Anyone training for a marathon knows that running is much more than just a hobby. From getting the right nutrients to building up your mental stamina (and keeping up with laundry!) it’s a total lifestyle commitment.
While we can’t yet download a “real” live personal trainer, we can get some assistance from the latest digital tools. Google’s Assistant, which ships with the Google Home speaker, and Amazon’s Alexa, which comes standard with the Amazon Echo speaker, are both leading examples of the newest voice-controlled technology.
And the best part is, they’re prepared to assist you with a few different aspects of fitness. Here’s a quick list of tech steps to consider:
7 Steps to Fitness with a Smart Home Assistant
Connect With Your Gym
The Virgin Active gym has released a mobile app for Android phones, and you can set up Alexa to work with it. This app allows you to book fitness classes, enable guest passes, find the nearest gym and view your history. There’s now a Virgin Active skill available from the Alex Skills Store, so you can use Amazon’s product to perform these functions too. Your own gym may not have deployed such sophisticated tech yet, but it could be just a matter of time before this way of doing things becomes standard.
Retaining the services of a real-life personal trainer can be expensive, which is why some runners turn to the 7 Minute Workout skill for Alexa. The carefully designed exercise routines are intended to improve your metabolism and your mood without requiring a lengthy commitment of time. Google Assistant’s partnership with Fitstar allows you to access step-by-step coaching instructions so that you can complete the recommended fitness regimen in the way that works best for you.
The Yoga Trainer skill for Alexa covers more than two dozen postures to help keep your body limber and balanced. Yoga Trainer is only intended for use by those who already possess a familiarity with the Bikram poses, but you can request that it find a live instructor in your neighborhood if you’re starting from scratch. If you want to use Google Assistant instead, you can access Fitstar’s yoga training, which is appropriate for all levels of yoginis-in-training.
Interface With Wearable Devices
Wearable tracking devices provide metrics about the steps you’ve taken and total distance covered, but it can be annoying to access this data via the standard controls. With the Fitbit skill for Alexa, you can inquire as to your progress toward your goals and get the information right away. At present, the Google Assistant offers only very limited compatibility with Fitbit through the IFTTT control language. Users can, however, hook up the Assistant to Google’s own GoogleFit app.
Healthier Meal Choices
Google Assistant comes loaded with info on the nutritional content of thousands of food items, so you can query it before you decide what to eat. It also contains timer capabilities, so you can avoid overcooking and burning your food. The Allrecipes skill turns Alexa into a nutritionist, capable of matching healthful recipes to the ingredients you already have in your kitchen. It will tell you not only the quantities called for but also give you cooking directions.
Meditation is a time-honored means of decluttering your mind and reducing your levels of stress. But during the week, most of us have little time to devote to finding inner peace. Through the Headspace app for Google Assistant and the Stop, Breathe & Think skill for Alexa, you can enjoy bite-sized meditations that last no longer than 10 minutes apiece.
Order Workout Equipment
Because Alexa integrates with Amazon’s catalog of millions of products, it’s pretty useful when shopping for personal fitness gear. It will give you all the details of the merchandise you’re interested in, and then if you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can place your order through Alexa. The retailers available through Google Assistant don’t quite have the breadth of inventory that Amazon has, but they should suffice for all but the most persnickety runners.
From taking your first steps off the couch to clearing the finish line at your first marathon, any extra help can go a long way. Get a hand from the latest “smart” technology and leave your competition in the dust!
By Beth Kotz
Beth Kotz is a freelance writer and contributor for numerous home, technology, and personal finance blogs. She graduated with BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, IL, where she continues to live and work.