These 10 Fitness Gadgets Will Take Your Workouts To The Next Level

Photographed by Winnie Au.
You’ve got your sneakers, gym membership, and a truly inspired athletic wardrobe. Now, all you need to amp up your fitness game are the right gadgets. Why? Because they can help you better optimize and track your performance, so you can meet your personal goals, however big or small.

Maybe you’ll enter a half-marathon or a triathlon, or maybe you just want to push yourself to get stronger. We know you’re busy, so it’s not about making your workouts longer; it’s about making them higher-quality.

It may be as simple as switching out your white Apple earbuds for a pair of in-ear headphones that don’t tangle or distract you. Or, maybe your IT bands get so tight after spin class that you need some sort of personal massage therapist to get you up and down the three flights of stairs to your apartment. Here are 10 tools that may be just the thing to take your workouts to the next level.
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Photo: Courtesy Minsuit
Minisuit SPORTY Armband + Key Holder
At $12 or less, the Minisuit SPORTY armband for iPhone 5/5s/5c or iPhone 6 is an inexpensive way to hold onto your iPhone during a run. It secures your phone solidly in place, fitting snugly on your arm with an adjustable strap. It’s made of neoprene material that keeps sweat away from your phone, and since it isn’t stretchy, it won’t warp out of shape with use. It also includes a handy hidden key holder and has an opening if you want to plug in headphones.
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Photo: Courtesy Jaybird.
Jaybird BlueBuds X
When you’re getting a solid workout in, you don’t want to deal with tangling cords. Jaybird’s BlueBuds X Bluetooth headphones ($125) are among the best-rated and most-recommended wireless earphones on Amazon and running blogs. They feature an in-ear design for improved fit and audio quality and a flexible, adjustable wire strap that fits around your head (over or under your ears). If you wear them over-ear, one caveat: The location of the mic isn’t great if you also want to take a phone call, since it’s not dangling next to your chin (it ends up tucked behind your left ear). Battery life lasts roughly eight hours; you can charge the earbuds via USB. As for sound quality, they seal out a lot of external noise and generally sound good, but are low on the bass.
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Photo: Courtesy Red Fox.
Red Fox Edge Wireless Headphones
If you’re not so into the in-ear-headphones thing, Red Fox’s Edge Wireless Headphones ($120) offer a more earbud-like sport audio experience — but still sans cables. These wireless headphones stay put using a harder plastic band that slips over or under your ears and around the back of your head. In testing these, we found they fit super securely and produced good music quality, but got a bit uncomfortable after the 1.5- to 2-hour mark. Battery life lasts multiple workouts, and they’re easy to clean off if you do get them sweaty.
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Photo: Courtesy Wahoo.
Wahoo Tickr X
Like the idea of a heart-rate-monitoring fitness tracker, but don’t want to wear something on your wrist? The $100 Wahoo Tickr X straps across your chest to discreetly monitor your heart rate (an indicator of your effort while working out) as well as your general activity. Pair with Wahoo’s 7-Minute Workout App, and it tracks the reps of each activity for you. It can also give you metrics on your running form, and track your pedaling cadence if you’re on a spin bike. If you want to leave your smartphone behind and go for a run or bike ride, this heart rate monitor has a 16-hour memory life and can track duration, heart rate, and calorie burn (but not GPS, so if you want location data, bring your phone). With built-in Bluetooth and ANT+, it works with a variety of phones, GPS watches, and activity trackers.
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Photo: Courtesy PEAR.
PEAR Mobile Training
PEAR’s mobile training system ($100) is comprised of a smartphone app, earbuds, and heart rate monitor. Strap the monitor across your chest, and the app feeds you interactive audio workouts from pro athletes and coaches — all of which are personalized to your heart rate and fitness level. The system, which works with a variety of iOS and Android devices, tracks things like calories, pace, distance, time, and heart rate. It has workouts for gym machines like the treadmill and elliptical, as well as walks and runs. You can see exactly how hard you worked during each session and can also monitor your progress over time.
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Photo: Courtesy Microsoft.
Microsoft Band
The $240 Microsoft Band doesn’t look like much. It’s another chunky wrist wearable, with an LED display on top and a heart rate sensor on its clasp. But, the band is actually a terrific accessory for tracking and optimizing your workouts; it’s cheaper than options like the Apple Watch, and more feature-packed than a Fitbit.

While it bears the Microsoft name, the splash-proof device works with iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices. With GPS built-in (among other sensors, like an accelerometer, gyroscope, and temperature sensor), you don’t need to carry a phone with you if you’re hitting the trails for an afternoon. It syncs with apps such as Strava and Runkeeper, but also conveniently has a built-in library of workouts you can download.
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Photo: Courtesy Polar.
Polar A300
If you also want to swim, the waterproof Polar A300 ($160) could work for you. In addition to the general activity tracker stats like steps, calories burned, and sleep, it also gives you reminders when you’ve been inactive for too long. When you’re working out, it helps offer motivation by suggesting training targets and giving you feedback on your performance. It comes in four different colors and works with Polar’s heart rate monitors if you want a more targeted workout.
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Photo: Courtesy Zepp Labs.
Zepp Labs Kit
If you play golf, tennis, or softball, Zepp Labs’ $150 kit can help you improve your swing. The kit comes with a small, square sensor, two mounts, and a charger. The sensor mounts to the base of your bat, or to the base of your club or racket’s handle. Once in place, it tracks your performance, giving you real-time feedback on your swing in its accompanying mobile app (for example, in a 3D view of your golf swing, it will color-code your strength areas). The app offers additional analytics once you’ve finished your game or training session, and you can also capture video of your swing, which you or a coach can annotate with circles and lines to pinpoint where you need to improve your form. You can also compare your form with the pros, frame by frame.
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Photo: Courtesy HyperIce.
HyperIce Vyper
When you’ve just put in a massive, muscle-fatiguing workout, you need an equally powerful recovery tool. Rolling out with a foam roller — applying pressure to loosen and “roll out” knots in your muscles — is one way to make large muscle groups in your back and legs feel better. HyperIce’s $200 Vyper roller takes that one step further: It’s a stiff foam roller with a built-in three-speed vibrating motor. And, we’re not talking “back massager” vibrations — this thing is intense. After a couple minutes rolling out my thighs after a tough bike ride, my quads felt like they’d melted into butter. The Vyper is rechargeable, but if you’re only rolling out for five to 15 minutes post-workout, it lasts a while. But, if you live in a cheaply constructed apartment building (no judgment here), be warned: The vibrations are so powerful, I could feel my floor and walls shaking slightly. So, maybe don’t roll out in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn — if you want to stay on good terms with your neighbors.

For a cheaper, non-vibrating option, try something like Trigger Point's $40 Grid foam roller.
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Photo: Courtesy Skulpt.
Skulpt Aim
If you’re really hell-bent on getting that six pack, the $200 Skulpt Aim is an interesting new device. After moistening your skin, you press it against a particular muscle group, such as your abs, biceps, calves, or glutes, and the device ascertains that muscle’s quality (in terms of strength and definition) and what percent fat the area is. It can accurately measure 12 different muscles and can give you a picture of your overall body-fat percentage by measuring four spots: your biceps, triceps, quads, and abs. Using the Skulpt Aim, you can tell, over time, how your muscles are improving or see how dietary changes affect your body-fat percentage.