We know that fitness trackers and sporty wearables are great at showering us with all kinds of biometric data, but it's often not all that easy to decipher exactly what those metrics mean when looking at the companion app after a workout. How exactly any of it is going to help you make any improvements?
Slowly but surely, a new breed of wearable is emerging that not only promises to make that data more actionable, but also do it on the spot when you're lifting the dumbell or in the middle of sprint training.
Essential reading: How to use your fitness tracker to actually get fit
Whether you are looking for gaining an extra yard of pace in your running or not sure whether you are getting the most from the home gym sessions, here's our pick of the wearables that offer useful real time coaching.
On the run: Moov Now
The Moov Now remains one of the best examples of how real time coaching should be done.
Worn on the wrist or around the ankle, the Now can track cycling, swimming, boxing and home workouts. But it saves its best for runners. During interval training sessions the voice coach will encourage you to throw your arms harder or to pick up the pace depending, pushing you harder and further out of your comfort zone.
While you will still need your smartphone nearby, it's one of the most affordable ways to avoid shelling out for an actual running coach.
In the pool: XMetrics
XMetrics measures everything you'd find on any other swim tracker and more. It counts lengths, pace, the number of strokes you take each lap, your stroke rate, your distance per stroke and SWOLF.
However, the only true live coaching mode of those is stroke frequency, which lets you know whether to speed up or slow down your arm cycles over the first 10m of each lap. You get metronomic beeps which are very effective at dictating your rhythm.
In the gym: GymWatch
The small sensor band can be worn on various parts of your arm and on the upper leg with support for multiple sensors. When paired with the iPhone or Android app or Apple Watch, it'll tell you whether you've correctly performed a rep and whether your form is correct.
You can go freestyle, pick from a growing database of workout plans or create your own custom plans you can try out in the quest to get ripped.
On the court: ShotTracker
Built for ballers, ShotTracker is made up of a sensor you can wear on the wrist or a compression sleeve, a net sensor and the companion app.
It's all about improving your shooting game, so when you aim a free throw or line up an ambitious three pointer, it'll send the data to your phone where shooting stats are stored. You'll be able to identify errors in your game and get a fix on how to correct them.
There's also a team option where you can kit out everyone on the court with sensor packed shoes, set up location towers and play with a connected Spalding ball so everyone can benefit from the real time coaching.
On the slopes: Carv
Carv is a ski wearable that's solely designed to help correct your technique while you're out on the slopes.
Using a sensor-packed insert that sits inside your ski boot and a clip on sensor that's fixed to the outside, a series of pressure and motion sensors relay the data back to your smartphone. It can then provide advice to your earphones.
Post ski session, you can also export the raw data or sync it with GoPro footage so you can review your most recent effort with the data metrics layered on top.
From $169, kickstarter.com
On the course: Garmin Truswing
The Garmin TruSwing captures club head speed, tempo, club path at impact, face to target angle, shaft lean at address, shaft lean at impact, shaft angle at address, shaft angle at impact and dynamic loft. That's a heck of a lot of data.
When you study a shot you get the 3D swing at the top, and the detailed data below – you just need to swipe up to view - and pairing the TruSwing to a Garmin golf watch – the Approach S20 and Approach X40 are both compatible – delivers stats straight to the wrist after every shot.
Home workouts: Athos
Smart clothing hasn't quite taken off yet but Athos and its line of fitness-focused garments remains the standout options at the moment.
Available for men and women, the snug-fitting, sensor-packed clothing range requires a small data core device to record biometric data such as muscle exertion, heart rate and movement.
Read this: The benefits of smart clothing
It offers real time data insight into muscle effort giving you a clear breakdown of which part of the body you're working the hardest and whether you need to as much time on the lower body as you do on the upper.
From $350, liveathos.com