Gone are the days when fitness enthusiasts relied solely on their intuition to track their progress in the gym. Today, technology has revolutionised how we approach fitness, providing us with the tools we need to achieve our goals with greater ease and efficiency.
But how can you actually use fitness trackers and other gadgets to improve your gym-going experience?
This article explores the benefits of using them in the gym and how they can help you take your fitness journey to the next level.
The rise of fitness technology and its impact on gym-goers
From fitness trackers to smartwatches, there's a wide range of technology available that can help you monitor your workouts and achieve your fitness goals. In recent years, we've seen a huge surge in the popularity of fitness technology, with more and more people using these devices to keep track of their progress — in fact, more than a quarter of UK adults now own an exercise tracker of some kind!
According to Mark Cumberbatch, our Head of Digital here at Fitness First, "The rise of fitness technology has been phenomenal, and it's clear that people are really embracing it. We're seeing more and more gym-goers using fitness trackers and other devices to help them monitor their workouts, which helps them to stay motivated or even introduce them to fitness!"
How fitness trackers can help you achieve your fitness goals
One of the main benefits of using a fitness tracker is that it can help you set and achieve your fitness goals. Whether you're looking to lose weight, build muscle, or simply improve your overall fitness, a tracker can provide you with the data you need to monitor your progress and stay on track.
"Fitness trackers are great because they allow you to set specific goals and then monitor your progress towards achieving them," says Cumberbatch. "Essentially, they’re like a loyal companion on your fitness journey, allowing you to conquer and push beyond your limits."
The benefits of using wearable technology during your workout
Fitness trackers can be particularly useful during your workouts, with some of their most valuable benefits being:
- Activity tracking — Fitness trackers and smartwatches help keep a close eye on your daily activity levels, providing valuable information about your steps taken, distance covered, and calories burned. By tracking your activity, you can clearly understand your overall movement throughout the day, which can be particularly helpful if you work an office job and need to get moving throughout the day or aim to increase your daily activity levels.
- Heart rate tracking — Many trackers are equipped with optical heart rate sensors that continuously monitor your heart rate during workouts. This feature allows you to gauge the intensity of your exercise and helps you stay within your target heart rate zone. By keeping an eye on this metric, you can ensure that you're pushing yourself enough to see results but not overexert yourself.
- Workout analysis — These days, trackers offer an in-depth analysis of your workouts, providing you with detailed insights into various metrics such as duration, pace, speed, and even specific exercises performed. This information allows you to evaluate your performance, identify patterns, and track your progress over time. With this data, you can set new goals, benchmark your achievements, and make adjustments to your training routine as needed.
- Goal setting and progress tracking — These devices allow you to set personalised fitness goals and track your progress towards them. By defining specific targets, such as a certain number of steps per day, a target distance to run, or a specific calorie burn, you can use your device to monitor your progress and receive feedback in real-time. This feature helps you stay motivated, maintain focus, and celebrate milestones as you work towards your desired outcomes!
- Coaching and guided workouts — Some watches offer pre-designed workout plans and guided workouts on a dedicated app. Apple, for example, has their Apple Fitness+ app that offers a wide range of exercises, from HIIT to Dance and even Kickboxing, right at your fingertips. These features provide you with structured training sessions and expert guidance, whether you're a beginner looking for direction or an experienced athlete seeking variety.
“By providing you with real-time data on your heart rate, calories burned, and other key metrics, you can get a much better understanding of how your body is responding to different exercises and activities," says Cumberbatch. "This can help you make more informed decisions about your training and ultimately achieve better results."
Understanding workout patterns through data
Another major benefit of using fitness technology and trackers is that they can help you better understand your workout patterns. By collecting data on your workouts over time, you can identify trends and patterns that you might not have otherwise noticed.
"Fitness tracking data can be incredibly insightful," says Cumberbatch. "By analysing your workout data over time, you can identify which exercises are most effective for you, which days of the week you tend to work out the most, and other patterns that can help you optimise your training."
How to incorporate fitness tracking into your gym routine
If you're new to fitness tracking, figuring out where to start can be overwhelming. However, incorporating this into your gym routine doesn't have to be complicated!
Here are some of our top tips to get you started:
- Set specific goals — Define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) fitness goals. Use your fitness technology to track your progress towards these goals. Whether it's completing a certain number of workouts per week, running a specific distance, or improving your strength, having clear objectives helps you stay focused and motivated.
- Choose the right device — There is a wide range of fitness trackers and wearable devices on the market that all have differing benefits, so it's important to choose one that's right for you.
- Track your progress — Make sure you're logging your workouts and tracking any progress you make — whether it’s a 50-minute workout or even a 5-minute walk — so you can monitor the steps taken to get to your goals.
- Analyse your data — Take the time to review your fitness data regularly and use it to identify areas where you can improve your training. If you notice a lull during your 20-minute HIIT when you make it to the 13-minute mark, make it your goal to push through when you take on your next workout.
- Use the insights to adjust your workout — Based on the data you collect, make adjustments to your workouts to optimise your results.
Staying motivated with the help of fitness technology
One of the biggest challenges many gym-goers face is staying motivated – whether it’s through lack of time or simply falling out of love with exercising. Fitness technology can be a powerful tool to help you stay on track and keep you motivated. By setting specific goals and tracking your progress, you can celebrate your successes and stay motivated as you work towards your next milestone.
If you find that your motivation is lacking lately, here are some tips to keep pushing your activity levels:
- Join a fitness community — Many fitness devices offer online communities or social features where you can connect with like-minded individuals, share your achievements, and seek support. Engaging with these communities can provide a sense of accountability, inspiration, and camaraderie, keeping you motivated and committed to your fitness journey.
- Participate in challenges — Take advantage of any challenges or competitions offered by your fitness community or posted on any apps you have. Whether it's a step challenge, a virtual race, or a fitness-based game, participating in challenges adds a fun and competitive element to your workouts. The opportunity to earn badges, rewards, or recognition can provide an extra boost of motivation.
- Gamify your workouts — Some gaming companies incorporate fitness with some of their most popular games. Nintendo, for example, offers titles such as ‘Ring Fit Adventure’, ‘Fitness Boxing’ and ‘Nintendo Switch Sports’, which turn your workouts into a fun, interactive experience. Virtual rewards, levels, and achievements can make your fitness journey more enjoyable and engaging. Challenge yourself to beat your own records or compete again!
- Track non-scale victories: Fitness technology isn’t just about numbers on a scale or the time it takes to run a mile. Pay attention to non-scale victories such as improved energy levels, better sleep, increased flexibility, or reduced stress. Use your fitness technology to track these non-quantifiable improvements and appreciate the positive impact of your fitness journey on your overall well-being.
Tracking your progress with Fitness First
Fitness trackers and wearable technology can enhance your fitness journey in a number of ways and be extremely powerful tools that can carry you from one goal to the next.
"We're big believers in the power of fitness technology to help people achieve their fitness goals," says Cumberbatch. "Whether you're a seasoned athlete or just starting out, a fitness tracker can provide you with the data and insights you need to stay on track and reach your goals."
If you’re looking for some more inspiration, check out The Inside Track to read up on the latest fitness and nutrition advice from the expert personal trainers at Fitness First.