The Fitness and Technology Intersection

I love technology. And I love using technology as an integral part of my workouts. Whether it’s gadgets that help plan my workouts or the workouts of my clients, track my workouts and intensity, or simply help me tune out the outside world so I can better focus on my workout, I use it. Here is a list of my favorite technology helpers, how they’re used, and the computer platform they are compatible with (if applicable).

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

MacBook Pro. (Apple) My all purpose tool for communication, education and research.

Email and text messaging. I use these tools to send workouts to clients when they’re working out on their own but need a little guidance. I also use them as motivational tools; having clients send me texts every time they’ve completed a workout on their own, for instance.

Polar FT-80 Heart Rate Monitor. (www.polar.fi) Monitor your intensity for any kind of aerobic, cardiovascular, anaerobic, and weight lifting activities. Sync to your computer with the included docking station (Windows XP, Vista, 7) and upload to the polar website for all kinds of useful tracking and chart info about your workout progress. I never work out without mine. The one negative about this model is the screen is DARK and hard to read.

iPod. (Mac, Windows) . iPod. I use this during almost every personal workout. It helps me to tune out the distractions of working out in the gym.

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

iPhone. (Mac, Windows) As with the iPod, but with so much more functionality. See below:

iMST. (MySportTraining by VidaOne; iPhone, Android, Windows mobile, Blackberry;; available in iTunes or from their website) is a fully featured, highly customizable, training tool that has anatomy charts, workout logs, an exercise library, journal, calendar, charts of your progress, GPS to map your walks/runs/rides, and more. It’s a very deep app. If you have a windows computer running XP, Vista, or Windows 7, it will sync to VidaOne’s Diet and Exercise desktop program.

Gym Buddy. (Mac, iPhone; image on bottom, far right) A mac only tool similar to iMST, that has its own desktop version that it will sync to.

iMuscle. (iPhone) an amazing 3D virtual human that responds to your touch. Tap an area to get a close up detail of the area muscles with location pins. Tap a pin and get details about the muscle including animated exercises, other secondary muscle involvement, and stretches.

MealSnap. (iPhone) Ever wonder how many calories your restaurant meal is? What about that stack of pancakes your significant other made for you on sunday? More often that not, this app will tell you. Just turn the app on and use it to snap a picture, and in 60 seconds or less it will tell you what you ate and how many calories it was. If it gets your meal wrong (it couldn’t identify matzo las t passover) you can manually enter in what you are eating and it give you a great estimate.

ExRx (website) an excellent website for all things related to fitness education for the professional and the motivated enthusiast trying to gain personal expertise.

These are the tech tools I use. I haven’t received any compensation from these companies to plug their products. Many of my clients use different types of pedometers and the Nike + GPS is very popular, too. What about you? Do you have any favorites? Share.

The iPod family with, from the left to the rig...
Image via Wikipedia

How I ate on this lazy rainy/snowy/slushy day

10 AM: 20 oz coffee. (80 calories)

11 AM: 20 oz of coffee and 2 fried eggs on a small bun. (380 calories)

2 PM: small apple. (60 calories)

7 PM: large bowl of homemade Minestrone soup with 5 mini meatballs. (500 calories)

I’ll probably have 2 glasses of coca cola around 9 PM with some microwave popcorn. (~ 400 calories)

On my low activity crappy weather lazy day I will have consumed about 1420 calories total. If i had worked out, and/or worked all day, my calorie total would have been somewhere between 2000 and 3000. What did you do today? Did you exercise or sit on the couch like me? How many calories did you consume if you took the day off from all effort?

What’s with these reps?

When you’re weight lifting, how many repetitions should you do? 6? 8? 10? 12? 15? If you’ve been lifting for a while you’ve heard all these answers, and more. “Want to build strength and power? Then 6-8 reps. Want to make your muscles noticeably larger over time? Then 8-12 reps. Want to tone your muscles without getting too big? 15 reps is your magic number.”

Does anyone really understand what any of this means? What is the magic in these numbers that will give you your desired effect? The answer is, none. Just achieving the number of repetitions is pointless. What matters is the intensity of the exercise, caused by the amount of weight you’re trying to lift. It’s the last few reps that matter, regardless of your goal. I’ll say “the magic” occurs during the last three reps. All the reps that come before those all important last three are just preparation. if I’m trying to maximize my physical strength, I’m shooting for 6, 7, or 8, reps, and the last three have to be extremely difficult to finish. The first 3-5 reps are what is necessary to get my muscle tired enough to make the magic happen on the last three reps. If you’re shooting for 15 reps in order to “tone”, the first 12 should get progressively more difficult so that by rep 13, 14, and 15, you’re barely able to finish.

Since most people, inside or outside a gym really have no clue as to what constitutes intensity, let me be clear. The last rep you try to complete should be borderline, or outright, impossible. This is true, regardless of your weight lifting goal and the number of reps you’re trying to accomplish. And don’t be afraid of overestimating yourself. 1 rep less will never ruin you or your goal. It won’t turn you into the Hulk if your only trying to “tone”. If only it were that easy to bulk up!

To sum up: whatever your reasons are for weight lifting, the last three repetitions of every set, for every exercise, should be tortuously hard. Want results? It’s not a number. It’s the effort it takes to get there!

Getting results

I have a problem with people who say they’re interested in “general” fitness. They might as well be saying “my body isn’t important enough to me to think about.
When I feel like crap I’m usually not at my best intellectually either. That’s because our mind lives inside our brain, which in turn lives inside our bodies. Brains are the body. So any concept of separation between mind and body is beyond idiotic, at least during our biological lives. Saying you don’t care how strong and fit your body is, is akin to living in substandard housing when a 7.2 earthquake hits. Easy not to think about until it’s too late, and then act like the disaster was an act of god that couldn’t have been helped. Bullshit.

It’s time to take responsibility of the single most important residence you’ll ever live in: your body; yourself.

Why are you working out?

It amazes me…heavy smokers and habitual junk food over eaters and heavy consumers of alcoholic beverages, who can’t seem to understand why they’re overweight, why they can’t lose body fat, why they can’t build muscle. Really? They don’t know? Lazy brains, lazy bodies. Why are they in the gym if they can’t be bothered to make the most simple sacrifices? Consume less. Use your brain to make healthier eating and drinking choices. Exercise like you mean it. In 6 months you’ll be amazed.