It used to be that a pair of running shoes and some clean workout clothes were all the fitness gear you needed.
These days, a beats-blasting playlist and a fitness tracker are as essential to a good workout as anything else. Whether you or someone you know is just starting out on a fitness journey or a seasoned athlete looking to take your training to the next level, here's our recommendations for the best fitness tech to enhance your workouts and help you hit your fitness goals.
Fitbit Charge 2
When it comes to fitness trackers, Fitbit still reigns supreme. The company has become so ubiquitous, chances are everyone knows a few co-workers, family members, or friends obsessed with tracking their steps and other fitness stats on their wrist. If you're unfamiliar, Fitbits track steps taken, flights of stairs climbed, and calories burned throughout the day.
Fitbit's latest wrist accessory, the Charge 2, is the absolute best yet. First, there's the vertically-orientated OLED display, in which you tap to cycle through the different statistics and modes. The Charge 2 features Fitbit's PurePulse continuous heart rate monitor, which lets you quickly check your current heart rate at any moment, and also features the convenient call, text and calendar notifications that you'd expect from wearable tech. Built-in GPS is missing, but Connected GPS allows you to use your phone's GPS to map your outdoor runs when tethered to your phone via Bluetooth. The silicone strap is sweat resistant, but you'll want to make sure to clean and dry it after each workout. It's also not waterproof, so don't even think about swimming with it on.
Apple Watch Series 2
If you're bought into Apple's ecosystem and are looking to get into better shape, the Apple Watch Series 2 can help you reach your fitness goals. Apple did a great job building important fitness features into its latest wearable, including the intuitive ring system for tracking your activity throughout the day. Whether that encourages you to get that run in every morning, or simply stand more during your office hours, your Apple Watch will gently nudge you out of your sedentary habits if you allow it to.
Integrated GPS is also a real gamechanger, as Serenity Caldwell explained in her full review:
Of Series 2's new fitness features, integrated GPS for walkers and runners is likely the bigger selling point. I've highly enjoyed being able to leave my iPhone (and its many "PAY ATTENTION TO ME NOW" notifications) at home while walking the dogs around our neighborhood or exploring local parks, knowing I'll still get a decent route map at the end of the journey.
The Apple Watch Series 2 is waterproof, so you can take it swimming — though you'll want to make sure you've swapped out your fancier leather straps. If you or your loved one is all about that fitness, you might want to consider the Apple Watch Nike edition, which specifically caters to athletes with a comfortbale and breathable strap and all that glorious Nike cross-branding goodness. But no matter which one you get, the Apple Watch Series 2 will be a fantastic workout companion.
Withings Body Wi-Fi Scale
Take complete control of your weight using the Withings WS-50, the smart scale that's designed to accurately measure your weight, BMI, heart rate, and even monitor the indoor air quality of your living space.
Allowing up to eight users on its personalized display, everyone in your household can track their weight securely and monitor their goals using the Health Mate app (available for Android and iOS). As you weigh yourself each day, the WS-50 will display the weather and average temperature, giving you a heads up on how to dress before stepping outside and getting active. This smart scale is also compatible with a variety of other health apps including Google Fit, Apple Health, Runkeeper, LoseIt!, MyFitnessPal, and more.
TuneBand Go armband
There are hundreds of armband smartphone cases out there for bringing your phone with you on a run or a workout. This is because manufacturers typically designed a bunch of different models to fit specific phone makes and sizes. This means you'll end up having to get a new armband when it's time to upgrade to a new device.
That is, unless you get a TuneBand Go. This armband offers universal compatibility, as its rubber hooks are adjustable to fit phones from 5 inches to 6.5 inches in size. It also accommodates cases. It's actually recommended that you use a case if you're concerned about the clips making direct contact with your phone's display.
NorthFace Thermoball Etip gloves
Winter is coming, which means it's time to haul out your cozy winter gear — lest you choose to stay indoors until spring. But you really ought to be heading outside to make the most of things, whether that means sledding, snowboarding, skiing, or simply walking through a winter wonderland.
If you want to enjoy the great outdoors — even when the temps are downright frigid — and still stay connected to your phone, you'll want to get a pair of touchscreen conductive gloves that are first and foremost warm and reliable. The North Face makes quality outerwear, and these gloves are tops. They will keep your hands nice and toasty while still allowing you to use your phone's touchscreen via the conductive fibres in the fingers. The palms are also grippy, so that you don't accidentally drop your phone into a snowbank. Whoops!
These would make a great gift for pretty much anyone with a phone, and are available in styles for both men and women.
GoPro HERO5 Session
Getting active with technology doesn't always have to be about tracking steps or keeping your phone accessible. Sometimes you just want to head out there, strap an action cam to yourself, and show the world how you have fun.
The GoPro HERO5 Session is a portable, rugged little 10MP camera that can shoot still, burst, and time-lapse photos, as well as 4K video (also capable of shooting high-speed footage at 90fps in 1080p, and 120fps in 720p). It features voice activation as well as one-touch controls, and can be mounted pretty much anywhere, so you can just tap and go out and record all of your outdoor adventures . Whether you know a cyclist who's talked about wanting to document their daily commutes, or a budding action sports superstar looking to record epic footage, the GoPro HERO5 Session is a gift choice that will be cherished. Note that this camera also needs a MicroSD card.
Jaybird X3 Sport
An ideal pair of workout headphones are going to be wireless, sweatproof, and comfortable while still delivering solid sound quality and adequate battery life.
Jaybird has been in the Bluetooth headphone space since 2007, and the company's latest pair, the Jaybird X3 Sport earbuds are an ideal option for the runner or athlete in your life that always seems to be complaining about headphones. The two earpieces are tethered together, with a three-button remote for controlling playback and volume, and each pair come with several silicone and foam tip options, along with fins that help keep them securely in your ear, no matter how intense your workout gets. The size is small and compact, and yet the batteries are capable of delivering great sound quality for up to eight hours.
Your fitness gift wish list?
If you're shopping for — or hoping for! — a fitness gift this holiday season, what's top of your list? Let me know your best gift ideas in the comments below!