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In our often too-sedentary society, activity trackers have become more popular than ever. In fact, they have become quite necessary for individuals to most accurately track their daily activity and exercise levels. Beyond the calories burned, steps taken and heart rate, some wearables also monitor sleep patterns, provide instant motivational feedback and alert users when they have achieved their personalized activity goals. The key to making wearable technology work for any given individual is knowing how to select the right one to stay connected both inside and outside the gym.

How It Works

Vladimir Aronsky, an instructor at Healthtrax Fitness and Wellness in Garden City, NY, has firsthand experience witnessing club members find fitness success using wearable technology at the gym and outside of it.

"Every other day I hear how using wearable technology has helped someone to climb stairs and not get out of breath, go on a hike and come back energized or make them stand up and move around more in their office when the device buzzed and issued an 'inactivity stamp.' I love helping to pick the right device for them and seeing their fitness progress because of it," he says.

As a Spin instructor, Aronsky finds activity trackers to be useful in his classes.

"I regularly utilize apps connected with wearable technology to see everyone's heart rates during my spin classes. Of course, like anything new, people were skeptical, but when members started seeing their heart rates return to 65 percent from max in 90 seconds vs. two-and-a-half minutes before training, the improvement was rather obvious. Those who have purchased a wearable device become very attached to their daily numbers," he says.

Why It Works

Anyone who works out regularly can attest that getting and staying in shape is a process. Simply going to the gym for 30 to 60 minutes for a little cardio and strength training and then taking the rest of the day off any kind of activity is generally not beneficial in the long run. For the most part, club members have no problem knowing they need to work hard in the gym.

Ryan Carsia, personal training manager, New Jersey Athletic Club, Lawrenceville, NJ, says it's what members do outside the gym that supports their overall fitness.

"For many, it is the lifestyle change outside of the gym that will help them achieve an optimal level of heath," he says. "Adding wearable technology doesn't just make sense, it's imperative. Using wearable technology to track activity is a constant reminder of how little movement most individuals do throughout their day. Seeing the numbers or having an inactivity alert can motivate and encourage an otherwise inactive person to start moving."

Michael DiGioacchino, franchise owner of Orangetheory Fitness in West Windsor, NJ, says:
"Using an activity tracker lets people begin to discover how little activity they actually do during the day. Always being connected to an activity tracker can be a great incentive to get moving. Health and fitness is a lifestyle not a quick fix just to look good for your daughter's wedding or the 20-year high school reunion. It is much more than the way you look. More important, it's about the way you think and feel about yourself. The attitude and feeling you get when you see positive change transcends into every area of your life, personal and business."

Andrew Torto, of Garden City, NY, and a member of Healthtrax Fitness and Wellness, is an enthusiastic user of wearable technology.

"I have seen and felt an increase in speed, agility and overall fitness outside of the gym," he says about using his tracker. "I go to the gym but also play other sports, namely paddle tennis. I feel like the energizer bunny even after playing several sets when I would have otherwise started to feel fatigue set in."

Using It

An individual's biometric data is constantly tracked and collected through the activity tracker. Users can typically sync their wearable technology to apps that give graphics and minute-by-minute details about everything from heart rate to calories burned. 

DiGioacchino says that when it comes to choosing the right activity tracker for both inside and outside the gym, the choice is individual. Fitness enthusiasts—whether they are new to the gym or professional athletes—should consider a number of factors in wearable devices, such as the battery life, whether the device is waterproof, whether the tracker will monitor heart rate during the workout and whether it is comfortable. In addition, diversity of function helps.

"Most people find that a device with cross-usability, meaning it does more than track calories and daily movement, helps them reach their fitness goals faster," he says.

When it comes to technology, Carsia says the proof is in the numbers.

"The beauty about science and technology is you can't cheat it," he says. "If it says your heart rate is 135 bpm, then that's what it is, and you may have to kick it into a higher gear depending on your physiological condition. If it says you only walked 3,000 steps today, then I guess you aren't as active as you claim. These are just a few examples of how it has made my life easier as a professional, but I believe it is even more valuable for the general population that may not have the knowledge or guidance."

Unlike watches that are meant to be removed, most activity trackers are worn 24/7 because many of them also track sleep patterns. With wearable technology, club members are more likely to stay motivated outside the gym as much as they are inside. The value of seeing the numbers is continually clear. 

BIO

Polar Club Solutions is a unique set of fitness services for club owners, instructors, personal trainers and, above all, club members. It brings together the benefits of heart rate training and individual guidance, along with the motivation and energy you get from group exercise. Visit polar.com to learn more.