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Hi Tech Trackers Helping Fitness Go ‘Back-to-Basics’



Consumers bought some 84 million fitness tracking devices in 2013, and the trend shows no sign of abating. Fitness experts predict a continuation of the soaring popularity of wearable fitness gadgets over the next 12 months, according to a recent Reuters article.

Companies cited in research conducted by HIS Inc include San Francisco firm MyFitnessPal, which drew on data from its 47 million users to show how digital fitness apps like the one they offer are increasingly being used to help people manage their workout regime.

One of the more counterintuitive finds from the analysis is that hi-tech solutions are enabling people to go back to more traditional forms of exercise, like running and cycling. Zumba, the dance and aerobics routine that you couldn’t escape hearing about in 2011, has lost some momentum, suffering a 9% drop in participants during 2014.

So are people really shunning the hi-techery of the gym in favor of monitoring the morning jog with wearable fitness trackers? Trend watchers seem to think so, and academics agree. According to the Reuters article, The American College of Sports Medicine has identified body weight training - which uses minimal equipment - as one of the top fitness trends in 2015.

So how has technology changed our attitude towards personal fitness? Unlike laptops and phones, wearable tech puts the focus squarely on the body. The insight provided by the low-effort activity of strapping on a Fitbit Flex is opening up a new way of working out, whereby we no longer have to trust a trainer to tell us how effective each routine is - we can see for ourselves.

The efficacy of wearable tech is largely down to its invasiveness. Fitness trackers and the apps they talk to actually become part of your physicality. They become unavoidable. The enormous success of programs that do everything from sending you motivational reminders to slapping you with a fine if you fail to perform a certain task attests to a fundamental truth about human nature: we need to be reminded, nagged, guilt-tripped, even blackmailed before doing what we're supposed to. That, it seems, is what’s truly good for our health.


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