Fitness Technology Tested: T3 Fitness Test

Can gadgets and apps really make us healthier and happier? T3.com editor Kieran Alger kicks off his quest to find fitness tech that will motivate you to get fitter, faster.

My name is Kieran Alger. I like to think I’m unique - one of God’s own creations - but unfortunately for my ego when it comes to fitness, the stats don't lie. There's no escaping the middle-of-the-road truth: I am Mr Average.

Fitness Tech Tested

I’m 32 years-old and at 5’ 11”, I'm just two inches taller than your average British man. I’m carrying 13.3 stone, that's two pounds more than Joe Bloggs. Combine those figures and you get a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25.84, which is almost bang on the UK average of 25.4.

So what’s so bad about being average? The simple answer is, plenty, when being average means - like an increasing number of British men - I’m considered overweight. Call me Mr T ‘Average Joe’ Tucker.

My excuses for not being in tip-top shape are pretty average too. I work long sedentary hours at my desk, I like a few beers from time to time and while I try to offset that lifestyle by eating healthily, I also love food, a euphemism for ‘sometimes eats too many pies.’  When I’m not working, drinking or putting food into my face, I do my best to keep fit by going to the gym, running and playing a bit of Sunday football but it’s not always easy to stay motivated and clearly I'm not doing enough.

That's where technology comes in. I'm hoping it can help. A recent Getting Fit With Consumer Electronics study commissioned by the Consumer Electronics Association found that half of people quizzed had used some form of fitness technology in the past year, with a further 37 per cent saying they intended to buy a piece of fitness tech in the coming year. In short, we need all the help we can get.

The big boom in self monitoring devices and smartphone fitness apps is expected to intensify in 2011 as we all look to tech to help get us off the sofa and keep us motivated for longer. But just how far can tech keep us pounding out the miles in the gym or cycling into work? That's what I intend to find out.

Tech Challenge: Can fitness tech turn me into an athlete? 

Mr Average UK

    How your middling British man measures up:
  • Height: 5’ 9”
  • Weight: 13.1 stone
  • BMI: 25.4
  • Waist: 38”

As a technology editor, I see gadgets solve a lot of problems. We can watch TV on the bus, video chat with distant relatives from almost anywhere on the planet. We even have cars that parallel park themselves, but what I really want to know is can technology help me look like this bloke.

Joking aside, over the coming months I’m on a mission to seek out cutting edge fitness tech that educates, motivates and most of all makes getting into shape more of a hobby and less of chore.

To help make this a real test, I’ve set myself a small challenge. In 57 days I’ll be running 26.2 miles of Italy’s capital for the Rome Marathon. So over the next two months I need to clock up at least 150 miles in training, put in plenty of work at the gym and do whatever I can to build stamina and avoid boredom.

Along the way I’ll test everything from the latest Nike+ app to the newest WiFi body monitors, try tech sports clothing for size and even give motion-gaming fitness titles a go. 

I’ll be judging tech on how easy it is to use, how much it inspires me and on the end results. So if you want the definitive guide to the fitness gadgets that’ll really help you enjoy getting in shape, you’ve come to the right place.

First up I’m trying out the Timex Ironman Global Trainer, a new GPS-toting watch that tracks your runs, rides and swims. I'll also be treating my feet to the latest customised Nike LunarGlide + 2 ID running trainers to see if they can soften the impact of pounding out miles on the pavements.

Follow my progress

My Fitness Tech Targets

  • Training: 150 miles in 2 months
  • Target weight: 175llb / 79kg
  • BMI: 24.4
  • Waist: 35”
  • Body Fat: 20.84%
  • 10k run: Under 50 mins
  • Marathon: Under 4hrs 30mins

Check back here for regular updates on how I'm getting on against my targets and to find out what I make of the latest tech. You can also follow my progress on Twitter, by searching for #T3FitnessTest or by following @kieranlager or @t3dotcom.

Share your tips

If you're training for something or just looking to get fit and you've found a gadget that's making the difference, I want to hear from you. Use the comments below, Tweet or send us a message on Facebook. We'll be sharing your tips, tricks and knowledge as we go. 

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