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Does a smartwatch really improve your workout?

We Google's new Android Wear to the test.

Google fitness classSmartwatch3G Watch RGear Live

Like most people, I answer emails afterhours and sleep with my phone right next to me, but the gym is the one place where I happily unplug. So when Google invited me to a workout class to test their Android Wear smartwatch, I was curious. Would they make me respond to a work email mid-lunge? Text my friends through voice activation while doing a sprint? Here’s what really happened and my verdict on if buying a smart watch is really worth it.

How it works:
To really utilize all the smartwatch’s functions, you need to synch it with your phone. In this case, it meant ditching my iPhone for the Nexus 5, which I would wear on an armband during my workout.

The class started with a cardio warm-up. We didn’t actively use the smartwatch for this portion of the class, but it was tracking my activity, such as the number of steps taken and heartrate, which was pretty cool to look at after the class.

To my surprise, the instructor didn’t make us answer any emails or texts during the class. Instead, she showed up how to use the VimoFit app. VimioFit acts as your own virtual trainer by creating custom workouts for you based on your fitness goals. It also has a virtual person show you how to do each move, which was helpful for a visual learner like me. We used our smartphones for the trainer aspect of the app while the watch kept track of our activity levels to make sure we reach our fitness goals.

At the end of the class, the trainer showed us how Android Wear can track your sleep cycle by monitoring how many times you wake up during the night and how much REP sleep you get.

Positives:
Seeing exactly how much exercise I get in plain numbers is addicting and made me go out of my way to walk instead of taking the subway just to get my numbers up and reach my fitness goals. You can also synch your music to your watch and wear Bluetooth headphones instead of relying on your phone or MP3 player. The GPS tracker is helpful for runners and bikers.
Negatives:
Having to rely on the smart phone to utilize the VimioFit app is cumbersome. There also doesn’t seem to be a way to turn off messaging during a workout if you still want to use the fitness aspects of the watch without being reachable.
Verdict:
When it comes to using a smart watch for fitness, it’s less about being reachable at all times and more about ensuring you’re living as healthy a lifestyle as possible. Considering I already take my phone to the gym to stream music, wearing a smart watch doesn’t seem like much of a leap.
3 smart watches to try:

SmartWatch 3, $247.99, sonymobile.com

G Watch R, $299, lg.com

Gear Live, $199.99, Best Buy

 

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