The Best Fitness Tech
Breaking Away: Running and Cycling
The RunKeeper app (standard version free, Pro version $10), coupled with your smartphone's GPS, lets you track the distance, time, pace, route, and even elevation of your runs, for a fraction of the cost of a traditional GPS device (assuming that you already own the phone). Free and Pro versions are available for iPhone. Only the free version is available to Android phone users. Marathon runner Teri Wong has used the free version of RunKeeper since fall 2009. She says that the GPS can't track some of her trail runs accurately, and notes that her iPhone's battery tends to run out after about 2.5 to 3 hours--"but for a free app, it's pretty handy!" The Pro version offers audio cues, supports iPod Playlist integration, and lets you record splits for interval-based training.
A good alternative for people who don't want to run with a smartphone is the Garmin Forerunner 110 ($250 with heart-rate monitor, $200 without), a GPS-enabled wristwatch that also tracks distance, time, and pace. It records laps and stores up to 200 hours worth of information, which you can upload to the GarminConnect Website. Two Forerunner styles (in black-and-red and black-and-pink color combinations) styles with a Garmin heart-rate monitor to track both your heart rate and your heart-rate-based calorie burn.
Abvio Cyclemeter ($5) gives cyclists a handy app of their own, and it bucks the trend of requiring you to create a registered Website account before you can track information. With the Cyclemeter, you do everything on the iPhone itself--recording times, routes, and distances. The more you record, the more Cyclemeter can tell you about how your most recent ride time compared to previous rides along the same route. Cyclemeter also pegs rides to a calendar, and it plays announcements at key points during your ride. You can post information about your ride on Facebook, and even use text-to-speech to hear comments back from your friends. Ditto for Twitter. The recently released version 3.0.3 lets you lower (rather than interrupt) music for voice announcements, and adds better calorie calculations for cycling.
The Zen Side: Golf and Yoga
Technology can help with relatively low-impact sports, too. GPS guru Garmin courts golfers with the Approach G3 ($350), a compact, waterproof, GPS-enabled handheld loaded with more than 13,000 U.S. and Canadian course maps (European maps are available separately). Measure the distance to your next shot on the 160-by-240-pixel touchscreen (which Garmin says is viewable in sunlight). Use it to keep score and measure yardage to greens or to trees, and download data via USB to your PC. Unfair play, you say? Garmin hastens to assure you that that the Approach G3 is compliant with USGA rules.
Technology takes yoga home-practice beyond the DVD. Rainfrog's Pocket Yoga ($3) for iPhone, iPod, and iPad gives you 27 total practices broken down into three styles, three durations, and three difficulty levels. Because of the app's small screen size and nonanatomical 2D model, you'll have to rely heavily on the good-quality audio for guidance. And despite the comprehensive glossary of poses, you should be familiar with yoga to use this app successfully.
For the best yoga content, renowned San Francisco-based yoga instructor Jason Crandell recommends the free, 20-minute Yoga Journal podcasts (Crandell appears in several himself) and the paid high-definition online video offered at YogaGlo. YogaGlo's 60- to 90-minute classes are available now in 480p, and soon they'll also be available in 720p. Health tip: If you're combining yoga with other exercise, Crandell recommends that you start with the more cardiovascular-intensive workout and then make the transition into yoga, which is designed to calm the nervous system.