So you've over indulged over the holidays like you always do and you've decided to get back into the gym to do something about it. But you're worried you'll jump on that treadmill or get on the spin bike all the way through January, then get to February and lose all enthusiasm to get in shape.
Thankfully gyms are getting smarter about ways to keep you motivated to get that regular dose of exercise all year long. One way a lot of gyms and fitness studios are doing that is by embracing wearable tech for group fitness classes to give you real-time insights into your workout. Are you working harder than last week? Are you actually putting in more effort than usual? You'll certainly know about it.
It's becoming a way for the individual gym goer to have a better idea of their fitness levels and maybe even help fuel your competitive spirit to try and be top of the class. Some studios will even store the information from the class and use it as a historical report of an individual’s development over time, using apps to gain a long term understanding of the data.
It's also helping to fill a gap in the ability to effectively make sure that everyone in the class is training at a level that reaps health and fitness benefits. Something that isn’t easily done when a trainer is delivering a session to 20+ individuals of different abilities.
Many of the gyms and studios that embrace wearables are heart rate monitor based, simply because it remains the most popular way to measure effort levels. Some will even display data on screens during the class showing current heart rate, max heart rate and calories burned. But it's not just about heart rate monitors as other devices are being adopted too.
If you're looking for more from those classes you're preparing to sweat it out in and want to know how well you're doing, we've picked out the gyms and studios that are using wearables to help you get in shape.
Third Space - Sweat X
Wearable used: Myzone
Set in one of London’s most impressive-looking gyms, Third Space’s Sweat X class is an interval workout that splits between the popular treadmill vs weights format. 20-25 minutes of high intensity treadmill work in addition to 20-25 minutes using weighted exercises and pull up bars, means you end up with a workout that’ll hit the whole body. It also means there’s inevitably going to be something in there that pushes you out of your comfort zone. The upshot of that means you’ll work harder, burn more calories and improve.
As with many of the other classes, Heart rate is used to ensure you’re working as hard as possible via screens in the studio, whether you’re working on something you like doing or something you want to avoid. Currently, Myzone's heart rate chest strap is Third Space's wearable of choice for these classes that will really work you hard.
Third Space isn't the only health club opting to use Myzone's tech either. Speedflex (UK, Ireland and Dubai), UN1T (London, Munich), Trib3 (Europe, Israel, China, Russia) and David Lloyd (UK) all make use of the tech for their group fitness classes too.
Wearable used: Hykso
As the name suggests, CKO Kickboxing is geared around kickboxing-based fitness. Back in 2016, the company, which has currently has gym locations in the US, signed an agreement with Hykso, the makers of a pair of wearable punch trackers.
Initially being used in a select number of CKO Kickboxing locations, Hykso's wearable is able to record a host of metrics including speed, intensity and punch count. Members who take the classes can see performance stats broadcast in real-time on live displays as well as individual leaderboards. Group-based leaderboards will also see how your punching compares to other class members.
After the classes are done, each participant received an overview of how well they fared to gloat about on social media or see whether they need to start throwing a few more punches in the next class.
Wearable used: OTbeat (Proprietary)
Orangetheory have not only based its entire concept on group fitness tracking, it's taken its brand name from it as well. Utilising the five zone breakdowns of heart rate training, it's focussed primarily on the area one that sees you working between 84% to 91% of your MHR.
Constantly switching up their studio workouts using a range of machines and bodyweight movements, the idea is that homing in on this “orange zone” means that the body is working at a level that not only pushes it during the class, but keeps it working long after the class has finished.
By combining personalised coaching with machinery that actually links up with its custom-built heart rate monitor, Orangetheory takes understanding of how an individual is performing to the next level, meaning the coaches can modify and guide people’s training to ensure its continually optimized. You can also choose from a range of wearable styles, which is a nice feature we haven’t seen anywhere else.
Wearable used: Lionheart (Proprietary)
What was one the fastest growing fitness brand in Australia, is now one of the biggest fitness studio brands in the world. Its name, simply meaning “functional” for “forty-five” minutes, is the core concept that is used across over one of its over 1,300 locations worldwide.
Read this: Best gym trackers and wearables to work out with
Utilising their own custom-built Lionheart chest strap, each of their workouts (35 currently being taught across all sites), is a full-on circuit class utilising a constantly changing set of exercises focussed on a specific area. Where one workout may use weights to build strength, another will have you kicking and punching a bag.
Whatever workout you choose, the concept is simple, work as hard as you can until the buzzer sounds and you move onto the next workout. Each workout is displayed on the screen in front of you to make sure you know what you’re doing whilst another screen shows your heart rate zone against everyone else in the class. For the competitive it’s a tool to keep you motivated, for everyone else it’s a way to make sure you’re consistently working at the level you want to be.
Wearable used: Garmin heart rate monitor chest strap (Supplied)
Location: London, Singapore, Sydney
Overview: Athlete Lab is to spin what Olympic lifting is to body pump. Using real bikes modified to work from a stationary point, the various sessions are designed to replicate real cycling scenarios in order to feed back data that’ll improve your real-life cycling escapades.
Data is the key thing here. The bikes are equipped with a range of sensor information covering aspects such as speed, cadence and power and with heart rate measured via a Garmin chest strap. The results are a live dashboard that displays a ridiculous level of information to help you understand your current level and how to train better.
Sessions cover a selection of scenarios, going from general fitness and threshold testing, to sprints, middle distance and endurance riding. At the end of each session your stats are stored in your account, so you can spend hours reading through the labyrinthine breakdown of personal data. There’s a full breakdown available here.
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