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<< Back to Health & Wellness, April 2014

Next-Generation Fitness Gear

Janice O'Leary

Any number of wearable technologies exists to measure calories burned, steps taken, and the rate at which a heart beats during exercise. More elusive, however, is the ability to monitor whether the intended muscles are engaged during a workout. “No matter what type of aerobic workout or strength-training exercise you do, using correct body mechanics will increase the effectiveness of the workout and reduce the risk of injury,” says Lauren Harning, an exercise physiologist at UCLA Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program.

Launching this summer, smart performance attire from newcomer Athos could meet that need with base-layer shirts, shorts, and capris that measure breath, heartbeat, and muscle exertion and communicate those data to a smartphone. “You can glance at the screen and make a difference right then,” says founder Dhananja Jayalath. “It’s helping you improve.”

The science behind Athoscalled Electromyographystudies the electrical pulses that occur when muscles are activated. It has been used in the medical realm for rehabilitation and physiotherapy for athletes as well as those suffering from degenerative muscular diseases. The Athos shirts have 14 muscle sensors, breathing- and heart-rate sensors, an accelerometer, and a magnetometer to track shifts in position, number of reps, and balance, among other factors. The lower-body attire has eight sensors that measure heart rate and muscle usage. These sensors relay information to the Core, a device that inserts into a slot on any of the garments and connects wirelessly to a smartphone via Bluetooth. 

The benefits are real-time feedback on form—such as whether both quadriceps are pedaling evenly uphill—so training adjustments can be made immediately, leading to improved performance and faster results. “The first time I put on one of the shirts and started doing biceps curls, the data showed that I was using my left arm more than my right,” says Jayalath. “Once I  focused on using both muscles evenly, I got feedback on my phone that I was doing the exercise correctly.” All the gear is water- and sweat-resistant as well as washable. ($298 includes a Core and one piece of apparel.) Preorders can be placed online at www.liveathos.com.

 

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