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….

    peace…
    Fresh!

    Morning run (08 Jul 11): Nike+

    Good morning crew…
    Happy Friday to all. It’s been a minute since I blogged about running, much less blogged at all, but since I have a few minutes this morning before I head into the office, why not.

    If you’ve been noticing my FB page updates, I’ve been having my run stats posted there. I fell off the wagon last summer (right at vacation time) from running for the first time with the Nike+ system. Running is a great form of cardio, but frankly, I’ve NEVER liked running. It’s the techie in me that made running interesting, because with Nike+, I can track my personal performance metrics using a device I’ve grown to love since the first ones came out – the iPod. Running with music is great, the Nike+ website leverages superb marketing and offers a great deal of interactivity, not just with the site but fellow runners, known and unknown.

    Most of my runs have been on a treadmill, but as much as I hate road runs, it’s not only the most popular form of running, but I’ll be doing it more and more to sever the reliance on treadmill running. The training of outdoor runs, for me, is tough now, but the gains I’ll achieve will keep my mindset looking forward to them. Combined with an improved diet, free weights and circuit machine workouts, I like what the combination is offering. Today’s run was not bad, the weather was perfect and I learned about pace. Time permitting, I may run at the gym today at lunch or after work, I’ll see. The good thing is I got my run in for the day either way. As for inspiration, this five year old commercial does it for me…this is where I am (at least) trying to get to:

    Have a great day…

    peace,
    Doug

    11th run – Nike+

    Evening crew.

    Had a really good run during lunch. Everything about it from the mental prep through the end of it was good. The gym was packed with an exercise class right in front of me – maybe that added a lil energy to me as well.

    The anomaly was me somehow during off the female feedback voice (or so I thought I did – checking the iPod now shows it as on) I didn’t hear her during the whole run, which resulted in a longer, but best workout length so far.

    After work, my kids persuaded me to head out to the track so they could jog, so I guess I can add that on as post-run activity. I also met my first goal!

    Here are today’s run stats. Ran 1.49 mi on 8/10/2010 at 12:14 PM

    Answering my friend’s tweet, I’ll sleep good tonite!

    peace,
    F!

    10th Run – Nike+

    Greetings…

    Back from my run. This time it was on a different terrain – the track. Today I saw how much different running outdoors (again) is than running in a more controlled environment. This one was not one of my better runs (could it have been the nap beforehand?). I’ll attribute the less than desirable performance to the terrain – I had to walk part of it, as opposed to the steady non-stop runs I do indoors. This tells me I have to run outdoors more. I think it’s time I look into Nike+ Coach. Let’s go! This is where I’m trying to get to:

    On another note…this was a family event. Wife and kids came this time. Son had a good share of running, while the ladies near power-walked. Great temps – low 70’s. More people were on the tennis courts than on the track, although by 8:15pm, people were still coming. I’ll miss daylight savings time.

    Todays run stats: Ran 1.02 mi on 8/7/2010 at 7:50 PM

    peace!
    F!

    8th Run – Nike+

    Hey Crew…

    I trust all is well with you. I got in not too long ago from the track, where my kids decided they wanted to go for a run. It was my daughter’s first time and she did well. We jogged two laps and walked two. As expected (at 8:10pm) there were a good amount of runners and walkers at the track, per the cooler temps.

    After a few days off, I finally got back to my regular lunch time run schedule. Today was another personal best (as notified by Tiger Woods in my headphones after I completed the workout). It’s really convenient to have a gym in the building, as lunchtime is the perfect time to run for me during the week. Run stats are below, along with a description of my run.

    My daughter has a new iPod Touch, which comes with the Nike+ app preloaded. If she gets into running, all I need to do is get her the sensor and maybe even the shoes…or neither…go for the wristband. Looking for a cheap iPod Nano for my son, as he is sensor all the way. He gets a kick out of the Nike+ minis (think Wii Miis) on the website…go figure.

    Today’s run. Ran 1.12 mi on 8/4/2010 at 12:21 PM

    Until next time…peace!

    F!

    7th Run – Nike+

    What’s up crew…

    Hope all is well. After a string of HOT days, the temps have eased down a bit. I packed my gym bag this morning hoping to run, but didn’t think I’d get it in. Boss is back from vacation and had ANOTHER meeting that dipped into my lunch hour, but I went and did it anyway. Turns out, it was my best mile yet, so I’m definitely excited about getting THAT news.

    The pace was good, finally getting the breathing rhythm going a lot smoother. and the form is slowly getting better (less and less shin splints).

    I’m definitely down with the whole Nike+ system. Always good encouragement:
    10 kilometers down. Now let’s see what else you’ve got. You’re off to a fantastic start. Whether your first 10K was a breeze or hard-earned, keep it up.

    Anyway, today’s run stats.

    Never knew I’d love running so much. Hopefully I can hit the track this weekend sometime.

    peace,
    F!

    5th Run – Nike+

    Greetings crew:

    I hope this post finds you well. Today was the first indoor run using the Nike Plus system. As you already know, I am definitely into it. It was a lunch time run in our corporate gym on the first floor. Turns out that I may be doing a great deal of running here for many reasons (especially during the winter). The run was good, breathing pace was the best yet and it also turned out to be my best mile time to date. Running on a treadmill proved to be the easiest thus far, with running on a track being a very close second. As I get seasoned, I hope enjoy running along various city and landscapes, but right now the terrain is less than desirable.

    One of my regular readers, Rezzy asked me, in the previous post, what’s my playlist is. Take a look here. What’s the Power Song? “Housequake” – Prince/Sign Of The Times

    Anyway, here are the stats from today’s run. Already looking forward to tomorrow’s “power lunch”.

    peace,
    F!

    4th Run – revisited (Nike+)

    It’s about 8:17am. I got into work early this morning (but not early enough) hoping to get into the software lab before my colleagues, to do a run a quick login procedure for a practice demonstration later this morning. Getting in early also allows me to leave early (5pm). With this scorching heat lately, I decided I’d try and run at lunch (no, not outside) but in our fully equipped workout facility on the first floor – complete with three treadmills. If things go as scheduled, I should be down there around 12:30pm (that is if I can break away to go home and forget the shorts I forgot-lol)

    Anyway, I was still curious as to why my iPod didn’t record the last run I (umm…”we”) did. I brought it in and decided to have it find the sensor (as I shake it in my hand to simulate walking) and record the data. To my surprise, I booted up the iPod and checked History to find out it DID record the data. Cool. Now when I go home, on the shorts run, I can upload the data to Nike Plus. Gotta love technology!

    Here are the run stats:

    Time: 8:20pm
    Temp: 82 deg
    Weather: Sunset
    Distance: 1.32 mi
    Time 22:52
    Pace: 17:13 min/mi
    Calories: 178
    Type: Run/Walk

    Looking forward to the lunchtime run…

    Have a great day…
    F!

    4th Run – Nike+

    Greetings….

    Just got in not too long ago from run #4. It’s been a crazy busy weekend and I would have much preferred to run early this morning, but that wasn’t possible at all. That being said, I had to wait until late this evening because of this crazy heat. Lately, my eight year old son has taken up an interest in running since I started, and especially having an understanding how Nike Plus works. He’s always asking for “sensor shoes” and I always gotta tell him they’re not made in his size….yet. Anyway, he begged to go along this time, so we both headed over to PGCC’s track. I knew that it didn’t make sense to log this workout data, figuring I wouldn’t get a consistent run in.

    We got there and I took him through a stretching routine then we started the jog. I was pleasantly surprised for two things: 1) We did a whole lap non-stop and 2) Running at his pace told me MAYBE I should slow my pace to his on my regular runs!

    We completed lap #1 and walked a cool down lap for the second one. Lap #3 was a job again…all the way through…I’mproud ;-). Lap #4, the final lap was a cooldown walk, followed by stretching. Big surprise was a 5th lap…wow, at his request. It was fun, and in hindsight, I might have done my best time in the mile yet…something I didn’t expect this evening. Too bad I didn’t log this data on the iPod! Oh well.

    The plan is to hit the track at 6am tomorrow, but the morning rush to work. Which means off to bed within the hour. Have a good night.

    3rd Run – Nike+

    Good morning crew.

    6:00 am: On the move this Saturday morning. Getting ready to head out for run #3. Busy day ahead … 3 rehearsals with three different church choirs (eyein’ my guitar beside me). Finishng up this protein shake, be back later.

    7:24 pm: Back from the run. I run at a community college track, at which I arrived at 6:30am. Even at the time there were already folks running and walking, with the parking lot across the street continually filling up. You can’t say these people are not serious about fitness if they are out there at 6:30 am. The temperature was already 76 degrees and the sun was out.

    I warmed up by walking two brisk laps and people were still coming in. As I hit the second lap, a guy was slow walking ahead of me. There was a woman walking a little faster behind him. As she was about to pass him, he said good morning. At about two paces ahead of him, he says to herDo you come out here often? (oh boy at old man trying to get his mack on). Ha!

    I finish the second lap, stretch the legs, hit the center button on my iPod Nano, and start Nike Plus for the 1 mile run. First lap is good, still trying to get my form right where the stride is easy (daggone shin splint). I brisk walk the second lap, checking my breathing regulation. This run is, so far, better than the 2nd one. Third lap I begin the run, but do only three-quarters. At 6am I had that protein shake, and at the three-quarter mark my stomach was reminding that I only had that shake about 45 min ago. I listened to my body and walked the last quarter lap.

    I like “Honey” giving me my distance reminders while my workout jams are flowing in my ears. When I hit one mile, “Congratulations, your workout is complete, please hit the menu button to stop the workout” (which I did). I get back to the car after stretching some, and do just a few more calf raises to stretch them and the shin areas out, then head home. Already getting hotter outside, I noticed a low lying, thin fog. It’s supposed to hit the upper 90s again today. On the way home, I’m listening to my playlist and Honey says “Workout activity paused, please hit the center button to resume workout” (Uh oh….grrrr). I let it go, as the Nike Plus screen is not even showing. I get home to check my workout data – none record. Ugh. Buttons and screens, got it right last run, flubbed it this one…oh well. I’ll FINALLY get it correct!

    Ok here are the run stats:

    Weather: Clear and sunny
    Tenperature; Approx 76 degrees, slight humidity
    Duration: 6:30am to 7:10 pm
    Distance: 1 mile
    Time:About 10 mins (last run)
    Run Type: Walk/Run
    Run Classification: So-so.

    Busy day ahead, next run will happen, at best, Sunday evening around 7:30pm.

    Have a good weekend!

    peace,
    F!