We Tried It: The Pursuit at Equinox (and Other High-Tech Workouts)

Gadgets and gizmos aplenty have found their way into every aspect of our modern lives, including our workouts.

Wearables have their fans and detractors—does measuring your daily steps push you to take more of them, or does it actually encourage you to eat more chips, since you “deserve it”?—but there’s a newer kind of tech that’s been creeping into exercise studios, designed to push your workout (and perhaps your competitive self, too).Equinox is one of the gang that’s designed an app to integrate tech with your workout. It’s helpful for viewing schedules and booking classes, as well as also track your performance with each session. Stats like how you did on particular games within each class, as well as performance by gender are wirelessly synced with a member’s app after each class they attend.I attended “The Pursuit: Burn” class one Tuesday afternoon to see how I stacked up when competing with their regular clients.  The instructor was circulating and greeting familiar clients, as well as making a point of introducing herself to new faces in the crowd. She also made sure that newbies like myself were properly seated with shoe straps secured, and that our bikes were online.

READ MOREWe Tried It: Lagree West

Before the class began, I noticed some cyclists pedalling away as they warmed up. The giant screen against the far wall displayed orange orbs with the corresponding client name and bike number beneath. These keeners were already racking up stats and the class hadn’t even started yet.Once our high-energy instructor got us moving, it was clear how the screen functioned: my little orb would glow brighter, changing from an outline to a filled circle, and even float higher, depending on my effort. Being able to see your exertion in real time alongside that of your peers means there’s no pretending you turned the resistance knob on your bike for that last “hill.”Adding a digital element to encourage a little competition is an excellent motivator, but I will concede that I became slightly frustrated when we were grouped into teams. I couldn’t help but want to bark, “Pick up the pace, bike 23!” when one of my teammates didn’t appear to be pulling their weight.Overall, I’m a fan of using technology to track progress and keep me honest during group training. And if you were wondering, I placed fourth and fifth (depending on the game) in the top eight women in our class that day.If Equinox is too far from where you work or live, give some of these other fitness apps a try and use your smartphone for more than just a workout playlist.

1. Seven

Pros: No fancy equipment required, designed for use at home, very little time commitment.Cons: Putting on a sports bra for only seven minutes is a bit of a pain.

2. Yoga Studio

Pros: Great selection of yoga practices for all levels and time commitments, digital instructor with a pleasant voice demonstrating each movement, compatible with Apple TV (turn your living room into a yoga studio!), schedule classes.Cons: Was previously a one-time purchase and now requires a small subscription fee.

3. Runkeeper

Pros: Choose pace and distance announcements or simply listen to your music, track run routes and receive little celebratory awards for accomplishments, be reminded when it’s time to go for a run, track other activities such as cycling.Cons: Can’t be used on a treadmill (have to add your stats manually afterward).

4. Carrot Rewards

Pros: Rack up points for pre-existing rewards programs just by walking, take health-based quizzes and surveys to earn additional points, runs in the background using minimal battery power.Cons: There are currently only four participating rewards programs.

5. Lose It!

Pros: Log food and activity, set weight-loss goals, get a better picture of how many calories you’re actually consuming on a daily basis (it’s usually more than you think!)Cons: Knowing the calorie count might ruin some of your favourite cheat foods.