Gadgets that get you going

Appears in the May 2018 issue.

If the monotony of your outdoor run is boring you—or inclement weather has you stuck inside—high-tech fitness gear may just put a spring in your step.

From a virtual coach buzzing in your ear to the thrill of competing video game–style against people sweating in home gyms all over the country, here’s the latest in high-tech fitness to get you off the couch and moving:

Vi earbuds

A good personal trainer builds a relationship with you, motivates when you’ve run out of steam and makes workouts more effective and fun. Similarly, Lifebeam’s Vi (pronounced “vee”), provides personalized motivation and fitness training advice—though it doesn’t come from a human.

How does Vi do this? Aerospace-grade biosensing earbuds that track heart rate, motion, elevation, proximity and touch are coupled with artificial intelligence. Vi can speak and answer questions such as “How am I doing?” or “What’s my heart rate?”

The device may even give you a friendly poke if it’s been a while since your last workout.

If you tend to push yourself too hard during workouts—or take the easy route and not push hard enough—Vi lets you know if you are overdoing it or slacking off. It adapts training on the spot using the biometic data it collects, as well as user feedback.

The device can also connect with your music on Spotify and other streaming platforms, selecting tunes that best fit an activity’s pace. (Available at, $249.)


Available in styles with polished natural wood and with a translucent wheel of moving water, WaterRower looks more like a piece of art than gym equipment.

Its WaterFlywheel was designed to reproduce the physical mechanics of a moving boat. And it touts itself as kind on the joints—a good workout alternative for newbies or those who suffer from arthritis or other joint diseases.

But what may really get your heart racing is the ability to compete against others. Its WeRow app allows users to row online against other owners throughout the world. Not feeling competitive? You can also track and store your personal training data. (Available at Downers Grove Exercise Equipment, starting at $1,560.)

Precor Elliptical Fitness Crosstrainer 865

This cardio equipment lets you isolate or cross-train specific lower body muscles by adjusting the angle of its ramp between 10 and 35 degrees as you move in a converging stride path.

An entertainment console with a ten-inch touch screen is a good bet for distracting yourself from your screaming muscles; the screen allows you to access workout data and entertainment at the same time, including interactive workouts, television channels, popular music and pro tips. (Available at Precor Home Fitness in Aurora, Geneva and Downers Grove, $9,695.)

Forerunner 645 Music watch

Are you a data junkie who also happens to love running? Garmin’s Forerunner 645 Music watch tracks six running dynamics, including cadence, ground contact time and stride lengths. Its built-in GPS tracks how far and fast you run, and the watch allows you to view downloaded courses on your wrist. The device stores up to 500 songs, which can be downloaded from offline playlists. It works in the pool, too, where it will track distance, pace, stroke and personal records.

Runners who don’t require as many features may be better served by Garmin’s Forerunner 35. The watch tracks how far, how fast and where you run, while monitoring your heart rate throughout the day and night.

When you aren’t running, it will count steps, calories and intensity minutes and keep you connected with smart notifications, music controls and automatic uploads to the Garmin Connect online fitness community. (Available at Naperville Running Company, starting at $199.95.)