Technology can help make personal training and the results you are looking to achieve more successful for the long term. In the two previous segments we discussed the inherent failures of personal training alone and how fitness technologies can help make personal training more affordable and how it can keep you motivated to continue with your exercise programs.
Let’s look at more benefits to having a technology “workout buddy”.
Fun and Enjoyable
Traditional exercise has always been viewed as something most people tend to avoid. They do it out of obligation rather than enjoyment. If people actually enjoyed exercising, we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic or catastrophic numbers of death caused by preventable disease (coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.).
Technology has recently put a twist on exercise by integrating video games and exercise to make getting physically active more fun, enjoyable and functional for people of all ages and abilities. The release of Nintendo Wii Fit in the fall of 2007 changed everything! Wii Fit is currently the third best selling console game in history with over 22 million copies sold as of May 2010. Wii Fit Plus is in fourth place with over 21 million copies.
Since the launch of Nintendo’s proprietary Wii Fit software exercise and fitness video games have been offered on multiple gaming platforms (Xbox, Xbox and PlayStation). The fitness and exercise video games range from yoga, Pilates and dance classes (Zumba) to bootcamp and personal training focused workouts (EA Sports Active, Jillian Michaels’ Fitness Ultimatum).
Unlike traditional DVDs and exercise videos, video games provide more interaction and feedback based on your performance. Participants are fully engaged in the workout, they are moving and reacting to what they see on the screen and the time goes by without them realizing it. Another difference is that the video games can track your performance and progress over time.
In addition to console-based fitness games there are also commercial grade virtual sports, active gaming and exergaming technologies that can be found in fitness clubs, YMCAs and active gaming centers, like XRKADE.
When we pay for personal training we are essentially paying to get results. Unfortunately, with most personal trainers, the only way we know we are improving is by what they tell us during our training sessions and not by information that is documented or tracked (without bias).
As human beings numbers can be motivating. If we are trying to lose weight and the number on the scale goes down we are pleased. If we are trying to increase strength and the number on the dumbbell goes up we are pleased. There are several fitness and exercise mobile apps that track progress. These include exercise reps, workout frequency, cardio workout time, heart rate, caloric expenditure and more. Unfortunately, many of these programs are “self-reported” and do not reflect true measures of how our bodies are changing or the physical progress our bodies are making. These fitness mobile applications are good motivational tools but not real tracking technologies.
There are three measures that can be taken by the human body that can help us to quantify changes through exercise (that can be safely measured through technology):
- Heart rate (Polar, Garmin, myZONE)
- Energy expenditure (bodybugg, dotFIT)
- Steps/distance (Fitbug, fitbit)
- Strength measures (bioDensity)
- Cardiovascular fitness (New Leaf Fitness)
The more tools that we can access that quantify “real” numbers and results, the more likely we will be motivated to adhere to a program that shows progress more frequently than the change we see in the first 8 weeks.
Of all of the technologies listed above the one that I would is an “all around” tool that is a good compliment to personal training is dotFIT. dotFIT uses the SenseWear Armband to track caloric expenditure throughout the day and online tools to track food intake and energy balance. By better understanding, with certainty, the energy you burn throughout the day and the calories you consume you can better determine how long it will take to reach your weight management goals (lose or gain weight). dotFIT also provides an extensive library of health, fitness and exercise programs to help you stay on track.
In the final segment we will look at the missing piece to personal training success … good nutrition and a healthy diet.