Four fitness gear innovations to check out

Every imaginable problem and dream solution can now be tracked and addressed. Want to work out in Boulder, Colo., to get in some altitude training but can’t afford the plane fare? Want to know your heart rate while running to music but hate wearing a chest strap? Wouldn’t it be great to have a yoga-Pilates workout in a bag that you could do anytime, anywhere without a class, or have a posture coach constantly telling you to stand up straight? Meet four new must-have fitness innovations you can’t live without that solve problems you didn’t know you had.

Heart rate through your ears

Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless: Touted as the first combination stereo earbuds and biometric heart rate monitor

Likes: Very convenient and compact. Ingeniously putting a heart-rate chest-strap in your ear, these ultralight, Bluetooth-enabled earbuds give you all the standard fitness data along with your music. With a light press of a button on one of the buds, the music pauses for a few seconds as an English-accented woman provides your current heart rate, distance and time. Displayed on your cellphone during and after your workout is a wide range of data, including your heart rate, route, cadence, pace, speed and color-coded level of intensity. Controls on the earbud wire allow easy change of songs and volume. The Dolby sound quality was very good. Jabra claims that the accuracy of the heart rate monitor is 99.2% that of a medical electrocardiogram (EKG) machine.


Dislikes: None

Price: $199.99.

Workout in a bag

Rocket Innovations Xpodz: Two dome-shaped hand pods, accessories and a slider mat that provide an endless supply of Pilates- and yoga-like exercises.

Likes: Simple, effective and compact design that gives you a legitimate living-room strength and aerobic workout by accentuating the challenge of standard yoga and other exercise positions like downward dog and push-ups. The spherical shape also eliminates carpal tunnel, the original goal of Rodger Thomason, who had push-up-induced wrist problems. Snap-on instability cones ramp up the difficulty. Hand and foot slider pads make the number of potential exercises endless — reverse-plank pull-ins, ab roll-outs, mountain climbers, V-ups, one-foot-side slides, etc. An excellent 30-minute workout DVD starts off with a good warm-up and covers a wide range of exercises. A plastic pouch holds the Xpodz, sliders and instability pods.

Dislikes: None

Price: $39.95 (for the base Podz). $139.95 (entire system, including mat).

Mountaintop workouts at sea level

Elevation Training Mask 2.0: Air-restricting neoprene mask, invented by Casey Danford after he saw a similar makeshift prototype of a mixed-martial arts fighter, that helps you simulate the low-oxygen conditions of high-altitude training.

Likes: You don’t have to move to the mountains anymore, or sleep in a $2,000 high-altitude tent. If you can get over the Darth Vader-on-a-bad-day looks and the claustrophobia, the effectiveness of this device is undeniable. The human body adapts to stresses placed on it, so having less oxygen available forces you to get better at processing oxygen, specifically increasing your density and size of hemoglobin cells (red blood cells), and optimizes how muscles work more efficiently in this environment. It’s not easy working out with it, but if you are a determined athlete, you’ll get used to the challenge. Seven resistance caps and three flux valves allow you to increase resistance and effective altitude to as high as 18,000 feet; snap-on caps let you change resistance on the go.

Dislikes: None.

Price: $79.99.

Badgering you into standing straight

Lumo Lift: A 2-by-1-inch (¼ inch wide) metal and plastic pod that serves as a posture coach and activity tracker. It vibrates when you slouch and counts steps, distance and calories burned. It connects via Bluetooth to iPhones and iPads.

Likes: It keeps you aware of what you’re doing. It’s a simple, effective way to improve a significant quality of life characteristic: your posture. Attach it to tight clothing (a bra strap or tight undershirt) with its magnetic clasp, assume good posture (shoulders back, head up), then double-click a “snapshot,” which sets up your correct, baseline posture. When you slip out of perfect alignment while sitting or standing, the device will gently vibrate. A surprise feature popped up on my cellphone the morning after I first used it — a posture affirmation: “Today is a great day to sit taller and stand stronger.”

A record of your posture, steps, calories and distance is tracked on your phone. Ten interchangeable clasps in various colors are available.

Dislikes: There have been complaints of users losing the magnet while working out.

Price: $100.

Wallack is the author of “Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100.”