THE WEEKLY HOWL IS EARNING HIS SHOWER

Smart Clothes: CNN dove into the wild world of fitness technology. What did we learn? That there are a lot of people who want to sell you unnecessary stuff:

Wearable tech companies, from Athos to Hexoskin, are even offering compression shirts, tank tops, leggings and shorts embedded with biometric-tracking sensors to measure how your body is performing during a workout.

"Think of the textiles taking on the electronics by picking up data points from athletes, rather than having rigid wearable technology solutions on a wrist or on the chest," Zok said. So, "athletes would be wearing a sleeve, or would be wearing just a compression shirt, and integrated inside the shirt would be the sensors."

           

            But how is a smart-shirt an improvement over a smartwatch? Because it’s rigid? And the “smart” component of the smart-shirt won’t be? This feels like the smartphone phenomenon but in reverse. The smartphone destroyed the market for other hand-held, electronic devices (MP3 players, navigation units, digital cameras, PDAs) because it could perform those functions as well as many other things. The smartwatch is the smartphone of fitness trackers so why do we need all these other products? Because they are not going to be cheap:

 

As for the devices already on the market, smart socks and smart rings can cost about $200 respectively; smart shirts, smart shorts or smart leggings can cost up to $400 each; a personalized computer coach can range from an $80 sensor to a $450 investment; and your own drone might set you back $500 or more.

For an athlete training to win, the cost can be worth it, said the Legacy Sports Institute's Lee. It's just a matter of finding the right device for the right goal.

 

                Holy Crud! $400 for a smart-shirt? That’s more than the Apple Watch goes for. And you can’t just buy one. You’ll need to get like 5 in order to get you through the week, assuming that you’re going to keep up on your laundry. So instead of buying 1 smartwatch for less than $400, I should spend $2000 for 5 smart-shirts. I have still never heard a compelling reason why smart-clothing will be superior to a smart-watch. And I can wear the smartwatch every day. If there is a marginal benefit, then I could see professional athletes shelling out the cash. For them, it could be worth the money. But for the rest of us, I still fail to see the wisdom in wasting this much money. The Internet of Things is still a compelling concept for companies looking for future growth but the truth is that we don’t need everything we own to be a tech product. 

Magic Pill: Imagine if the Magic Pill, the pill that could give you all the physical benefits of exercise without having to exercise, actually existed. Bloomberg reports that it might. Mitobridge Inc., a biotech startup based in La Jolla, CA, has been developing a new drug that could “safely upgrade human cellular metabolism”. Mitobridge has begun Phase 1 testing on humans and expects to have it completed by July 2018. But what exactly does this drug do?

In 2003, Evans and his team tweaked mouse genes to turn the fat-burning switches on permanently in fat tissue, and their mice slimmed down dramatically. A year later he flipped the fat burners on in muscle tissue, and the mice developed Type 1 muscle, the kind found in marathon runners and endurance cyclists. These mice lasted an hour longer on the treadmill than normal ones and ran twice as far. The downside was burnout, says Michael Downes, a senior scientist who’s been working with Evans since the 1990s. Permanently flipping all of the cellular switches on made the mice’s muscles grow faster than any known medication had.

                First off, don’t expect this to upend the fitness industry anytime soon. The FDA approval process is long, expensive, and complicated and there is no guarantee that MAO211 will get the thumbs up. Then, the drug is being developed for sufferers of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. So it won’t be approved for cosmetic purposes and it will also be prohibitively expensive as long as the patent hasn’t expired. Drug patents last for 20 years so we’re looking at decades before we might start to see this as something that is widely available.

                However, we may see this within our lifetimes. How would the Magic Pill effect the fitness industry? Would people still workout? I can only speak for myself but I would still workout. The benefits of exercise go beyond physical appearance. Working out is my stress relief. The human body was built to move around, not sit still. Magic Pill or not, I need to move around every day or I would go nuts. Exercise has also been linked to maintaining cognitive function. Would the Magic Pill give similar results? Probably not but who knows. Or would it just keep the body looking good while the mind languished? Unfortunately, most people do not share my passion for fitness and would probably welcome a life in which they never exercise and didn’t get fat. I don’t think that a Magic Pill would kill the fitness industry but it would certainly impede its growth. Fortunately, we still have a couple of decades to figure it out.

WeWorkOut: WeWork, the operator of co-working and co-living spaces, has opened its first gym in Manhattan. The gym is named Rise by We, (why?), membership is completely separate from the co-working membership, and is divided into 3 areas. The first area is reserved for combat sports training (boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts), the second area for cardio, and the third area for yoga and meditation. Then there is a “semi-private” area devoted to group training in functional fitness. There is also a spa and café.

                I am intrigued by WeWork’s entrance into the fitness industry. It tells me 2 things. The first is that WeWork considers gyms to be a real estate business. The second is that WeWork believes fitness to be a high priority for millennials. WeWork’s business is built around millennials and they wouldn’t be getting into this space if they didn’t think that their customers were very interested.

                There aren’t a lot of details out there but I have to assume that this is designed to be a co-working out space with lots of yoga and MMA classes. That would be most consistent with the WeWork brand and the design of the gym seems to support that.        Still I am disappointed that for $185/month, you get very little access to any strength training equipment. I understand that you want to push the group training program but come on.

Customized Workouts: I have always been frustrated by one-size-fits-all training programs. Everyone’s body responds differently to training yet the vast majority of coaches and gurus push “their” training program, the one true way guaranteed to deliver results. The problem is that there is no one true way because everybody is not the same. If you want results, you have to figure out what your body responds to and that can take time. Or you could put a test tube of your saliva in the mail. Tom Piccolo from Men’s Health did just that and got his results.

  I decided to test out DNAFit, a company that makes training and diet recommendations based on your specific genome. According to the company, there’s a distinct link between genes and trainability. “If we give a large group of people the same training program, we see large differences in how they respond to that training program,” explains Andrew Steele, the head of product at DNAFit. Steele says that studies have shown that 50% of those differences can be attributed to a person’s genetic makeup. The other factors are non-genetic-related (diet, sleep, environment, etc.). 

                What did he learn?

1)      He should focus on endurance sports

2)      His body recovers from exercise slower than the average person

3)      His soft tissue is at risk for injury

4)      He’s lactose intolerant  

 

Other than #4 (which is odd because he says that he is not), these are all things that could be learned through the trial and error of training. This does save a lot of time though and the price ($80) is very reasonable. It does raise the question plaguing DNA-based startups regarding their accuracy though and DNAFit’s explanation for how Tom could be lactose intolerant despite never suffering the symptoms of it were less than convincing. There is a lot of potential here. I just don’t think that we’re there yet on this one. 

Motivation: Adam Gilbert published a fantastic piece on motivation this week. He outlined 12 tips to staying committed to your fitness goals. Let’s go through each one:

1)      Start Small

I know that people want to see results fast but one of the most common mistake is doing too much too fast. Then they get really, really sore and tired and working out seems like a hellish experience to them. Start small and build up. It’s also overwhelming to make so many changes to your lifestyle at once. Make one change a week. People overestimate what they can done in a short period of time and underestimate what they can get done in a long period of time.

2)      Follow the 10-minute rule

If you really don’t feel like working out, just get started and if you still want to stop 10 minutes in then stop. Most likely, you won’t but it makes getting started less daunting. The other thing that I do sometimes when I’m not feeling it is turn off my mind. Don’t listen to the excuses that are starting to form and just do the damn thing.

3)      Pair exercise with something else

Sometimes I will watch a little TV while I work out. It works.

4)      Never waste a shower

I thought that I was the only one who does this. Now I feel weird and guilty when I shower but didn’t work out. Showers are for closers. 

5)      Don’t push to exhaustion

Leave a little in the tank. It’ll make you more excited to do it all over the next day. Consistency is king!

6)      Access the power of Mondays

This one I’ve never used but I can see how it is effective.

7)      Have fun

Find something that you like doing and you’re more likely to keep doing it. This is a lot more to fitness than running and lifting weights.

8)      Honor your commitment to “you time”

Make your workouts part of your schedule, not something that you hope to squeeze into a busy day

9)      Opt for the do-nothing strategy

Never done this but I love the idea of someone forcing themselves to just sit there instead of working out.

10)   Identify the real problem

Make your fitness program as friction-less as possible. For me, that means that I need to have home workout options.

11)   Follow the “one day” rule

I live by this rule. I can miss one day but not two days in a row.

12)   Don’t exercise to lose weight

The best reason to work out is to feel good, physically and emotionally. It will keep you coming back long after that extra weight is gone.

TidBits:

-Hong Kong-based gym & retail chain, Pure Group, is looking to sell itself for as much as $500 million

-Don’t deny it, we all do this

-“Twenty percent of our audience is working out starting at 11 p.m., ain’t that crazy?

-Asics wants to be known for fitness, not just running

-Technogym has mastered corporate wellness