Author Archives: Mike Beauchamp

About Mike Beauchamp

Mike Beauchamp is our resident technophile, sifting through latest and greatest tech news and developments to fit your lifestyle. Follow Mike on Twitter for more great tech insights and good conversation. You can also keep up with Mike on his personal blog, or on Google+.

Crowd-source Your Workout Music: DROP is the Free App That Lets Your Friends Pick the Songs

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We’re not pitching you on a new music service to sign up for. For this one, you’ll use the music you already have.

DROP is a new app, free from Jawbone, the makers of the wildly popular fitness trackers we love. It relies on the music you already have on Spotify, iTunes, or Rdio, but lets you enjoy it all in a new way. At the most basic level, it shuffles your songs (and playlists) and lets you listen to them in a new order. On a more exciting note, it lets your friends choose specific songs to “drop” on you at any given time.

Well, while you’re using the app, of course. It won’t barge in like a wrecking ball and start blaring Miley Cyrus while you’re in a meeting with your boss.

DROP will run on its own, but the real fun comes when you connect it to Twitter — and when your friends do, too. They can queue up a song for you by tweeting something like this:

@mbchp drop Talk Dirty (more…)

The Future of Wearable Tech Lies in Smart Clothing

Athos Gear

Wearable fitness trackers are excellent, and depending on the one you choose, you’ll enjoy features like calorie, step, and sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring, and more. They’re selling like hotcakes, with every company who could claim a remote link to the technology pushing their own version.

But what if there was a better way?

What if there was more accuracy? More precision? Something that didn’t rely heavily on estimations and algorithms? Something that was specific to each of your two arms, two legs, and everything in between?

That’s exactly what Silicon Valley start-up Athos is currently creating.

While not scheduled to ship to the masses until Spring 2015, Athos is creating a workout clothing line. Shirts and pants with the core technology sewn (quite literally) right into the fabric. And yes, they’re even machine washable. You can wear them and them alone, or under other workout clothing if you prefer.

What Does This Mean for Me?

There are three components that make up the Athos system: Athos Gear, the clothing you wear; Athos Core, a Bluetooth module that keeps track of all your workout data; and the smartphone app. All three components are required. (more…)

The Only Fitness Tracker Review Guide You Need

2014 Fitness Tracker Review Guide

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These are the top wearable fitness trackers you should consider using to monitor your fitness goals. Last year’s 2013 Fitness Tracker Review Guide was a huge hit, so we’re doing it again with the new 2014 models. Several bands have gotten bumps in battery life, there are new and improved features across the board, and some new players to consider.

BUDGET CONSCIOUS

The two notable entries are aimed squarely at the budget-minded among us, with price points both under $60. They don’t pack all the high-tech bells and whistles of their more expensive siblings, but for many, they get the job done and serve as a reminder to be more active.

For a modest $50, you’ll find the Jawbone UP Move, which clips onto your shirt, pants, blouse, or purse. It’s a pedometer, first and foremost, and via the free iPhone or Android apps, also helps you keep track of calories consumed and calories burned.

The $60 Fitbit Zip competes head-on here, but is also waterproof up to 30 feet. (more…)

What the Apple Watch Means for Your Fitness

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Earlier this week, at a special media event in California, alongside two brand new, bigger and better iPhones, Apple unveiled a new device called Apple Watch. It’s a smartwatch of sorts, which we have mixed feelings about, but the implications it has for health and fitness, and the way it integrates with your iPhone, therein lies the magic.

Whether you pick up one of Apple’s latest and greatest iPhones is irrelevant; the Apple Watch works with current iPhones, as well. With the introduction of iOS 8 later this month, you’ll find a new app on your home screen: Health. The Apple Watch integrates directly with Health to keep track of workouts, daily activity, steps, calories absorbed and burned, and more. If you’re out for a jog and leave your iPhone at home, Watch will keep track of everything and sync back up when you return. (more…)

FitBit Data May Help Insurance Companies Reduce Your Premiums

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It’s all about perspective.

Ten percent can be a large or small amount, depending on the context of what it represents. If we’re talking about unemployment, 10% is unacceptable. If we’re talking about income tax, paying only 10% would be a blessing.

For today, we’re avoiding politics and the economy and instead, talking about the 10% of Americans who use wearable tech fitness trackers to monitor and track their daily activity, food intake, sleep, and exercise. This 10% of Americans make up a group of people that health insurance companies are examining closely to determine more accurate ways of calculating insurance premiums. On average, your premiums fluctuate once each year, which usually means added cost. That added cost doesn’t always have anything to do with you, and is often part of a re-rating of the group pool you’re a part of, like the company you work for.

The Only Fitness Tracker Review Guide You Need

What if your premium was calculated based on how you, as an individual, actually live? What if your premium fluctuated because of choices you make regarding your individual health and not because of others in your insurance pool dragging you down? (more…)

More than 80% of Firefighters in the U.S. Are Overweight or Obese, But What’s Being Done?

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A new study out of the CDC finds that 82.5% of firefighters in the U.S. are overweight or obese, a figure alarmingly higher than the rest of the general population, which hovers around 67%. The study found that, of 1,002 firefighters who participated, 854 had a BMI over 25%. A BMI under 25% is considered to be “normal.”

The main purpose of the Centers for Disease Control’s study was to determine whether firefighters were receiving recommendations from their health care providers regarding their weight and whether they needed to gain weight, lose weight, or simply maintain their current weight. The study found that 69% of them, despite having visited their physician in the last 12 months, received no recommendations or advice.

This is especially problematic, considering that data from earlier this year by Johns Hopkins University found that cardiovascular problems are the leading cause of death (45%) for active duty firefighters. They attribute that staggering statistic to the high stress factor of the job and poor lifestyle habits surrounding it.

What can be done to reduce obesity in our first responders? (more…)

Endorsed by Adrian Peterson and Blake Griffin, the HYPERICE VYPER is the Future of Foam Rolling

adrian-peterson-hyperice-vyper

We’ve seen countless products dreamt up, designed, manufactured, and made into a reality by way of crowdfunding. Instead of seeking traditional bank loans or venture capital money, sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo let entrepreneurs turn to the public for investments in their vision, offering “rewards” for their support. The latest to come across our radar: the HYPERICE VYPER, the second creation of Anthony Katz, founder of HYPERICE.

The company says the VYPER can benefit anyone who takes pride in staying active and improving their well being. On the outside, VYPER looks like any other foam roller. It’s on the inside, however, that you’ll find the magic. VYPER contains a three-speed motor that outputs high-intensity and high-frequency vibrations as you use it. With that in mind, HYPERICE claims the following benefits:

  • Loosens and lengthens muscles, increasing range of motion and flexibility
  • Increases circulation, ideal for warming up the body before physical activity
  • Helps reduce muscle soreness and stiffness for better recovery
  • Effective tool for myofascial release (more…)

The Biggest Loser Resort in Utah Cites a “Relationship Breakdown” for Changing Name Back to Fitness Ridge

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The original Biggest Loser Resort in Ivins, Utah is moving away from the Biggest Loser brand and going back to its roots as Fitness Ridge, as originally founded in 2002. Co-founder Cameron Kelsch said of the change:

“We have always had a great program but we really just want to focus on the qualities that differentiate Fitness Ridge. We want to change the way people feel about health and wellness and we feel we can do that better by moving way from The Biggest Loser brand. As we look forward to [the] change, our staff remains focused on improving the health and well-being of the world, one person at a time.”

We spoke to Phillip Craven, a spokesman for Fitness Ridge, and asked why they felt the rebranding and move away from The Biggest Loser model was needed. Craven said that, although the company did experience additional exposure and growth as a result of the affiliation, they lost control of what made the destination unique to them and what they’d envisioned it to be. He continued by speaking of the relationship breakdown that happened between Fitness Ridge and The Biggest Loser by saying:

“In that way, there was a relationship breakdown. Our focus has been and always will be helping people eat, exercise and think differently. As The Biggest Loser started to stray from our focus, we saw the need to stay true to ourselves, so a rebranding became inevitable.” (more…)

Get Nudge and Finally Track All Your Health and Fitness Data in One App

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If you’ve gotten the impression that fitness tracking wearable gadgets and mobile apps are coming out of the woodwork these days, you aren’t alone. From brand new startups to age-old sports brands, everyone wants to be the one you use to log, track, record, and analyze what you do every day with your body. Maybe you use one app to keep track of your food intake, another to log your route when you’re out for a run, and yet another to sync your fitness band.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one place to keep all of that cumulative data, strip out all the fluff, and give you a quick and easy way to find out if you’re on track or falling behind?

nudge-app-connected-apps

Say hello to Nudge. Nudge is a free smartphone app that brings all of your healthy living together in one place, with one score. Connect Nudge with your favorite health tracking apps and wearables like RunKeeper, Moves, Fitbit, and more to see how your Nudge Factor stacks up against your friends.

Currently, Nudge syncs with the following apps you may already be using:

TED-MED and Dr. Richard Besser Host a Candid Chat about the 1 in 3 American Children Who are Obese

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Quick Stats About Childhood Obesity

  • Nearly 1 in 3 children in America are overweight or obese
  • 8.4% of children 2 – 5 years old are obese
  • 17% of children 6 – 11 years old are obese
  • 20.5% of children 12 – 19 years old are obese

This afternoon, Dr. Richard Besser hosted a conversation on Google+ Hangouts as part of TED-MED to discuss childhood obesity. Dr. Besser is a pediatrician and the Chief Medical Editor at ABC News, and the author of Tell Me the Truth, Doctor, a comprehensive health guide that will both inform and surprise as he deciphers fact from fiction for nearly 70 confusing medical questions.

Dr. Besser assembled a discussion panel for today’s session, including:

  • Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association
  • Don Schwarz, Health Commissioner and Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity, City of Philadelphia
  • Elissa Epel, Professor, UCSF School of Medicine
  • Lisa Simpson, President and CEO, Academy Health

The group began by talking about stress and the effect it has on health, both in children and adults. Stress is biologically potent and causes us to overeat sweets. Research shows the combination of stress and overeating is “the most dangerous combination,” Elissa says. One of the challenges the group agrees on is taking the research and putting it into practice. Very little is happening so far to create actionable programs that make a difference.

(more…)

The 5 High Tech Gadgets Your Summer Adventures Can’t Live Without

Regardless of where in the country you live, Summer is the season we all find ourselves outside more than any other time of year. I put together this list of gadgets that will help you make the most out of your time outdoors, and you’ll find something for everybody.

Jawbone JAMBOX Bluetooth Speaker ($150 $115)

Jawbone JAMBOX Bluetooth Speaker

Whether you’re doing laps in the pool, soaking up the sun at the beach, working in the yard, or taking your yoga to the park, you’ll appreciate being able to blast your tunes from something more than the tiny built-in speakers of your smartphone. The Jawbone JAMBOX consistently gets rave reviews and it’s usually on sale at Amazon. (more…)