If you've ever toned or built muscle exercising, you know how your bathroom scale can play games with your head. In many cases, gaining a couple pounds can be a good thing that makes us feel and look better, so long as they're the right pounds. But seeing the scale tick upwards is terrifying to anyone who's had trouble managing their weight in the past like myself. How, then, can you tell if you're making real progress on your body fitness goals, even if it's just incremental?
Enter the Skulpt Aim, a new high-tech muscle quality and body-fat monitoring tool being shown off this week for the first time at CES 2014. Unlike your bathroom scale which may have a body-fat measuring setting already, the hand-held Aim is a small device with electrodes you apply directly to the individual muscle groups of your body. This way, you not only get a more complete picture of your body fat, but you understand what muscles groups you're making progress with at the gym.
I visited with the Skulpt people to go hands-on with the device and to ask a few questions about what "muscle quality" is, exactly. In the Skulpt world, it's a number not unlike your IQ – 100 is average – that describes how powerful your muscle is compared to its size. By tracking it via your body's electrical resistance, you'll be able to have a quantifiable measure of your progress in the gym via the Skulpt app. The app will even recommend specific exercises that will better your unique body's condition.
But is it accurate? I had my body fat percentage professionally measured a few months ago by certified personal trainer. My body fat percentage results from the device were darn close to what I expected. My bicep muscle quality reading, however, came out in the low 50s. The folks at Skulpt booth re-ran the test, this time scoring me in the mid 70s. That aspect of the Aim, I was told, is still being calibrated and may be distorted by certain unusual body types. You'll also need moist skin, so readings are best when you're still fresh from that gym shower.
The bottom line: The Skulpt Aim isn't quite ready for prime time at CES, but hopefully the kinks will be worked out by its May release. We'll keep an eye on this promising piece of fitness tech.
The Skuplt Aim is available for pre-order via a fully-funded IndieGogo campaign for $139; it will be available in May 2014 at a MSRP of $199. The free Skulpt app will be initially available on both web and Apple iOS, with an Android version to come in summer 2014. For more on the device, check out the video below or visit www.sculpt.me.