It’s one of the biggest arms races of the 21st century—literally. Once the preserve of hardcore fitness junkies, the activity tracker industry has exploded into the mainstream and is now set to surpass $5 billion by 2019, according to market research firm Parks Associates.So, naturally, when Men’s Health hit the floor at this year’s CES show in Las Vegas, wearable tech dominated the space (followed closely by connected home services like the Amazon’s Alexa, which will soon be integrated into everything from smartwatches to the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor).

At this stage, almost every fitness tracker will tell you things like steps taken and calories burned, and integrated heart-rate monitors are quickly becoming the norm. But a few brands have blazed ahead of the pack, offering users everything from Instagram notifications to a direct link to their physician.

What’s more, the wearable market has spread well beyond the confines of wrist-based technology. During our time at CES, we saw a waistband clip that corrects its wearer’s running form, pyjamas that allegedly speed muscle recovery, and even a set of $700 headphones that claims to prime your brain for faster adaptation to exercise.

To learn more about this burgeoning space, Men’s Health Fitness Advisor David Jack and Women’s Health Fitness Director Jen Ator joined forces and hit up 10 of the show’s most interesting brands to try their innovative new wearables firsthand.

halo sport
1/10 HALO NEUROSCIENCE
HALO SPORT

A big part of improving coordination and other skills is the process of forging robust neuromuscular connections through repetition.

Wear these headphones for 20 minutes before exercising, say the makers of the Halo Sport headphones, and your brain will be primed to more quickly adapt.

The soft spikes on the inside of the headband, called neuroprimers, feed electricity into the motor cortex—the part of your brain responsible for muscle memory—to induce a temporary state of neuroplasticity and speed the formation of those pathways.

We didn’t have an opportunity to test these out with an actual workout on the show floor, but it sure does sound like a breakthrough—if it works. Stay tuned for more on this one.

Fitbit Charge 2 and Flex 2
fitbit charge 2 and flex 2
2/10 FITBIT
FITBIT CHARGE 2 AND FLEX 2

Fitbit is fast approaching Kleenex status as a household name in the fitness tracker category.

The latest models to hit stores—the Charge 2 and Flex 2—are two of our favorite trackers on the market right now.

The Charge 2, with integrated heart-rate monitor, relaxing breath guidance, and intuitive controls, is a high-quality option for anyone looking to step up their activity tracker game.

The unassuming, waterproof Flex 2, meanwhile, is our best recommendation for any guy who prefers to wear a regular watch but still wants to stealthily track his metrics. You’ll find Men’s Health editors sporting this one while swimming laps in the pool—or nursing a beer on an inflatable flamingo.

 Withings Steel HR
Withings Steel HR
3/10 WITHINGS
WITHINGS STEEL HR

Withings entered the smartwatch space with their classically styled Activité model, much to the delight of everyone who’s ever wished their activity tracker looked less like, well, an activity tracker.

At CES, the French company—which has since joined the Nokia family—debuted its latest innovation: the Steel HR.

Updated with a continuous heart-rate monitor and a whopping 25-day battery life, the Steel HR’s sleek analog face lights up with digital notifications for calls, texts, and calendar events, accompanied by a gentle vibration.

The tasteful design, which features easily interchangeable straps to complement your outfit—not sabotage it—is, to us, what CES is all about: pioneering new ways to seamlessly integrate useful tech into our lives in ways that aren’t distracting.

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