Looking for ways to maximize your workout? You don’t have to spend a fortune on a new treadmill or endure long, boring exercise routines.
The Associated Press asked 10 magazines that focus on fitness and health to choose a gadget that will help you get fit without breaking the bank. Here are their choices, listed in order of price, starting with the cheapest.
The pro: Self
The pick: Gymboss. This is the next evolution of the stopwatch, said Meaghan B. Murphy, features director for fitness. She said the device is great for interval training or circuit workouts, with time intervals ranging from 2 seconds to 99 minutes. You can set the small pager-sized device to beep, vibrate or do both to cue you to move to the next station or exercise. “You don’t have to be staring at your wrist,” she said. “It keeps you on track very simply.”
The pro: Women’s Health
The pick: Nike + iPod Sport Kit. Pair your iPod and Nike + shoes for some motivation. “Not only will it track your run or workout, you can listen to your music and get instant feedback while you work out,” says Amy Dixon, contributor and exercise physiologist. The Sport Kit’s wireless sensor and receiver work with Nike + shoes and the iPod nano or iPod touch (2nd generation), tracking time, pace, distance and calories burned. Transfer your workout data to iTunes and nikeplus.com.
Price: $29. Nike + shoes and iPod sold separately.
The pro: Prevention
The pick: Tanita PD-724 3-Axes Pedometer. The future of pedometers is here. Besides a step counter, the device keeps track of distance, calories burned and total walking time. “Research has shown that a simple pedometer can motivate you to be more active,” said Natalie Gingerich, Prevention’s associate editor of fitness. “We love the versatile Tanita 3-Axes pedometer because instead of clipping it on your waistband, you can wear it around your neck or slip it into your pocket.”
The pro: Glamour
The pick: NuMetrex apparel. Forget the chest straps. These sports bras and tops have built-in heart rate sensors, which pick up the heart’s pulse and send it to a compatible watch or cardio machine. The sensors are built into the garments, with a small transmitter snapped into a pocket. “The truth is, when things get sweaty, sometimes traditional heart rate straps can get a little sticky and uncomfortable,” said Sunny Sea Gold, health articles editor. The line includes a sports bra, racer tank and men’s cardio shirt.
Price: $49.95, men’s shirt is $58.95, transmitter and heart rate monitor watch sold separately. A complete system starts at $99.
The pro: Men’s Health
The pick: The Woody Bag. Dubbed “The Ultimate Crosstrainer.” The sand inside the bag shifts as you lift it. “This continually changes your center of gravity, which increases the challenge to your core — whether you’re doing squats, rows, or overhead presses,” said fitness director Adam Campbell.
Price: Price varies according to weight. A 5-pound Woody Bag is $59.95, plus shipping. The sand is provided by the customer.
The pro: Runner’s World
The pick: Garmin Forerunner 50. This sports watch tells you everything you need to know about a run or ride — pace, distance, time, calories burned and maximum and average heart rate. “It’s a bargain for runners interested in tracking both their optimal aerobic zone and how fast they ran,” said senior editor Sean Downey. “Post-run you can wirelessly upload your workout to Garmin Connect and have it crunch the numbers.” The FR60, an update to the Forerunner 50, will be out in June.
Price: $99.99, while the speed/cadence sensor and wireless foot pod are sold separately.
The pro: Fitness
The pick: Timex Ironman Road Trainer Heart Rate Monitor. A high-tech digital heart rate monitor. The water-resistant watch tracks time spent in the target heart rate zone, average heart rate per lap up to 50 laps and average and peak heart rate. “It also displays calories burned — so you can feel extra good about yourself after finishing that run/walk,” said Lindsey Emery, senior fitness editor. The heart rate monitor comes in four styles.
The pro: Men’s Journal
The pick: Reebok Smoothfit SelectRide. No need to have separate pairs of shoes for training and running. This athletic shoe has an air-inflated cushioning system, with two settings, running and training. “You’re buying a shoe for both the weight room and for running,” said senior associate editor Gordy Megroz. Push run and the shoe increases height and cushioning; train decreases cushioning and lowers the shoe to the ground. The shoe comes in men’s and women’s.
The pro: Men’s Fitness
The pick: Garmin Forerunner 205. Use GPS to mark your route. The wrist-mounted device provides real-time data, such as speed, distance, average pace and the direction you are running or biking. It can also guide you back to your starting location or any other defined location, so you can save the information for a future route. “It adds another level to be able to track your progress,” said tech editor Noah Johnson. “It’s kind of motivating in a way.”
Price: $149.99 on Target.com. The 205 has since been replaced with the Forerunner 405, but at twice the price.
The pro: Shape
The pick: GoWear fit Armband. What doesn’t this thing track? Upload your information to the Online Activity Manager at www.gowearfit.com, and let the armband do the rest. The device measures steps, calories, physical activity level and sleep duration and efficiency. “It’s perfect for someone who’s trying to jump-start good habits and lose weight,” said deputy editor Janet Lee.
Price: $199.95 plus a subscription to the Online Activity Manager.