Gift Guide 2017: Fitness Tech and Wearables

November 16, 2017

11:30 am

The holidays are a magical time of excess cookies, turkey, stockings filled with chocolate and reused popcorn balls, and maybe a little more beer or wine than usually. Fortunately that means New Year’s is approaching, and with that it’s time for another health related resolution about getting those abs in shape.

To get you started on the right foot we’ve done a bit of digging to see what devices will help get you off that couch to run that first 5K, otherwise be a bit more active, and of course the heavy hitters for the fitness and cardio junkies. Here are just a few of the top fitness items we’ve reviewed or are top sellers in their field.

Looking for a bit of inspiration? Here’s one athletepreneur’s story about running a marathon in every state.

Couch to 5K Gear and General Tech

There are tons of apps, sites, and programs dedicated to for the couch to 5K program, and that’s why we’re dropping in some of the more general types of fitness tech here. Fear not marathon runners, you too can use these earbuds.

Lumo Run, $100 [TechCo Approved]

Lumo Run is a wearable device that clips onto the back of your running shorts or capris and tracks various metrics key for maintaining good running form, including pelvic drop and rotation, braking, cadence and bounce. The device syncs to your smartphone and can even give real-time feedback and tips on your form as you run. After trying this on a half-marathon, we found there were a lot of problem areas worth correcting. As a result we’ve found better pace times and strides, but found it to not be a fan of people wearing camel backs that bump into it.

Skybuds, $150 [TechCo Approved]

Skybuds earbuds

Not a fan of any wires? Skybuds have you covered. Much like the new Apple AirPods, Skybuds (which came out first!) simply pop into each ear. They also have a similar charging dock system, and overall the both the sound and battery life were solid. I ran at least one half marathon with these, and as a very sweaty person, that should say a lot. You can read my sweat-infused review where we recommend them here.

Xiaomi Mi Band 2, $22 [TechCo Approved]

xiaomi mi band 2 packaging unboxed

You don’t need a pricey fitness tracker or GPS watch when you’re just getting started, and for that you can easily trade a few pints of ice cream for the Mi Band 2. It gives you all the basics like step counting, heart rate, and activity tracking, but with none of the ridiculous price tags. You can read our review here.

Cubii Under the Desk Elliptical, $347 [TechCo Approved]

Cubii

As much as we all would like it, not everyone can get a standing desk. Between pricing, space constraints, and the fact you actually have to stand all day, the norm is still sitting desks. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be totally stagnant. The Cubii is an under the desk elliptical that allows you to peddle your 9-5 away, track it all on your awesome connected app, and probably annoy your coworkers, too. Think of it as a fidget spinner with benefits, or something like that. You can read our review here.

Fitbit Charge 2, $150

fitbit charge 2

Fitbit may not have the cheapest fitness trackers on the market, but they are certainly one of the more iconic brands. One of the best parts about Fitbit is the challenge aspect. If you and your friends buy them it’s easy to set weekly challenges, work together, or see who can get the most steps. While it doesn’t have a built in GPS, the version can tether your phone’s GPS tech to get a more accurate activity tracking session.

Waterproofed iPod Shuffle and Earbuds, $180

waterproof iPod Shuffle

This year Apple discontinued the iPod Shuffle, but that doesn’t mean this fantastic little device is at the end of its line. Underwater Audio has waterproofed it, tossed in a pair of special earbuds, and with that you can clip it right on to your goggles and listen to music while swimming. It also acts as earplugs so you don’t have to do the water dance at the end of your session.

Bowflex SelectTech, $220

bowflex tech

For years Bowflex has produced various machines designed to help you pump iron at home, and with SelectTech you can even save space. Gone are the days of slapping on weights, storing it on a rack, and repeating the process. WIth the turn of a dial you’ll have the weight you want, and you’ll be ready to roll.

Running Tech

Running is far more than just tossing on a pair of shoes and moving. The further you go, the more important it is to track what you’re doing to ensure you’re either improving, not overdoing it, or gloating about it on a regular basis. Music also never hurt, especially once those kilometers start to add up.

Apple Watch Series 3, $330+

Apple Watch Series 3

One party fancy, one part sporty. The Apple Watch has been a force to reckon with since they released a version with GPS built in, and now you even add in LTE. While reviews are rocky at best, the regular Apple Watch Series 3 is essentially the same as the second one, and it’s a fantastic tracker for most activities. In fact, I love mine so much that after the first one fell off while kayaking I ended up replacing it a month later. If you want something both fashionable, waterproof, and has built in GPS, this is the way to go. However, if you don’t care about fashion, Garmin still offers better data and insights. Read our coverage of the Apple Watch here.

Under Armor Sport Wireless Heart Rate Earbuds, $150

If the only thing you care to track is your heart rate, then ditch the fitness tracker in place of earbuds. These buds provide an instant heart rate reading measured directly from the ear at the touch of a button, letting athletes fully embrace their workout while listening to JBL’s signature sound. The headphones are built for durability and to withstand sweat and water while featuring JBL’s Twistlock and Flexsoft technology to ensure a comfortable fit that won’t fall out. The headphones have a built-in connection to UA record, Under Armour’s definitive health and fitness platform.

Garmin Vivosport GPS Band, $200 [TechCo Approved]

Garmin Vivosport

If you’re a runner or a triathlete, there is no doubt you know the power of a Garmin. Some of us go so far as to place “pause my Garmin” on our emergency bands. The Vivosport builds on this success, while introducing a great new design. Coming in at the slimmest GPS band on the market, the Vivosport is the perfect minimal band that you can wear all day, and still accurately track your runs or cycling sessions with the power of GPS. We can’t recommend this one enough, but you can read the full review here.

Cycling Tech

Some of the tech we have listed in the previous sections can certainly double up for cycling gear, but these particular devices will help you track, improve, and distract you from your ass pain after mile 50.

Coros LINX Cycling Helmet With Bone-Conduction Audio, $200 [TechCo Approved]

Coros LINX helmet

If there is one thing a cyclist knows it’s that wearing headphones or earbuds while on the bike is a no no. People constantly want to squish you in their car, and that means you need to be able to hear them coming so take quick actions. However, Coros has a clever solution that allows you to fully hear your surroundings while still getting music, directions, or even an emergency call out when you blow a tube. Their bone-conduction technology is built right into the helmet, rests against your face, and allows you to hear whatever you have running on your phone. You won’t get crazy bass or the clearest sound for music, but it’s safer and gets the job done. You can read our review here, and keep a close eye on these folks because they may be up to something new.

TomTom Adventurer, $290 [TechCo Approved]

tomtom adventurer

Not all cyclists wear goofy tight shorts and jerseys, some put on full face helmets and go head first into a mountain. While this particular GPS watch is especially designed for hikers and skiers, the real magic of it comes down to its ability to plot off-road courses. Thanks to its built in GPS, you can easily plot your off road and dirt courses, or even track your starting location in the woods and have a tracked compass to get you back safely. This also works well for running, swimming, and even indoor cycling if you have a power meter. You can read our recommendation here, and don’t forget the awesome earbuds that come with it.

Copenhagen Wheel, $2000 [TechCo Approved]

Superpedestrian Copenhagen Wheel

What’s better than cycling tech? How about an entire bike! The Copenhagen Wheel, the once mythical technology created by MIT, has become reality this year. While this isn’t going to appeal to the athletic cyclists, it is the perfect balance for casual riders and commuters. Although we tested and recommend the full bike, you can also get just the wheel for $1500 and install it relatively easily on most regular steel frame bikes.

PowerTap G3 Hub, $600

powertap hub

Perhaps one of the most popular cycling power meters around, the PowerTap Hub gives you a set it and forget it system combined with supreme accuracy. If it’s good enough for DC Rainmaker, it’s good enough for us. If you’re looking for a power meter though, check out his entire buyers guide.

Garmin Varia Vision Display, $385

Garmin Varia Vision Display

While riding, any distraction can result in a world of hurt, especially when riding along side traffic. Augmented reality is the latest tech set to invade our sport, and Garmin is one of the first established brands to attempt the entry point. The Garmin Varia Vision Display is essentially what you’d expect from a Google Glass type experience. Rather than looking down at your computer or GPS watch, your pace, cadence, and other data points are all in your peripheral vision.

Stay tuned for the rest of our guide throughout the season. We’ll be covering holiday guides for Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, the DIYer, cannabis, entrepreneur, STEM, and various others.

Find more TechCo Approved gear and gadgets for your home here.

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Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world and is often digging into emerging technology and data. When not writing, he’s likely either running or training for a triathlon. You can contact him by email at elliot(@)elliotvolkman.com or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.

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