These $150 Bluetooth headphones have an AI personal trainer built into them — here’s how they help me with my fitness plan and keep me motivated during workouts

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Vi Sense Wireless Headphones are like a personal trainer in your pocket.

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Vi Sense Wireless Headphones are like a personal trainer in your pocket.
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Vi

Workout buddies are great. They motivate you and keep you accountable, pushing you to finish that last mile or tough it out for the last few seconds of a strenuous wall sit.

Most days, I just want a workout buddy who will encourage me, push me to work harder, and simultaneously be okay with the fact that I probably don’t really want to talk much while I’m exercising. Given those criteria, my ideal workout buddy sounds more like a personal trainer. But, considering that a single session with a personal trainer can run me about $100 an hour, that scenario sounds a little less ideal.

My solution? Vi.

She’s a voice-activated, AI-powered personal trainer that lives in the Vi Sense Wireless Headphones, and she’s been helping me improve my fitness routine.

The tech specs

The Vi Sense Wireless Headphones have an ergonomic design, with a thick and flexible neckband that stays in place while you move. The headphones also come with a range of ear gel and in-ear fin sizes to ensure your earbuds fit comfortably and are stable even during vigorous activity. There’s also a USB cable for charging and a nice mesh carry case for taking Vi on the go.

Embedded in the headphone are sensors, which help Vi hear your voice and gauge your heart rate, elevation, and motion activity – all things she uses to improve your workout experience.

A single charge should get you eight hours of use in training mode. When you’re not training, you can still use the headphones to listen to music and make hands-free calls. The sound quality while listening to music is solid, which is to be expected considering the earbuds themselves are powered by Harman/Kardon sound. Further, these headphones are made for whatever your workout may bring, so don’t worry about getting them sweaty.

It’s also worth noting that Vi was created by LifeBeam, a company whose AI wearables have been used by NASA and the US Air Force.

A snapshot of the Vi Sense Wireless Headphones and connected app.

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A snapshot of the Vi Sense Wireless Headphones and connected app.
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Amazon

Getting started with Vi

The set-up process is quick and intuitive.

Turn on the Vi Sense headphones – they should be pre-charged straight out of the box. You could use these as normal Bluetooth headphones at this point, but what makes these worth the cost is the integration of Vi, so download the connected app. Once the Vi app is downloaded and headphones are powered on, go into the Bluetooth settings on your phone to pair them up.

To start off, Vi needs to know your name. Choose to have her address you by your real name or choose from the selection of nicknames – I went with “boss” because … why not. Vi will then ask you to divulge some personal information (age, weight, height, gender, etc.) as well as your current fitness level and fitness goals. Your fitness IQ – beginner, intermediate, or advanced – will help inform Vi about your first round of workouts. So will your fitness goal, which you can choose from the following selection: weight loss, improve fitness, maintain fitness, reduce stress, go faster, or improve running.

I chose improve fitness – it seemed the most mild out of all of the choices. Good news is, if you have a change of heart you can change your personal information or fitness goals at any time in the app. And, after all of your information is entered, Vi will take your heart rate using the sensors in the headphones.

While this might seem like a long process, it was actually very quick and easy.

Running with Vi

I woke up ready for a morning run with Vi. Based on my answers from the night before, there was a training plan ready and waiting for me. First up was “follow your heart,” a level two interval run that includes an 18 minute run, 4 minute cooldown, and about 2.3 miles’ distance.

If you don’t love the workout options in your training plan, you can create your own workout (by choosing a desired distance or time) or select a different option from the workout library which includes workouts for running outdoors or on the treadmill, cycling, and walking. My workout looked good to me, so I hit the start button and waited for Vi to tell me what to do.

Vi Sense Headphones are made for even your sweatiest runs.

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Vi Sense Headphones are made for even your sweatiest runs.
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Vi

She told me to get moving, so I did. As we ran together, Vi told me when to slow down or speed up – and gave me advanced notice before sprints so I could mentally prepare. She offered me plenty of words of encouragement, reminding me to push my hardest when I only had a few minutes left. Personally, I liked the heavy feedback – I found it to be a welcome distraction from my otherwise steady stream of music – but if you want less, you can control Vi’s chattiness in settings.

And, when Vi speaks, she doesn’t completely stop the music – one of my major qualms with most guided workout apps. In fact, Vi is compatible with Spotify, so you can listen to your own playlists while Vi guides you through your runs. Or, you can choose to turn music on within the app for a custom mixtape of run-ready tracks. You can even ask Vi questions while you run; just tap the right earbud.

Twenty-five minutes with Vi flew by. I was surprised by how motivated I was by a guide that wasn’t physically running with me. But Vi’s witty commentary, lighthearted yet encouraging tone, and desire (however artificial) to help me improve make it feel like I had a real personal trainer along on my run.

Bottom line

Some may find $143 to be too much for a pair of headphones. Nit hen you consider that cost not only includes the high-quality tech, but also a year’s worth of personalized workouts, $143 actually seems like a steal. Unlike many other apps that provide workout routines, Vi doesn’t get stale. She gets to know you (and more importantly, your running style) so she can customize workouts that actually challenge you.

After the first 12 months, the app will run you $9.99 a month. But again, considering that a single session with a personal trainer could come close to $100, $120 for a whole year of custom workouts, and a voice to actually convince you to do them, doesn’t sound so bad.

Vi may not be for everyone, but if you want the motivation and accountability of a personal trainer without the premium price tag, these headphones are a pretty great choice. You have a 90 day guarantee, so if you don’t like running with Vi, you can send your pair back, no questions asked. As for me, I’m going to keep running with my new workout buddy. We already have a date for tomorrow.

Get the Vi Sense Headphones, $142.97, at Amazon