Thursday, December 13, 2012

Top 5 Gifts for Techie Athletes

Athletes like data, most of them, most of the time, anyway. Runners have their pace watches, beeping near the mile markers. Triathletes have their bike computers and power meters. Fitness fans have their heart rate monitors and calorie calculators. Those might be generalizations for who uses what, but we all know we track our data either religiously (with charts, logs and analyses) or periodically (when a race tells you your splits). We use data trackers and gadgets to power our workouts--working out harder, running faster and farther, hitting what once seemed like an unattainable goal. 

The problem is that sometimes we don't like to buy these gadgets for ourselves. Or after we've paid for the races, maintenance, training facilities, shoe updates and apparel, we're not left with much money to spend on these training tools. That's my excuse--and I wouldn't even call myself that techie (based on the fact that I have yet to buy a tablet, attempt to read a book on a Kindle/Nook, or update from phone to an operating system that would run all the apps I want to use). 

But maybe you know someone who's into fitness yet not into technology (and doesn't know the first place to start unless you gift her a device). Or maybe you know someone into technology but needs some fitness motivation to get up off the couch. Or maybe you're simply stumped on what to gift your fit friends. Keep reading as Fit-Ink shares some of the favorites we've uncovered this year.

Motorola one-ups most devices with this fitness tracker. Not only will it tell you how far and fast you're running, walking, cycling and even ellipticalling, but you can link it to iTunes and load your favorite workout playlist. When you sync the data, you can learn what songs on your playlist are the most motivating. I haven't been on a golf course in years, but measures your fitness there, too. Gone are the days of strapping every device imaginable to your torso just to go for a run or needing a separate device for every activity--MotoActv straps to your wrist or clips to your clothing. After a while you won't want to leave home without it.

When Nike+ first came out in 2006, I was hooked, mostly because I didn't have to strap a million different devices to my arms to measure the miles I'd run on the Lakefront. And I've dabbled with adidas's miCoach, but when you can barely walk two miles without feeling a sharp pain in your shin (that would be a stress fracture injury) you really don't want to know how slow you're walking. But fast forward six years and I'm even more hooked on the FuelBand, and not only because it doesn't require a chip in my shoe or an iPod plug-in. I wear it so much I'm earning Fuel when I sleep...tossing and turning in bed. But that's the whole idea that the original Nike+ didn't offer: the FuelBand measures how active you are, whether you're walking around town to finish errands, playing kickball with friends or sweating through Spinning class (just don't wear it swimming--it's not guaranteed to survive water submersion). And the FuelBand is great for the already-active or needs-to-get-active crowds--it holds you accountable for your healthy moves and create a little competition among friends should you choose to share your data that's uploaded to the Nike+ website. 

I had a hard time choosing just one Garmin device. You see, I'm also in love with the Forerunner 10 (for its simplicity), the FR70 (for its fitness measurements), the Garmin Swim (for its lap-counting capability) and fenix (it looks darn cool and it has cool features). But my 310XT is starting to show its age, and it's having a tougher and tougher time booting up before my runs. So I had to go with the update--and an awesome one at that cause the 910 can track my laps in the pool--on the old standby.

Why would a video game console make this list? Because Nike teamed up with Kinect to offer one of the coolest ways to work out ever, especially for those of us (ahem, me) who don't have an iPad or decent phone to be able to use the NTC app. Nike Training Club with Kinect takes training to a new level, much like the Hyperworkout (double check name) shoes that came out this summer. Those workout packs were no joke and when the shoes measured my stats--and basically said I sucked--I wanted to work 10 times harder. And now I can do that--without leaving the house.

Mashable tipped me off to this gadget, which in short is an iPhone-powered bike trainer. Considering I'm stuck doing a bulk of indoor riding--between Chicago's wintry weather and scary traffic on the Lakefront, the cyclist in me was curious from the get-go. A trainer that works like a Computrainer but isn't a Computrainer because it powers everything from resistance to ride options via the iPhone? I'd upgrade my iPhone in a second if it meant I could try this real-ride simulation from my living room. Sure beats the Spinning classes I stopped attending at the gym (they turned sour). One problem: This Wahoo Fitness device isn't quite ready for release yet. But add it to the wish list or it can be the "I owe you"gift.

We know this barely touches on all the fitness-related gadgets out there. named its favorites, so did Fitbie. And Mashable found these five techie tools that aren't as well known. 

What gadgets are you loving for your workouts? What are you gifting others this holiday season? 

Photos grabbed from Nike.

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