To say that I’ve been a purist when it comes to my fitness pursuits is kind of an understatement. Yes, there was a time when you would find me in the gym claiming I couldn’t train chest without my wrist wraps (when in reality they were making my wrists weaker) or my wrist straps to pull heavy weight (resulting in my diminished grip strength). But for the most part even through my days of bodybuilding it was me and my trusty weight belt and my mirror… wait, what?
That’s right, I’m not ashamed to admit that the tracking device I used for my progress 20 years ago was a simple mirror. And provided you don’t live in a carnival fun house, to this day you will find no better tracking mechanism than that. However, if you want do drop a few bills, Skulpt has created what I believe will be a game changing device for fitness tracking called the Aim.
I initially saw this gadget around a year ago when it was in one of those sketchy go-kickstart-me-in-the-crowd-funding stages which, at least among my friends, don’t have the best track record of being successful. As a matter of fact I’m not even sure they had a web site at that time, thus adding to their sketchiness quotient (or SQ +1). However the device was intriguing enough for me to keep a close eye on it.
Here are the things that got me:
- Electrical Impedance Device (higher quality for body fat measuring)
- Handheld, portable, and a long battery life (important for travel)
- Easy to use (meaning I would actually use it)
- Repeatable (this is probably the most important of all factors in my mind since consistency in how you measure is key)
- Developed by scientists studying muscular disorders (this will become important momentarily)
- Looked good both in operation and in the charger (surprisingly important to me these days)
- Integrated with my phone directly (no web site required)
Fast forward 12-ish months and I’ve finally got one in hand! Oh, did I skip the part about ordering one 3 months ago (SQ +1), forgetting I did and then having it show up because it took so long to get here? Yeah, well… I did. So I guess I missed that part of the ordering process.
After unboxing (very simple instructions), waiting 2 hours for the minimum charge, installing the app on my phone, syncing with my phone/updating the device, doing an initial test of 4 sites on my dominant side (about 5 mins), then charging again for a couple of more hours I finally got to do a complete test of all 24 touch points on my body.
Initial reading with Skulpt Aim
- Upper Back
- Lower Back
Wow! That’s a lot of points and measuring by any other means would take forever and probably require at least one more person. To be fair, there were a some failed measurements requiring me to do some of the more awkward positions over again. But the device does give nice color-coded feedback to let you know the status.
You get individual numbers for each muscle after the reading and it’s very intuitive if you have to go back and do one over. But the real power of this gadget is in the app. Have a look at the results from the Your Body interface.
So you will notice two things here as you work your way from left to right, front to back.
My measuring got better with practice. Check out the difference between my left and right chest and shoulder!
Water makes a big difference. Not just hydration which is key in bioimpedence, (electric current flows better through hydrated tissue*) but also on the sensors. They actually provide you with a spray bottle and prompt you to wet the sensors between each measurement. Which obviously I ignored at first.
They also provide you with another even more interesting measurement
called MQ or Muscle Quality.
This could potentially make this app a boon for your #fitfam! Not because the higher the MQ score the more “skulpted” you are (100 is average), but because if this is a true visualization of muscular imbalances (like the one in my glutes, hamstrings, and calves*) imagine the potential there for those suffering from pain. I have no idea if this is accurate or not based on one measurement, but I suspect there is something to it based on the areas that are troublesome for me.
So here’s the thing, we have an affordable new device that allows you to take measurements of your body fat and your muscle quality weekly, or daily, or even hourly if you’d like. You no longer need to take a visit to a clinic and stand on a scale and hold handles for a 5 point body comp measure. No more trying to find the trainer that did your caliper test on your first day at the gym to test you again. There are a LOT of conveniences here. Hell it can even be done in the shower thus saving you from dropping trou in your office to get that left glute measurement you’ve been wanting. Not that I know of anyone who would do that…
I see a lot of potential uses for a device like this. Personal Trainers should love it because it has the addition of multiple users and a “Guest” mode for checking clients 4 major points (the same as the initial test I did). Saves a lot of time and instantly gives a visual gauge of progress. I could also potentially see a use for chiropractors and massage therapists using the MQ to quickly find trouble spots based on client complaints. And of course it is absolutely wonderful for tracking periodic changes in your own body. I see how doing this once per week as a part of your routine would definitely be good for keeping things in check and ensuring progress.
I do think the potential exists for some people to get stressed out or overly concerned with the numbers though. Remember, just because this is a tech gadget, there’s still a human component to it. For all intents and purposes this is a computer and things can get screwy. Things like sensors not being wet, not being hydrated, flexing your leg one week and not the next, can all cause your numbers to fluctuate. I suppose there are worse things to be neurotic about!
Overall I expect this device to treat you well and if you end up trying one I’d love to hear your experience with it in the comments below.
Update 11/7 :
So I’ve been using the Skulpt now for just over 2 weeks and I wanted to let you know how it’s doing. First, there are a couple of pointers. I know the box said it had a long battery life, but I used it daily for a week and then every other day for the second week before it needed a charge. While this is longer than my iPhone’s battery life by a long shot, I was hoping for something a little longer.
Second, and most important, the most convenient place to use it by far is in the shower. You can have the sensors moistened and get through all the measurements in just a couple of minutes once you get the hang of it and establish a pattern. Having to spray the sensors between each measurement is for the birds unless you’re a PT using this thing in your practice.
It also provides some nice graphs so you can track your progress in the two measurements and provides nice tracking of them across 1, 3, and 6 months, as well as all time. These are where I think this will come in handy for most people tracking trends and maintaining results. It’s small size allows for easy packing for travel as well and yes, I did pack it for my trip. I want to see how much my BF% goes up after the videos I’m shooting!