15 fitness gadgets you never knew you needed

There's an unmistakable feeling when you first experience a mind-blowing piece of technology. Life, as you know it, will never be the same again.

Perhaps it was the first time you stepped onto an elliptical machine at the gym, or the first time you logged the day's meals in your spanking new activity tracker, strapped proudly to your wrist.

Now a master of your digital domain, you stride proudly into the future to fulfil your role as a healthier, more energetic member of society, thanks to this new technological marvel at your side. Indeed, how could you even call it 'living' before this?

With the increasing integration of health and fitness habits into our lives, these gadgets are becoming less of a novelty and more of an everyday sight.

Despite the apparent saturation of the health tech market, yet more devices come knocking on the door each month, promising to solve a sporting or fitness dilemma you never knew you had.

Step back in time

The early history of technologically-enhanced sports is exactly what you might imagine: elaborate paper spreadsheets used to manually record various details, which were then fed into a computer to produce data that could be analysed in a variety of ways.

Of course, this was the 1970s and the only people who tracked personal data like this were elite athletes. Needless to say, there's been a huge amount of innovation in the field of sport, lifestyle and activity tracking in the decades since.

From the first consumer models in the early '90s – which were nothing more than bike machine computers to track distance, speed and so on – the market has now grown into a digital sprawl of heart rate monitors, location trackers, smart clothing and devices, and even virtual personal coaches.

If there's a way to improve a piece of sporting equipment or digitally augment any fitness activity, chances are humankind has bent science and technology to our collective will to bring that device into glorious existence.

Of course, you may not realise your life is lacking one of these smart devices until you strap it onto your wrist or don it as you would any regular item of clothing, but once you do, rest assured, there is no turning back from a technologically enhanced life.

From a personal airbag jacket to navigation goggles for open-water swimming, see the gallery above for 15 sport and fitness gadgets you never realised you needed but will now desperately want.

51698009