We took a look at this year’s hottest fitness gadgets and gizmos to see which ones are worth the workout. Here are our top 9 fitness picks that can help you shape up in record time—with just the push of a button! By Myatt Murphy, author of the Ultimate Dumbbell Guide
Why we like it: Designed specifically for women looking to lose a few pounds, or, just boost their daily activity, the Timex Health Tracker has a built-in “workout mode” that automatically records how many steps you’ve walked, how far you’ve gone distance-wise, and how many calories you’re burning as you go, simply by sensing the swinging motion of your arm—it even beeps you when you’ve reached the half-way mark of your fitness goal for the day. But what we really love is that it also lets you secretly enter and record how many calories you’re eating during the day—without anyone else knowing what you’re doing.
Why we like it: Mixing delicious protein-rich shakes or fruit-filled smoothies may be smart when watching your weight, but there’s nothing fun about making them—until this little wonder. The Oster My Blend lets you whip up what you need, then you simply detach the blades, place the lid on the bottle, and voila—it turns into a portable sport bottle so you can drink right from the 20-ounce container, or, bring your shake with you to the gym. You can even use the scratch-resistant, BPA-free plastic bottle all day long as a water bottle once you’ve finished your shake or smoothie.
Why we like it: If you’re looking to lose weight, most people stick with the same handful of tried-and-true methods such as walking, running, cycling, or exercise classes. Finally, there are plenty of new fun fitness games you can try with an Xbox 360 that are terrific for burning calories—such as Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, Dance Central, The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout and EA SPORTS Active 2—but you need a Kinect to try any of them. This sensor sits on top of your entertainment center and tracks your body movements, so you don’t need to hold a controller (which can slip from your hands, or just be uncomfortable as you work out) or have to worry about pushing any buttons to get moving.
Why we like it: Just like the Timex Health Tracker, the MIO Triumph watch lets you track how many calories you’ve taken in and how many calories you’ve burned from exercise. However, it also comes with a strapless heart rate monitor system and a built-in alarm system that warns you whenever you go over the calorie limit you’ve set for the day. What we really thought was unique was that MIO also has a device that helps you determine what your true biological age is, based on your health. All you do is plug MIO’s FitStik (sold separately) into your PC, wear the chest strap it comes with, then perform a series of breathing exercises and other tests that can determine your stress and fitness levels and if you’re as healthy on the inside as you look on the outside.
Why we like it: If you love using a pool for dropping the pounds, the Swimsense watch is ideal because it does something no other swim watch can do—it knows what type of stroke you’re using while you swim. Why is that important? Certain strokes use more muscles—and burn more calories. As you glide through the water, this gizmo can tell exactly what stroke you’re using, so it can accurately display distance and how many calories you’ve burned—in addition to keeping track of which types of strokes you used during your workout and how fast you were swimming (among many other fitness factors). Once you’re dry, the watch works with a software package that can give you a detailed report on what kind of a workout you had in the pool, so you’ll know what to do to reap even more benefits the next time you dive in.
Why we like them: If you own an iPhone or iPod Touch and can’t give it up as you exercise, now you don’t have to. This company makes a series of products that can turn your Mac device into your own personal trainer, a running partner, and even a personal nutritionist. Once you plug it a mini-sensor into the bottom of your portable device, it can receive data from a variety of other mini-sensors they make, including a heart rate strap to monitor your pulse, as well as devices you can attach to your bike—and even your shoelaces—that can determine not only how far you’re walking/running/cycling, but even how fast you’re exercising!
Why we like it: Clip the Fitbit onto your waist—or just place it in your pocket—and this 3D motion sensor can help you track everything from how many calories you’ve burned to how many steps you’ve taken (including how far you’ve walked) all day. But what’s unique about this gadget is that when you wear it at night, it can even gauge how long you’ve slept—along with how many of those hours were actually quality hours of sleep. Better yet, every time you walk past the base station, the Fitbit wirelessly syncs your daily data into your online profile, so you can see how well you’re doing without ever having to type a single thing.
Why we like it: The Accelerator Pro does everything a sports watch should—from monitoring your heart rate and counting laps to recording how many calories you’ve burned and alerting you when you’re out of your target heart rate zone. Its Pro Plus model even allows you to upload your data to your computer to measure your progress. But we love its built-in accelerometer sensor, which actually detects changes in how fast you’ve moving by measuring electric current, then lets you know how fast you’re moving and traveling as you break a sweat. It’s also one of the most user-friendly watches out there, which can make your workout a little bit less stressful by eliminating some of the fiddling frustration that many sports watches can cause.
Why we like it: Normally, the scale is never your friend, but this one’s fun because it automatically recognizes you (and seven other family members) as soon as you step on it. Once it figures out your weight (along with your body mass index (BMI), it sends that data wirelessly to either your own personal web page, or your iPhone, so you can track your weight loss. You can even have the scale send messages through Twitter to let friends and followers know how close you are to hitting that target weight—or how close you’re not, so they can motivate you to push yourself harder.