Getting Personal with Wearable Technology

Wearable Technology

Many training clients are caught up in the current wearable technology trend. The end goal of most consumer-focused wearables is to replace the trainer, elevating the app as the ultimate coach and nutritionist. But at some point, clients will be sitting on the couch vigorously shaking their wrist to get their daily “steps” in. Is this really giving clients the results they had hoped for? First, what do we know about trackers?

The Study

A comprehensive study by Ace Prosource specifically studied five popular activity trackers: Nike Fuelband, Fitbit Ultra, Jawbone UP, BodyMedia FitCore (later purchased by Jawbone) and the Adidas MiCoach. Ten healthy men and 10 healthy women between the ages of 10 and 44 were divided into two groups to measure caloric expenditure and steps taken — the two most common measurements tracked on wearable devices.

Participants wore the wearable devices along with a portable metabolic analyzer and the NL-2000i pedometer. They performed a series of exercises on the treadmill and elliptical, as well as sports-related exercises, which included ladder drills, basketball free-throws and T-drills.

The Results

As exercise got more intense, the devices became less accurate in their tracking abilities. Specifically, none of the devices predicting calories burned were accurate, some off by 60 percent. With results this inaccurate, it’s no surprise that the abandonment rate of trackers is reportedly as high as 80 percent. The only problem is, as soon as they abandon one, they are going to get another — as a gift, a new resolution or on impulse.

The Solution: Stop Tracking — Start Working Out

Rather than tracking your client’s current behavior using wearables powered by predictive formulas, utilize an actual VO2 Max measurement to construct workouts that are personalized to bring about a change. Wearing a heart rate monitor and utilizing an app to sync VO2 Max results to heart rate zones will give clients the most productive workout of their life.

The key is to use technology to coach clients, rather than standing on the sidelines counting steps. VO2 Max measurements will allow you to help define workouts to meet each client’s personal goals, accurately measure calories burned both during and after the workout, and show whether those calories are coming from fats or carbs. Trainers can see details like never before and make personal adjustments that will bring individuals success they have never had before.

Despite high drop-off, it appears that wearable technology is here to stay. Facilities can benefit by using wearables that enhance the experience with trainers, rather than those that try to be a “self-service” technology. Syncing VO2 Max results to an app connects clients with their personal data on a daily basis, while keeping them reliant on the expertise of their trainer. It’s a win-win.

Julie Kofoed, BSN, is the vice president of marketing for KORR Medical Technologies. For more information email jkofoed@korr.com.

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