FITNESS WEEK: iPhone exercise accessories
17 Jul 2012
Got an iPhone or iPad? Slap a dongle on to measure your calorie burn...
OK, so you've already downloaded those excellent exercise apps we told you about, and if you're particularly keen you might have even loaded one up...
But if you’re an Apple user and serious about recording your training progress, you might want to try out Wahoo’s iPhone/iPad fitness accessories, comprising a stride sensor and heart monitor. These connect wirelessly to your phone or tablet via a sensor dongle when you’re pounding the pavement (or indulging in some fast-paced biking) and measure your pace and heart rate.
To test them out, we took to the streets of Soho and risked a coronary by jogging a circuit. You see how much we love you? This is how much we love you.
First steps with the Wahoo
First, plug the Wahoo Fisica sensor key into your iPhone’s charging port and your mobile will automatically load the Wahoo Utility app if you have it installed, or bring it up on the app store if you don’t. This program allows you to test your sensors, and download compatible apps such as Endomondo, RunKeeper and Kinomap (see below) – but to begin with, we stuck with the free Wahoo app, which uses the accessories to measure your strides and/or heart rate when you go out jogging or biking.
The stride sensor attaches to your laces using a clip on the back, while the heart monitor comes with an adjustable belt that straps around your chest. Both can be paired up through the app, and were found immediately with no problems or interference. With that done, all you do is hit ‘start’ and get ready to sweat.
Attach the stride sensor to your laces like so
After charging around central London, we pulled off the accessories and checked our stats. You get all the usual info – duration, distance covered and calories burned, plus your average mile/km time. With the heart sensor you also get your average and maximum heart rate, while the foot pod gives you your strides per minute. We noticed that the foot pod and GPS gave very different average speeds – 5:43 min/km from the GPS, but 6:22 min/km from the foot pod. We were hoping for a more in-depth breakdown of our stats, such as a mile-by-mile account of our heart rate, but at least you can see your average to check if you’re making progress.
Kinomap review (Free iPhone/iPad app, subscription from £7.99 per month)
To properly test out the accessories, we downloaded the Kinomap app – a unique fitness assistant that allows you to run, cycle or row your way through exotic worldwide locations, all from the comfort of your living room or gym.
The Kinomap trainer in action. Enthusiastic fist-pump mandatory
Kinomap works like so. A user records their favourite jog, cycle or rowing route using their phone's video camera, then uploads the geotagged video to the Kinomap servers. Other Kinomap subscribers can then tackle that route on a treadmill, cycling or rowing machine, tracking their progress on a map and watching the video of the route at the same time. You’ll need to find some way to prop your iPad or iPhone up in front of you, or output to a TV, but it’s a neat little idea and you can attach the Wahoo accessories to monitor your progress.
You can search videos for keywords or browse through the most viewed and most recent, but we couldn’t find a way to separate according to type of exercise (running/cycling/rowing), which was mildly irritating. Some of the videos are duds too: we tried a jogging track where the user kept stopping to ask directions, for instance.
However, there are plenty of great videos too, including an hour-long jog in the London Marathon and tons of scenic biking trails through beautiful villages and countryside. Seeing new places is a smart incentive to keep you working hard, especially as the video pauses if you fall behind. Each workout is also rated on difficulty, so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
A Kinomap subscription isn’t cheap – one month costs £7.99, or you can bag a year for £50. You also have to invest in the Wahoo equipment on top. However, you can at least preview the first five minutes of each video for free, to decide whether it’s worth your hard-earned cash.
Come back tomorrow for the very best healthy eating/diet apps around...
Editor: Chris Barraclough