Back in the day, "Just do it" was the standard exercise mantra, a simple, silent pact between an individual and his or her motivation.
Well, that's so Rocky Balboa. Today's data-drenched workout world doesn't need no stinkin' willpower of steel — just a USB port, Bluetooth and an Internet connection. Smart bracelets, smart goggles and other techy stuff worn on our bodies are turning us all into cycling cyborgs and robo-runners, with enough built-in coaches and clever distractions and real-time performance readouts to raise a top athlete's game and get the most dedicated couch potato moving. If you can lace up your tennis shoes (hmm, maybe they'll do it themselves soon), the new generation of wearable tech might just get you to work out more often and effectively.
Goggle head's up
Oakley Airwave 1.5: An upgrade of the first ski goggle with a built-in "heads up" display — a small, half-inch data screen in the right-hand bottom corner of the lens that can track such stats as speed, height and altitude. The display integrates GPS and Bluetooth; you can load maps, music playlists and find your friends on the slope through "buddy tracking." Includes quick-change lenses and a wrist-top controller to scroll through the screen.
Likes: It's great fun to instantly know how fast you're moving down the slope and how far and high you flew in the air. All the info is clear and legible, yet tucked out of your line of sight. Having instant access to your numbers can keep you motivated. Being able to pinpoint your location on a resort map and find your pals is a great benefit. With improved connectivity, the goggle syncs with your cellphone to display incoming text messages, access playlists, navigate resort maps and other information. The huge 7-by-3.5-inch UV-resistant lens has great peripheral vision and swaps out with a different-colored lens with the flick of a switch. A full battery charge lasts six hours.
Dislikes: The price. Also, at 10 ounces, it's double the weight of a normal goggle.
Price: $649.99, http://www.oakley.com
Polar Loop: The first fitness monitor-activity tracker that includes an LED read-out and can incorporate heart rate. The latter gives you credit for cycling, weight training and other typically untracked activities.
Likes: Lots of valuable information. At a touch of a button, it shows calories burned, steps taken, time of day. The free Polar Flow app and website provide more analysis and guidance, including graphs of cumulative daily activity and periods of inactivity. Throughout the day on your cellphone or computer, it suggests activities to complete your weekly exercise target (such as "run for 30 minutes" or "bike for 60 minutes"), and reminds you that you've been sitting too long. It also provides daily, weekly and monthly views of activity at different levels of intensity, and even compares your activity with a global activity standard.
Price: $109.95, http://www.heartratemonitors.com
Goji Play Interactive Fitness Experience: An app and sensors, from the makers of Guitar Hero, that translate your effort on your treadmill, elliptical or exercise bike into cartoon characters who appear in video game programs on your tablet or smartphone.
Likes: As advertised, it turns fitness into a fun game. Example: The faster you work out on your exercise machine, the faster a yellow smiley-faced ball in the game "Smash the Blocks" busts through walls in a race against the clock.
Setup is easy. Download the My Goji app onto your tablet or smartphone, charge and clip the activity sensor to your pocket and connect control buttons to your cardio equipment. Batons are included for use on machines that don't have handles, like treadmills. The activity sensor captures your movement and connects the Goji play platform to your tablet or phone, which you put over the monitor of your machine. While playing the game, your exercise is being tracked.
Dislikes: People who exercise regularly may find this unnecessary or just too much hassle. Non-exercisers who hate exercise would benefit from the fun but probably don't own the exercise machines they'd need to use this on.
Price: $99.99, http://www.bluegoji.com
Badger Gears 360° LED Jacket: Polyester running-cycling jacket with mesh lining and built-in flashing LED lights.
Likes: Makes night runs and rides far safer. The jacket lights up like a Christmas tree, with blinking lights along the spine, shoulders and arms claimed to be visible for a quarter-mile. The key technology is flexible LED wires small enough to be sewn imperceptibly into the seams of the garment, which would not be possible with wider, more commonly used LED strips. You don't feel the wires or the tiny 1-ounce lithium battery, which plugs into a USB port to recharge. The lights have seven different flash sequences and stay charged for eight hours. Other nice features include a two-way zipper, reflective strips (handy if the lights run out of juice) and a tuck-away hood. Soft and comfortable, the jacket can safely be scrunched into a ball, machine washed and tucked into a small travel pouch, also included.
Wallack is the author of "Bike for Life" and "Fire Your Gym." firstname.lastname@example.org