Geeking Out with Dad

By Kevin Callahan – June 1, 2013

Searching for the perfect Father’s Day gift for the active “dad on the go?” Look no further. No matter what fitness level your man of the house has, there is a device that will perfectly fit his activities. Kevin Callahan, co-founder of MapMyFitness and consummate techie, has outlined a few shining stars in the gadget galaxy that will help keep Dad moving and fit through the summer (and beyond).

The No-Hassle Dad

There has been a recent boom in health and fitness trackers, most of them extremely easy to use (even for those who struggle with technology). Created more than 200 years ago by Thomas Jefferson, the pedometer still exists as the most basic and functional way to track your steps (though much has changed from the early versions involving weighted tool belts). Pedometers measure steps by hip movement or GPS; they range in price from $20 to $60 and are perfect for those who sit in an office for most of the day. Clip on a pedometer and set a daily goal, usually around 10,000 steps. Devices such as the Fitbit Zip (retail $59.99) track your steps, distance, and calories burned—the perfect daily reminder to take the stairs, walk that extra block, or take a break in the afternoon.

As the “connected health” movement grows, one easy-to-use, no-fuss metric to calculate is your heart rate. Heart rate can be measured (and viewed) through heart rate monitors, such as the Wahoo Blue Heart Rate Strap, which is worn across the chest and is perfect for morning runs or bike rides across town. Simply wet the sensors, pair the device with your phone, and get moving. All of your data is wirelessly synced via Bluetooth technology to an online platform such as

The Numbers Junkie 

For dads who want to take their workouts to the next level, a GPS watch is usually the best bet. Although there are apps that can measure most of the same metrics, a watch is more comfortable and has a longer battery life than other devices. Timex and Garmin are two options that allow another detail level of workouts. Both the Timex Marathon GPS (retail: $125.00) and the Garmin Forerunner 110 (retail $179.00) measure GPS pace, distance, and speed, and, when charged, have an average battery life of eight hours. These watches require virtually no setup, so you can just press start and get moving.

New to the connected watch market are the Mio Alpha and Basis devices. Before the Mio Alpha (retail $199.00), measuring your heart rate relied on chest straps. Although both methods are equally effective, this gadget opens up choices for how you like to wear your devices. Geek dads will love the fact that the Mio Alpha uses two light beams and an electro-optical cell to "sense" the volume of blood under your skin. Sophisticated algorithms are applied to the pulse signal so that the heart's true rhythm can be detected even while running at your fastest speed. Basis (also $199.00) similarly measures heart rate data but also captures motion, perspiration, and skin temperature throughout the day (and while you sleep).

The Avid Athlete 

If your dad the fittest of the fit? One of our favorite gadgets for the most tech-savvy athletes is the CycleOps Joule (retail $449). This cycling computer is perfect for anyone wanting the nitty gritty details of his or her workouts and provides metrics such as power and cadence. After setting up this device, you can see the finest level of detail for every workout including altitude, time of day, peak power, and training zone information—everything a cyclist needs.

Another option for the cyclist dad is to schedule a custom bike fitting. Having the proper position during a ride is critical for anyone on a bike. A bike fitting will help maximize efficiency, power, aerodynamics, and comfort, as well as minimize the potential for injury and discomfort. Not every cyclist is the same, and so every bike fitting is different. Custom fittings available at Mellow Johnny’s use the Retül fitting system and will be sure to get Dad (correctly) back in the saddle (retail $80 to $250). Is Dad not a cyclist? Treat him to a full-body fitness assessment, such as those offered by The Fitness Institute of Texas (FIT) at the University of Texas at Austin. There are single or comprehensive fitness tests available to the public that will provide an excellent baseline for anyone looking to cut calories, drop a few pounds, or get fit for the summer (FIT Platinum, retail $40+).


Win this Gadget For Dad 

Austin Fit Magazine is giving it away. Visit the AFM Facebook page on June 11 to enter to win a Tinké wellness and stress monitor. This tiny device works with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch to track and measure heart and respiratory rate, blood oxygen levels, and even stress levels. It’s a cool fitness tool for the health-conscious gadget lover.

The Tinké

– Uses optical sensing technologies to capture blood volume;
– Creates a personalized cardiorespiratory score;
– Determines stress levels by using heart rate variability as a basis to analyze individual heart rate rhythm;
– Works with the iPhone 5, is directly powered by iOS devices, and is available as a free download at the iTunes App Store;
– Enables sharing your health status on Facebook and with family and friends in the Tinké network (compare scores globally, too).
– Demonstrational Video:


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