Four inventive workout basics

Hydration. Heart rate. Music. Compression and icing. Whether you get your workout on the running track, in aerobics class or on a bike, it’s likely that some or all of this quartet of common workout accessories is part of your routine. With innovative flourishes galore, they can help you upgrade performance as well as recover from it.

Super bottle

Relaj: Beautiful, streamlined water bottle has a tapered neck and flexible silicone drinking nipple, soft squeezable plastic body, screw-off bottom and freezer stick.

Exercise gear: In the Saturday section elsewhere in this edition, an article about products for workouts said that the wrist-strap Mio Alpha heart rate monitor is not waterproof. It is waterproof. The error was discovered after the section was printed. —


Likes: More than a fashion statement, Relaj has several beneficial features. In a Spin class or on a bike at 25 mph, it’s easier to use (and therefore safer) than a normal, blunt-shaped bottle due to the sleek spout, which allows you to angle the bottle more while drinking and to angle your head less. Relaj’s twist open LeakLock valve prevents water from spilling even when upside down or sat upon. The screw-off bottom greatly aids cleaning. A removable ice stick (chilled in the freezer) keeps liquids cool for a while. The ergonomic shape with its non-slip grip feels great in the hand.

Dislikes: None, except that it’s not cheap for a water bottle.

Price: $19.99.

Strapless pulse reader


Mio Alpha: This heart rate monitor watch reads your pulse from your wrist with a high-tech light rather than the common, and irritating, chest strap.

Likes: Convenience, accuracy and looks. There’s no need for a chest strap due to an impressive patented technology that involves two green light beams, an electro-optical cell and a sophisticated algorithm to read subdermal blood volume and get a pulse. Held snugly on your wrist with a soft, stretchable silicone band, it has a wide, rectangular monitor with simple two-button controls that can toggle through heart rate, time, timer, settable heart rate zones with visual and audible alerts, and a data review including total exercise time, average heart rate and time “in zone.” Data can be transmitted to Bluetooth-compatible smartphones. It’s far more accurate than past generations of strapless monitors. It must be charged every 12 hours or so for the heart rate function to work; a USB charger is included

Dislikes: I found it slightly less accurate than a chest-strap monitor by several beats. The clock does not include seconds. It’s double the price of similarly featured conventional heart rate monitors.

Price: $199.

Ears wide open

AfterShokz Sportz M2: Open-ear sport headphones for outdoor activities place the speaker outside the ear canal, delivering music and phone calls without tuning out ambient noise.

Likes: It’s way safer than earbuds and works perfectly. With the wraparound headband placing the transducers outside the ears, you are able to stay aware of the sounds of honking cars and crackling leaves as you hear the music. The speakers emit a normal sound and use a “bone conduction” design that sends vibrations from the cheekbones to the inner ears (bypassing the eardrums). An in-line control box and microphone allow you to keep your phone in your pocket or backpack as you adjust volume, take and make phone calls, pause and advance music, and power the unit on or off. The sound quality for music and calls is excellent. A zippered case for the M2 and all cords is included.

Dislikes: The M2’s super sound comes with a price, and it’s a hassle to charge the device instead of running it off your phone’s or iPod’s battery. You might forget the charge cord or lose it, or lose power after a few hours at high volume. The company claims you’ll get 12 hours of playback on low volume at full charge.


Price: $79.95.

Pull-on comfort

110% OverDrive Sox + Ice Kit: Nylon-spandex compression socks are packaged with nylon-spandex ice sleeves, ice inserts and a thermal carry bag. Many think compression enhances circulation and prevents strains and fatigue during a workout. The icing items aid recovery after a workout.

Likes: It’s a convenient all-in-one combo of commonly used performance aids. For post-exercise icing, take the ice inserts out of the freezer and slip them into the tight sleeve, which is open at the toes and heel. It’s a simple do-it-yourself way to heal common injuries such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, ankle sprains, shin splints and forefoot and calf pain. The ice packet inserts can be reused.

Dislikes: None

Price: $100.

Wallack is the coauthor of “Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100" and “Barefoot Running Step by Step.”