This Cutting-Edge London Fitness Studio Uses Wearable Tech In Every Class

Sure, you feel sweaty during (and after!) your workouts. But do you really know how effective they are?
At David Kingsbury’s stylish, new fitness studio, OPUS, you’ll be able to find out. A former professional rugby player and pilates teacher, Kingsbury’s training programs use cutting-edge wearable tech to give clients faster results—results that wouldn’t be possible without technology, he says.
Ahead, Kingsbury shares with Amodrn why wearable tech is the future of fitness and the techniques he uses to keep his clients on track with achieving their training goals.

Congratulations on the recent opening of your gym, OPUS. What makes this studio unique?

OPUS, fitness studio, London, wearable tech
Image: OPUS

We have created an environment with our clients in mind. After selecting a studio which is flooded with natural light, we then designed and created a space which makes anybody who walks through the door feel welcome. What makes our studio truly unique, however, is our training team. Not only are we all degree-level educated (some to Master’s level), we have a unique collaborative training approach, which enables our skills and experience to be shared between us. As a result, we are finding that, as clients’ goals shift, or as injuries arise, we are all capable of working with that individual to optimise their experience of training with us.

What are some of the main principles of your exercise philosophy?

We do not follow fads. Instead, we are constantly keeping ourselves updated with the latest research from science, and from the industry. We love data. We use advanced measurement protocols to keep a watchful eye over our clients’ weight, body fat percentage, joint range of motion, lung function, blood pressure and many other health markers (when necessary). We wholeheartedly believe that strength is built from the inside-out. With a firm emphasis on the development of core strength, we seek to identify which aspects of core strength and postural control our clients must improve. From this point, we aim to develop the strength and endurance of the smaller muscles which will lay the ‘foundations’ of future strength potential.

How does wearable technology fit into the training programs at OPUS?

OPUS, wearable tech, fitness studio, London
Image: OPUS

Understanding energy systems and training intensity is a fundamental element of being an OPUS trainer. To allow us to utilise this knowledge, we use MYZONE in our studio. MYZONE is an effort monitoring system which enables us to accurately track our clients’ performance live on a TV screen inside the gym. As the client trains, the display will change to reflect their effort level, calories burnt and beats per minute. A fantastic element of the MYZONE system is our ability, as trainers, to view the intensity and duration of the completed training sessions outside of the gym.

The client simply has to wear the heart rate belt whilst training and upload the results through their smartphone app – which we can see from anywhere in the world.

What are some of the most important metrics to track throughout a workout session and why?

For us, one of the most important metrics to follow throughout a workout are heart rate (HR), and at what percentage of the maximum heart rate (MHR) the client is working at. Being able to see how hard a client is working by getting on-the-spot, definitive HR feedback is a very handy tool for both trainer and client. This is great for your everyday client, but it also enables us to closely monitor the clients who come to us through physiotherapy/hospital/doctor’s referral where HR is an integral component of their recovery. The speed at which a client’s working HR drops to their resting HR is also a great indicator of their current fitness levels as the fitter you are, the quicker you will recover.

Do you find that clients who track their workouts see results faster? What are some of the variables that can affect progress?

Image: OPUS

I think the clients can see objective results and improvements faster, but from experience, I also see that the overall engagement with their body is higher. By tracking how many calories they’ve burnt in a training session, or how quickly their HR drops to a set percentage, we can see if they are on the right track to achieve their fitness goals. ‘Feeling better’ is a subjective feeling that we often hear when people leave our studio, but sometimes an objective measure is needed to help with motivation.
There are many variables which can affect progress, but we often see two main culprits;

  1. Physical – being tired, not having enough energy, soreness from a previous workout
  2. Psychological – decreased motivation, work/social distractions, stress

From personal experience, it is always easier to get someone who is physically tired to train hard rather than someone who is mentally exhausted.

Are there any downsides to tracking your workout performance?

There’s no denying that there can be downsides to tracking your performance. But, only if you disregard everything else and purely focus on the numbers. When starting out with MYZONE, for example, I often see clients feeling ‘rewarded’ by seeing their heart rate at 90% or above (the screen turns red).

They often get the impression that the harder they work, the better, but this isn’t always the case as we often want to be working within different heart rate ranges to elicit different benefits.

Further, heart rate training is not always the best metric to use when completing strength training sessions. For example, when performing a lower body exercise such as a squat or deadlift, HR will increase significantly – which can be motivating. When performing an upper body exercise of lesser intensity, however, the muscles may burn and the effort required to complete the desired number of repetitions is high, the results on the screen do not correlate – this can be demotivating.

One other issue we see is clients trying to ‘beat’ the number of calories that they burnt the previous session without taking into account the intensity of each workout. This is where the principles surrounding High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) come into play. A HIIT session may not burn as many calories within the session time (we often complete 15-20 minutes of high intensity exercise and combine this with resistance/core/Pilates-based training) when compared to a more traditional 45 minute run, but due to the well-researched EPOC effect (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption), we know that the same number if not more calories will be burnt over a 24/48 hour period post workout. Most people will only keep their wearable technology on during the training session and therefore miss out on the information shown after training.

What are innovations in the wearable tech space are you most excited about?

Wearable tech is an ever growing industry. We are seeing activity trackers being developed by businesses such as FitBit, Garmin, Microsoft, Apple (and more) all the time. I am most looking forward to seeing how far technology can go with regards to tracking muscle activity. It would be amazing to find a product which provides EMG-like feedback. This would help us, as trainers, to assess muscle firing patterns and muscle symmetry.

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