Jan 14, 2012

It's easy to make lofty fitness promises to yourself in January. But forget about wasting money on a gym membership you'll never use. Instead, here are some tech tools can help you set goals, stay on track and lead a healthier lifestyle.


On its surface, Basis looks like an ordinary digital watch. But if you dig a little deeper, you'll soon realize this robust little gadget is an up-and-comer in the health tech market (it's launching "soon," says its website). Like the Jawbone UP, which began selling early November, Basis uses body sensors to keep tabs on your health, but the difference is this: Basis has more sensors to track more information — blood flow, motion, temperature, sweat levels, heart rates and blood oxygen level, for instance — giving users a detailed overview of their health, sleep and exercise habits. Plus, Basis has a smart design concept; unlike a monitoring bracelet, Basis is part watch, which wins it points in the practicality category. In terms of real awards, the monitoring watch received one of the most highly coveted gadget honors: CES Best of Innovations Design and Engineering Awards in the health and wellness category. It's available for pre-order


The highly intelligent Withings WiFi Body Scale connects to your home network to gather and monitor your weight, body fat percentage and body mass index every time you step on it. The information gets sent to a private Web dashboard, accessible via computer and iOS and Android devices. The scale works automatically and without delay but does requires a bit of coordination. Only when your balance is perfectly even does data get recorded and sent. You can keep this information private if you wish, but sharing features are built in so you can send this information to your doctor, personal trainer — even Twitter followers, which might strike you as oversharing (but not at the level in the video above!). Available from ThinkGeek for about $160.


The pressure and monotony of 20 minutes of cardio a day is crushing our spirit, according to San Francisco-based start-up BitGym, and turning our treadmills, elliptical machines and exercise bikes into relics stashed away in garages and basements. BitGym aims to dust this equipment off by bringing a bit of the outdoors to the indoor gym. Its tablet and phone apps are designed to keep you moving by giving you visual cues on the mobile device you plant in front of you while exercising. In Fit Freeway, you control a car with your real-life running speed and steer with your head's tilt. Other titles include Trail Runner, which shows trails and landscape, and Virtual Active (expected to launch this month), which includes 10 workout packages set to iconic scenery — including the Swiss Alps. A lite version of Fit Freeway is available for free; the iPhone and iPad apps costs $2.99 and $4.99, respectively.

Skimble's Workout Trainer

Need a trainer to whip your butt into shape? There's an app for that, too (of course). Skimble'sWorkout Trainer, available for iOS and Android devices, provides exercises coached by personal trainers. Whether you're a weightlifter, sprinter, yogi or are just looking to shed a few pounds, Skimble has a workout for you, with a database of thousands of exercises. The app, which also works on Apple TV, provides timed step-by-step instructions using audio, photos and videos to explain how to execute the different workouts. Users can choose workouts filtered by intensity, length of time and fitness goals. The company says there are thousands of free workouts, but a pro subscription buys you access to special routines, such as Lower Back Yoga Essentials. If you don't feel like browsing the catalog, Shakerciser chooses a workout for you workout based on how much time you have, the intensity and what area of the body you'd like to focus on. Available from the App Store for free, with an optional $9.99 pro subscription.
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