The two constants in fitness are motivation and innovation. While motivation is something that we, the enthusiasts, are engaged in, innovation is usually the department of the fitness industry. Over the years there have been several new entrants in the fitness space and they have not only introduced some very useful innovations in the existing gym gear but have also introduced new concepts that have come to be standard in a short space of time.
Fitness trackers that monitor activities and sleep didn’t exist until very recently, but these days, from bracelets and watches to smart rings, everything is capable of tracking your fitness. Or take the carbon plates inserted in the soles of running shoes: these have allowed athletes to create new running records, from sprint distance to marathons.
Even the good old mirror has now been repurposed as smart mirrors, and can double up as your trainer. The Mirror by Lulu Lemon does just that, and in India, the Portl smart mirror, loaded with biosensors and cameras, is also trying to replace your gym and personal trainer.
That apart, plant-based meats and milks and the Peloton indoor bike with its on-demand workout streaming service are some of the innovations trending in the fitness sphere currently. Here are some of the things I feel are likely to become big in fitness in the coming months.
Normatec leg recovery system: These are oversized leg sleeves not unlike the bottoms of a hockey goalie but that’s where the similarity ends. The Normatec sleeves are a cutting edge state-of-the-art technology that top athletes have been using for some time now to help them in recovery after a game or training.
Normatec is a compression therapy leg sleeve that improves blood flow in the legs by compressing and decompressing the muscles in your legs and feet, thus speeding up recovery and relieving pain, leading to better performance. All you need to do is put them on, hit the switch and lie down or sit with your legs straight as they do their magic. The gear is now being increasingly used by recreational endurance athletes as well to help them have fresher legs quicker.
The Normatec system reduces inflammation, swelling, speeds up muscle recovery by removing the lactic acid build-up in the legs, reduces fatigue and thus improves performance. Some have also reported better flexibility after using the Normatec sleeves. There is already Normatec 2.0 in the market and if you can find a deal on the older version that’s not a bad option either.
Percussive therapy massage gun: Though it is a device to massage your sore muscles, it looks more like a gun straight out of a sci-fi movie, with a small rubber ball for a snout instead of a bullet-spitting barrel. Percussive therapy uses vibrations and a thumping or circular movement to reduce muscle soreness by increasing blood flow. It can decrease inflammation, raise the skin temperature, release muscle tension and break down knots.
Yes, a deep tissue massage also does these exact things but with a percussive therapy massage device you can do it all yourself at your convenience anywhere and any hour you like without having to book a single appointment.
These massage guns are already very popular among endurance athletes and fitness enthusiasts the world over, especially because deep tissue massages can be very expensive overseas. Most of these massage guns come with varying speed and vibration capabilities and different attachments to treat different parts of your body. Among the popular ones, Theragun (Cristiano Ronaldo is a poster boy for the brand) and Hypervolt have a proven performance record.
NuCalm sleep system: This is a patented system which combines neuroscience, physics and sounds to help you sleep better by slowing down your brain activity. It uses an eye mask, a disc and an app to deliver audio tracks that help you fall asleep faster and also improve your quality of sleep.
All fitness experts would tell you that sleep is key to recovery and good performance while engaging in any training or sport. “NuCalm allows you to tap into a deep meditative state on command by applying is neuro-acoustic software along with its bio-signaling disc and eye mask. During this process your brain drops into a phase that lowers wave frequencies where cellular recovery takes place. The combination of training hard NuCalm for recovery assures that I get maximum gains from my efforts,” says Colorado-based ultrarunner Robbie Ballenger, who holds the world record for running the maximum loops of New York’s Central Park during its opening hours.
Ultrahuman HQ glucose monitoring system: It is a thin arm patch that that monitors your blood glucose levels. You get the information from the patch via an app that shows you your spikes and dips in the glucose levels through the day. When you note down your meals, exercise and the details of what you ate, drank and your workouts, you can identify what causes the spikes and dips in your glucose “biomarkers” and how that affects your energy levels, mood, etc.
Thus, you can better monitor your exercise and diet based on this feedback. The company describes it as “a continuous Metabolic fitness tracker that helps you optimise your lifestyle.” The app not only shows your real-time glucose levels but also delivers a daily metabolic report and nudges you to move when your blood glucose levels spike. This year, the trackers are moving to the next level and they won’t be restricted to top athletes but would be accessible to all of us.
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and the co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.