You can build muscle with almost no equipment. All you really need is something heavy to pick up—dumbbells, barbells, a rock, or even just comically oversized buckets of protein powder with vaguely sciencey sounding names—with regularity. But while technological gadgets aren’t totally necessary for getting stronger, they can make the process simpler, more efficient, and maybe even more enjoyable. While we spent a lot of our time at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show checking out TVs and other typical gadgets, we also noticed a large assortment of fitness tech ready to get your butt off the couch and into the shape of the peach emoji.
This adjustable kettlebell has weight options from 12 to 42 pounds, which is handy in and of itself since it’ll spare you from keeping a whole rack of bells in your home. Beyond the space saving, however, the kettlebell itself has sensors inside to help track the content, intensity, and duration of your workout.
The hardware is part of a $30 monthly subscription program that provides live workouts via the web kind of like what Peloton does for stationary bike training.
Personally, I think the kettlebell is one of the best training tools you can have in your house. At $350, you’re paying a hefty premium for the connectivity in the hardware, but it may be worth it if the tracking helps keep it from taking residence as a doorstop in your house once you’re bored of the regular workouts.
Matrix Industries Powerwatch 2
If you’re used to tracking your training sessions with a fitness watch, it’s a real bummer when the battery dies. After all, if you don’t track your workout and share the results online, did you even really do it? The Matrix Powerwatch 2, however, draws the power it needs to run from your body heat and ambient light. The $395 watch ($249 if you’re one of the early bird backers on Indiegogo) has built-in GPS, heart rate monitoring, a calorie counting function, and integration with third party platforms like Apple’s HealthKit and Google Fit.
We don’t typically cover Indiegogo products, but the first version of the watch was well-received and the campaign has already reached more than 1,100 percent of its goal with lots of time left. I also got to see the watch itself on the CES show floor and it looks promising.
Halo Sport 2
It looks like an unholy hybrid of noise-cancelling headphones and a medieval torture device, but this spiky headset claims to increase your brain’s natural plasticity to help “strengthen motor pathways faster.” It does so by applying a “small electric current” to specific parts of your brain.
The company claims the tech is backed up by copious amounts of data, but it’s hard to really know on an individual level whether or not it’s actually doing anything. Maybe we’ll test one and if I become a tremendous ballet dancer, we’ll know it’s effective.
Like with the Jaxjox, this connected punching bag gets in on the “do group fitness, but from your house” trend that’s currently thriving. This $995 package includes a pair of boxing gloves, a freestanding punching bag, mats to put on your floor, and a pair of hand wraps that go under your gloves to protect your surprisingly brittle knuckles. The technological bit, however, is a pair of punch trackers that keep tabs on the number, speed, and power of your hooks, jabs, and uppercuts. The monthly membership costs $39, but gets you access to live training that you can do from your house.
If you already have a heavy bag that you can hit and a solid pair of gloves (seriously, don’t cheap out on boxing gloves if you like your hands, wrists, and elbows to continue working as they should), the company will sell you the trackers and the wraps for $399.
Personally, I think it’s worth paying the extra money per month for real instructions, but if the thought of going to a boxing or martial arts gym seems out of the question, then this seems like a good—if pricy—way to punch out some aggression and calories.
Vivoactiv3 Music LTE
The Apple Watch introduced LTE last generation, letting the device itself work without the need for a companion smartphone all the time to make calls and access data. Now, however, Garmin has introduced its first LTE fitness watch in conjunction with Verizon. It can play music and send messages all on its own since it has its own built-in connection. That’s in addition to its typical fitness tracking abilities.
Like the Apple Watch 4, it also has fall detection built in, so it knows if you take a tumble and can alert your emergency contacts to come pick you up and bring an ice pack.
Since the Apple Watch 4 added a dedicated ECG function, other manufacturers have been starting to offer similar features. The Withings Move ECG has an analog face—it’s not a screen—which gives it a battery life of up to a full year depending on your usage. When you place your fingers on specific points, however, it takes a full-on ECG and reports it to your phone, which can alert you if you need to reach out to your specialist. It also tracks normal fitness stuff like steps, speed, and even swim performance, which is cool for such an unassuming piece of wrist wear.
Fitness can be difficult when you’re traveling. This is a fact of which I’m painfully aware, having just arrived back from Las Vegas—my pants feel like they’re small enough to have come from the American Girl store. Flexit, however, is an app that lets you find a specific type of gym in your chosen location and then workout there for a per-minute fee. So, if you’re looking for a Crossfit gym near your hotel, the app will help you find one and then help arrange your workout.
It’s a more expensive option than heading down to the hotel workout room, but sometimes you want to move a barbell around instead of hopping on the rickety hotel elliptical machine and hoping it doesn’t chop your feet off or catapult you into the wall.
Atomic Hawx connected ski boots
Specific sports require different types of training and these connected ski boots are tuned to pick up on variables unique to the mountain. Using internal sensors, the boots track things like G-forces, turns, speed, balance, and even things like pressure control. The app analyzes info about those variables to let you compete with your friends, but also to provide helpful technique feedback that can help you carve sick pow with maximum efficiency.