be woven into the fabric of your workout gear

If you’ve come in search of the perfect Mr. Motivator leotard, this probably isn’t the best place to look.

This list only features the best and techiest sports clothes around. This is not any ordinary spandex, this is futuristic, sensor packing, sports tracking spandex.

If you’re looking to take your fitness and sporting future to the next level, then these are the garments that’ll get you there.

And if you’re looking for even more ways that tech can help you get fitter, faster and healthier, check out the full Stuff Fitness Special.



You don’t actually need special clothes to tell you what’s going on with your body – just go for a run in a grey T-shirt and dark patches will gradually form under your armpits to show you’ve been working hard. The only problem with sweat is that it doesn’t provide much data on which muscles were working – and it doesn’t matter how hard you try, it just won’t connect to any of the fitness apps available. Sweat 2.0 can’t come soon enough.

In the meantime, there’s Athos – an outfit of shirt and shorts (for men and women) that’s riddled with sensors feeding your vital stats to the Core, a wearable receiver that transmits it all to the app via Bluetooth.

Woven into the shirt are two breathing sensors, two heart-rate sensors and 12 electromyography (EMG) sensors, which measure muscle activity using the electrical signals produced when they move; the shorts have eight EMG sensors and four heart sensors. There are no breathing sensors in the shorts, presumably to avoid damaging the Core with any post-lunch wind.

All of this info is fed to the app in real time, so you can see exactly which muscles are working and how hard, plus calories burned and average and peak heart rates. With all that info on board it can help you to avoid injury and tell you if you’re hitting the showers too early, or neglecting certain areas when you go to the gym – which should help you gradually take things to the next level and avoid ending up looking like Johnny Bravo. It’s the kind of stuff you used to have to hook yourself up to all kinds of scary-looking machinery to find out.

Inside the Athosphere

Material girl

Athos’ gear is made from a breathable, sweat-wicking combination of nylon and Lycra to keep you dry and cool. It’s also water-resistant, so you can use it for all-weather running and cycling rather than being confined to the gym.

Personal trainer

Athos will also count reps for you and make sure you’re doing each exercise with correct form. In fact, pretty much the only thing it can’t do is the actual workout for you. Shame.

Power play

The Core’s battery should be good for around 10 hours of exercise. So unless you’re planning on taking part in a triple-deca-ultratriathlon (that’s a 71-mile swim, 3355-mile cycle and 786-mile run) it should last a few strenuous training sessions before it needs recharging.

More smart clothing solutions

More smart clothing solutions

Digitsole Warm Series (€200): get some heat in your sole

If you thought putting your pants on straight from the radiator was the ultimate in winter luxury, Digitsole’s Warm Series will blow your socks off. These heated, app-controlled inner soles can be stoked up to 45ºC and will pump out heat for up to six hours. They also count your steps and calories burned, so the warm fuzzy feeling of accomplishment should stretch further than just the soles of your feet.

Antelope ($1600): extra tingle to your training

Remember those belts in the Argos catalogue that promised to give you a six pack by electrocuting your abs? Antelope’s suit is essentially one of those you can wear out and about. Electrodes are woven into it, with a Bluetooth-connected battery pack and an app to control how it buzzes you depending on your exercise programme. The idea is it works more muscle fibres, so you get better results with the same amount of effort.

Lumo Run ($150): improve your running technique

Stuffing something in your running shorts isn’t normally the way to nail a new PB (unless it’s a rocket) but Lumo Run’s sensor fits into a pocket in the back of special strides to log cadence, bounce, braking, stride length, pelvic rotation and ground contact time. The app gives you real-time audio feedback via headphones, so you can decide whether you’d be better off just replacing it with a rocket after all.

Hexoskin Smart ($400): a vest unlike the rest

It looks like a wetsuit and sounds like something from a low budget sci-fi movie, but the Hexoskin Smart might just be the cleverest exercise kit around. Worn underneath your gym clobber, its sensors feed data to a tiny Bluetooth pod. It measures everything from heart-rate variation and breathing volume to your sleep (if you can get to sleep in it, that is). No wonder NASA has given them to astronauts.

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