Become Your Very Own Coach With These 5 Athletic Gadgets

There was a time when your athletic coach showed up with a clipboard, a cigar, and an 8-cylinder burgundy Econoline.

Now, however, athletes can employ a variety of wearable body sensors to get useful coaching advice, as companion apps provide on-screen analysis for tracking and improving their progress. And if competitors want the valuable perspective of a human coach, these devices can also send daily workout information to a pro automatically.

To see what’s possible, I teamed up with a few testers, and we instrumented ourselves with five devices all over the body. We tried out sensors that attach to the upper thigh, calf, and shoelaces, as well as inside a sneaker’s sole. These various devices sense everything from muscle oxygen levels to foot asymmetries.

In our testing, these devices uncovered data that would certainly prove useful to both beginners and seasoned competitors. For instance, two of the hardest things for a beginning runner to learn are the correct pace and the proper form. (Experienced runners trying to gently ramp up their training could benefit from knowing these things too.) Some of these devices provided such information accurately.

Also, it was just damn cool for us exercise geeks to gather data traditionally only collected in clinics and laboratories with expensive, exhausting, and painful sessions. After two months of testing, we likely had more biometric data stored on a single phone than was kept on the entire 1976 Olympic track team—all with no coaches, clipboards, or sketchy vans.

Humon Hex