When tech start-up LifeBeam hit the news last month with their Kickstarter for ‘the first true AI personal trainer’, it was exciting. We might not have a Marty McFly hoverboard but artificial intelligence in a pair of biosensing headphones is still pretty damn impressive.
However, what was really surprising was that it wasn’t that surprising.
It’s no secret that technology is revolutionising the fitness industry. From wearables to online personal training courses to Instagram’s huge fitness community, the progress made in the past decade eclipses everything that happened in the century before.
Our appetite for exciting new tech knows no bounds – because let’s face it, we all want to be a kick-ass sci-fi cyborg – and that’s reflected in LifeBeam’s success. They needed $100k. They’ve made a million.
Here are some of the main ways tech is changing the fitness landscape.
There must be thousands of fitness enthusiasts out there who would love to become professional personal trainers but just can’t commit to a traditional course. If you’ve got kids, a full-time job, or are a carer for an elderly parent, flexibility is paramount. It might be simple enough to do a work-out on your lunch break, but personal training courses generally can’t be squeezed in so easily. What’s an aspiring PT to do?
Once again, technology saves the day. YMCA Awards and ICS Learn have teamed up to launch new 100% online personal training courses that you can do whenever, wherever, including practical assessments and exams. Just film yourself instructing a friend, then send the video to your tutor to be marked. Boom – you’re a fully qualified personal trainer or fitness instructor, and you did it all at 10pm after the kids went to bed.
Smartwatches, fitness trackers and hearables can now measure your work-outs in increasingly tiny increments, making it easy to track your progress and make super-detailed fitness plans. Many also allow you to keep an eye on your health via heart-rate, respiration, sleep, temperature, posture and even brain activity.
Where in the past wearables have often been clunky and unwieldy, this generation is sleek and svelte (well, for the most part – looking at you, Atlas Wristband). Ringly has created high-end jewellery that you’d never guess contained fitness trackers, and Michael Kors has two stylish Android Wear watches due to come out this Autumn.
The wearables market has grown to be worth $20 billion, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Want to power-up your fitness without investing in wearable tech? There are a huge number of fitness apps on the market just waiting to make your life easier.
For professional trainers, apps like The Training Notebook, PT Distinction and Acuity Scheduling are invaluable for organising your client base, keeping track of training and managing your schedule.
For the rest of us, diet and fitness trackers like MyFitnessPal, Couch to 5k and Fitnet can be the difference between giving up and giving it your all. Need more motivation? Try Zombies, Run! and live out your zombie apocalypse fantasies while getting fit.
And if your biggest challenge is matching your playlist to your workout, Motion Traxx is your saviour.
Instagram’s Fitness Community
Fitness pros and average joes benefit alike from Instagram’s huge fitness community.
Social media is the perfect platform for personal trainers to show off their results and share their workouts. This can translate to more than a stellar follower count: many fitness professionals have found real-world success through Instagram.
Take Kayla Itsines for example. She’s sold ten million of her Bikini Body Guides and travelled the world doing bootcamps for her fans – all because she started using Instagram as a handy place to upload her clients’ before-and-after shots.
For non-pros, Instagram provides a wealth of inspiration, ideas and support, as well as accountability if you make friends in the community. Plus, you get intimate access to the best in the business. Want to know how Hugh Jackman got ripped for Wolverine? Just follow his personal trainer.
Whether you’re an aspiring PT taking a course online, a CEO using wearables to optimise your health, or a new parent staying motivated with Instagram, technology has made staying fit and healthy easier than ever.