Finding the time, or motivation, to exercise is one of life’s great mysteries. Do wearable coaches – fitness trackers that offer a personal training-type service – alleviate the strain? We asked three IoD members to test devices connected to their mobiles
Director, Forward Progress
What: Garmin Forerunner 230, £209.99 (above)
I have used an Apple Watch before but never a device purely used for fitness and coaching. The device was not too bulky and the green silicon strap was not at all uncomfortable. I used it for interval training and the coaching aspect kept me on track by buzzing at the end of each interval when it was time to move on to the next exercise (it had a variety of coaching options, but I opted for ‘vibrate’, which proved very effective). The device did make a difference and I can see that it would continue to over time – because I used it regularly I grew accustomed to having my walking monitored and felt motivated to walk more as a result. The battery had a long life and did not require a huge amount of charging time, and it was also easy to set up the device and pair it to my phone via Bluetooth. The app was decent, and if you open an account you can share your results with friends. I liked the overall look and feel of the device, and the clean, simple layout and colour scheme was attractive. I was happy with its performance and would recommend it to friends.
Ralph Lucas is a member of IoD North Wales
What: Moov Now, £59
I previously used another fitness tracking device to track my exercise and calorie intake and to assist my training for a long-distance triathlon. Unlike my previous device, I could track my calories and cadence while swimming thanks to Moov Now’s waterproof functionality. Despite the slightly irritating coaching voice, the option to pick a workout through the app is a good feature; I tried the interval training while running and if you don’t hit the targets in the harder intervals the vocal feedback tells you. For cycling and swimming there are also a range of workouts to choose from so it’s ideal if you’re looking for additional motivation during training or a more structured session. The app is great for interval/static training as you can use your phone’s speakers, but having to wear headphones while running and cycling to hear the coaching support is a struggle. The app was easy to set up on my phone, but a downside is that I was reliant on my phone to use the tracking device and the iPhone 6 is quite big to be carrying around!
Alice Todd is a member of IoD North Lincolnshire
CEO, Hardy Oil and Gas
What: Jabra Sport Coach, £119.99
My first impressions of the Jabra headphones were good; nice design, comfortable fit, and there was no soreness or irritation from them. The device is primarily designed for running, although there is a cross-training activity listed on the phone app. I found the combination of time-based and rep-based exercises fiddly as you had to constantly press the tick if you complete the number of reps faster than the allotted time. The voice from the app would indicate rest periods between routine steps and countdown, and there is also the option to compile your own routine from a long list of exercises, but in terms of coaching I thought there was little via the app; it just went through the routine step-by-step. What I really appreciated was the heart rate monitor. It claimed clinical accuracy, and was beneficial as it ensured I did not exceed a safe heart rate – I even reduced the intensity of my workout slightly as a result. The app was easy to download, but connecting my phone to the device via Bluetooth was trickier. I would definitely recommend this if running is the main part of your exercise!
Ian MacKenzie is a member of IoD Scotland