We know that fitness trackers and sporty wearables are great at showering us with all kinds of biometric data, but it's often not that easy to decipher exactly what those metrics mean when looking at the companion app after a workout. How exactly is any of it going to help you make 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 dumbbell or in the middle of sprint training.
Essential reading: How to use your fitness tracker to actually get fit
Whether you are looking to 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: Lumo Run
While only compatible with iPhones, the Lumo Run is a personal coach built inside a sensor that clips onto any pair of shorts (or leggings).
With your smartphone nearby and headphones in, it delivers real-time audio insights into your running to help you nail your form, reduce the chances of injury and, hopefully, get faster.
Handily, the coaching isn't confined to your run, either. The process actually happens even before you go out running. Based on previously logged sessions, the app takes the data, analyses it and recommends pre-run exercises to help you warm up and prepare your body for a workout. It also does the same for after your run.
Wareable verdict: Lumo Run in-depth review
All rounder: Moov Now
Our Sports Wearable of the Year 2016, 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.
Wareable verdict: Moov Now in-depth review
On your bike: Oakley Radar Pace
The hearable built into a pair of sporty sunglasses, the Oakley Radar Pace is built for runners and cyclists looking to make improvements on the move. Packed with motion sensors and Intel's Real Speech natural language processing tech, the Pace can monitor performance but will also deliver info to your ears, if you're technique is off.
The conversational AI also learns your habits to improve its responses and if you pair it with a heart rate monitor, it'll also give you insights into your workout intensity.
Wareable verdict: Oakley Radar Pace in-depth review
In the pool: XMetrics Pro
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.
Wareable verdict: XMetrics Pro in-depth review
In the gym: Atlas Wristband
There's a few gym wearables available now, but the Atlas Wristband is one of the best for measuring strength in the weights room.
Worn around the wrist, it's packed with motion sensors that can count reps and make sure you nail that form. There's also a heart rate monitor sensor to measure workout intensity.
With a catalogue of supported exercises with or without weights, it can even learn new exercises by analysing your motion. Its successor the Atlas Wristband 2 sticks to the same design but adds more memory, a bigger library database and swim support, while the company is also looking to launch the Atlas Shape on Kickstarter.
Wareable verdict: Atlas Wristband in-depth review
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.
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.
Wareable verdict: Garmin TruSwing in-depth review
Home workouts: Athos
Smart clothing hasn't quite taken off yet as we'd expected it to, but Athos and its line of fitness-focused garments remains one of 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 spend as much time on the lower body as you do bulking out the upper.
From $350, liveathos.com
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