Cover Story: Fitness Gear for the Water Treader

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There’s something about being around bodies of water that calms the senses and makes you want to jump right in. Come across a puddle on the sidewalk and the kid in you would just want to stomp on it and make a mess—but you won’t, because you’re a mature adult. This affinity to seek out puddles and pools may have stemmed from our need for water to live, or from the fact that we float in the wombs of our mothers for nine months, or perhaps from the ancient belief of turning to water for healing.

All in all, it’s human nature to turn to water for a sense of respite and recreation; resorts and beaches always top our lists for where to spend our vacations, and in the same way, nothing beats a cold glass of water for instant soothing from the heat. Mix water and exercise, and you’ve got a combination that’s fail-safe.

The location you choose to workout in can either boost your motivation or divert your attention to other things. Exercising in areas with the presence of water have been proven to improve both physical and mental health. If ditching the gym for the sea benefits one on so many levels, what more can actually immersing yourself in the clear waters benefit you. Engaging in water activities allows us to enjoy and at the same works the whole body out without us realizing it. In a sense, it works similarly to gears that conditions our bodies and maximizes our workouts, without additional cost. It doesn’t end there. You can further make the most of your water training with devices made to boost fitness.

Aquatic gadgets
Water and oil don’t mix, and you can say the same for water and tech. We’ve always been cautious about bringing our devices around areas where it’s possible that they get wet—you know what happens to gadgets that get soaked. Advancements in technology have turned some gadgets now virtually invincible, even in water.

Gadgets that can be used in waterlogged areas aren’t limited to technologies found in boats and other traditional sea vessels. There’s a slew of gadgets made especially to maximize the effect
of various water activities.


Swimming
Ask anyone, and the first water exercise they would think of is swimming. Everyone enjoys swimming—even if you don’t know how to. Just clumsily paddling through the blue waters gives you instant delight. As a form of exercise, doing laps for about an hour already burns as much as 500 calories. That’s comparable to two whole donuts. Apart from attacking body fat, swimming is also a sure-fire way to improve one’s posture. When you swim, your muscles get toned as you have to coordinate most of your body parts to stay afloat and not get easily tired. There’s little to no struggle remaining balanced, though, as the buoyancy of the water lessens the pull of gravity. It’s a sport easy to the body and in the long run your joints are fortified, and the position of your spinal column improves, giving you a slender stance out of the water. Moreover, swimming also has been proven to be beneficial for those with asthma as it trains breath control, normalize pulse rate, stimulate metabolism, and improve cardiopulmonary capacity.
If you are serious about pursuing this water sport, you might have to put away that flamingo floater and opt for a more techie water arsenal. Apart from apparel appropriate to this sport, swimmers’ go-to gear are activity trackers. You would want an activity tracker that isn’t just splash-proof but something you can wear while you swim, choose trackers with IPX7 and IPX8 ratings. This means that the tracker can be completely submerged underwater.
You will also want a device that can track your heart rate and the calories you’ve burned during each session. Other than fitness trackers, there are also dedicated swimming trackers such as the Swimovate Poolmate HR that record your heart rate, speed, and stroke count. To further fuel your pool sessions, you can stream music using Bluethooth-enabled, water-proof earphones or submersible mp3 players.

Surfing
Surfing, without a doubt, is highly addictive. It is an adrenaline-pumping sport that leaves you breathless every time you successfully ride a wave. It helps you focus, as you scan the sea and wait for the right wave to ride. Surfing is physically taxing, but in the long run, it will make you more agile and stronger. An hour of surfing guarantees
400 calories burned, at the same time toning your upper body as you spend most of your time paddling. Moreover, as surfing is done in nature, it has a positive impact on human health.
Apart from wetsuits and surfboards, there is a bit of tech available in the market to accompany you during your time in the surf. A great wave is worth documenting, so you would want to have an action camera at your disposal while you whiz your way around crystalline hues of blue. Action cameras are generally built water-proof and rugged.You could mount it on your board or strap around your head so it wouldn’t sink underwater in case a strong wave knocks you into the drink. You should also know that there’s a motorized surfboard, the Jetsurf Pro Race, with an engine that can register speeds of 35 miles per hour. Though made much more thrilling, riding a motorized surf board takes away some of the fitness benefits of the sport.

Rowing
Rowing is a form of recreation and sport that dates back to early 1800’s. Though in unison, rowers look graceful and effortless, it is a sport that is physically demanding. For the most part, the upper body does the work. However, the strength of the rowing stroke must be acquired from the legs for better stability and balance. Rowing requires endurance, strength, and mental discipline. The latter is because rowers don’t see where they are going; the rowers are faced towards the rear of the boat while the coxswain, seated in the stern, yelling commands to the crew, is faced forward, in the direction the boat is heading. People of all walks of life can row as long as they’re physically and mentally prepared for the challenge.

For those looking into pursuing this team sport, rowing apparel can be everyday clothes that are breathable and which you can move freely in. If you have a budget for it, you can go for dri-fit tops and bottoms with leg support. A splash-proof activity tracker would also be great for monitoring your heart rate. Also, if your bringing you smartphone with you, you might want to consider housing it with a ruggedized case.

Scuba Diving
One of the most premium hobbies and sports there ever are, getting into scuba diving might break the bank but it will surely reward you with priceless experiences. Apart from witnessing the grandeur of marine life, scuba diving can and will improve your general health and stamina. Since you are also swimming, you burn as many as 500 calories in an hour. Deep breathing, on the other hand, stimulates circulation, increases energy levels, improves mental capacities, and promotes a calmer attitude.

To start seeing the world under the sea, it is imperative that you receive proper certification as scuba diving isn’t just all about underwater beauty; there are also hazards when not knowledgeable of the proper use of the oxygen tank and the scuba diving techniques.

If you want diving equipment of your own, know that you may have to shell out quite a lot. The basic scuba set-up includes a tank of breathable air, goggles, a regulator, a wetsuit, and flippers. For faster underwater travel, underwater scooters are there to propel the diver and extend his/her range. These are usually lightweight and buoyant; some are also able to propel three divers at once. Underwater cams are also a must in extraordinary underwater journeys along with communication equipments.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE October 2015 issue.

Words by Mia Carisse Barrientos