These are the gadgets promising to put a spring in your gym step
A bit of a stretch
Google “lazy person’s yoga” and you’ll see plenty of ads for Thai massage practitioners, because the therapy does replicate some yogic stretches. But if you’re too lazy to even leave the house, the Homedics Zen Stretch Plus Stretching Mat (£279) provides six soothing programmes of Thai massage, via seven surprisingly powerful inflatable air pockets, all from the floor of your own sitting room. It’s disconcerting at first, but then very relaxing, and its gentle twisting of my body seemed to help my back pain. But for a “smart” massager, it’s odd that it doesn’t provide the option to sync with an app, or even customise settings beyond the basic remote control.
Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, has founded an iOS fitness app called Centr, which shamelessly trades on the concept that you too can have a six pack like his, if you only put in enough effort (which of course includes paying a subscription, from £15.49 a month). Pleasingly, his team of personal trainers don’t just prescribe wall-to-wall abdominal crunches, but also meal planning and mental wellbeing, so even if you find their sweat inducing exercise programmes a little intense, there are recipes and meditations to help you get healthier too. There’s no video download facility, though, so make sure your gym has wifi if you want to use it out and about.
Cooling down is as important as warming-up, and Doppel (£175) is here to help. Worn on your wrist, it looks like a fitness tracker but actually contains a little spinny wheel that emits silent vibrations resembling the da-dum, da-dum of your heartbeat. In fact it has no power over your actual pulse, but the psychosomatic effect is noticeable, and, by altering the speed and intensity via the accompanying app, I enjoyed the calm feeling of seemingly slowing my tempo, or increasing my energy during a workout. It takes some getting used to—for a while I kept thinking my phone was vibrating in my pocket—and the battery life is disappointing. But the illusion of controlling your inner rhythm is addictive.
Pumping iron is best accompanied by music, and these days Bluetooth earphones can prevent you from unintentionally cutting off your tunes when flailing your arms under the headphone cable. Beats By Dre Powerbeats Pro (£219) are the robust “true wireless” option—they didn’t fall out of my earholes once, no matter how wild my movements. But for a hundred quid less (and no charging case) the unshowy Klipsch T5 Sport Wireless Earphones (£110) are a great choice, featuring a sweat-resistant band, minimal sound-leak, and some serious musical oomph.
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