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Check fitness training gadget hands-on review

FAM Sports gadget is the first portable device to embrace electromyography
Thu Nov 21 2013, 11:41

A FITNESS TRAINING GADGET called Check has been unveiled by Finnish firm FAM Sports.

FAM Sports claims that its Check gadget is the first portable device to use electromyography technology, a technique for recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles.

We got to test the device ahead of its launch to find out how it works, and more importantly, how physically fit we were.

FAM Sports Check fitness gadget assessment

Based on the phenomena of peripheral muscle reflex caused by electric stimulation, Check uses a sensor system that hooks up to a disposable electrode that is placed on your forearm. The electrode sticks to the wrist and is attached to the main device, which also houses a sensor that sits on the tip of your thumb.

Check communicates over Bluetooth LE to an iOS or Android device - in this instance an iPad Mini - and when you hit the "new assessment" icon in the app it will send a low-voltage current through your body in order stimulate the nerve-muscle connection.

FAM Sports Check fitness gadget hands-on

We were told to relax as much as possible so the current could pass through our body and bring back the most accurate result. We were rather surprised by how strong the current was, as you do feel it race through your muscles when Check begins the assessment. It lasts for around four seconds, and sends your thumb into a strange spasm that you have no control over. Leaving you with a tingling sensation. We didn't find it uncomfortable.

Using electromyography, Check detects the electrical potential generated by muscle cells when these cells are neurologically activated electrically. Sending data on the intensity of a user's response and any delay in their reaction to the current, the signals are then analysed by Check via the app to see if the user is ready for a day's training.

FAM Sports Check fitness gadget question

After the assessment is over, the app will ask you a bunch of questions to compare your mental awareness of your physical fitness that day with the readings from your muscles. Questions include "how exhausted do you feel?" and "how much have you exercised during the last 24 hours?", giving you options to answer between one and five. One being "not at all" and five being "very much".

The app will then work out your "Training Readiness" out of 100 using your muscle readings and the answers that you input via the app, the latter being much less influential in affecting the overall reading. Check gave me a score of 61, advising me to "keep going" as its finding's suggested that I had recovered from any previous training, if any, the day before.

FAM Sports Check fitness gadget KEEP GOING

A lower score of 46, for example means the app will caution you that you're "approaching overload" and to "watch out".

From start to finish, a full assessment along with the questions lasts for around 30 seconds. The results are then added to a table alongside all other tests you have undergone via Check so you can keep a log of how your body is reacting to daily training, for example.

FAM Sports Check fitness gadget warning

FAM Sports advises users to assess themselves in the morning after they wake up or at least before the first training session of the day. Check shouldn't be used by people suffering from heart problems, cancer or epilepsy. Nor should the electrodes of the device be positioned on top of an infected area, injury or metal bone support, FAM said.

Check is aimed at fitness fanatics and professional athletes and is available from FAM Sports' online store for £225 along with various bundles of disposable and non-disposable electrodes, which are sold separately. µ


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