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Fitness Gadgets - All they are Cracked up to be?

From: alt

Even if you don't own a piece of wearable technology yourself, chances are you've seen someone using one of these devices.

Worn on the wrist or on clothing, wearable devices can track your physical activity, energy expenditure and even tell you about how you're sleeping.

These devices are the latest technology to take the world by storm, with predictions that there will be more 68.1 million of them sold by the end of this year. By 2018 the wearables industry is projected to be worth a whopping $50 billion.If you believe the hype, these devices herald the beginning of a new era in health and fitness, which will see us all motivated to achieve better health by constantly monitoring key measures of our own health and fitness.

However, some argue these are just another fad for cashed-up early adopters of technology and are unlikely to help people make lasting lifestyle changes. Others say these items are redundant as many apps allow you to use your smart phone as a wearable – and most of us are already used to carrying these around all day.

There's also the view that the people who are using this technology are not those who need them the most.

We look at the pros and cons of wearables, and whether these devices are likely to get you off the couch and moving on a regular basis.

Will wearables change behaviour?

We live in a world obsessed with recording information, but as experts recently wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association the gap between recording information and changing behaviour is substantial.

It's naäve to think that a bunch of numbers will lead to long-term motivation and a change in behaviour, says Professor David Bishop, a sports scientist from Victoria University in Melbourne.

After all, we know from studying human behaviour that it is incredibly hard to change a person's motivation, and ultimately their behaviour, he says.

This is a major challenge wearable devices need to overcome if they are going to make any meaningful difference to health on an individual and population level.

"The numbers by themselves aren't going to be motivators for everyone. It's how those numbers are used and linked in to different motivation strategies," says Bishop.

Bishop argues the key will be the way the device can take the information it is fed, and use it in different ways depending on the individual's personality.

It's the apps that a device interfaces with that are really important, says Bishop.

"Once you have, not just the device, but the connection with different apps that will help use the information to potentially motivate people in different ways… that's where you'll start to see a lot more value.

"It's then that we'll start seeing devices that live up to the promise," he says.

Are wearables just another fad?

As is often the case with a new 'toy', wearables devices could be destined to end up in the bottom of your odds and ends draw before too long.

A survey conducted early last year by a US technology think tank found that more than half of American adults who owned a wearable device no longer used it. A third of these devices had been abandoned within the first six months of purchase.

While there are no official statistics for Australia, Bishop says it's likely to be a similar story here.

But, as he points out, this is hardly a new phenomenon for the fitness industry.

For instance, people often sign up to the gym only to cancel their membership after a couple of months as they haven't actually worked out on a regular basis like they planned.

"When it comes to fitness, people are always looking for motivation, whether it's a personal trainer or a gym membership. [Wearable devices] are just another way of people looking for that external motivation to exercise," he says.

Professor Adrian Bauman, a professor in Public Health at the University of Sydney, agrees that wearable technology is unlikely to be immune to what is essentially human nature.

People are likely to abandon their devices because they are disinterested and it doesn't reinforce their exercise goals or because they've moved on to a different type of technology, he says.

Fashion accessories

Bauman is also concerned wearables will become mere fashion accessories that many of us chose to throw away.

These days if you're seen wearing a device it has a certain cache, just like it is to have the latest smart phone, says Bauman.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, he says, as it could encourage thousands of people to buy one.

The downside is that it's usually the next model that will do a whole bunch of things, rendering this year's model immediately outdated.

"This transient technology phenomenon is probably not going to benefit population health," he says.

Are they for everyone?

As well wearable devices have been criticized for appealing mainly to those in our society who need them the least. In particular, those with a higher discretionary income who may perhaps already be keen to change their behaviour, says Bauman.

"Will it apply to the other 80 to 90 per cent of inactive people? Or will they just buy it as a fashion statement, which is part of our conspicuous consumption in society, and not really use it for very long?" he asks.

We need to do research to understand which groups of society could benefit from these devices, says Bauman.

"It would be lovely to put these [devices] on old people and young people, people across all regional areas, and sociodemographic strata".

According to Bishop, wearable devices will most likely go the way of all technology and will get better and cheaper with time.

It's then that we'll see more and more people adopting them, he says.


Summer Success - Academy Ready for 2015


The 2015 Fresha Tennis Program kicks off at Warrnambool Lawn on Sunday 22nd  February with an abundance of excitement after a great summer of some sizzling performances by the regions finest. A new crop of talented young athletes together with some stalwarts all keen to start and enhance their skills, showing great pride for their region, program sponsors and the Academy.


Doug Hill, Tennis Victoria’s Regional State Coach is delighted to return for his 4th year and work with South West’s tennis elite. A building year ahead for the 1st year players, whilst those returning eager to take their game to another level. Doug is anticipating more success in Regional Events and ranking climbs from Junior Tour / AMT participation.


The tournament performance program covers an holistic approach with parents and private coaches involved so that the athletes, along with weekly gym sessions and sport science education, receive all the support they need to advance their potential and dreams.


SWAS Chief Executive Officer Ann Sissons said “we are extremely pleased with the way this year’s program is set up and the comprehensive nature in its delivery, great to see so many of the returning athletes and looks forward to the new additions embracing this wonderful opportunity”


Head coach Doug Hill wishes to thank the Victorian State Government, Tennis Victoria, Fresha, Warrnambool Lawn Tennis Club, Southwest TAFE for the generous sponsorship of this significant tennis program and gratefully acknowledges the encouragement and contribution of the player’s parents and private coaches.


SWAS Class of 2015


Jeremy Attrill              The Sisters                 Sophie Drake             Warrnambool

Oscar Batchelor          Warrnambool                        Greta Dabizzi               Killarney

Harry Boyd                 Woodford                  Rachel O’Connor        Warrnambool

Patrick Drake              Warrnambool                        Nina Parker                Timboon

Tom Gedye                 Warrnambool                        Willow Sainsbury      Hamilton

Daniel Mahony           Woodford                  Jessica Swarbrick       Hawkesdale

Joseph Mahony          Warrnambool                        Eloise Swarbrick        Hawkesdale

Zach Norton               Warrnambool

Matthew Sell              Warrnambool

Sam Wilde                  Warrnambool


Abbey Gains Momentum

SWAS Basketball player Abbey Sutherland is in the midst of a hard working Summer as she continues to train and compete.

Sutherland was selected to compete in the Australian Junior Basketball Cup in Albury from the 12th to 17th January.

Sutherland competed in the Victorian Under 16 Bushrangers squad. The rangers finished 2nd overall in the competition, competing undefeated until a narrow loss to the Victorian Goldminers in the Gold Medal Match. 

Sutherland competed very well throughout the competition and scored a total of 13 point for her team for the final match. 

Sutherland continues to work hard training and competing for Hamilton Hurricane’s in the Junior Summer Tournaments throughout regional Victoria over the summer holidays. Post this she will still continue to train under Basketball Victoria’s Country Development squad and Coach Justin Scheuller along with SWAS Strength and Conditioning coach Josh Kearney. 


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