Friday Five: 5 Things We Can’t Workout Without

By: Scott McMahon

Remember when exercise simply meant putting on an old T-shirt, capable shoes, and heading out the door? Those days are long gone for most of us, although plenty of people still live by the no-frills method. As both science and technology have grown, our exercise has too. Before you read any further, think about this question:

What must you have during a workout? Did you respond with “my running shoes,” “my music,” “a Gatorade” or something of the like? Yeah, we all do it. How many of the 5 items below do you carry with you during exercise?

1. iPod

When iPods first hit the shelves in 2001, it was a dream come true for everyone who enjoyed having their music around. For gym-goers, it meant finally being able to run to your favorite song, or bike to a certain rhythm. Now, you would be hard-pressed to take a walk outside without seeing at least a few runners with the famous earbuds in their ears and an iPod on the other end.

2. GPS

If we have the technology, why not use it? We have the freedom to go anywhere we want and know almost exactly how far we traveled with GPS. The best part? GPS comes in so many different forms: smartphone apps, high-tech watches, etc. With all of the apps available for both Android and iPhone, you can measure pretty much any distance or any workout metric just by carrying your phone with you.

3. Sports Drinks

Do they really make a difference compared to water? Hard to tell for sure. But are they ingrained in our culture? Absolutely. We aspire so much to be like our favorite athletes, and when we see them drinking Gatorade after a race, or in a commercial emphasizing the importance of the company’s advanced hydration techniques, we can’t help but buy in. Today, most races have tables full of sports drinks alongside classic H2O, as these rather new hydration products have become a mainstay in our workout routines.

4. High-Tech Workout Clothes

Definitely guilty of this one. Who doesn’t like a cool new workout shirt that race organizers give out? Again, as technology has grown, so has the apparel that we wear. One wicks away sweat, another recirculates it for your body to use, another has special venting panels on the sides to maximize performance. Each company has their own evidence and studies to back their claims, but one thing is for sure: the market for tech clothes is not going away anytime soon. And then of course, there are running shoes. Minimalist vs. support, barefoot vs. not, the list goes on. The market is more than just wearing something comfortable now–buying good shoes can be one of the most difficult decisions an athlete can make.

5. Calorie Counters

Much like GPS, calorie counters are in most apps and gadgets you can find out there. Calories have become one of the most important things surrounding exercise, and software developers have taken advantage of that. They may not be entirely accurate, but in our society of quantification, being able to put a caloric burn number on a workout goes so far for us. It helps us manage meals, pursue diets, and sets standards for future workouts. Along with pace and distance, it can be argued that calories are now in the highest level of workout statistics.

Whether you personally use none of them, or all five, as a society we are addicted to these products (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But why shouldn’t we use science to help us determine exactly how far we’ve gone, or how many calories we burned? Why shouldn’t we be comfortable in our clothes and shoes, and have hydration and music to get us through a difficult workout? Times change, fashions change, and technology changes. It’s all about making these changes work for us.


2 Responses to “Friday Five: 5 Things We Can’t Workout Without”
  1. Joe says:

    You missed the most important “thing” – a work-out buddy, running partner, spotter for lifting, someone – anyone to be there to encourage, push, be the informal coach, console, lift your spirits and share the moment(s). You can have the other 5, don’t deprive me of my human support.


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