Fitness tech companies such as Garmin, Peloton, and Fitbit have an interesting relationship with stretching. Fitbit Premium and the Peloton app offer guided stretching classes. Demonstrating moves on the screen for you to replicate at home. While the promo photos for the new Fitbit line of trackers. (the Fitbit Inspire 3, Fitbit Sense 2, and Fitbit Versa 4). Show happy people doing yoga while wearing their device of choice. Consequently, almost all fitness trackers likely have a ‘yoga’ activity profile, even if they don’t have a dedicated stretching one.
So what is this activity profile recording? Your heart rate, breathing, skin temperature, and stress levels. While you do the activity – in other words, the same stuff it always records. A wrist-mounted device cannot record how limber your muscles are getting. How deep into a stretch you can go, or where your pain threshold is for a particular stretch. The only real advantage is that your device will dutifully note down your calendar. Yes, you did do your stretching today.
By way of contrast, when you’re running, cycling and even HIIT training, your tracker or watch can provide metrics that are useful. You might set yourself a time to beat, a distance to travel, or a certain amount of calories to burn, and the watch can measure your progress as you travel towards this goal. The excellent ones will have virtual pacing software to keep you on target or record your route to help you find your way.
There’s none of this interaction for stretching: the markers for progress are the lengthening of your muscles. The speed of your recovery, or the feeling of relief you get after shaking out the knots. None of which can be measured by a worn computer. Even guided classes, whether you find them on YouTube or on a dedicated subscription fitness service, offer no meaningful interaction: all you can do is watch the instructor on-screen, and try to copy their movements as closely as you can.
Initially, when I first saw the Peloton Guide, Peloton’s smart camera for at-home workouts, I thought its AI motion-tracking software might translate well to yoga or stretching classes. At the moment, the AI camera detects your movement and matches it to the instructor, as you fill up a gauge with every rep you do. Once you fill-up the gauge, you can move on to the next exercise. Like every Peloton class, it’s full of ways to measure your progress and beat both classmates and your own performance.