Health

Quarantine fitness diary: Forming better habits with Peloton

It’s going to take a while before things really go back to normal and even beyond that, I’m happy having my personal trainers “with me” right here at home.

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I don’t think I can thank my Peloton bike enough for what it’s been doing for me during this pandemic. A few days before the German government called for social distancing, we’ve already decided to stay home and minimise contact with other people so as not to be unwilling helpers in spreading the virus. One of our concerns, of course, was to stay healthy and keep our mental health in check. My husband and I keep to these goals by making sure we use the Peloton bike or the app daily.

With the amount of baking we’ve been doing during this time, it’s rather imperative that I build a solid fitness routine, but it’s not as easy as fitness influencers make it out to be.

What’s a Peloton anyway?

In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll do a quick run-through. Peloton is — first and foremost — a fitness company. They’re about 7 years old now and have been producing exercise equipment you can use at home.

Their most popular product is their indoor exercise bike. The bike comes with a screen where you can stream spin classes and other exercise videos. They also have an app which makes working out when you’re away from your bike possible. Aside from spin classes, they also have strength training videos, yoga, meditation, and other cardio workouts.

The past few years, Peloton has evolved from being one of those fad-dependent fitness companies into a lifestyle for its members. It got so popular that the company went public last year.

Simply put — it’s having everything you loved about spin classes and having a personal trainer right at the comfort of your own home and without having to deal with other people. No more shouty classmates, no more sharing equipment. An introvert’s dream come true — or even an extrovert who doesn’t appreciate sweaty surroundings.

Getting the bike is easy, you just order it online as well as the accessories you might need. From the spinning shoes to even a heart rate monitor that can help track your progress if you don’t have a fitness band yet. The bike connects to a FitBit or Strava.

You get the bike delivered, sign up for the monthly subscription to have access to the workout videos, which are either live-streamed or on demand. These workouts can be accessed via the monitor with the built-in interface that your bike comes with or through the Peloton app. Sadly, the app isn’t available in Germany but reps tell us it’s already in the works. You can still access the workouts on your phone or laptop via your browser, though.

You create your profile on the Peloton network, follow your friends, and take classes with instructors who are literally fitness goals. There’s quite a lot of them that there’s one for every type of rider.

The interface is pretty straightforward and easy to use. Each spin class is ruled by three numbers you see on your screen as you pedal for your life. Your Resistance number indicates how gritty the ride will be, while Cadence is your speed. Put those two together and you have your Output score. I’m usually more concerned about my cadence and would normally complain when the instructor asks for higher resistance.

With all this information out of the way, let me go ahead and tell you how my four weeks in quarantine went with my new fitness BFF.

Week 1

I’ve had the Peloton since the second week of February. I don’t have lofty fitness goals, to be honest. I just want to get into a routine and lose a bit of the flabs I developed thanks to writing about food and having more excuses than usual to eat. I also want to gain just a bit more strength and produce more endorphins to keep me happy.

The first week of social distancing had me eating more than the usual but I tried my best to commit to working out every day to stop myself from gaining more weight. It’s already sad enough that I can’t go and meet my friends, so let me hold on to my Pop Tart habit.

Peloton offers various fitness classes that run for as little as 5 minutes up to an hour. This week, I’ve been doing lots of 15 and 20-minute spinning classes to ease myself into working out more. I do this in between work and spending time with my husband and our dog.

Since there’s no strict quarantine in Berlin, we still get to go out but we’ve limited it to walking our dog and just buying the essentials. I’m happy that I still get to add some steps into my daily routine while increasing my heart rate with the bike.

The anxiety over what’s going on and how it’s already affecting thousands of people everywhere is enough to dampen one’s mood. I find myself having to put more effort into peeling myself from my computer and getting on the bike.

“I need this,” is something I keep telling myself. Once I’m on the bike, however, I focus on the task at hand — meeting what’s required of me cadence and resistance wise — and forget about what’s happening even just for 20 minutes.

The first week, I just did the minimum when it comes to numbers as actually getting on the bike already felt like an achievement.

Week 2

A member of our extended family died after displaying symptoms of Covid-19. As someone who suffers from crippling anxiety, this was a huge blow to my mood.

After a mini breakdown, I forced myself to get on the bike and take a 45 minute class with Cody since he’s the instructor who really gets me smiling — sometimes even laughing out loud — during the ride. It was a great distraction and I was in a much better mood after.

I also had a quick chat with Pete who manages the Berlin store and he advised me to try out the meditation classes. These can be accessed on the bike, on the app, or via a browser. They have different kinds – from energizing, healing, and even those that help you to be more empathic or kinder. I find it hard to shut my mind and with a dog running around the apartment, I always thought that meditation wasn’t for me but the classes dedicated to sleep were a huge help.

I also threw in some strength training — 10 minute arm or core exercises — especially on days when I end up taking a spin class that didn’t use weights. Sometimes, I forget to stretch and find that my feet and knees tend to ache if I don’t do this. So I made a reminder on my phone to remind me to stretch everyday.

For the classes on the bike, I tried going a little over the required resistance — maybe one to two points — passable output but nothing to write home about.

I also tried a couple more instructors and I really enjoyed German instructor Irene Scholz’ classes this week. I’m glad she’s got English classes! She’s one of the two Peloton instructors who conduct classes in German. She’s tough but her classes are also really enjoyable.

I feel a lot more energized these days and I love doing my workout right before going to bed. Showering after a good workout and going straight to bed also helped a lot in getting deeper sleep.

I tried a live class with my friend Nicole and we got to try the camera function. It was a little weird at first even though it’s basically just Facetiming but on the bike’s screen. It totally scared my dog but it was great seeing my friend sweating as much as me.

I used to go to spin studios a lot and while I wasn’t a fan of all the actual high fiving, the sweat flying around, and interacting with strangers while I’m dying on a bike, I must admit that I missed the feeling of seeing someone is sweating it out because the ride was difficult.  It was an Alex Toussaint spin class. He’s known for being one of the toughest instructors and someone you’d go for a ride with if you want to beat your last personal record for your output.

At one point, I decided to just let go of the numbers and enjoy. I got into the habit of hiding the leaderboard since the beginning of this week and I find that I have more fun this way.

Week 3

I tried dance cardio for the first time, another type of class you do off the bike. In these classes, you get two of the instructors teaching you dance moves.

This, however, is not your mom’s 80s-style dance workout. The steps are more modern and vary in difficulty. You also sweat a lot through the whole thing even if it seems rather easy.

I’m not a good dancer and I probably looked like a total loser but I had a ton of fun. It was just 20 minutes but it felt like such a good workout. Instead of low impact rides to recover from a tough ride the night before, I could probably stick to these instead.

Speaking of cardio, I want to give the running classes a try as well. I always found running boring so it was never my thing. However, their classes which you can do outdoors or on a treadmill might help in easing the boredom as it can feel like I have someone there with me, talking me through the whole thing.

I’m still wondering how people can have such high output scores. Are they pushing their legs much harder than I am? It’s so tough. A 30 minute Pop Ride leaves me so sweaty but at least I burn those Pop Tarts and baked goods, right?

I tried playing with the resistance knob by going much higher than expected on some rides. Still quite hard to sustain it but I noticed that I can now go for over 5 minutes without stopping to heave and wheeze. I smoked for a decade so I’m just happy I don’t need to completely stop to recover nowadays.

I gave more instructors a try and I’m really enjoying Hannah Marie Corbin’s classes lately. She’s the right amount of fun and positivity without being too perky — just a personal preference.

I’ve been wondering whether I should do multiple, shorter rides per day instead of one long ride. It feels like it’s taking forever for me to reach 100 rides. It’s a milestone that can earn you a shoutout from the instructor if you do a live spin class in time for it.

Next week, I’ll challenge myself to do more than one workout per day so hopefully, my schedule cooperates.

Week 4

The problem with working from home is that you technically never leave your “office”. So I must admit it’s been pretty difficult to squeeze one more workout in every single day. I have been trying, though – believe me.

I’d normally add a five-minute arm toning session or core workout after a ride if I have the time and energy left. Normally, I’d select the class I want from the Peloton bike’s monitor and choose the option to cast it to our smart TV in the living room. You can also follow along on your phone but it’s a lot easier from a bigger screen, of course.

Funny enough, I’ve been successful in getting a bit of my abs back but got a bit delayed in losing all of my bits that turn into what is popularly called a ‘muffin top’. I did not lose a lot of weight but somehow, my clothes fit better and there’s been some significant space in my jeans. I also feel like I have more energy throughout the day.

At this point, I’ve realised who my favourite instructors are and tend to stick to them — Cody, Irene, Denis, Ally, and Hannah Marie. I’m not that technical nor looking into a huge increase in my output during my rides. I ride for a lot of fun, positive energy, and a really sweaty cardio session. This doesn’t mean they’re easy instructors, though. I feel like dying after most rides.

I personally like how Denis builds up the difficulty of his rides, starting high on the cadence with a manageable resistance to warm you up before things get much tougher.

By this time, I was feeling a little confident and at the request of my friend Nicole, I took the Alex Toussaint class again which we did on week 2. Not gonna lie – it was still extremely tough. However, I find that I was wheezing less and I was actually able to set a new personal record – 6 points higher than the last time I took this class.

With Covid-19 and the lockdown in New York, new content and live rides have been pretty slow. At this point, Peloton has started letting their instructors do live rides from their homes. It feels different without the studio setup but with the same level of fun and energy.

I signed up for the annual challenge that requires taking a total of 2000 minutes on the bike. I also went for some of this month’s challenges.

For April, there’s a Spring challenge that asks you to stay active for 30 days by doing any type of class. There’s also the usual challenge of the month that requires 5 days of being active and a cycling challenge that asks members to ride for at least 80.5 kilometers.

I find that they’re such a good way to keep you coming back on the bike and for the other classes as well. Not that I need any more convincing at this point — I’m practically addicted both to the spinning workouts and trying out the other classes on Peloton website. Once the app is available in Germany, gaining access to the other workouts would be a lot easier compared to going through the browser.

I’m progressing pretty well when it comes to the challenges, taking things at my own pace. My main focus is to make sure I don’t lose my 30-day (and counting) streak.

I have to say that in this time of restrictions, I feel like I gained a new type of freedom when it comes to dealing with my body issues and forming better habits for my fitness. I have the bike at home and seeing it everyday reminds me of goals I have set for my fitness. This has helped a lot in maintaining my streak.

Will I give this achievement up after quarantine? Is it even worth keeping my Peleton bike after this pandemic?

I personally think it is. It’s an investment in one’s physical health and because of the convenience it offers. It’s still going to take a while before things really go back to normal and even beyond that, I’m happy having my personal trainers “with me” right here at home.

This article is also available in German over at Mobile Geeks.

Health

The We-Vibe Bond takes your stimulation to greater heights

Bring that foreplay to another level

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Sex toys aren’t just toys anymore. They’re infused with technology — aiming to help people in the art of self-pleasure, improve their relationship with themselves and their partners, and in some cases, aid in medical reasons.

The topic of sex, sex toys, and owning your sexuality is still a taboo in several countries — mine included — but it’s slowly turning around. This year, we’ve seen sex tech dominating the consumer technology scene. While most of them are apt for women, recently, some toys meant for men are evolving into connected wearables.

Such is the case for the We-Vibe Bond — a connected, vibrating stimulation ring (also known as cock ring), designed by We-Vibe, a brand specializing in all kinds of sex toys.

Cock ring, but make it connected

Connected cock rings like We-Vibe’s Bond can be worn discreetly and be operated and controlled remotely using an app. What sets Bond apart is a dedicated remote control that you can use when you and your partner are together.

The stimulation ring is designed in ultra-soft silicone material and comes with an IPX7 waterproof rating. Meaning, you can play with it in the shower or in your tub.

It has ten levels of intensity and ten modes of vibration, with an autonomy of up to two hours. Further customization of the intensity and vibration can be adjusted using the We-Connect app or via the remote control.

Price and availability

The We-Vibe Bond retails for US$ 129. Shop it on We-Vibe’s official website.

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Accessories

Fitbit decks out Charge 5, partnership with Will Smith

Strengthen up and join Will Smith in his journey

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Fitness company Fitbit has just announced the Fitbit Charge 5 — its most advanced health and fitness tracker yet. The fifth iteration of the Charge lineup comes with new features and a thinner, sleek design built to empower you to focus on your health.

What do we have here?

First and foremost, the new Charge 5 comes with a brighter, colored touchscreen. It’s designed aerodynamically, and optimized for performance. It’s now equipped with a new AMOLED display, allowing the tracker to have an Always-On display option. Plus, it has better sunlight legibility — two-times brighter than its predecessor.

You can easily view your statistics, receive and send notifications from and to your smartphone, and choose from colorful clock faces — all with a swipe of a finger.

Like other Fitbit wearables, the Charge 5 tracks your heart rate 24/7 and constantly update you on your personal ranges. It also provides a holistic view of other wellness metrics through its Health Metrics dashboard in the Fitbit app. This includes breathing rate, skin temperature variation, and blood oxygen level (SpO2).

Furthermore, Fitbit’s industry-leading sleep tools such as Sleep Score, Sleep Stages, and SmartWake alarms are present in the new Charge 5.

So, what’s new?

Interestingly, the Fitbit Charge 5 comes with Daily Readiness Score. The new features helps you understand if your body is ready for a workout or if you need to rest. Its data is based on your fitness fatigue, heart rate variability, and recent sleep.

It also has a built-in GPS, with 20 exercise modes, and automatic exercise recognition for when you forgot to track your workout. And it has an estimate of your VO2 max, the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize during your exercises.

Another noteworthy feature is its EDA sensor, which was first launched in the Fitbit sense. The sensor measures your body’s response to stress through tiny changes in the sweat glands on your fingers. And the Fitbit Charge 5 is the first tracker to include the sensor.

What else?

Of course, the battery still lasts up to seven days. And you can choose different bands to personalize your tracker. From lightweight silicone infinity bands, to breathable sport bands, plush nylon hook and loop bands, and even hand-crafted premium Horween leather bands.

The Charge 5 also allows you to experience in-depth analysis, guides, tips, and tricks using its features when you subscribe to Fitbit Premium.

Fitbit Premium with Will Smith

Speaking of Fitbit Premium, Fitbit recently partnered with actor, producer, and musician Will Smith. Smith is joining the Fitbit family as its newest ambassador. Premium members can join along his journey through his video sessions together with Smith’s training team.

The sessions will showcase mindfulness sessions and a wide range of workouts — from HIIT, strength, to yoga, and even meditation. The first session is launching on September 27.

Price and availability

The Fitbit Charge 5 is available online at Fitbit.com for US$ 180 (PhP 11,990), which includes a six-month Premium membership for both new and returning customers. It will also come to major retailers such as Digital Walker and Fitbit’s Official Store on Lazada and Shopee, with worldwide availability this September.

SEE ALSO: Fitbit Charge 4 review: An extra ingredient to becoming fit and healthy

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Health

LG PuriCare VoiceOn: Price and availability in Singapore

It’s called the LG PuriCare VoiceOn

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LG PuriCare VoiceOn

LG’s futuristic face mask got an upgrade adding a built-in mic and speaker. Officially called the LG Puricare VoiceOn, the pandemic-necessary accessory is currently available in Singapore.

Wearing a face mask is mandataory but it presents a few problems. If you’re speaking to someone else, hearing their voice can prove difficult if you’re both behind masks.

LG is solving this by giving LG PuriCare VoiceOn users  access to a speaker and a built-in mic. With a voice amplifier, the mask can detect whenever the wearer is speaking and amplify it for them.

This upgraded version has a larger battery at 1000mAh compared to the first generation’s 820mAh. Charging time, LG says, will be around two hours. It also has a smaller motor that should make it easier to wear.

From filtering out the nasties in the air you breathe, reducing waste by allowing you to skip disposable face masks, and down to keeping your skin clear of maskne, it’s definitely tech’s answer to one of the biggest needs during this pandemic. Watch the video below:

Price and availability

The LG PuriCare VoiceOn comes in Creamy White and and Ocean Black and retails for SG$ 249. It’s available through official LG LazadaLG Shopee, LG KrisShop and across all authorized retailers — Best Denki and COURTS.

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