Why Do We Need Tech at the Gym?

Using technology to better achieve your fitness goals is nothing new. Well, it’s certainly new in terms of modern history, but it’s been fully integrated into our lives ever since the proliferation of smartphone apps. Now, there’s an app for everything, and that definitely includes fitness. But do we want to integrate technology into everything now, or is there something specific that compels us to combine tech and fitness? And what can that tell us about future tech integration?

Encouragement

Many fitness apps and technologies are aimed at tracking your movement. Whether you use your phone or a piece of wearable tech, the device usually measures your steps and determines how many calories you burned throughout the day.  Showing this sort of progress can be instrumental to fitness success. Many of us struggle with maintaining our physical health, and part of the reason is that we don’t see any visible improvements after one workout. Putting ourselves through that torture just to look and move exactly the same doesn’t seem worth it; however, we know that it’s not just about one workout, it’s about keeping the same routine day in and day out.

Fitness apps are a great tool to push us through plateaus or to motivate us at the beginning of a new regime. Before we can see the results of working out physically, we can get confirmation from our app that yes, we did work out, even though we could’ve finished a season on Netflix or gone out with the girls. Some apps even have voice-overs at the end of a workout by famous athletes or coaches congratulating you on a job well-done. So even if your friends don’t care that you beat your personal best, your app definitely does.

Accountability

As much as we don’t see results from one workout, we don’t instantly become flabby and weak if we skip a workout and spend a night binging on beer. And while we might form pacts with friends to keep each other accountable, your friend can’t be there with you all day. 77 percent of American adults own a smartphone, and we’re becoming more attached to them as time goes on. We now have a constant companion to track our nutrition, our workouts, even how many steps we took casually throughout the day.

Furthermore, you can’t lie to your phone. It’s easy to embellish your workout progress to your friends, but your phone metrics will tell the truth. It’s tracking your steps, adding up all your calories, telling you when you need to go to bed to get seven hours, and so on. As long as you have it on you — which isn’t a stretch these days — your phone is the perfect accountability tool.

This isn’t to say that there haven’t been problems. Running apps traditionally use GPS to track your distance, and it isn’t always accurate. Do some experimenting, and pick whatever app works best in your area. Otherwise, you might be tempted to write off mediocre times as the fault of the app, when you really should’ve pushed yourself harder.

Flexibility

Tech has done more than bring the voices of personal trainers to our smartphones; it’s allowed us to bring their expertise to any place, any time. While workout videos have existed for quite some time, the sheer availability of free videos, advice, and fitness plans now is ever-expanding. Instead of being confined to working out in front of your TV, you can do so in the park, in your bedroom, or around the block. Some services even let you attend whatever gym is closest and most convenient for you at the time.

Additionally, you can personalize your workouts like never before. Not only do apps keep track of your personal fitness goals, but you can listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks while working out. You can review work documents, schedule meetings, read the news, and push yourself simultaneously.

Integrating tech into fitness has allowed us to pursue many goals at the same time. You can be well-read, productive, have “me-time”, and be physically fit. Keep in mind, however, many carriers have a limit on how much data you can use every month. If you’re using your smartphone for your workouts, switching between your fitness app, Spotify, and the news can get expensive. Either budget your data, go unlimited, or download everything you want to listen to before your runs. You might be fit and cultured, but that shouldn’t come at the cost of going broke!

Future of Fitness Tech

If fitness technology is going to be even more successful, the three qualities listed above will need to be further emphasized. Instead of the voice of some pre-determined professional athlete, perhaps you’ll be able to pick a voice that motivates you more. GPS issues could be resolved. Smartphone providers might figure out a way for constant multitasking.

It’ll be interesting to see how that fairs with some recent fitness trends. Yoga has been on the rise, a practice that traditionally advocates mindfulness and serenity, which isn’t exactly in tune with constant technology use. While technology has started pushing into the yoga studio, it’s hard to imagine that it’ll ever eliminate studios completely.

Additionally, the number of those biking to work has increased 60 percent in the last 10 years. How could tech possibly be further integrated here, where a biker’s complete attention is required for safety? Biker fatalities in traffic are already increasing, so it might not be a great idea to further distract them. Technology might not be able to break further into this sector, which is worrying if this becomes more and more commuters’ primary means of fitness.

Other fitness trends might face a similar problem. These technological distractions might make working out more bearable, but we might have reached a limit on tech integration, at least for a while. However, tech has already equipped us with the necessary tools to meet our fitness goals. We have a huge advantage over previous generations; let’s make sure we use it!

6/7/2017 7:00:00 AM
Dayton Uttinger
Written by Dayton Uttinger
Dayton is passionate about health and wellness in today's fast-paced, busy world. She socializes for a living and writes for fun. Her rarely relevant degree gives her experience in political science, writing, running, Spanish, rugby, theater, coding, and spreading herself too thin. She will forever be a prisoner of her f...
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