The digital revolution has affected every aspect of our lives, from the methods which major companies use to conduct business transactions to how we order a pizza or chat with our friends.
Of course, all the time that we now spend staring at a screen means that physical fitness is more important than ever, and many people are concerned that so much time spent online is damaging our health.
However, digital advances bring at least as many positives to our fitness regimes as they do distractions. From wearable technology to hi-tech equipment in your local gym, technology is revolutionising the world of fitness, just as much as it is changing every other aspect of our lives.
At the gym
You might already feel that you need a degree in IT to get the most out of the treadmill, rowing machine, and exercise bike at your local gym. There are a vast range of settings to simulate all imaginable conditions and to tailor the workout to your precise needs.
However, the very latest technologies have gone one step further. No more staring at the wall or the guy struggling on the multigym as you pedal along – The Pack provides a virtual reality cycling experience, projecting your progress on a wall and pitting you against other cyclists in the group.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the project is championed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, always a leader in adopting new technologies.
One of the most important aspects of technology is the ability to personalise experiences for each individual. Some gyms now offer an app that uses barcode technology to create a bespoke workout on the basis of your metabolic profile.
Whether you are at the gym or are out running in the park, there are more gadgets to manage and measure your progress coming out every day.
The latest wrist-wear looks at far more than just your daily exercise – it can also measure your heart rate and sleep patterns to help you improve your overall wellbeing. However, you are no longer even restricted to wearing something on your wrist.
There is a growing popularity in headphones that monitor your health and fitness – they even give you audible updates on how your workout is going, to help you achieve a new personal best without even having to look down.
For those who like their bikes to still have two wheels, how about a smart cycle helmet? These amazing gadgets come with built in bone-conduction earphones, allowing you to listen to your GPS directions or music in safety while still being able to hear what is going on around you.
They can also track your mileage, average speed, and other statistics; and, best of all, they come with a collision detection system that will automatically alert your emergency contact in the event of an accident.
Hi-tech compression clothing
Going for a fitness workout used to involve throwing on a pair of shorts, a T-shirt, and some comfortable tennis shoes, but not anymore. Today, both women’s and men’s active wear and compression clothing come with added technology to maximize comfort, support, and flexibility.
Compression gear is more than just a stretchy pair of spandex pants designed to make you look good. It is made with state-of-the-art elastic that helps it to hold its shape and deliver just the right pressure to improve circulation.
Studies have shown that compression clothes help to improve blood flow for runners and athletes, meaning better oxygenation of the muscles and, ultimately, improved performance.
What does the future hold?
Technology marches faster and faster with every passing year, and some of the things that we take for granted today would have seemed like science fiction just a few years ago. Where will the technological revolution go next in the world of fitness?
The potential for further development of Virgin’s virtual reality bike rides is clear to see, and some simple modifications in programming could soon give us the opportunity to race our bikes up Mount Everest, through the tropical rainforest, or even on the moon.
The current popularity of personalisation in our online activities through voice-based systems such as Siri and Alexa and the increased use of semantic search technology mean that we could soon have our own virtual personal trainer.
It sounds ideal, but be careful what you wish for – imagine returning home from a hard day at the office, saying “Alexa, order me a pizza,” and being told that you need to do 100 press-ups first! The future could be a scary place.