Latest in fitness gadgets helping Fittest Loser contestants

  • Van Dillenkoffer is using multiple fitness apps and exercise trackers during the Fittest Loser Challenge.

    Van Dillenkoffer is using multiple fitness apps and exercise trackers during the Fittest Loser Challenge. Courtesy of Van Dillenkoffer

  • Van Dillenkoffer's watch display.

    Van Dillenkoffer's watch display. Courtesy of Van Dillenkoffer

  • Barb's workout summary.

    Barb's workout summary. Courtesy of Barb Simon

  • Van Dillenkoffer's summary with CycleMeter.

    Van Dillenkoffer's summary with CycleMeter. Courtesy of Van Dillenkoffer

 
By Colette Harris
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 4/12/2020 10:17 AM

The fitness world is no stranger to technology. Health and fitness websites, apps and tech accessories made their debuts awhile ago. They help people set goals, track progress, follow workout routines and plan healthy meals while on the go or from the comfort of their living rooms.

Now that Illinoisans and our Fittest Loser contestants are sheltering-in-place until the end of the month or longer, fitness tech is becoming increasingly popular and useful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Whether you're logging onto a website, downloading a free app or investing in a piece of fitness tech, all of these offerings have several important elements in common; they provide instant feedback on your daily health habits, give you enough daily, monthly, and yearly data to determine what is and isn't working in your fitness routine, and can serve as an accountability tool.

If you've ever worn a fitness tracker, often a watch or wristband, you know it holds you accountable by reminding you to move, stand or complete your desired amount of exercise each day.

No matter what health goals you're trying to achieve during quarantine or beyond, the good news is there is most likely fitness technology that will work for you.

Fittest Loser contestant Barb Simon checks the fitness tracker on her watch at the end of a day. Some trackers even reveal how much and how well you slept.
Fittest Loser contestant Barb Simon checks the fitness tracker on her watch at the end of a day. Some trackers even reveal how much and how well you slept. - Courtesy of Barb Simon
Track your nutrition

A few contestants and Push Fitness trainers utilize MyFitnessPal.com, one of the more popular options for tracking daily nutrition and exercise habits.

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This website and the free app for iPhone and Android phones essentially functions as a virtual food diary in which users log the foods they've eaten, track calories, create a personalized diet profile and log exercise activities. The app allows users to keep track of their calaries and exercise while on the go, while discussion forums provide support, motivation, advice and tips for the app's community.

"I like this app because it gives a really good breakdown of the foods you eat and where all your macronutrients are coming from," said Patrick Stille, who is training Fittest Loser contestant Barb Simon.

Nicole Caliva, who is training Neil Madden during the Fittest Loser Challenge, uses MyFitnessPal to track her food intake, along with monitoring it via old-fashioned pen and paper. She also uses it to create her fitness program based on her goals of running marathons, strength training and recovery periods.

Van Dillenkoffer's watch measures his heart rate, distances walked or run and other measurables during his workouts.
Van Dillenkoffer's watch measures his heart rate, distances walked or run and other measurables during his workouts. - Courtesy of Van Dillenkoffer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A self-described technology geek, Van Dillenkoffer has used multiple apps throughout the Challenge. They've been especially handy over the last few weeks. Dillenkoffer uses MyFitnessPal to receive daily emails containing sample workouts and menus consisting of low calorie, healthy options.

He's using exercise videos to keep up his form and exercise routine while working out at home. In addition to MyFitnessPal, Dillenkoffer follows the workouts his trainer, Michelle Jeeninga, sends him and uses the free version of myfooddiary.com to track his meals.

"It lets me enter each item of my meals to get the caloric value based on ounces that I can change depending on the amount I want," Dillenkoffer said. "That way I can log (calories) into my BodyMinder Workout and Exercise Journal."

As the cycling season begins, Dillenkoffer will add CycleMeter back into the rotation. It's as easy as mounting his phone to his bike and tracking each ride on the app. While Dillenkoffer uses the paid option, he said a free version is also available. Through CycleMeter, Dillenkoffer can track his ride time, distance covered, average and fastest speeds, heart rate, calories burned and more.

"There are so many apps out there for both Apple IOS devices and Android that one could use for free or a modest fee," Dillenkoffer said.

Van Dillenkoffer has embraced the benefits of technology so far in the 12-week Challenge.
Van Dillenkoffer has embraced the benefits of technology so far in the 12-week Challenge. - Courtesy of Van Dillenkoffer

While there is a cost to using Noom, it's an app that's quickly catching on with more than 45 million users. The app allows users to log their exercise, weight, blood pressure and blood sugar; track the foods they eat; receive one-on-one health coaching during business hours; and keeps users motivated with interactive articles and quizzes.

Virtual exercise classes

Consider checking out Down Dog during the stay-at-home order. It is offering free trials until May 1. After the trial, Down Dog costs $7.99 a month.

Down Dog features several apps that focus on different activities, from yoga to Barre to high-intensity interval training and seven-minute full-body workouts.

Access to Nike Master Trainers is just one download away via the Nike Training Club app. The app offers a variety of free workouts, with many options such as yoga and body-weight only sessions, which require no exercise equipment. The multi-week programs focus on more than just fitness. The app includes nutrition tips and wellness guidance.

Nike Master Trainers includes more than 185 workouts than range from 15 minutes to one hour long. With new workouts dropping every month, users can constantly challenge their bodies and take their fitness levels to new heights.

The Peloton app allows users to jump into 90 days of free fitness classes they can access from their phone, tablet, TV or browser. The bike itself is not a requirement for sweating with the Peloton app. The app offers a mix of running, strength, toning, cycling, yoga, meditation and outdoor workouts, letting users access thousands of pre-recorded classes anywhere, anytime.

Barb's workout summary.
Barb's workout summary. - Courtesy of Barb Simon
<CHARENTITY>7</CHARENTITY>Mindfulness content

Managing stress and anxiety is an important component of your physical health, especially during these uncertain times. Luckily, plenty of apps make it easy to set aside time for meditation and mindfulness.

With more than 50 million downloads, Calm is one of the best-reviewed apps for sleep, meditation and relaxation. Calm teaches users how to meditate, offers video lessons on mindful movement and gentle stretching, and supplies users with nature sounds and scenes to enjoy while relaxing, sleeping, working or studying. It delivers audio programs taught by world-renowned mindfulness experts.

You can also try a one-week free trial of Unplug, which gives users access to a variety of stress-reducing activities such as mindfulness practices, guided imagery, soundbaths, breathwork and more. Access to a gratitude journal, progress tracker, timer and stats allows users to monitor their progress as they develop a mindfulness practice.

Monitor daily activity levels

One of the easiest ways to monitor how physically active you are each day is through wearing a fitness tracker or smartwatch.

Dillenkoffer and Barb Simon use their Apple Watches to keep track of their daily progress. They track calories burned, mileage logged and the amount of time spent moving or exercising each day.

"I use the Apple 'Activity' app, which allows me to pick the specific workout I'm going to do such as walking, mixed cardio or elliptical, among others," Dillenkoffer said. "I tap on Apple Watch before I start each one and it keeps a running clock of my workouts along with the calories and my heart rates while on each workout."

If the Apple Watch isn't for you, there are plenty of other trackers to consider. FitBit is another popular option. Choose from five different smartwatches and six different trackers, all designed to help you improve your fitness level.

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