The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live. It’s clear gyms aren’t coming back anytime soon. It’s no surprise many people have become hooked on working out from home.
This is according to a recent survey of 3,500 Americans published by The New Consumer and Coefficient Capital. It says that 76% of us have switched to exercising at home since the start of the pandemic. Two-thirds have found they actually prefer it. The proportion is even higher amongst millennials.
However, the problem with working out in your living room is that it can become a bit tedious. Sure you can do a few push ups and sit-ups here and there, but what then? It becomes difficult to come up with new exercises.
This is where Activ5 comes in. The wireless-enabled device and accompanying app use isometrics to give you a low impact, full-body workout. In a sense, the gadget introduces a gaming experience into your workouts – no gym or cumbersome weights required.
I’ve been testing Active5 over the past few weeks. Here’s my experience.
How it works
In the box Activ5 comes with a handheld isometric fitness device and a rugged phone stand. There’s also a little instruction booklet if you like to read those sorts of things. But you don’t really need it as everything is self-explanatory and the app will guide you along.
The device is very portable and designed for on the go. Activ5 is meant to allow you to work out at your home, a hotel – anywhere really. There are even specific exercises designed if you’re on a plane or train. Think of it as a gym in your pocket.
I imagine you could even get away with doing some of the exercises in the office, without anyone noticing. Perfect for busy professionals!
The main unit is smooth and round, loosely resembling an orange and black tear drop. I found it to be very comfortable to hold. ActivBody says its ergonomic shape is designed to support isometric forces.
In terms of actual dimensions, the fitness device measures 95mm in length, 78mm in width and 33mm in height. It is very light (131 grams) so doesn’t feel sturdy to the touch. But that’s very deceiving.
Inside are high-precision pressure sensors which have the ability to withstand and measure more than 90.7kg (200 pounds) of muscle force. Which means press on it as hard as you like, it will not break.
The force accuracy is within 1.4 pounds plus 5% of the applied force. In plain English this tranlates into “it’s very accurate”. Which is important as the device works by measuring the force of your isometric movements.
There’s a single on/off button at the bottom of the main unit and next to it is a LED indicator. No screen or anything like that. Bluetooth 4.1 is used to communicate with the smartphone app.
As far as battery life, you’ll be pleased to know that this is one less device you’ll need to charge. The thing runs on a single AAA battery that lasts anywhere between six months and a year. Depending on frequency of use, of course.
The mobile stand is a nice add-on. My preference was to use it as intended, but you can find another way to rest your smartphone. You do need to use both the app and fitness device simultaneously as without the app Active5 is useless.
I have been going to the gym on and off for decades now. On average perhaps two or three times per week. This is more for health purposes and keeping fit rather than anything else.
But last November I contracted COVID-19. Luckily, after a few weeks of antibiotics and vitamins my body fought off the virus. However, in that short time I lost some 6 kilograms in weight and my fitness levels declined sharply. The doctor advised me to forget all about sports or any type of exercise for at least a month. Bad news for someone very much into exercising on daily basis.
Now I have started to run again but am not tempted to go to the gym just yet. Which made Activ5 the perfect device. It has offered me a way to gradually build up strength while recovering from the illness. It offers hardly any risk of injury as isometrics uses static muscle exercises.
I can imagine Activ5 can be very useful to those in a similar position, or recovering from some type of injury. Or to use when you simply don’t have time or motivation to go to the gym.
As mentioned, the fitness device utilizes measurable pressure combined with isometric workouts. These exercises target a particular muscle or individual groups of muscles – hence the term isometric. The workouts help maintain strength and can also build strength. In fact, ActivBody says their system has been “proven to increase strength by an average 30% in just 6 weeks.”
How to use
To use you’ll need to first download the accompanying smartphone app. This is Available for both iOS and Android operating systems.
Install it and go through the brief setup process. Power up your Activ5 and it will pair with the app. This all worked seamlessly for me and it took a handful of minutes. No connection issues at all during setup or afterwards.
Now it’s time to try an exercise. And there are plenty to choose from in the smartphone app.
Most exercises begins with a one-time calibration process. This is so that the device can adjust to your unique strength and fitness level. You can re-take the test as many times as you want. Hopefully in time you will build up your strength so it makes sense to re-do the calibration once in a while.
The app will then guide you through the game. All the exercises are explained well and have pictures to show you proper positioning.
The Activ5 device works as a game controller. When it connects with the mobile app it will display the amount of force you are applying in real time. This can be set to pounds or kilograms as per your preference.
You are not meant to press the device as hard as you can – it’s not like weight lifting. Instead the app will guide you though different exercises. They predominantly involve a moving line which shows how much force you are meant to apply. The goal is to match that line with the line showing your real-time force. It might sound easy but it’s not.
The force varies as the game progresses so you’ll find yourself flexing and relaxing your muscles. This is the novel aspect to the whole system which makes it interesting to use and allows you to track performance gains. I can imagine it also helps build-up focus in addition to muscle strength and endurance.
This typically lasts between 15 and 30 seconds so the exercises are short and sweet. You then move on to the next one making the whole system very dynamic.
Hundreds of exercises, multiple games
There are hundreds of workouts to choose from enabling users of any age and fitness level to break a sweat. You can choose from pre-designed workouts that are split into time of day and weeks to gradually build up your strength.
Alternatively, you can select exercises to target individual muscle groups such as legs, arms and abdominals. Some of these are classified as “seated” others are “standing”.
There are also exercises for flexion, abduction, adduction, protraction and much, much more. The possibilities are endless and the app offers an incredibly comprehensive choice. Who would have known you can get a full body workout without weights or expensive equipment, and all in the comfort of your home.
The workouts last 5 minutes in total. If you don’t think that is very much believe me you can get quite a workout in that short period of time. As mentioned individual exercises don’t last very long so a workout typically consists of more than 10 different exercises. I was surprised in discovering all the possibilities.
The app keeps track of vital statistics such as strength, strength increases, precision and other personal metrics. That way you can follow your progress over time. Activ5 also syncs with Apple Health and the Apple Watch which is a nice bonus.
If you get tired of one theme, you can swap it around for another one. Or choose a different game in the app. My favorite was the skiing version. It works on the same principle as the default version – you guide a little skiier along a slalom by appying force to the fitness device.
There are also options to download standalone games – these can be installed as separate apps. The one below called Active Fly lets you pilot a plane.
Working out at home might not be too difficult, but keeping yourself interested and motivated is. Activ5 transforms the way you exercise and allows anyone to keep fit. The device is sleek and light so is portable enough to take wherever you go.
The isometric exercises are very safe to perform. They allow you to build strength gradually as everything is personalized to your current fitness level. You can target pretty much any muscle or choose on overall body workout.
ActivBody have clearly put lots of effort into designing a wide range of exercises and it shows. What I particularly enjoyed is the gaming aspect. It works well and actually makes working out fun. This is what motivated me to keep coming back to sweat it out.
The ability to do quick 5 minute qood quality workouts at home or on the go is a game changer. Because exercises last a short time, there’s no excuse not to do them! You probably won’t develop a body-builder physique by using Activ5, but the device will help you become stronger and healthier.
You’re probably saving lots of money right now by not paying for a gym membership. But are you still working out? Activ5 will set you back as much as a gym membership would for a month or two. But there are no further costs. The one time purchase will allow you to use the fitness device to get in shape, increase strength and endurance at your own pace and time. Overall a great concept that is easy to use.
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