The newest wearable fitness trackers are slim, sexy, and as smart as a NASA supercomputer (well, almost). These four recent releases have us seriously considering an upgrade.
And keep an eye out in the future for trackers and clothing that can literally feel the burn and sense when you’re spent. Scientists at King’s College London have created tights that can detect muscle fatigue. It’s understood that this breakthrough fiber, with sensors embedded in the fabric (previously tested only in a lab setting), could be used in wearable trackers and workout clothing to accurately predict things like exactly how many reps your body has left before the end of a set or at what mileage you’ll begin to lose form and efficiency. But the primary function of the technology, say researchers, is injury prevention.
If your career or lifestyle calls for a tracker that doesn’t look like a tracker, this Mondaine number, which combines the classic Swiss styling of a leather-banded heirloom wristwatch with the brain of a top athletic wearable, is the one for you.
Though it has you covered in all the basics—steps, calorie burn, movement alerts, sleep tracking—there’s nothing basic about its smooth interface. The watch itself maintains its clean look by displaying only the time, date, and your progress toward your overall fitness goals (0–100%) and feeds you all the other numbers on a phone app. You’ll need a separate tracker for more advanced metrics like heart rate or reps, but the Mondaine can serve as your everyday go-to for the next decade.
The WorkHorse: Fitbit Blaze.
This new Apple-esque Fitbit pairs well with work or workout wear but is still packed with features like a sleep tracker, heart-rate monitor, and step counter.
The Blaze can even tell if you’re running, biking, or doing a multisport workout without you pushing a single button; and its “FitStar” coaching program has a library of short, intense guided workouts with graphically rich animated demonstrations. If you like to track runs and rides with GPS, you’ll need to pair it with your phone—but it does have on-wrist controls for your phone’s music library and for forwarding texts and voice mails.
Garmin Vivoactive HR
A go-to for everyone from triathletes to arctic explorers, the Garmin has long dominated the multi-sport market. Now the company has figured out a way to cram everything that makes its products great into a smooth, svelte package.
The Vivoactive is a powerful machine: On a run or ride, it tracks both speed and distance; in a pool it tracks laps and stroke type. Its sensors even give you extra credit for bursts of intensity toward your overall fitness goal, whether that’s banging out a set of deadlifts or running up 10 flights of stairs. It also has eight days of battery life and pairs with a smartphone.
The folks at Beast have gone several steps beyond tracking rep count by creating a device purpose-built for lifting.
The Beast Sensor— which can be fixed to a body vest for things like pullups or pushups or to a wristband for weight work—is able to measure explosiveness, speed, and power wattage, feed that info to a heat map on your smartphone, then rate your effort. You can further refine those metrics by choosing a specific goal, whether it’s building speed, power, or just size. It can even warn you about overtraining, sending each rep to your smartphone in real time, allowing you to make adjustments, such as adding reps or weight.