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Fitness Life Hack: Philips DirectLife

Adding Tech To The Gym Mix

As a gadget lover, I get a kick out of implementing technology anywhere in my life where I think it can do some good.  And I mean anywhere. Visitors to my house in the past have noticed a special colored light on the toilet that tells you, in darkness of night, whether the seat is up or down. I’ve had a doorbell connected to a cell phone, and a GPS locator on my elderly grandfather. In short, there’s almost no aspect of my life that has gone untouched by tech.

Except one. When I saw a demo of Philips’ DirectLife fitness gadget at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, I knew I needed to try it. Fitness is one aspect of my life that I hadn’t yet maximized with tech, and I could definitely use the help.  I wanted to find out whether it would be useful for someone like my dad, and also whether or not my personal trainer approved of it.

In an effort to make fitness register as an important part of my life, I signed up with a local gym and see a trainer named Justen for one hour per week. I’m under 30 and I’m not overweight, but I wanted to have more energy and strength, and I wasn’t able to guide myself towards a good workout alone with just dumb luck and will power. I needed help, so I splurged.  

I signed up for training sessions in the fall, before I knew that there were gadgets out there for whipping me into shape. The gym is low-tech, but pretty effective. In a few short months I’ve gained quite a bit of strength, sleep better and have more energy. For those of us with desk jobs, simply getting any activity during the day is hard to manage (and the consequences of not doing so are terrible—check out this recent New York Times article about the hazards of sitting). Training at the gym is one sort of useful life hack, but I knew a gadget would further intrigue me.

Before my DirectLife gadget arrived, I knew a bit about what to expect: I would wear the gadget, it would evaluate me, a long-distance personal trainer from Philips would check in with me, and eventually the gadget would (hopefully) motivate me to exercise. I knew the piece of gadgetry contained an accelerometer so it would have a sense of my movement throughout the day. A web site would turn the data the gadget gathered into useful information. The product sells for $100, with a $12.95 monthly fee for access to the online service and virtual trainer.