Dave The Kayaker

Kayaking, musings, and my mid-life fitness journey. DaveTheKayaker


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Training and tracking

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, I am a firm believer in tracking and measuring as much as possible when it comes to training.  If you can’t measure it then you can’t manage it.

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That’s why I was one of the first people to buy a Skulpt Aim when it came to market. (I actually pre-ordered it before it was commercially available.)

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The Aim is a small, handheld Electrical Impedance Myography (EIM) device that attempts to measure body fat and muscle quality.

I very much loved the device when I first got it but then they changed the firmware at one point and the measurements for body fat were significantly higher than they were before the firmware upgrade. (Less accurate in my opinion.)  For a device that claimed to be more accurate than a DEXA scan when it launched, I couldn’t but wonder, did they lie to me about that accuracy before the firmware update or are they lying to me now?

Within the past few days they’ve rolled out a new version of their app and I’m happy to see they now allows users to export historical data.  It is important to see how you are trending and performing over time because measurement-to-measurement variations seemed to be fairly high in my opinion.

Now that the device seems more useful, I’m blowing the dust off it and will start using it again in my training in addition to the Atlas Wristband tracker for in the gym, the Amiigo wristband for Heart Rate Variability (HRV) while sleeping, the Amazfit Arc for general steps and sleep tracking, and GPS and heart rate monitor while I’m training on water.

Yes, I’m a tech geek and a gizmo guy.

NewSkulpAppMy user history from the Skulpt Aim (last used in January) at least indicates I’ve been moving in the right direction, body fat down, muscle quality up.

I’ll keep you posted on how I like this device post-software upgrade after I return to using it for a little while.

PS – And after a new, full body measurement tonight and only plotting the data since November, I can see I did indeed make progress in the gym over the winter. Now let’s see how much I can make that body fat % drop in the next 6 weeks to be lighter on water.

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My review of the Atlas Wearables Wristband 2 gym tracker

atlasI’ve been looking to replace my Amiigo fitness tracker ever since the company announced they were abandoning the project and all of their customers (a foregone conclusion after 18 months of total silence after they commercially launched the product.  Yes, I’m more than just a little bitter about those sleezebags.)

I was never really happy with the Amiigo device because it was never very good at recognizing activities and only after you would synch workouts with the app would you discover that it failed to recognize many exercises and only recorded them as “upper body burst” or “lower body burst.”  Not at all useful if you take workouts seriously and want to track progress over time.  Especially not useful if you do supersets and don’t have a good memory to remember each and every sequence of exercises you did and the amount of weights you used for each set so you can then painstakingly enter each one into an app after the fact.

Heck, I got the thing to get away from a paper workout log but found the paper more effective.

The activity recognition was horrible.  I hoped they would improve upon the exercise recognition algorithms but the company never did and then announced they abandoned the project.  (Did I mention I’m bitter about the whole experience?)

I conducted research online for months and determined that Atlas Wearables had developed a tracker that looked like exactly what I wanted.  (In fact, I had been scouting them before they even launched their product.)

I already have the Amazfit Arc for tracking steps and sleep and heart rate on-demand, so I wanted something that would do one thing very well.  Track my workouts in the gym.

After a month of using the Atlas, I am happy to report it is an excellent device for this task.

Once you tell the wristband which exercises you plan to do during your workout (it can store 15 exercises,) its recognition is very good and when you are done with each set of lifts, you can enter the amount of weight on the bar and even correct the number of reps in case it gets it wrong (which isn’t very often.)   That’s right, it has a touch screen so you can edit after each set and you don’t need your phone to access the app during a workout.  Sweet!

The device is not designed for all day wear and, in fact, it will not track steps, but it excels in the gym.  The battery will probably last two or three workout before you need to recharge it, but I find I prefer to turn off the power saving mode when I’m working out so I only expect to get one workout per charge.

By turning off the power saving mode, the LCD display stays on during my workouts so I save a press of the button every set just “waking up” the device to then enter a weight amount or correct the number of reps.  That might not sound like a big deal to you, but I start with lighter weights and work up to heavy ones and then back down to light ones so it saves me a whole lot of extra button clicking in the gym so I’m happy to sacrifice battery life for that.  If you do all your sets of exercises with the same weight it might not be that big of a deal for you.

Atlas also provides the ability to make edits to your workout post-workout and has an online dashboard to achieve this and the dashboard provides good insights into your training history.

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I am very happy with the device and can report that it does an excellent job recognizing each exercise.  Training new exercises that are not already in its database is easy and straight forward (see video review below.)

I highly recommend it as a gym tracker for the serious gym rat.

You’ll find a link to my video review below, but I do want to give you a “head’s up” that a new tracker claims to be coming out from a company called Actofit that looks promising as an exercise tracker.

Heaven knows that these companies can make any claims they want to prior to launch and I will never again buy another one based on pre-launch hype from an unknown company (like I did with Amiigo,) so I’ll wait to see what early users of the Actofit report.

But I’ll give them some guidance.

The only way to top Atlas as a gym tracker at this point would be to have greater memory so you can keep more exercises loaded in the wristband, better battery life, a sleeker design that would allow it to step out of the gym and be comfortable for all-day wear, waterproof design for swimming and kayaking, and good sleep tracking that includes Heart Rate Variability in order to assess recovery and over-training.

If Actofit or any other competitor wants to send me a tracker for early review I will be happy to oblige, but until then, Atlas reigns supreme as the best gym tracker on the market.