This month’s Small Step challenges you to harness the power of technology in your quest to get fit. But there are so many choices and some of them require a significant investment of money, time or both. Which option is best?
Before investigating your options, narrow your choices by asking yourself these two questions:
- What area of fitness is the biggest challenge for me right now? Are you having trouble taking control of what, when and how much you eat? Are you struggling to establish a consistent exercise regimen? Or have you set a race goal but overwhelmed by the task of planning and tracking your training?
- What would offer the most value for me? Do you need technology that’ll save you time or money? Or do you need something that’ll make the complicated simpler or the burdensome easier?
Let’s apply these questions to a few hypothetical ladies at different stages in their fitness journeys, so you have some practical examples of how to select the right tech-based fitness tool for you.
Candice is a business executive who works long hours. She’s been able to take control of her diet but less successful at establishing an exercise routine. She believes she could enjoy walking for exercise but something always seems to come up to foil her plan to walk during her lunch hour. And she’s too exhausted at the end of the day to be motivated to get in a walk long enough to count as a workout.
Candice would benefit from understanding that 60 minutes of walking at ten minutes at a time six times throughout a day is just as beneficial as walking for one hour all at once. But it’s not practical for her to try to keep track of all her walking throughout the day. If she wore a discreet pedometer every day, the device would do all the tracking for her and she might realize she’s taking a lot more steps than she knew. She’s also likely to be more motivated to add to her total steps each day. In fact, she’ll find the breaks she takes to get up and move help to clear her head and make her more productive when she returns to her desk. Eventually, this may give her the energy and motivation to add more steps after work as well.
Before Sheila became a mom, she was a consistent gym-goer. She’d catch classes several days a week and purchased sessions with a personal trainer on a regular basis at the full-service club conveniently located between her office and apartment. Lots has changed since she became a mom, including her ability to get back to a regular exercise schedule. She quickly learned it wasn’t a mere coincidence she found the gym so convenient when she was a working single – gyms cater specifically to that demographic. The gym location and class times are now the opposite of convenient for Sheila.
Sheila has a history of being able to stick to an exercise plan when she has convenient access to structured classes and a social component to her workouts. A subscription-based app would give her access to certified personal trainers that she can work with live via two-way video on her phone, tablet or laptop whenever and wherever it’s most convenient for her. Click here for a link to a review of the top virtual personal trainer apps. When she’s not working with a trainer, she can access quality workout videos of different exercise types in a variety of durations and intensities through websites like Blogilates and FitnessBlender for free.
With one less income in the household, the added bonus is cost savings. The average monthly gym membership is about $60 which Sheila can replace for free with web-based workout videos. But she’s giving up the interactive aspect of in-person classes. Live trainer apps give her the same personalization and privacy as an in-person trainer for a fraction of the cost.
Paula was a team sports athlete in high school and college. Since graduating, she’s found new ways to feed her competitive spirit and love of exercise. She’s competed in several mid-distance running races and has decided she wants to begin to train for her first marathon. She’s working with a trainer to develop her training plan and has researched the diet and hydration requirements for marathon training and racing. But, it’s a lot of information to track and she’s worried she might miss important variables that could affect the quality of her training.
Paula is a perfect candidate for a wearable fitness tracker. A performance-based wearable, such as the Fitbit Surge, would use GPS and built-in heart rate monitor to record multiple variables in all her training runs as well as her sleep quality. She also wants to make sure she’s meeting her fueling and hydration goals. If the tracker she chooses doesn’t have nutrient input capability, she can track her calorie and macronutrient intake for free through an app, such as MyFitnessPal.
The tech fitness tool inventory is seemingly limitless. While that means there’s likely the right tools out there for each person, it also means a lot of people may choose a tool that’s not really going to benefit them. But, by asking yourself a few questions and doing a little research, you can harness the power of technology to meet your fitness goals.