It’s August, and you’re either on vacation, or leaving soon. The problem? You just tried to fit into last year’s swimsuit and – worse – you did it in front of the mirror. While it might be a little too late to lose that belly before you hit the beach this summer, take steps now and you’ll be a slimline hottie in time for Christmas and New Year, ready to undo all that good work in a week or two.
To help you, here’s our list of the best fitness gadgets around.
Best Everyday Fitness Counter
Hung around your neck or clipped to your waistband, the FitBit will be mistaken for a USB stick. But the wireless widgets contains an accelerometer and an altimeter, and uses these in combo with clever software to count your steps, know how many stairs you have climbed and work out your calorie burn. It’s one of the most accurate out there and – thanks to freely available APIs – it works with a slew of third party apps and correlates the numbers in an iPhone app or on the web.
I bought one a couple months back and I’m now around ten kilos lighter. It’s the perfect way for nerds to get fit.
Best Connected Scale
Even if you measure your calorie intake vs. calories burned, the only surefire way to track your weight-loss progress is with a scale. Withings wins here thanks to its Wi-Fi radio which syncs it with an online account (and from there with your FitBit), Tweets your weight (for oversharers) and does the same for your body fat. Sure, you could save $100 by writing down the weight yourself, but as it’s laziness that got you fat in the first place, the auotmatic option wins.
Best Medical Gadget
Taken together with the FitBit’s output and your daily food diary, the data provided by the Withings Blood Pressure monitor will make you your doctor’s favorite patient. It records the results on a graph, tells you how unfit you are and can share its data with many third-party apps and services, or even e-mail your results direct to the doc. Just pop in four AAA batteries and hook it up to you iOS device – it’ll even take you direct to the App Store to grab the free companion software.
Best All-Round Fitness Gadget
iPhone – From $0
The iPhone can replace just about any other fitness device you like, and if it can’t, it can connect to them with cables or Bluetooth. It can track your running routes, help monitor your diet, your blood pressure or weight. It can show you maps to help you home, or help you plan the best route for a bike trek.
In short, it is the ultimate connected fitness computer, and if you couple it with a rugged case, you can take it anywhere.
Best Fitness Dongle
Pretty much every monitor device, from bike cadence to heart-rate, uses the ANT+ wireless standard. This dongle from Wahoo plugs into the iPhone and lets you connect to pretty much all of them. You can use Wahoo’s own apps, but most decent developers have built-in ANT+ support already. In fact, check the preferences in your favorite fitness tracking app – ANT+ is probably there.
Best Fitness Gadget You Already Own
iPod nano – From $129
Listening to music makes even the hardest exercise easier, and if you can listen to our own CultCast, then you can probably put up with anything. Add in a sturdy clip for attaching to workout clothes, and a built-in pedometer to count your steps and you have a great little training companion – and you can even wear it as a watch.
Best Bike Computer
Garmin 500 – From $250
The iPhone can do a lot for cyclists, but the Garmin 500 is a dedicated computer that can correlate data from your spinning wheels, crank (for cadence) and any ANT+ peripherals, including a heart-rate monitor (essential for knowing exactly how many calories you are burning). It also tracks your route using GPS and uploads to the web, from where you can peruse your progress using your Mac.
Best iPhone Case for Training
LifeProof Case System – From $80
The LifeProof case really is that: Life proof. It’s so slim that you might forget your iPhone is even wearing protection, but it is also tough, waterproof to 2 meters and sits at the heart of a system that includes a bike mount, armband, belt-clip and even a waterproof headphone cable. It might not be cheap, but then neither was the iPhone you’re buying it to protect.