Group Exercise Classes Just Got Better Thanks to These Three Start-Ups

Image courtesy of Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ

Image courtesy of Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ

Editor’s note: As of April 23, 2015, Classpass has acquired fitmob.

If you want to begin a consistent fitness habit, joining a group exercise class is the way to go. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, group exercise classes provide an easy way to get into a fitness routine and add variety to prevent boredom. Class members are also more likely to stick to a routine because it’s harder to skip when other people will know you’re absent. Plus, group exercise classes are often safer due instructor guidance and warm-ups and cool-downs built in to the program.

So what if you want to reap all the benefits of group exercise classes but don’t want to lock yourself into one gym or studio? Here are three start-ups that allow you to do just that.

  1. ClassPass, which raised another round of funding this week, allows you to attend all the group exercise classes your heart desires for $99/month. Currently, the service  is available in 25 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. ClassPass is focused on studios and not gyms, so if you’re also wanting to hit the gym along with taking group classes, this may not be the subscription for you.
    • Pros: ClassPass has a lot of variety. According to a San Francisco reviewer, you can take classes in everything from pilates and crossfit to surfset and ariel. It also allows you to attend as many classes you can fit in a month and has a large number of studios it partners with.
    • Cons: If you really like a studio, you can only attend up to three times in one month. The most popular classes fill up quickly. For first-time visits to a new studio, you need to arrive early to sign paperwork and releases.
  1. fitmob (yes it’s all lowercase even at the beginning of a sentence) is a mix between all-access to studios and gyms, leaning more toward studios. The service is currently available in six cities: Austin, Dallas, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle. Like ClassPass, it’s available for one monthly price that is not listed on their website.
    • Pros: Unlike the other services, fitmob has exclusive classes for its members. According to Yelp reviews for the San Francisco fitmob, the trainers are great and the number of workout locations are plentiful.
    • Cons: Reviews on Yelp for San Francisco fitmob are generally positive, but a few cite the company for customer service issues, and one user recommends just using ClassPass instead.
  1. Gymfinite is an up-and-comer in the group exercise subscription model. Although it’s currently only based in Denver, I recommend keeping your eye on this one because it provides access to classes and open gym time. Gymfinite has a two-tier subscription model. For $99/month, users can attend up to eight classes, while the unlimited pass is $199/month.
    • Pros: The big advantage to Gymfinite is that it offers open gym time, which can help add variety to routines in addition to just attending classes.  The higher-priced subscription also allows you to attend as many classes as you’d like each month.
    • Cons: The biggest cons are that the service is currently only available in one city, and it’s pricier than the others.

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A $79 Fork Can Tell When You’re Eating Too Fast and Three Ways to Know for Free

Image courtesy of HAPIfork

Image courtesy of HAPIfork

The HAPIfork is an electronic fork that monitors how quickly you consume food. It looks like a larger version of any regular fork, but it buzzes if you’re eating more quickly than the optimal amount of bites at a time. The idea is for you to become more aware of your consumption, enabling you to stick to your diet and help prevent digestive issues.

The logic behind the creation of the HAPIfork is clear – there are literally thousands of articles explaining that eating slowly can help you feel full faster and lose weight. But is a vibrating fork the best option?  According to the reviews on Amazon, it’s not quite there yet.

So, I say pocket the $79 you would’ve spent on the HAPIfork and use these techniques to be more mindful while eating instead.

1. Drink a glass of water before you eat. This may not necessarily help with the pace of your food consumption, but it will help you to feel full faster. Studies show that people who drink water before a meal tend to eat less, and the best part is that water is free.

2. Turn off the TV. If you’re eating meals while distracted, it takes longer before you realize you’re full, causing you to overeat. Simply focusing your attention on your meal can help you to reap the benefits of mindful eating. Bonus points for concentrating on the food’s flavor.

3. Use a larger fork. So the HAPIfork may be onto something with this one, but research has linked using a bigger fork to eating less. Why? Scientists say it has to do with the size of the bites you take, which probably take longer to chew, giving you more time to feel full while eating.

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Fear Not New Parents! There’s a Wearable for Your Baby

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Image courtesy of Rest Devices, Amazon

Happy #WearablesWednesday from Crunch Theory! We’ve got some good news for any new parents – a wearable for your baby.

Mimo is a smart baby monitor that attaches your child…. well, attaches to a machine-washable onesie that your child can wear. The actual monitoring device is a turtle that connects via wifi to an adorable lilypad, which pushes data to your smartphone in real time.

Image courtesy of Smart Devices

Image courtesy of Rest Devices

The frog monitors what an ordinary baby monitor cannot – your baby’s breathing, body position, temperature, and sleep quality. The device can then push notifications to your smartphone, so you can stay in-the-know about what’s important to make sure baby is safe and sound. The Mimo app can also track your baby’s sleeping and movement habits, so you can see his patterns and detect if something is wrong.

You can already buy Mimo on Amazon for $199 and the reviews are generally positive. The biggest safety complaint is that there is sometimes a few minutes of lag between the baby’s movement and the app’s response. Plus, most parents used the baby wearable with another form of monitoring, especially video, since that is an area the device lacks. Mimo didn’t seem to be as valuable for second-time around parents who were already pros at the baby monitoring stuff.

Mimo is the first product from Rest Devices.

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Get our app live through Kickstarter!

Check out an app that wants to change the world one mile at a time.

Synergia Effect

A quick reminder that our Kickstarter campaign is live. We’re at 5 pledges totaling $254 of our $30k goal. With 37 days to go we’re still hopeful to hit our goal. For those of you that have never used Kickstarter, all pledges receive a prize based on their pledge amount and will only be charged IF we hit our $30k goal AND the charge won’t happen until after March 6 once the campaign is over.

Please show your support and spread the word. All funds raised will go towards the development of our app and website.

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The best sleep tracker ever?

Luna is one helpful piece of modern technology that only disguises itself as an ordinary mattress cover. Like any cover, Luna slips easily over your mattress and is machine washable, but it puts any other cover to shame by also:

  • tracking sleep
  • regulating your ideal sleeping temperature
  • waking you up gently
  • locking your front door and turning off the lights when you doze off
  • turning on the lights when you awaken

Seriously, talk about one smart mattress cover.

Sleep Tracking
Although it may feel like a bed cover, Luna contains plenty of sleep-tracking hardware. It monitors your breathing, heart rate, and overall sleep cycle over the course of the night, and the best part is you don’t even have to wear anything. Using the information it gathers on its own and what you input about your day, Luna can then make recommendations to help you improve your sleep quality over time.

Body Temperature Regulation
Luna allows you and your partner to each set a preferred temperature preference. As the cover monitors your sleep, it learns what temperature you sleep best at and adjusts your side of the bed accordingly. Even better, it learns what time you usually head to bed and warms up automatically, so you can be cozy as soon as you slip under the sheet.

Gentle Wake-Up
Like other smart alarms, Luna can wake you up at the point in your sleep cycle where you’ll have the most energy. Luna’s website, however, does not clarify how it does this. I would assume by vibrating, but perhaps it turns on the lights.

Smart Home Integration
Luna is able to communicate with other smart devices through wi-fi. Currently, the company partners with Nest, Emberlight, Lockitron and Beep, but through its promotional video, Luna has made it clear that it doesn’t want to stop there. It looks like their goal is to make Luna the center of your nighttime and morning routine, powering and shutting down all your devices first thing in the morning and as you get ready for sleep.

Image courtesy of Luna

Image courtesy of Luna

Today is the first day of Luna’s Indiegogo campaign, and the company has already exceeded it’s $100,000 goal. As of now, you can still pre-order the mattress cover, which is expected to ship in early August, for around $200. You can also get the mattress cover delivered straight to your door by a drone… but that’ll cost you nearly $4,000.

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New Tech Meets Old-School Cooking

Image courtesy of GE

Image courtesy of GE

GE finally made a stove that looks like it belongs in this century, complete with smartphone-inspired bells and whistles and induction heating to help keep you and your family safe.

The new induction cooktop, like most devices nowadays, is shying away from knobs and instead has touch-sensitive dials that respond to swiping and pressing. It also uses induction heating to warm cookware, keeping the actual stove cooler while the meal is cooking.

And if that weren’t enough, GE is also introducing a smart accessory for what the company describes as their ‘Next Gen’ cooktop – sous vide. The clip-on thermometer attaches to any old pot and communicates with the smart stove via bluetooth to heat the water to whatever temperature you desire. That way, you make a healthy, homemade dinner while finishing up some emails from the other room.

The induction cooktops will hit stores this May and range from $1,500 – $3,100, with the sous vide accessory retailing for an additional $150.

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A Desk That Helps You Avoid an Early Death

It’s #FitnessFriday here at Crunch Theory, and there’s two pieces of news in the fitness-tech world that you should know about from this week.

  1. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that sitting for too long can be deleterious to your health, regardless of whether or not you exercise. That’s right folks, even if you work out an hour or so every morning but proceed to sit for the rest of the day, you still have an increased your chances for an early death, cancer, and diabetes. Lucky for you, the desk in step #2 has a way to help keep you strong and healthy.
  1. Stir released the second version of their automated sitting/standing desk, Sitr Kinectic Desk. With a built-in touchscreen to respond to your personal input and goals, the M1 Kinetic Desk will let you know when it’s time to sit and stand to optimize your productivity and health. The desk uses a breathe-imitating mechanism to gently move up and down when it’s time to switch from sitting to standing or vice versa. Plus, it syncs with your Fitbit for a better, interconnected fitness experience. The newer M1 version of the desk is pricey at $2,990, but with a boasted 90% customer satisfaction, it could be a worthwhile purchase.

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Your Three-Step Guide to Digital Detoxes

Image Courtesy of Mark van Laere

Image Courtesy of Mark van Laere

In an increasingly interconnected world with smart homes and smart cars, more people simply want a break from it all. A time where we can reflect upon the day and get back in sync with ourselves. In fact, unplugging was the fifth most popular New Year’s Resolution this year, according to Twitter. But, as technology becomes continuously integrated into our lives, how can we realistically take a break from it all and unplug from all the devices and screens?

  1. The first key is to smart small. Unlike with some other types of detoxes, we need technology to keep our lives running, so unplugging for days at a time is unreasonable for most people. Begin your detox by finding or creating occasions to ditch your phone and turn off the screens. Whether this is simply by turning off your devices at dinner once a week or powering down for the last hour of your day, decide on how long you want to go screen-free for. Even five minutes of unplugging can help to start build self-esteem and improve sleep.
  1. The second step to digital detox success is to come up with an action plan. It’s been proven that we are more likely to accomplish a goal by actually creating the day-by-day plan to follow. Since this is a digital detox, I recommend using some old-fashioned pen and paper to jot down how and when you’ll detox for the upcoming week or month, but if you need a buzzy reminder to power down, you can always block out the time on your digital calendars and to-do lists.
  1. The final step is to follow through. Even if you’re busy and need to get that email out before night’s end, powering down everything for a few minutes will still be a step in the right direction. When you’re powered down, do more than just check it off your list: journal, relax in a bubble bath,  take a walk in nature headphone free, or enjoy the conversation with the person your with.  In the end, isn’t that the point of a digital detox? To simply be mindful of the present before we go back to living in the digital.

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SCiO Can Scan the Food You’re about to Eat and Tell You How Many Calories It Has.

SCiO can scan the food you’re about to eat and tell you how many calories it has. No joke, it can do that. And it’s the size of a flash drive.

SCiO is a molecular sensor that can tell the chemical composition of an object based on the light that reflects off it. It’s analysis is so detailed that it can even tell you the difference in sugar between two watermelons at the grocery store.

The corresponding app breaks down calories, carbs, sugar and protein and can tell you when your fruit is ripe. Currently, it works with fruits, vegetables, salad dressings, cooking oils and dairy products, but SCiO is quickly building their library with every scan, hoping to eventually have releases for everything from meat to your own hydration level.

It’s pretty easy to see why this device is revolutionary, but it’s even helpful since food labels can be misleading and don’t account for added sugar. SCiO can be pre-ordered for $249 and is expected to ship in July of this year.

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The Yoga Mat That Can Replace Your Teacher

More than 20 million people practice yoga in the U.S. today, and with the plethora of tools available for home practice sans an instructor, it is not inconceivable that these yogis are not always doing poses properly. And while yoga is generally a great workout for the body and mind, when done improperly, it can lead to bodily harm. The technology company SmartMat, however, wants to help home practicers and even those in classes nail proper technique every time.

SmartMat is a portable yoga mat that can analyze your posture in real time, providing feedback to help you become a better yogi and prevent injury. When you first use SmartMat, it walks you through a routine, analyzing your body type and movement, so that every time you use the mat it’s a new, customized experience. It also suggests incremental changes as you learn to help you build your practice over time and keep you coming back to the mat. Upon completion of a yoga practice, the mat gives you a numerical score based on how close you came to your personal ‘perfect’ practice.

Like most fitness gadgets these days, SmartMat has an app that syncs with your phone or tablet, enabling you to track your progress over time. However, it goes one step further by also allowing you to browse from free and purchasable classes on their SmartMat Marketplace.

SmartMat ships July 2015 and costs $447, but if you pre-order now, you can get it for $297.

Can’t wait to get started on a home practice? I’m in the middle of a 30 day challenge from Yoga with Adrienne, and I highly recommend it. Get started here.

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Feature image courtesy of Colin Tsoi.