I've swam laps since high school, and it's consistently been my least favourite workout. The water's cold, my goggles fog right up, and my ancient swimsuit is not exactly what I want to squeeze into first thing in the morning. And on top of all that, swimming laps gets real boring, real fast. You go back and forth, back and forth, and then you're done, like running laps but minus the scenery and the playlist. I swim because it's low-impact and a great full-body cardio workout, but it's never been the workout I look forward to.
A few months ago, AfterShokz gave me the chance to try out its waterproof headphones, XTrainerz (£140). Like all AfterShokz products, the headphones use bone-conduction technology; the speakers sit outside your ear and transmit sound vibrations through your cheekbones, keeping your ear canals free. I'd already tried out and loved a pair of AfterShokz designed for runners, and I was intrigued and frankly thrilled by the idea of a waterproof pair that could use music to break up the monotony of endless lap swimming.
The first thing to know is that the XTrainerz, though wireless, are not Bluetooth-compatible. You actually load music directly onto the XTrainerz themselves, plugging the headphones into your computer's USB port and dragging audio files, such as iTunes music, to its folder. This is the product's one downside, because you can't connect it to Spotify or other streaming services, though it is nice that you don't have to have your phone poolside (where it might get wet). The shuffle feature on the device is a little glitchy as well: it will sometimes cycle back to the same song more often than it should. On the whole, though, this product is a fantastic tool for swimmers and one I'd definitely recommend.
XTrainerz are waterproof in depths up to two meters, and they hold a battery life of eight hours. (God help you if you're swimming any longer than that.) You can wear waterproof ear plugs with them or swim with your ears open. (There's a pair of earplugs included with the XTrainerz that I like to use.) Their audio storage capacity is four GB, or up to 1,200 songs, so they should be able to hold a solid playlist for your lap swim workout.
I'll admit, I was worried about the headphones staying in place with the drag of the water, but XTrainerz feel secure and comfortable every time I wear them. I put them on over my hair, then slip my swim cap on top for extra security, so the speakers sit comfortably right in front of my ears. Once I get in the pool, I forget I'm wearing them. They're also easy to use, with a few buttons on one side to control volume, skip songs, and change settings.
Then there's the sound quality, which is truly incredible. When I start a song and dip my head underwater, the audio comes through crystal clear. Even when I start swimming, the music plays crisply and steadily. Just a bit of ambient noise (bubbles and swim strokes cutting through the water) sneaks in around the sides.
I know the holiday season is breathing down our necks and you're casting around for gifts that are high-quality and actually useful. XTrainerz are definitely one of them, a no-brainer for anyone in your life who swims laps regularly. I've used these headphones for months now and they make my swim workouts fly by. With the music pumping and fueling my strokes, I don't want the laps to end!