Adventures in Running with Maurine

Nike+ FuelBand Review

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After returning my Up by Jawbone because of disappointment with its performance (among other things), I am now experimenting with the Nike+ FuelBand. The FuelBand sells for $149 and comes in four colors: Black, White, Techno Black and Techno White (I made up those last two). The “techno” colors allow you to see some of the inner workings of the band – and apply to my geekness. I am sporting Techno Black.

The device tracks and displays four items:

  • Fuel – fuel point for while active
  • Calories – calories burned while active
  • Steps – supposedly the number of steps taken while active
  • Time – time of day

The band tracks nothing but time while you are sleeping – only when you are up and moving about. If you are sick or recovering from surgery – you would get frustrated with the results.

I will admit up front that I don’t think the calories burned while active is accurate. It would be better if they calculated the number of calories needed per day to maintain weight based upon your body weight and did some calculations based upon that. I pretty well ignore the calories for now.

Steps seem a little low. There were some days when I was walking or running 5 miles and it would tell me that I had done about 7500 steps. Granted, 2500 steps per mile is an average – but I’m not that tall and I don’t think I cover that much ground per step.

Time of day – gets an A+. It has never been wrong.

Fuel. My favorite part of the device and my least understood. Here is the official declaration: Through a sports-tested accelerometer, Nike+ FuelBand tracks your daily activity including running, walking, basketball, dancing and dozens of everyday activities. I’m sure if I dug far enough I could find some fancy mathematical calculations that explain it – but I’m not in the mood to do that.

 

I like the Fuel part. You can set fuel goals for each day and when you achieve them you get a fun little display in lots of colors that says GOAL! I live for the Goal announcement. You also can see how far you are on your fuel goal for the day with a colored display below the numbers. It’s stupid – but I get a kick out of it.

When I first started on the FuelBand – I was not allowed to exercise as much, so I dropped the goal down fairly low (to about 1500). Each day I achieved the goal – I set the fuel goal up higher. Once I get back to working out even more, I expect to continue to increase it, but right now it is a challenge some days to make the current goal of 2200. Note – when you reset the goal, it starts applying the next day.

If you achieve your goal 3 days in a row, it is considered a streak and you can see how long you maintain your streak. I was on 10 days until my device suddenly quit tracking. I’m still not sure I forgive it for breaking my streak. I had to reset the FuelBand the next day and am back on a new streak starting today.

I will admit to “cheating” the first night after resetting my device. It was 10 p.m. and I had 100 fuel points left to earn, so I picked up my 5# kettlebell in my left hand and did bicep curls for 2 minutes and passed the goal and was able to go to sleep.

Pros:

  • No parts have fallen off it yet (compared to the tip on the Up).
  • Looks decent even with dress clothes (probably not if I get invited to the inauguration).
  • Can increase the goal
  • Syncs with Bluetooth on my iPhone anytime I want to see more results then on the band itself

Cons:

  • Water resistant (can wear in the shower) but not waterproof.
  • No way to log results for workouts when you can’t wear the FuelBand (like swimming).
  • No way to log results for when the device quits recording and you end a streak.

Overall – I recommend this app. Can’t wait to see its results after a marathon. Of course, at this point in time, I’m just hoping I can get back to marathon distances.

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