Category Archives: Personal Trainer

Pavlok: Change Habits and Train Behavior Through Electric Shock

Pavlok is a resolutions focused wristband that aims to change habits and train behavior through electric shock. Yes, the wristband sends a shock every time you miss a deadline, goal, or habit. The shock is noticeable – like a static shock on a cold, dry, winter day – but not enough to hurt you. The device can deliver around 200 shocks a day, which the company claims for a typical user will last 4 days on a full charge. 50 shocks a day! The founding team researched that it takes between 30-60 days to break most bad habits and create better ones – so after a couple months of continuous wear, you should be well along your way to a more accountable you.

For those who prefer not to be shocked so often (I would certainly be the one yelling ‘ouch!’ on the bus), beeping, vibrating, monetary penalties, and posting on your social network are other conditioning motivators. Pavlok is great for aspirational habits like waking up on time, going to the gym regularly, quitting smoking, and conquering time wasting distractions. The app monitors your goals and gives you real-time progress reports.

The Indiegogo campaign is halfway through, so if willing yourself to hit the gym via calendar reminders isn’t working, Pavlok might help.

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LEO: A Smart Wearable With A Data Driven Recommendation Engine

Within several days, GestureLogic reached its Indiegogo funding goal on their first device, LEO. LEO isn’t just another wearable device that counts your steps or tracks motions. LEO measures biosignals (such as muscle activity and lactic acid levels) to calculate exertion – giving users recommendations on how to workout more efficiently and telling athletes when they are pushing too hard. Knowing when to stop or tone down the intensity helps avoid potential injuries. LEO’s feedback loop makes it an invaluable fitness tool. As the wearer changes intensity and speed, so does the real-time feedback from LEO – urging the user to push harder or continue to taper. LEO tracks your physical starting point, noting each specific user’s unique physiology, and sets goals based on these metrics. While it may be obvious that two different bodies with two different weights and peak heart rates should have two different workout plans even if the end goal (say losing 10 lbs) is the same – not many wearables are able to tailor workout routines like LEO can.

LEO’s key capabilities include:

  • Tracking muscle activity, hydration, lactic acid levels, heart rate, and movement
  • Providing education and advice throughout a user’s workout with simple and actionable recommendations
  • Identifying signs of future injury and recommending ways to avoid it
  • Improve training with intuitive visualizations with the raw data available
  • Competing with friends, comparing workouts with pro athletes and networking with the local fitness community

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Best in Healthcare For 2013

2013 was a great year for consumer healthcare technology. This year, 95 million Americans have used mobile phones as health tools or as search devices to find healthcare information, paving the way for a more connected and health conscious 2014.

To continue with my annual Year in Review, I present some of my favorite companies and posts in 2013.

A big thank you to my readers for your support, ideas and input.

-Alexis

Best New Entrants into Wearables:

Best Smart Fabric Concepts:

  • Athos — Athletic apparel made with smart fabric and sensors to measure every muscle exertion, heartbeat, and breath
  • OMsignal  — Embedded sensors in the apparel monitor your heart rate, breathing, and activity

 Best Fitness Apps:

  • RunKeeper — GPS app to track outdoor fitness activities
  • Moves — GPS app to track daily activity continuously, shown on a timeline
  • Charity Miles — GPS app that tracks and lets you earn money for charity when you walk, run, or bike

 Best Personalized Coaching:

  • Sessions — Simple, individual, and thoughtful fitness program to help you get healthy
  • Wello — Online workouts with a Certified Personal Trainer in real-time on your mobile device over live video

A New Twist to Common Items:

  • HAPIfork — An electronic fork that monitors eating habits and alerts you when you eat too fast
  • Beam Technologies — A smart toothbrush that monitors oral hygiene and reports habits to a smart app
  • Withings Blood Pressure Monitor — Measures, calculates and tracks changes in blood pressure on graphs

Best Up and Coming:

  • PUSH — Tracks and analyzes performance at the gym; measures power, force and balance
  • Emotiv Insight — Multi-channel, wireless headset that monitors brain activity to optimize brain fitness and measures cognitive health and well-being
  • Scanadu Scout — Medical tricorder to measure, analyze and track vitals
  • MC10 — Stretchable electronics that conform to the shape of the body to measure and track vitals

Best for Healthcare Providers:

  • Pristine — Develops Glass apps to help hospitals deliver safer, more coordinated, more cost effective care
  • Informedika — Marketplace for electronic test ordering and results exchange between healthcare providers
  • IntelligentM — Data-driven hand hygiene compliance solutions for hospitals to dramatically reduce healthcare-acquired infections
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OnTheGo Platforms: Using Glass with the Ghost of Running Past

I always run faster in races. When I’m doing a training run, my thoughts tend to wander – I think about my to do list or run various scenarios through my mind. During a race, I spend most of my time thinking about how I should maneuver through a crowded group or how to most quickly pass the person in front of me. I also generally run faster during the second half of a running event, pushing for a negative split as some runners start to tire. But during training runs, I grow complacent, focus less on running, and my mind set is not on competition – it’s on finishing.

I could find a running partner – one who runs at my pace, doesn’t want to have a conversation while we run, and who can make him or herself available based on my schedule – or I can (soon) get a virtual running partner. OnTheGo Platforms is creating apps for smart glasses like Google Glass. Their showcase application, Ghost Runner, shows a ‘ghost’ (when you fall behind) that appears running in pace with your old time. Now you can ‘race’ with the old you – and with each progression, you push yourself to steadily run faster. This is a great start to glasses optimized running / fitness applications and a good proof of concept for Glass. I look forward to seeing more great ideas and apps from OnTheGo.

Ghost Runner Leader board from OnTheGo Platforms on Vimeo.

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PUSH: Quantify Your Strength, Track Your Power

People like to exaggerate. “I benched 350 yesterday,” says your office brah’. Now you can tell him to prove it.

PUSH is a new wearable device – an armband + a mobile app – that tracks and analyzes your performance at the gym. Specifically targeting strength workouts, PUSH tracks metrics including force, power, balance and consistency of your training and pushes you to train harder or ease up based on your performance. You can use PUSH to track squats, dead lifts, pull ups, bench presses and more – just about your entire CrossFit workout can be monitored. The device straps onto your arm and lets you review your progress on the app in real time. In addition to sharing your results with friends and competing with them, PUSH can create personalized workout routines to best improve your training without overdoing it, preventing injuries.

You can check out their Indiegogo campaign and get your PUSH, schedule for April/May 2014 delivery.

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Sessions: Personalized Mobile Coaching Helps You Stay Active

Sometimes you get busy. For most people, the first thing that gets pushed off is regular exercise. For me, this generally happens when my schedule becomes travel heavy or I don’t have a running event I’m training for. In the past six months, I traveled to Asia for a month, moved not once but twice, and spent approximately 85% of my weekends away from San Francisco. And so my regular exercise became my commute, which didn’t amount to very much.

I needed someone to encourage and gently remind me to set aside 30-40 minutes a few times a week to hit the pavement. Sessions, did just that.

The 16 week program is targeted towards steady lifestyle improvements. My coach, Glennis, who is also the Director of Coaching at Sessions, has worked with hundreds of people in my position. She essentially became my online and mobile personal trainer. Every Sunday I would plan out my workouts for the week through an online user portal we shared. Before each run, Glennis would text and email me reminders and tips. She helped me create a plan for running on weekdays, and after I moved she gave me route ideas for my new neighborhood. By syncing RunKeeper to Sessions, she knew when I exercised and encouraged my progress.

There were definitely days I did not want to run, especially on Sunday afternoons. But then I would get a text from Glennis asking if I was ready, which always kept me honest. Along with Sunday check-in’s, there are quick weekly assignments that ask introspective questions about my habits and find potential improvements to them.

All messages and exercise sessions are recorded on one dashboard in Sessions, where you can track your progress.

Here are some stats on how the program really does change behaviors:

  • 90% of people complete the entire program which is 10-20x higher than most health and fitness products
  • 94% of people are very likely or extremely likely to recommend the program to friends and family
  • On average, people send a message to their coach daily
  • There is 80% compliance with Sessions plans
  • People visit the site an average of nearly 10x/week
  • Sessions is currently enrolling in a Randomized Clinical Trial with Mayo Clinic

Sessions is a great way, for a fraction of the price, to work with a personal trainer and health consultant. The best part is that after only a month of Sessions, I’ve still kept up with my new fitness goals.

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