One thing the coronavirus has taught us is how important it is to look after our physical - and mental - health. With the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, it's never been more critical to spend some time focusing on being fit and healthy. And, with the majority of us spending more time at home, we've seen a rise in at-home fitness workouts and online classes. The thing that makes these home 'gym sessions' possible? Technology. Fitness and tech companies have risen to meet the challenge of providing gruelling and diverse workouts at home, so we can maintain our health and fitness even if we're confined to four walls. Here's what you're likely to see in the tech and fitness world in 2021...
Tech-based workouts to look out for in 2021
Myriad workout apps
The health and fitness apps we're using today have been around for a while. But, as more people resorted to at-home workouts last year, the apps that help you sweat and stay home are becoming increasingly popular. Number 1 rated fitness app, FiiT, is known for offering thousands of online classes, from strength and mobility to the renowned HIIT workouts. Co-founder and CEO Daniel Shellard says their highest-rated classes at the moment are equipment cardio classes, as well as the 10-minute classes that offer a burst of exercise known as micro-HIIT workouts. Another popular at-home fitness app is the US-based Peloton that offers 10 different workout types to stream on demand. The app also helps you track metrics such as heart rate, calories and distance - great if there's a specific goal you're working towards.
And, for those of you who dusted off your running shoes and bicycles in lockdown last year, the Strava app is here for you. It's become hugely popular in SA and the company reported growth of around 2 million new athletes each month in 2020. Even in - don't say it - unprecedented times, people stuck to their guns about staying healthy and fit.
No, we don't mean resting indefinitely for the foreseeable future. The term 'Everesting' refers to the challenge of tackling a virtual climb up Mount Everest on your stationary bike. It involves climbing the 8 848m elevation height of the famous mountain and, according to Strava, there was a 600% increase in members taking the challenge in June 2020 when compared to the same month in 2019. Set yourself up with a VR headset to get the full Everest experience. Or, invest in a Peloton bike that comes complete with an immersive screen where you can watch and participate in special Climb classes. Time to reach the top of the mountain?
The first thing that comes to mind here are those sleek fitness watches that were all the rage in 2020. In fact, for many people, fitness watches have totally replaced the regular watch and we're wearing them 24/7 - whether or not we're actually working out.
These watches help you track everything from heart rates and calories burnt to stairs climbed and metres run. The newly-released Apple Series 6 watch even allows you to track oxygen levels and is water resistant for up to 50 metres. According to Apple’s senior director of Fitness Technologies Jay Blahnik, 'Being more active is one of the most important things we can do for our health'. And wearing stylish tech gadgets on our wrists is an added bonus.
Nothing gets you moving like a bit of healthy competition. And, even if you can't meet your regular running group or keep up with your spinning buddy in a sweaty class, there are other ways for you to keep challenging yourself. Strava reported over 1 million athletes joining their monthly 5k challenge last year and will continue to offer virtual challenges throughout 2021. If you're looking for a change of scenery, check out the Nike Run Club app where members are invited to take on 5 challenges in 5 months. The winner will be welcomed at the Nike World headquarters in Oregon (travel restrictions permitting). On a digital platform, you're guaranteed loads of competition from all over the world.
And finally, a tech-related workout that actually takes you away from your tech. Tired of spending hours in front of a screen? Whether it be for regular work, Zoom meetings or that well-deserved Netflix break. A recent survey by the UK's College of Optometrists found that 1 in 5 adults claim their eyesight has deteriorated during lockdown. While there's no hard proof that too much screen time is damaging to your eyes, there's nothing wrong with taking a screen break if your eyes start to feel tired, irritated or scratchy.
Eye yoga refers to gentle movements to move and gently massage the eyes and surrounding areas. UK gym studio FaceGym has started offering special one-on-one online yoga classes specifically for your eyes and face. Founder of FaceGym, Inge Theron says, 'Although Eye Yoga has been around for some time, it’s really being talked about as we head into 2021.’ Yoga for your eyes? Alright then.