interest obsession of tracking my workout activity recently pushed me to look for wearable exercise gear. I pre-ordered the Fitbit Flex in early February but it had not shipped. When my Ironman watch died a couple of weeks ago, I searched for a device that could display time and I settled on the Nike+ FuelBand.
The Nike FuelBand is simply a fancy pedometer. Like the Fitbit Flex and Jawbone Up, it tracks your movement using an accelerometer. It also dispenses “fuel” points based on your activity using a proprietary algorithm. No — it isn’t about how often you shake your wrist — but the more active you are, the more fuel points you earn! I’ve worn the Nike FuelBand now for two weeks and I’ve rarely taken it off. In comparison, I would take my watch off and lay it on my desk at the beginning of each day alongside my iPhone.
The general manager at my gym approached me this week with a tempting renewal offer. He asked me to extend my current annual membership though I had 4 months remaining. As I debated the benefits of signing up before the annual January rush, I started contemplating whether my gym does enough for me.
Considering that 80% of Americans aren’t engaged in fitness — either they don’t participate in a regular fitness program or belong to a gym, the manager actually has a 20% pool of prospects so he should try to do whatever it takes to keep me motivated and paying. And motivation can come from a mobile application vs. a personal trainer. Why? Well, besides the fact that one in every two consumers in the US has a smartphone (according to 2012 data from Nielsen), we’re religiously using our iPhone and Android devices to monitor every aspect of our everyday life. In fact 52% of consumers with smartphones use their device to gather and measure health information, such as how many minutes they’ve exercised or the intensity level of the workout routine (according to a 2012 Mobile Health report by Pew Research). And apps motivate us to remain healthy because documenting our workout increases awareness. Psychologically, awareness is the key to adopting healthy behaviors.
Every other month or so I get another comment from Joe Koufman, the VP of Business Development and Marketing at Engauge, on how Android is gaining ground on Apple’s iOS. These reminders are actually friendly — Joe and I have been at it ever since I wrote late last year about whether developers should embrace the Android OS. Joe knows that I’m passionate about my iPhone as he is about his Android. And we’ve spoken on numerous occasions about how Android is available on smartphone devices by multiple mobile equipment makers where Apple’s iOS is only available through AT&T (well, at least until the upcoming rumored announcement by Verizon this December) so the deck is stacked in Google’s favor.