I decided after my birthday in July that I needed to get into better shape. I knew from the start that it wasn’t going to be an easy journey – I only began to take the first steps 2 months after making the decision!
After some research, I purchased a Nike+ FuelBand to help me stay motivated on my fitness journey. It was one of the best decisions I made in 2012, and now fitness is something I actually look forward to instead of being a boring, unexciting chore.
From observation and experience, staying motivated long enough to get into the groove is probably the biggest hurdle to becoming fitter and healthier. Once you see results it’s a lot easier to stay motivated. That was definitely the case with me, and that was the problem that my Nike+ FuelBand helped to solve.
How does it work?
The Nike+ FuelBand is a wristband with a bunch of electronics inside that automatically tracks your movement (activity) and translates it to a score called NikeFuel. You set a daily goal for the amount of NikeFuel you want to achieve and the FuelBand keeps track of it.
In addition to the Fuel score, the Nike+ system rewards you with awards. Win trophies by scoring a certain number of points. Get on a streak by meeting your daily Fuel goal multiple days in a row. It’s the principle of gamification where your activity is automatically scored, so you compete with others (or just yourself).
The FuelBand is just one of the many devices within the Nike+ ecosystem. Each product tracks different activities better and the FuelBand is the best one for tracking all-day activity.
Therefore, the Nike+ system is the platform that turns fitness into a game. And to play the game, you need a toy device like the Nike+ FuelBand.
It’s a simple idea, and it’s just the thing that fitness newbies need to keep motivated. Even if the activity of exercising is not fun, the achievements, visualizing your progress and comparing it with others gives newbies the sense of achievement and engagement that they need to stick with their fitness journey and begin seeing results.
I decided that the easiest exercise I could do was running. When I started I didn’t relish the sweat, the aches and the “wasted time”. But I stuck for the first 2 weeks with it because I could show off my new toy. But then I began to see results. I was losing weight and running faster. And I began to enjoy running more. Nowadays I can’t wait to get out and run*. Fitness had become.. fun.
* Don’t know how long that will last, haha!
A Healthy Addiction
After using the FuelBand for a few weeks, I’m addicted to my NikeFuel score. I check it several times a day. Ok, it’s more like several times an hour.
In the beginning I realized I was far behind my daily NikeFuel goal of 2000 because I worked at my computer 8+ hours a day (even if I used a standing desk). It just underscored how sedentary my lifestyle was. So I began looking for ways to be more active. More activity = more NikeFuel.
I started walking Pei Chyi to work. I now take a 30 minute break each day before lunch to play with Zack. I don’t mind parking spaces that are further away. Instead of using the closest bathroom, I use the one upstairs. I actually want to take out the trash.
Bonus: Most of my behavior changes above have side benefits. I spend more time with Pei Chyi and Zack, I save time looking for parking spaces, etc.
Mind Control Motivator
The addiction of NikeFuel becomes more apparent when you achieve your goal 3 days in a row. “Well done”, says Nike+. “Go for 5.” Then you hit 5 days. “The streak goes on! Go for 10,” it urges. Soon you’re up to a 100-day streak and you’ll do anything to maintain it.
Then suddenly it was a particularly busy day at work, and I realize that I’m not going to meet my goal by taking out the trash today. This is where my thought processes were affected…
I have done things that I thought I would do never willingly do on the days that I’m far behind my goal. Things like pacing around the living room while watching TV to get a couple hundred more NikeFuel. Like getting on the treadmill after dinner. Like going for a walk in the rain.
If you had told me before my fitness journey that I would go on a 4km walk in the drizzling rain, all for the sake of maintaining a minimum activity level for the day I would have laughed in disbelief. Yet that is what I have become.
All because of this thing that I wear on my wrist. Nike doesn’t acknowledge this, but I believe that they have a freakin’ mind control chip in their Nike+ FuelBand! It’s the only logical explanation for my transformation.
I’m being over dramatic above of course, but the crazy mind control effects of personal tracking devices have been documented elsewhere too. This article by Craig Mod is one example.
In any case, the proof is in the pudding. Has this “fitness game” really helped me get into better shape, or is it another example of over-hyped marketing from Nike?
So here are my results:
- Losing weight consistently for the first time since graduating university
- Down 3kg in 4 months (Starting weight: 75kg in Sept 2012)
- Went down 1-2 inches around the waist (had to buy new jeans!)
- Stuck with my fitness journey for 100 days and counting
Are those spectacular results? No. I don’t have a coach, time and the intention to look like an male underwear model anyway.
Am I happy with these results? Hell yes! I honestly believe that the Nike+ system is not a fad. I’m committed to staying fit – I have even decided that I will run a marathon before 2015. Oops, now I’ve said it publicly I’ll have to deliver.
All this because I stayed on course with my fitness journey, something that I give credit to my Nike+ FuelBand.
FAQs & Buying Advice
Here are some questions that I frequently get about my Nike+ FuelBand. You can find the official FAQs here.
How accurate is it?
Accurate enough to give you a NikeFuel score. It won’t accurately track every single step you take or calorie you burn. It’s not meant to be a medical apparatus.
Will it work with activity X?
The FuelBand won’t accurately track activities like cycling, lifting weights or yoga because it works by tracking your arm swing. Swimming is also out because it’s not waterproof.
Should I buy this or a Fitbit?
In my opinion, the FuelBand is meant more to motivate and doesn’t capture the bigger picture of your overall health. The Fitbit attempts to do that by also tracking calories consumed, sleep patterns, etc. If you want motivation, go with FuelBand. If you want a clearer picture of your health, go with Fitbit.
Who should buy the Nike+ FuelBand?
The Nike+ FuelBand is an excellent choice for you if you have trouble getting started or staying committed to getting into shape. If exercise doesn’t sound like fun to you, give the FuelBand a try.
Who should not buy the Nike+ FuelBand?
If you already work out regularly then you probably don’t need the motivation that the FuelBand provides. The FuelBand also won’t help you get better at running/basketball/soccer/whatever so don’t buy it thinking it will improve your game. Don’t buy the FuelBand if you are a tech-tard because you’ll need to understand USB, Bluetooth, syncing, logging into the Nike+ website, etc.
Where can I buy the Nike+ FuelBand?
Unfortunately the FuelBand is only for sale within USA and UK. If you’re outside those countries you’ll have to get a friend to buy it for you. Another alternative is to use a 3rd party shipping company.
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Hope you enjoyed the review. Let me know if you have more questions in the comments and I’ll answer as best I can. Good luck on your fitness journey!