So, you’ve stuck with your New Year’s resolution for this long. Or your local gym conned you into a yearly subscription that you can’t seem to get out of. Either way, you need some better tech to get those gains going. Counting your heartrate beat-by-beat just isn’t cutting it anymore. And rocking up to the gym in flip-flops certainly won’t help the funny looks coming your way. Just stick with us – we’ll sort you out. If running is more your thing, we can help you out with that too.
Plug up those earholes
The most important piece of gear you need for the gym is a good set of earphones. Apart from a gym membership card, but we’ll leave that part up to you. How you get inside the gym is entirely your prerogative. We’re just helping you choose a pair of earphones. If you, like us, want the best of the best, then cast your gaze toward the Beats Fit Pro.
Yes, they’re expensive. But you wanted the best, so here we are. For only R3,700, the Beats Fit Pros could be yours. They’re the best all-rounders on the market. Unless you’re a big swimmer, the Fits Pro will cover just about any situation that could arise at the gym. You can find headphones that are a bit more durable since the Fit Pros are only IPX4 rated, but you’d be missing out on features like Spatial Audio and those beautiful wingtips that make it an all-around better buy.
If durability is something you can’t compromise on, then the R3,000 Jabra Active Elite 75t is for you. These buds are IP57-rated, which makes these buds entirely waterproof. That includes the buckets of sweat pouring out your ears, too. Like the Beats Fit Pro, the Jabra’s offer active noise canceling (ANC) so you can avoid any randoms trying to glom onto you. Jabra reckons the Elite 75t will net you 5.5 hours of ANC usage. Pair that with 24 hours in the case and you’ve got nearly 30 hours of charge. That’s slightly better than the Pros – whose case can only add 18 hours to the 6-hour battery life.
Obviously, a pair of earphones is useless without some music to go with it. There are ways to avoid paying for a streaming service like Spotify or YouTube Music, but that adds unnecessary hassle. It’s far easier to slap on a playlist and hit the weights. The best services; Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music don’t cost much either. The cheapest is Spotify for R60/m, with Apple Music increasing the cost to R70/m. YouTube Music is only R2 (R72) more, and arguably offers the best value for money, conferring the benefit of ad-free videos while watching YouTube. The only issue? The app’s UI is dreadful. Still, gotta make that money stretch, right?
Now that you’ve got music covered, you should focus on tracking your fitness. How else are you going to prove that you actually went to the gym? Pictures on social media aren’t enough for some – they’re looking for hard data. That’s what a fitness tracker or almost any higher-end smartwatch provides.
Before you fall out of your chair, the first tracker we’re recommending is the Garmin Fenix 7 which’ll set you back at least R14,000. It’s… a lot. We know. But, if you’ve got the extra cheddar, these are a real investment for those that take their fitness seriously. The extra price could also motivate those new to the lifestyle to keep it up. Still, you’re paying for brilliant battery life – 57 hours normally and 57 days with power saving on – and every fitness tracker under the sun. Heart rate, sleep tracking, Pulse Ox2, and even hydration. It could do plenty more – like show golf maps if you wanted it to. But, for the average person, R14,000 is just too much for a watch.
If that’s the case, the Fitbit Charge 5 is probably more your speed. The price clocks in at R4,000, mainly because the best battery life a Charge 5 will manage is 7 days long, though there’ll be some drop-off if it’s used regularly. Besides that, the Charge 5 tracks many of the same levels the Fenix 7 does – heart rate, sleep, oxygen, etc. There’s even a built-in GPS, something the Charge 5 shares with its far more expensive counterpart.
Take the next step (literally)
So far, we’ve given you the essentials for heading to the gym. A pair of earphones, a music streaming service, and a watch to tie it all together. But we bet you haven’t thought about any extras to really complete the look. You still need a phone strap, water bottle, and a decent pair of shoes so you can stop rocking up to the gym in your flip-flops. Seriously. You want an athlete’s foot, not athlete’s foot. Trust us – there’s a difference.
We know what you’re gonna say; “A regular water bottle works just fine”. For the most part, you’re right. But is it smart? Is it BPA-free? These are questions you wouldn’t need to answer if you just had a smart water bottle. We recommend the Hidrate 590ml Tap Chug Smart Water Bottle. The point of which is to instill better drinking habits, with hourly (if you want) reminders keeping you in line. Also, it glows. There’s just one problem. It costs R1,900 to own.
You’ll need somewhere to keep your phone handy while you’re out and about at the gym. This is South Africa. You can never be too careful. There are hundreds of phone straps to choose from. Some can keep your phone safe while you’re swimming, though those will set you back more than a regular old strap. We think the Nike Lean armband will get the best bang for your buck – fitting most phones pretty comfortably. If you just absolutely must have the biggest iPhone around, the Nike Lean Plus should sort you out.
The final piece of the puzzle is a decent pair of shoes. Crocs are only acceptable as a once-off wear or if you’re confining your training to the privacy of your own home (but we’ll get to that). Like it or not, you need to spend some money. We recommend some go towards a pair of Under Armour’s Tribase Reign Cross Trainers. They’re R2,300 (Men | Women) and offer enough comfort to hit the reps for longer. Some extra spring gets the cardio going on the treadmill.
Or you could go the cheaper route and snag a pair of Puma’s Fuse 2.0 trainers (Men | Women) for R1,550. There won’t be a massive difference to newcomers, so unless you’re in need of gym-specific trainers, these will suit you just fine.
Keep it behind closed doors
We get it. Sometimes you’re just not up for a 4AM gym session. That’s perfectly okay. It’s cold, and your bed is just so damn inviting. Take that extra hour of sleep and hit the weights from the comfort of your own home when you have time. Don’t get too ahead of yourselves, you need a pair of weights to hit first.
Sure, a standard pair of 10kg dumbbells are fine, but how are you ever going to improve if you stick with one weight the entire time? You need to keep lifting heavier weights as you improve. Luckily, you can buy a set of adjustable dumbbells that’ll keep you lifting until even 24kg weights are too easy. After that, you might be better off heading to the gym – you clearly need it. Until that day, the R2,500 investment will be well spent.
If weights aren’t your thing, why not try to do some skipping? Any old piece of rope would work, but there’s definitely something cool about not having to count your skips. That’s why a smart skipping rope that tracks your speed, number of skips, total time skipping, and burned calories, all from a mini-LCD screen, is worth your time. All that for R450 bucks.
We’ve only scratched the surface of the gym-gear world. There’s so much more out there that can assist with whatever sport or exercise you’ve decided to conquer. But don’t rush there. We’ve got you kitted out with the basics for now. Just do the best you can.