Technology has crept into almost every single aspect of our lives these days and fitness is no exception. With summer season coming up in a couple of weeks, here are some digital tools to help whip your body into shape.
Online classes (live and on demand)
Online classes are basically live or pre-recorded video classes which you can access from home. These are great exercise options if travel is inconvenient, one is on holiday or has to stay at home for an extended amount of time
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This option also suits corporate busy bees and start up workaholics who can never seem to find the time to go and work out as online classes have 10 to 15 minute workouts on demand. All you would need is a laptop or tablet, a mat, and related exercise equipment (e.g. chair, dumbbells, etc.)
For some live classes, your device would need to have a camera and Internet connection so that the instructor can see you, and it has to be positioned where it shows your full body.
Gymcube offers on-demand and live gym classes with a timetable similar to that of a gym. The site boast a variety of workouts for men and women from weight training, yoga, cardio to latin aerobics.
However, the live classes are only one-way, so you would see the instructor but they won’t see you. The service offers a free 10-day trial and a monthly membership option.
Fitness Blender offers free full length workouts similar to those you can find in the gym. The workouts are of varying lengths and styles with the aim to tone and lose fat.
Workouts include yoga/stretch, pilates, barre, cardio, strength training, etc. The site also offers an 8-week exercise and meal plan for fat loss and toning, profits which go directly into funding more free videos for viewers.
Sleek technique offers ballet inspired exercise routines with both live and on demand options. Its on demand classes range from 10 to 30 minutes and focus on different areas of the body and cater to differing skill levels.
The live classes have 30, 45 and 55-minute options with different levels of ability. Live classes are also only limited to a certain number of students per class so that the instructor can see the form of all students on the screen and give corrections accordingly – and yes, you can do this via an iPad!
Note that all classes are held in UK time although international students are welcome to join. Upon registration, you’re treated to a free 15-minute on demand barre workout and classed as a pay as you go member. Monthly membership options are also available.
Barre3 provides online on demand workouts which have 10, 30, 40 and 60-minute options. Barre3 workouts include a signature 3-step sequence which delivers a balanced, total-body workout that one can do anytime, anywhere. All movements are low-impact and designed to burn fat, build muscle and break through plateaus.
There are also workouts especially tailored for pre-natal or postnatal women. Barre3 features a 28-day workout challenge and a 7-day body blast challenge if you want to follow a workout routine. Barre3 also has a mobile app which features various 10 minute routines for on the go consumption and physical studios in various parts of the US.
There are one or two free videos on the site but a subscription is the way to go.
Next: Apps and Web progress trackers
Exercise guide apps and progress trackers
Mobile fitness apps are great for one who benefits from keeping track exercise routines. These apps usually have a set of exercises lined up for a workout or training route that you can follow.
Some apps come with video demonstrations whilst others only include diagrams and instructions. Progress trackers are suited to those who engage in one type of sport such as running or cycling and want to track some exercise parameters such as distance and time spent for each and the total time of their exercise regime so far.
As a free app, it’s good for those who are experiencing commitment issues with exercise. However, it only offers one routine to start and unlocks another routine after 2 months. There is also an (also free) Android equivalent here.
Daily free workouts offer a variety of ab, arm, cardio, bum and leg exercises that are mixed together to form a workout the length of your choice. There is also a full version of the app which is ad free and offers more exercises.
Map My Fitness is an activity tracker which can track a variety of activities (including walking and running) and a variety of exercise components such as calories, distance, time, route, pace, etc.
The only caveat is that you have to create a free account on www.mapmyfitness.com. A paid version of the app will disable ads and enable more sophisticated tracking parameters such as heart rate data (when you have a compatible heart rate monitor), customized audio coaching and live location sharing and tracking.
However, feel free to browse your app store’s Health and Fitness category as there are still a lot of free and paid exercise apps out there.
Next: Online communities and blogs
Online fitness communities
Online fitness communities are virtual avenues for fitness minded people to share fitness related stories, questions, tips and problems either anonymously or via their online profile. These are beneficial for those who want a social support system or extra motivation to embark on a fitter lifestyle.
Traineo is a free forum with user-submitted motivation tips, diet and exercise routines. This forum helps you see what has worked for others, interact with those who have the same goals, and become more motivated to get through that workout. It is open to browse, but a login is required if one wants to post.
Shapefit is a free forum for body building, weight loss, diet and exercise. Like Traineo, the forum is open to browse, but logins are required on most boards if you want to contribute to a discussion.
Blogs have been around for ages, but there are a few specific fitness related ones that will offer fitness advice and exercises geared to address specific problems.
Gym blog features a wide range of articles covering training and workout routines, diet and nutrition, bodybuilding supplements and recipes.
Similarly, Gym Talk talks about bodybuilding and fitness but in an unconventionally witty manner. It provides training tips, nutrition tips, equipment, workout and supplement reviews as well as a list of personalities you can follow on YouTube and Twitter.
Fitness Fan is a UK blog helping readers get the most from their training including articles on training, nutrition, psychological aspects and product reviews.
For the ladies, Project Hot Bitch is a London-based blog covering workout diaries and reviews of the various classes and studios around London. There is also a community around their health and fitness events, great for keeping up the motivation.
Wearable fitness bands
Wearable fitness technology is a pretty new category despite the recent boom in popularity. The most recognizable form factors are bands that you can wear around your wrist as they are akin to being worn like a watch. Most of the gadgets available help you track physical activity and/or sleep and will sync with an app on the web or your smartphone.
Basis captures heart rate patterns, motion, calorie expenditure by activity, sleep stages, perspiration and skin temperature through really advanced sensors. The app also analyzes your data and makes small recommendations to create healthy habits. The smart band costs $199.
Shine is an activity monitor priced at $120 that you can wear like a watch without the hassle of daily charging. The battery would only need to be replaced every 4-6 months. It can track your physical activity throughout the day as well as during exercise, and it is waterproof until 50 meters so you can use it during swimming as well.
So there you go, now you don’t have to let technology keep you from being in shape. Did we miss any of your favorites? Share with us in the comments below.