Fitness Tech Phenomenon 2012 – Nike+ and the rest: My Experiences

Greetings all,

I hope this blogpost finds you well. For many of you following me on Facebook and Twitter, you’ve seen my various status updates and tweets about my health and fitness training, especially in the areas of running and weight workouts. You also know, being the techie that I am, the ability to use technology to track my performance metrics against goals, is of great interest to me, and frankly makes exercising that much more fun. You also probably know that I am a fan of the Nike+ fitness tracking system. Well, this post is not about waving the Nike+ banner, but more about my experiences and knowledge gained about the whole fitness tracking phenomenon and how I see it with respect to exercising/training the old fashioned way – basically paper and pen at best!

I’ll start by conveying my experience with the Nike+ system, my likes about it, and convey a little about the dislikes of others about it (in comparison to the competition). I discovered Nike+, not via one of the many YouTube videos or a TV commercial, but by reading an article in Wired Magazine entitled “Living By Numbers”. While the article featured the work of Apple and Nike in developing the Nike+ system, it was also comprised of other articles and examples of websites and apps regarding performance metrics tracking. You can read the article here.

I’ve pretty much worked out -prettttttttttty- regularly since late HS, through college, etc (though I won’t state how many times I fell off the horse and got back on – thank goodness for muscle memory). Finding out about idea of using tech to track my performance was immediately golden to me and obviously, as said above, appealed to my tech side. What I liked (and still do) about the sports and fitness giant we know as Nike, is their entire approach – marketing, advertising, etc to sports and fitness. The appeal to THIS consumer and fan is great. Another company that does the same for me is Apple (as I type away on this sleek black Macbook).

So, Nike has developed this whole system called Nike Plus, or more overall Nike Active. The whole premise (if you didn’t read the article above) is the combination of an iPod nano or iPhone, coupled with a sensor that goes in specialized Nike running shoes, and a sensor receiver that goes into your iPod (which is how it was originally designed). It was first geared towards tracking your run stats. Since then, the iPod nano 6G (v1.2 software update) and iPhone 4/4S with iOS 5.0 do away with the need for the iPod sensor receiver that comes with the Nike+ Sports Kit. Here’s a video (not the newest, but my favorite) about the basics of Nike+

Since 2006, various Nike+ products have come into existence – the sports band, the Nike+ GPS watch. Here’s a comparison chart

For me, the best product is the iPod nano. I’m not at a point where I want to track my routes, nor do I need the instantaneity of posting to the Nike+ site via GPS. I also own an iPhone 4 that I make reference to later in this post.

Nike has upped the bar and added yet another fitness tracking item: The Nike Fuel Band

A really interesting, yet pricey, fitness tracking device that is designed to motivate you to stay active. I like everything about it (sans the price), except it isn’t waterproof and if you like working out to music, you’re out of luck. It’s slated to hit the US market on Feb 22nd. Here’s a good article on it.

Nike+ is great to me, however there are some definite naysayers and disatisfied users of the system. If you are on FB and search on the keywords “Nike Plus”, you’ll find their page. 98% of the comments currently there (they revamped the page over the last two years) center around the following areas”

  • Inability to connect to the website
  • Run data not posting to the site via iTunes or GPS
  • Run data not crossposting to Facebook
  • It appears to me that a good deal of the problem points to the fact that it’s a Flash based site, when many, if not all of the other ones are not. Frankly I like the site, and in the almost two years of running and using it, I’ve never suffered the myriad of problems these people are griping about. Nike did admit, and posted a formal letter, to the issues the site was having. I think that was admirable of them. Not having experienced the issues others have, it’s hard for me to share a sympathetic ear, but I hope that the site issues become minimal.

    One of the major capabilities in fitness tracking tech is the use of GPS, especially in running. As widely known, you can track your routes and via GPS upload them to your favorite fitness track website via the accompanying smartphone app. Garmin, of course, is in the game and many fitness sites, along with Nike, like Map My Fitness, GainFitness, Dailyburn, Dailymile, and so on. As you can see from iPhone screenshot, I’ve downloaded a number of fitness tracking apps that, aside from Nike+, have tried yet. Since I workout with weights as well, I’m looking for one that will allow me to success track performance there as well. There are eight so far that need investigation. Assessing each will be a project in itself. Currently, in addition to the Nike+ sites, I am using the online site, Dailymile. It was recommended by a friend of mine who’s done a thorough assessment of the site and what I’ve seen so far, I like. It not only allows me to track my runs, but other types of fitness workouts as well. It crossposts to Twitter nicely, allows for the upload of pics and video, has the ability to import my run data from Nike+. From what I understand, it has great capability for analytics as well. Many of these sites allow for import of data from Nike+ and other sites as well.

    Many of the sites mirror the same capabilities so, as said above, the best thing to do is compare and maybe use multiple sites, if necessary, to meet the needs you have for tracking your metrics. This leads me to an obvious aspect of performance tracking – accuracy. Just how accurate is all of this? To quote a friend. “If it’s tracking faulty stats it’s futile”. True indeed. One can, depending on what they want to get out of tracking performance, get VERY hung up on how accurate one device is against another in an apples-to-apples comparison. Then there are those like a weightlifter, whose comment I saw in a forum that was attached to an article about this aspect. He basically said he didn’t care much about tight accuracy because he’s just a weightlifter, but wanted to have SOMETHING to gauge his run performance, something simple he could use as a tool to track improvements. The article by Daily Burn CEO Andy Smith is entitled “DailyBurn CEO: Fitness-Tracking Devices Aren’t Gimmicks, but They’re Close”. The article can be read here. Personally, I think one, especially someone who is highly data driven, can get too caught in the phenomena, losing sight to why they started the fitness journey to begin with.

    In summary, I look forward to continuing in the leverage of fitness tech to allow me the added enjoyment of keeping fit. I’m settled and happy with the physical tools (iPod nano and Nike Sports Kit) that I have…I can see a bluetooth transmitter for the nano and an accompanying lightweight set of bluetooth headphones, but other than that, I’m good. As for the apps and websites, research and trial awaits. I’m looking forward to that as well, but in the mean time…it’s all about breaking that 10 min mile and training for my first 5K this year. Hopefully I can find an interesting app to aid in my bodybuilding, or should I say weight workouts. Time will tell. In closing, for all the excitement there is in gaining and maintaining good fitness, I try to keep this thought first and foremost.

    Here are a number of popular online fitness tracking sites:

  • DailyBurn
  • DailyMile
  • Gain Fitness
  • Map My Fitness
  • Thanks for reading….


    Evening run + workout (11 Jan 11): Nike+

    Greetings all…

    Hope all is well with you. Yesterday morning I missed my run, so (by default) I decided to combine the run and workout in the gym. I’m glad to say that last night’s training was great. I ran my fastest mile this year, so far. It was cool to hear Tiger Woods say (again) “Congratulations, you’ve just ran your fastest mile yet!”. My approach this time (one I will adopt from now on), is to start the run out faster to gain time, then adjust the pace after (at least) 0.5 miles. Fortunately I didn’t suffer shin splints on the treadmill. I’m still investigating my running form so hopefully the longer I run (optimizing along the way) the less shin splints will visit me. Last night’s run stats are here.

    I’ve got less than a mile to reach my next level on Nike+. For now, it’s time to get serious about the 5K training, and updating my gym workout training – weight training has never been difficult, but having a detailed plan is better than none at all.

    ::: optimize :::


    Evening run + workout (09 Jan 10): Nike+

    Last night before working out with weights, I took another run, this time on the treadmill. In hindsight, it was a run I should have forfeited, as I did less than a mile (0.74 mi), BUT, just wanted to see what doing two runs a day (this was a first).

    The graphic above shows my current goal of complete 10 runs in two weeks. I’m hoping each successive run will get me back to where I was last summer…so I can improve on that, as well.

    Over the next day, I’ll be formulating my training plan for my 5K this summer, as well as a more detailed bodybuilding (for lack of a better phrase) workout plan. Since I’ve been doing that for years, I know how my body responds to different exercises, but overall, if I’m going to develop goals for running, I should do it, in plan format, for workouts as well (including nutrition aspects). Fortunately for me, my metabolism is still high 🙂

    More later. Today’s a recovery day, back to it in the morning. Have a great day…

    ::: optimize :::


    Morning run (09 Jan 10): Nike+

    Greetings. Today I did my first winter run. Start time was 7:05am and the temperature was brrr:

    < With the way my daily schedule is, morning runs will probably always suit me the best, despite all the after work runs I did in 2010 and last year. As mentioned in a the previous, I'm getting back in the saddle. The temps this morning, surprisingly, only afffected my hands (as I misplaced the running gloves I got a few months back). What was most aggravating was the headphones that kept slipping off. I run with the Nike+ system, aka Nike+ iPo, so I get audio markers statuses from my *coach*. I really got hooked after reading an article in Wired two years or so ago:

    and afterwards, that’s all she wrote. As for the run (walk), a 12:58 min mile…slowww (thanks headphone issues and slight shin splints). Slow and steady is what I gotta focus on as I get back into this thang> On the positive, I felt and still feel really good, alert, etc. Run stats are here.

    After work, it’s the gym. Focus will be on weights, though I may run again. Current Nike+ goal is 12 runs in 4 weeks. After that…NEW HEADPHONES!

    That’s it…back to work.

    Getting back on the horse (fitness=run+workout)

    Image courtesy Healh and Fitness Reports

    August 25, 2011 or thereabouts. That was the last run I had that was consistently done after many before that…and I was on vacation in Florida at that. Needless to say, vacation ended and it was back to work for me, back to school for the kids. This, unfortunately (I allowed it) ended consistent workouts and runs. What I realized, though I never physically liked it, was that running did many things for me that I only read about: cleared my mind, made me more alert (day or night), caused me to eat better (my appetite never wanes lol), mentally made me feel greatand forced me to go to bed earlier.

    Now that 2012 is here, though I’m not one for new year resolutions, it provides a clean slate. One that I can (and everyone should) approach day by day – especially when trying to achieve goals. After picking up running and getting back in the gym this month, I feel great again. Adopting this schedule (again) doesn’t come without work and a mindset change, but realizing the benefits again is worth it. So, that being said, feel free to encourage me, make me accountable…ha! I’m looking for different ways to keep the momentum and motivation up. I think blogging on the regular might work, I’ll try it..we’ll see. If anything, maybe it will motivate others. Consider this the first post of many.

    I mentioned that I dislike running. Actually since I started in July 2010, made some progress (small but nonetheless) since then, that’s probably not true. If it wasn’t for the Nike Plus system and other ways of electro-virtually tracking my performance, I don’t think running would be as interesting…though I really like the ease of being able to do it (being non-dependent on equipment etc), not to mention how it improves cardiovascular health. The whole tracking performance by numbers technology highly appeals to me.

    The one key phrase I hope to live by this year and beyond is “optimize” – fitness, health, work, relationships, musicianship, financial health, but most importantly, the one and true foundation – my relationship with Jesus and God. Though physical fitness excites me, one scripture keeps me grounded about it – 1 Timothy 4:8.

    In any event, one foot in the saddle, thanks for the read. Not yet 8am yet, which gives me time for a nice hot shower and still make it to work on time. Let’s go…

    Have a great day…

    ::: Fresh :::