Technology in Fitness: Fashion vs. Function

18:06 January 19, 2015

When asked to write about the subject of new fitness tech tools and which tools have the greatest ability to enhance your workout and deliver results, I thought to myself, what a perfect opportunity. You see, my wife and I have been wondering this same thing for over 6 months as we have been contemplating the purchase of a wearable activity tracker. I currently use two smartphone apps to track my own progress but find it cumbersome at times. So, I thought this will finally prompt me to research further and decide if I would benefit from having enhanced fitness technology and if so, which brand.  The problem is there are so many brands that it can be time consuming trying to decide. After assessing my own behavior over the last few months using Apps, I have to ask “do they even make a positive difference in obtaining results?”

Well, by the end of this blog, I hope to leave you with important information on the top 6 activity trackers and help you discern if you really need one to successfully progress on your wellness journey.

According to CEA’s U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecast projects strong growth in the fitness and activity tracking devices market. In fact, CEA projects revenue to surpass $1 billion in 2014, a 37 percent increase over 2013, but do they work?

Let’s first start with some specific questions in order to determine our intention and their necessity.

What am I trying to accomplish and is the purchase of new fitness technology necessary to accomplish it?

I believe when it comes to fitness purchases, this question gets to the heart of our real motivation for purchasing new equipment, gadgets and apparel and gives us a pretty good indication of the success we can expect from them. For instance, are we honestly purchasing technology because we are certain it will enhance our workout and improve our lifestyle habits or are we purchasing it for reasons related to fashion, style and self-confidence? There are no wrong answers here but the questions must be asked. Think it sounds like a crazy, irrelevant question? Think about the recent explosion of women’s athletic wear over the past 5 years to see my point.  It is reported that over the last 5 years, from 2008 to 2013, sales of Lululemon alone have increased by more than $1 billion, hitting $1.4 billion in the 2012 fiscal year.  Now I am not saying that it isn’t important to have comfortable fitting athletic pants that make you feel confident and attractive (even at $100 or more per pair), but are they a necessity for a great workout and weight loss or are they more for comfort and fashion?  Fitness statistics and current athletic wear sales would indicate that they are far more likely to be a purchase of fashion, comfort and style than one that enhances fitness results and outcomes.

The next question has to do with enhancing the opportunity for results and outcomes.

If I purchase new technology will it enhance the chances of successfully achieving my goals?

The answer: YES...IF.

You see the new wearable fitness devices are wonderful and they are extremely accurate but they are powerless without you doing your part. These devices will track your steps, track your sleep, display your heart rate and even map your walks but they will not “change your behavior” without you doing your part. These devices will accurately count your steps and calories but they will not walk for you or record your meals. No, you must do this yourself and you must do them consistently. In other words, buy yourself a FitBit, Jawbone, Garmin, Polar or etc. if you’re going to use it consistently, but if you are not sure you will, then I suggest saving your money.

Next, should you get more technology or continue to do things the old fashion way?

I believe the answer is as personal as why you buy in the first place. When you peel all the layers of the onion away, it comes down again to “consistent action”. Again, you can be technologically advanced or you can still be living in the days of moving rocks like the Neanderthals, or living the days of “pumping iron” with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. The differentiator between tech versus old school is that you must ACT regularly, putting your fitness knowledge and technological gadget into consistent use.

I had to ask, “Do [activity trackers] even make a positive difference in obtaining results?”

Finally, which devices are best and why? 

This is where the possibilities become vast and the answer become intensely personal. Do you want it to track steps, calories, sleep? Do you want it to be a heart rate monitor, send notifications to your smartphone, alert you of text messages, vibrate to let you know it’s time to move and speak to you like a coach with the voice of Siri?

Well if so, there’s a gadget out there that will do some of the above and all of the above but the final question is the most important: What are you willing to spend?

After all of the research I suggest a tracker that will at least count steps, calories, track sleep, wirelessly update to mobile device, and act as a heart rate monitor but for me it must also constantly display time of day. Everything else is as we say here in Louisiana, Lagniappe. And with these metrics in mind I suggest one of these six:

My overwhelming personal choice is the:


Final notes:

Both the FitBit SURGE and the FitBit CHARGE capture 24/7 heart rate from the wrist, including during exercise, and they present the data (including simplified heart rate zones) on the screen of the device. In addition, both offer a suite of activity tracker features (calories, steps, active minutes, auto-sleep detection, silent wakeup alarms, and more), smartphone notifications, and to top it off, both offer GPS, which allows the band to display pace, distance, elevation, and provide route info later on. But, the most awesome aspect is that the new FiBit SURGE also S displays your phones text message and has a built in caller ID.


About Nolan Ferraro, Owner, Salire Fitness and Wellness

Certified personal trainer and licensed wellness coach Nolan Ferraro has been recognized as the #1 Best Personal Trainer in New Orleans.

Nolan counts Chef Susan Spicer among the thousands of New Orleanians who have gotten in shape with Salire's high-impact fitness programs like “Power in the Park” a month-long cross-training boot camp in City Park. He has also added a new high intensity interval training class, Body Blitz, at his studio. Visit for more information on Nolan and Salire Fitness & Wellness.









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