Well, you know the old saying: time flies when you're testing wearables in the gym and writing about it on a weekly basis. And on that note, it's time to end this madness.
For those snooping on my diary for the first time, it's probably worth mentioning that for the past 10 weeks I've been hitting the gym and trying to figure out how popular smartwatches, fitness trackers and specialist devices make the case to be my gym partner. In the meantime, obviously, I also hoped it could contribute in turning my mid-level body structure into something, well, less mid-level.
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First up was the Apple Watch, which, through third-party app Strong, proved to be a solid option, if a little base level and tedious after a few weeks. Then there was the Fitbit Ionic, which pretty much only brought a couple of core exercise follow-alongs and some basis for the spots of HIIT I've partaken in.
Things got back on track with the Garmin Vivosport, and led me to ponder what the ultimate strength training wearable should bring, but its software has eventually been trumped by the dedicated Atlas Wristband, which I've been using for the past couple of weeks.
Of course, with much of the area still not fleshed out and some weeks proving to be a bit of a challenge, it's become a theme of this diary to look to the future. I chatted to Atlas CEO Peter Li about why some of the bigger companies have yet to prioritise the area, and just what will come next for users of its own platform.
But how did I get on in my final week? Well, last week I talked about how Atlas's software appeared to be the most useful and consistent I've sampled, and this week has only compounded that. Rep counting is pretty much always on the money, and exercise detection is strong and aided by the Freestyle mode.
From a personal point of view, I think it's the device I will stick with moving forward, and the one that would help me see the most progress. And speaking of progress, this 10 weeks has seen me reach some personal goals. My body fat percentage is lower despite an increase in weight, and I generally just feel better – sleeping has improved, and my energy levels feel higher.
Going back to the Atlas Wristband – it's not a perfect package, obviously, and it's worth keeping in mind that its standing is helped by the weak surrounding competition. More exercises are set to be added next year, but it's still a pretty basic deal on the Wristband. And while the app has its strong points, such as instructing you how to perform certain exercises through video, it doesn't provide quite enough feedback. Sure, you have form grades, but other than making you a bit more conscious about what you're doing, this doesn't really help you to improve and change your habits.
As I mentioned in last week's entry and discussed further in the latest edition of our You Wear It Well podcast, the data you do collect also needs to be analysed in order to bring things like recovery advice, workout suggestions and a fuller picture of your progress over time. Maybe the latter will involve bringing peripheral devices, such as smart scales and sleep trackers, into the mix, but I only realistically see that coming a few years down the line. Another thing which will take some years, in my mind, will be a push from the bigger companies in the software department.
However, with big strides being made by the likes of Atlas, and areas such as running, cycling and swimming increasingly catered for with recent hardware and software improvements, it's only a matter of time before Apple, Fitbit and Garmin take this seriously and tap into the thousands of users currently left hanging. Unfortunately, as I found out through this series, that time isn't now.
Conor's strength training diary
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