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Listen, I love the old-school stuff as much as anybody. Build out a home gym, get a membership, and move some weight around. Throw on some running shoes and head out the door. If you feel good, you know it. If you feel like shit, you know it. It's simple. But, in 2024, there's no reason not to optimize your fitness routine with a little bit of tech. Especially when you start hitting the upper-echelons of training—like prepping for a marathon or powerlifting. I'm not a luddite. You can get some award-winning gadgets to help you work out.
I've put together a more general list about fitness subscriptions and gear, but this one is all about optimization. This list is for the fitness freaks—the people who need data to take them to the next level... Or, you just might like to look at your sleep score. Either way, there's a little thing for you. For some of you, the gadget you need might be a fitness tracking smartwatch. For some, it might be a massage gun or an under-desk treadmill. Some of you might be trail running in the great outdoors. Some of you might be doing 20 miles across town. No matter who you are, we've considered you. These are the 13 best fitness gadgets to buy right now.
The wearable market has sort of rifted into two camps. In one, you have smartwatches—supplements for a smartphone, easy to setup and use. In the other, you have dedicated fitness wearables, almost all of which require some stupid subscription plan.
In the middle, you've got the OG. The Fitbit.
Among other wearables—which are worth it, if you want to pay—Fitbit stands out because it's just as good with or without its premium subscription. The premium subscription gives you access to data that you don't necessarily need, like sleep scores. Sans subscription, the Fitbit gives you all the vitals you need, with plenty of pre-loaded workout modes for tracking (think distance run, walk, swim, or climb). It can connect to your smartphone—iPhone included—to deal with maps, music, and notification. If you want to wear it all the time, it'll passively monitor your heart rate for anything concerning, and it'll record your sleep quality. Like I said, everything you need in the most affordable package out there.
Watch Ultra 2
Apple's original jump into the rugged smartwatch world wasn't great. But, with the Apple Watch Ultra 2 (an Esquire Gadget Awards winner) it really nailed the formula.
The titanium case and sapphire front crystal screen are made to be beat up. The battery life is great for longer excursions. It's got a nifty new one-handed action function. And, it's obviously the easiest option for using an iPhone. Does it replace the ultra-rugged options from Garmin? No. But it's not that far away...
Forerunner 945 LTE
If you're serious about whatever fitness journey you're on, Garmin has a wearable or GPS tracker for it. The Forerunner LTE is for distance runners, cyclists, or swimmers that don't want to be weighed down by a phone when they step out. It does everything you need a fit watch to do, and it does it to the highest degree possible.
More broadly though, I'm endorsing the whole Garmin lineup—from the Instinct Solar that will survive an apocalypse to the lifestyle-focused Venu. The Garmin App is a treasure trove of functionality, where you can record workouts, maps, and anything else you need.
Another Esquire Gadget Awards winner, the CORE sensor takes a different, more high-level approach to fitness monitoring.
Sparing you a lot of science, the CORE sensor measures your body's temperature, because beyond VO2 max and heart rate, your body's ability to regulate temperature is what keeps it going the longest. Heat training is used in high-level distance athletics. Similar to how training at high altitudes improves VO2 max, training within the highest heat range your body wants to handle teaches your body how to regulate its temperature to the highest degree.
The CORE sensor isn't invasive, annoying, or difficult to use. Setup is easy, and there's a whole wealth of literature to help you safely train like top-level marathoners and cyclists do.
Replicating the workout you get from throwing iron around is impossible. Doing it at home even more so. But, Tonal has gotten as close as you can get.
Through some series of electromagnets, this thing pretty much perfectly replicates the machines you'd use in your gym. If you're interested in true body sculpting, it's a great all-in-one tool. Bench, squats, and deadlifts feel pretty close to the real thing, but all the machine work feels the exact same. Yes, it's $3,000, but the convenience is priceless.
Reaction and agility training is an incredibly fun way to keep your body and mind sharp, but unless you play in some sort of adult sports league, there's so few opportunities to actually do it. BlazePod, is one of the only trainers that can help you do it.
Setup a workout in the app—reaction, agility, etc—and the little discs will light up in random order, for you to touch them off. You can work up a sweat or just get a little brain workout in. Up to you.
If you're pushing your muscles to their brink, Hyperice is the OG of the compression therapy world. Think of this as icing on steroids. Some inflammation is good, but compression therapy helps keep you fit day after day.
This full body bundle will take care of pretty much anyone, but a lot of distance runners get just the boots to keep their legs going.
Theragun PRO Plus
What Hyperice is to compression therapy, Therabody is to percussive massaging. The TheraGun has worked it's way into the Pantheon of great fitness tech because, well, it's a great piece of fitness tech.
The new flagship model, the PRO Plus, improves on the formula with a few upgrades. First, there's now vibration therapy for joints and all the more complex areas of the body like the wrist and ankle. Second, Therabody added hot and cold treatments to boost circulation and deal with inflammation, respectively. And lastly, there's now breathwork and heart rate exercises built into the Theragun ecosystem. If there's something in your body that needs a little fine tuning, the new Theragun can hit it.
That said, Therabody also released a new down market model. The Sense doesn't have the percussive power of the PRO Plus, but it has the same breathwork exercises. That makes it ideal for anyone who can't justify spending $600 on their recovery. It's more of a one-size-fits-all massage gun. Unless you're really pushing yourself, this should be enough power for you.
The human body was built for sustained light cardio. As bipeds, our greatest evolutionary tool is to just keep moving forward over insane distances. It's something that desk-jobs have obliterated, and that manifests in all sorts of aches, pains, and chronic issues.
It seems simple, but the answer could really just be walking while you work. It's low impact and low stress on your cardiovascular system. But, if you put in 10 or 20,000 steps a day, you're giving your body the low stress hunter-gatherer workouts it craves.
I mean, among our top 10 percent, there's nothing more ubiquitous than Peloton. And for good reason. Even after all the jokes, one thing remains true: Pelotons fucking rock.
If you're committed to getting on your bike, very few things will give you a better cardio workout. And with the Peloton app's expansiong into strength, it's a full-body workout service.
If I could only do one exercise for the rest of my life, it'd be swimming. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is as comprehensive. Swimming is an insane cardio workout, a low-impact full-body strength workout, and something you can do anywhere there's water. The only issue is listening to anything. SHOKZ is the fix.
Sure, you could experience the zen of rushing water for an hour-long workout, but you could also listen to some music or knock out audiobook or podcast. SHOKZ OpenSwim is just an MP3 player that uses bone conduction to give you sound. That means water won't fuck up your sound, and you don't have to
And I have to say, no matter how much working out you do, nothing is more important than sleep. I'm not just saying that to sell you a mattress or sleep gadget. Sleep is when your body does all its repairing. A quality eight hours—more if you're going crazy—is so vital for your performance.
One of the biggest things we do to fuck up our sleep is use a smartphone. You should turn it off an hour before bed, and leave it in another room. Really. The blue light fucks up your circadian rhythm, and if you're worried about emails, your body will sense the phone in the room.
One way to achieve this is by buying one of these Loftie Alarm Clocks that we love. They coach you into better sleep and offer a more natural wakeup. For a budget option, you can buy an old school Sony Dream Machine radio alarm clock on Etsy.
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