The Skulpt Aim gives reasonably accurate results with some work but it's fiddly to use
Warranty: One year RTB, Details: www.skulpt.me, Part code: Skulpt Aim
When most people say they want to ‘lose weight’, what they in fact mean is they want to lose fat. When people say they want to ‘get toned’, they again mean they want to lose fat, but also gain some lean muscle. Losing ‘weight’ alone, shouldn’t really be the aim for anyone, specifically not just referring to the number on the scale when embarking on a weight loss programme. Similarly, anyone who’s ever said they wanted to ‘bulk up’ meant they wanted to gain lean muscle, but not gain too much excess fat in the process.
When going by the scales alone, it’s difficult to judge just how exactly you are losing weight, and whether this is through the loss of body fat or through the catabolism (breakdown) of lean muscle. The first is good, the latter is bad. That’s why many personal trainers would proffer that the mirror is a better judge as to whether or not you’re reaching your goals, at least in the initial stages. For those wanting a more accurate read on progress, body fat measurements have been the weapon of choice, and that’s a market Skulpt is targeting with the Aim.
Typically, the standard methods to measure body fat are through electronic scales, body fat calipers and underwater weighing – these are ranked in terms of accuracy from least to most accurate. They all have their disadvantages, however. Electronic scales can be woefully inaccurate, calipers are prone to user error and underwater weight measurement tends to be restricted to sports science facilities.
The Skulpt Aim uses Electrical Impedence Myography, a measurement initially used to track muscular degeneration. Its application for tracking body fat composition and lean muscle therefore at least has sound scientific background. It’s not drastically far removed from the body fat scales in its approach but essentially miniaturised to be able to take measurements from specific muscles, thereby improving its accuracy over a body fat scales’ full body measurement.
A quick primer on my fitness background, as that’s important on assessing the abilities of the Skulpt Aim; I’ve been a powerlifter for nearly five years, hitting milestones along the way including a 3x bodyweight deadlift and 2.5x bodyweight squat (I don’t talk about my bench press). I also have a pretty good general measure on my body composition and nutrition. I’m fortunate to have a disciplined ability to lose and gain weight (both fat and lean muscle, as outlined above) depending on what my goal is. Before using the Skulpt Aim, I’d have estimated my body fat percentage to have been at the sub-10% level based on the mirror test (visible abdominals, vascularity) as well as caliper tests.
The Aim is around the size of an original Apple iPod and its back is covered with metal conductive sensors. You control the Skulpt Aim using buttons on its side, which are actually quite a struggle to use. You can pair the Aim with a smartphone app as a remote control over Bluetooth, as well as for syncing your data, and this is preferable. There’s a low-resolution LCD screen on the front you can otherwise use, but getting through the menus can be fiddly using the buttons.
A light up bezel around the edge of the Aim changes colour depending on what it’s doing. When you’re taking a measurement it will glow green until it completes or change to red if it happens to fail, which does happen.
To take a measurement, you can choose to measure individual muscles, such as your right abdominals, or left quads, or perform a quick full body test that measures four locations and gives you your average body fat percentage reading at the end. First you’ll need to wet the sensors on the back of the Aim and a small spritzer bottle is provided. Alternatively, you can take a measurement straight out of the shower when your body is already wet and at its most conductive. The Aim is splashproof, so it should be fine, but don’t take it into the shower with you. If you opt to use the spritzer bottle, you’ll find you’ll have to re-spray the sensors practically after every measurement as it dries out and the Aim fails to take a reading. This means you potentially have to spray it four times when doing a quick test and you find yourself with dripping water everywhere.
The Aim actually gives you two readings, one for body fat percentage and another for something called ‘MQ’, which is ‘muscle quality’. This is a score of 0-200 with labels such as ‘Fit’, or if you’re in the top bracket ‘Skulpted’ to give you an idea of your muscle mass at that location. I know that compared to my legs, my biceps are lagging behind, and this was reflected in the MQ score. However, where it came to body fat percentage readings, taking multiple measurements in quick succession could often provide vastly different readings, fluctuating by as much as 2-3%.
This seemed to be affected by how wet the sensors were, with a wetter sensor generally providing an unsurprising lower score as conductivity improved. This means that the Skulpt Aim can be as prone to user error as calipers, which is a little frustrating. Regularly re-spraying the sensors helped to level out the readings but there was still the occasional discrepancy. Slight variation in placement on your body could also affect the results. For anyone who already has a general gauge on their body fat percentage, you can keep taking readings until it gets close to what you would expect but that defeats the purpose, especially for most people.
You can charge the Aim’s internal battery using an included cradle that connects to a USB port. You’ll get a few weeks of use from a single use, but the battery does drain even if you don’t use it. Recharging the device takes 8-10 hours when the battery is dead, which is annoyingly long. The Skulpt Aim app is quite basic, providing a graphed progress report so you can track your (hopeful) improvement over time. It also links through to videos on how to measure the different body locations. When you sync your readouts, these are sent to Skulpt’s servers and you get a monthly progress report e-mail, which is a nice touch.
Overall, the Skulpt Aim can prove a little fiddly and its use could be considered niche. It’s probably going to only appeal to the most hardcore of fitness enthusiasts and even then just strength trainers and bodybuilders. Once you get used to some of its nuances, its readouts are accurate and certainly reflected what I already knew about my own body but it does still require some background knowledge. It eventually becomes straightforward enough to use so you can quickly take a measurement on whatever regularity you deem necessary.
£150 also feels a little steep considering build quality could be improved. I can at least see the Aim appealing to personal trainers, who can use it to track the progress of multiple clients and give them tangible results, but for the individual it’s more difficult to recommend.
|Price including VAT||£150|
|Warranty||One year RTB|
|Part code||Skulpt Aim|