Cords suck at the gym. They get tangled in your equipment, wrapped around your arms, and generally get in the way. So I was happy to test out a new set of (mostly) wireless headphones this week from Jabra. The Jabra Sport Coach headphones fit snugly in your ear, and lock in place with customizable rubber eargels that tuck into the grooves of your ear, to keep them from slipping and keep sweat and noise out. While the Sport Coach is billed as “wireless” and “Bluetooth” headphones, it’s worth noting that there is still a wire that connects the two earbuds together. You wrap the wire behind your head, and it stays out of your sight while you’re wearing them. The “wireless” part refers to the fact you don’t need to plug them in to your device. They’re also rechargeable, using a hidden port underneath one of the rubber eargels, and the battery level is monitored on your phone or tablet.
Headphones that are more like a fitness band
The earphones have what Jabra calls its “integrated TrackFit™ motion sensor”, which makes these headphones work a lot more like a fitness band, than a set of headphones. You can track distance, pace, steps, cadence and calories burned, all with the earphones as the sensor, displaying the stats on your smartphone.
The “Jabra Sport Life” app lets you track and analyze your cross training workouts and gives you what Jabra’s dubbed “in-ear coaching” while you work out.
What kind of Coaching?
I’m so glad you asked! Two kinds! For starters, the Jabras will give you progress updates and occasional information alerts from a nicely accented female voice in your ear, telling you, “50% of distance goal completed!” or similar. It can basically give you pace, time and distance split times if you’re a runner, and you can adjust what info comes into your ear, and how often.
But, and here’s where things get interesting, the Sport Coach can also talk you through a cross training workout circuit. This genius feature allows you to select from a handful of circuits (CardiCore, BellyBurn, TakeOff, etc.), adjust the time or reps you want, and then once you hit ‘start’ the soothing voice talks you through a series of adjustable and customizable exercises (jumping jacks, push ups, burpees, sit ups etc.) and counts you down through each one. While the exercises are simple, and sure, you could do them yourself, I actually found having someone in my ear telling me what to do, and what was coming up next kept me going. Another neat feature of the cross training coaching is that you don’t even need the app on your phone. The voice coach tells you what you need, and you can move to the next exercise when you finish one, by hitting the button on the left earbud, meaning you’re hands free. But if you really want more help, the exercises are explained with pictures on the app.
Pairing & Bluetooth
The Jabra Sport Coach headphones were really easy to set up and pair. I had them ready to go in minutes. It’s a simple matter of putting the headphones into pairing mode, and linking your phone, or tablet (or both! The Jabras will pair to more than one device at a time!) then using them to play music, TV, Netflix… whatever you want! A small button integrated into the cord give you control over the music tracks and volume.
Likes and Dislikes
Wireless/Like– I really loved going wireless at the gym. I run, and you don’t realize how much you fuss with cords until you don’t have one hanging down your front.
Fit/Like– The fit is great with the Sport Coach. They seal out more than enough noise for me. I was unable to hear the distracting gym techno while I was wearing these and playing my own tunes.
App/Like– The app was very easy to use and navigate. Its simple design and soft colour scheme were easy on the eyes, and non-distracting even while hoofing it at a brisk pace. I also found the voice coach rather soothing. (Note to Jabra: I also happen to think a Marine Boot camp coach voice would be fun too!)
Sound/Like- The sound quality in these headphones is great. Music and TV sounded crisp and clean, and wasn’t crackly at all, despite being wireless.
Coaching/Like– I found myself doing an extra round of exercises, thanks to the voice coaching. It helped motivate me and keep me on track.
I guess I don’t really have any dislikes or complaints. The Jabra Sport Coach worked great, sounded awesome, and were a perfect configuration for wearing to the gym.
Jabra Sport Coach headphones come with a zip-around softshell case, and replacement eargels, and are available at Best Buy in Canada for about $179. For more info you can also hit up Jabra’s website.