Tech of the Week: The Tao of fitness can be done without moving your butt from the chair

Just a couple months into the New Year and most of us have already given up on our resolutions to get just a tiny bit healthier. But one of the weird and wacky gadgets that have come out of Vegas CES is a brand new chair designed for exercise – all while sitting down. It seems now you can gorge away on all that junk food in the comfort of your chair, well, er, ‘working out’.

For those of us who’re heavily invested in sitting down, whether because we’re workaholics or just due to sheer laziness, we’d all like to invest in a good chair. Spending hours at a desk in front of a terminal often means stiff necks and cranky limbs that protest our inactivity. Which is exactly what the Tao Chair has been built to combat: the lazy arse that sits on top, by way of isometric exercises.

The Tao Chair, touted to be the “invisible gym in your living room”, was recently introduced by Nevada-based start-up Tao Wellness at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in January.

The start-up had launched in April 2014 via a KickStarter campaign for a pocket-size digital device, called Tao Wellness, which teaches users basic bodyweight exercises routines.

Forcing your muscles to tense up for set periods of time, chair “sitters” can complete curls, presses and leg lifts through different placements and holds, allowing users to work out a variety of areas.

Smart chair

Fitness sensors run through the design, feeding information to a smartphone app that can be used for monitoring and coaching. An on-board battery powered display show the calories burnt while you work out, as well as total calories burnt from the day the chair is first set up.

The prototype that was demo-ed at the trade show was essentially a hacked IKEA chair and featured an aluminium design, which means both are bound to change come production time.

Testing out the Tao chair at the Consumer Electronics Show 2015. Picture from company's Facebook

Not a replacement for exercise

The focus is on the arms of the chair, which are bent and pinched in various ways to provide the holds and supports required to work out. Even better is the fact that due to the designs of the chair, it wouldn’t be out of place either at work or at home, looking like a very modern piece of artistic furniture.

TAO’s creative chief officer, Viktor Kalvachev, has pointed out that the chair is not supposed to be a replacement for a proper workout in a gym, but much rather a back-up plan for those days where you can’t spare the time or energy. Instead of having to specifically dedicate gym time, users can simply conduct short sessions 5 or 10 minutes long throughout their day whether they’re working at their office or just sitting around at home.

“You could be watching a movie and burn calories instead of just passively sitting, which is really unhealthy,” Kalvachev says.

50 exercises

Currently there are 50 exercises that have been developed for the chair, and games can be played using the supplied app.

Reviewers who had tried the prototype say while the exercises are tough and do provide a certain level of challenge, they’re not hard enough to distract you from watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

Hoping to finalise the Tao Chair this year, Kalvachev says his team is striving to keep the price below US$1,000 (NZ$1,345). Information on the chair can be found here, and hopefully when it comes out, it’ll mean more reason to binge watch my favourite T.V. series