The Nike+ FuelBand: Shame Your Way to Better Health

Today’s guest post is by Telford, an over caffeinated social media strategist with a love for technology and tomfoolery. You can follow, or unfollow, him on twitter @BlameTelford.

Not to be confused with the popular late 90s band Fuel, the Nike+ FuelBand is one of a new wave of devices that tracks your daily physical activity – keeping a pulse on the calories you’ve burned and number of steps you’ve taken – and shares it via social media to shame gamify (shamify?) you into a healthier routine.

It’s like having your own personal stalker that fits comfortably around your wrist!

I’ve spent the last three months conducting around the clock research of the FuelBand on behalf of WorkoutWonks – and am here to share some insights on the good, the bad, and the ugly of it.

The Good:

-The FuelBand is lightweight and comfortable, after a while you forget you’re even wearing it.

-I’ve also found it very practical, ditching my watch in favor of the band’s time display – and whenever I check the time, I get a status display of how close I am to my daily activity goal. It reminds me to take a few “activity breaks” each day, or an evening run up and down the stairs, to ensure that I hit my goal — which results in a colorful celebratory display that you’ll quickly develop a Pavlovian response to.

-The device syncs with your iPhone through Bluetooth (sorry Android users, you’re out of luck), and has a built in USB plug to connect with your computer or charge (one 20 minute charge usually lasts for a full week).

-My overall result has been that each day I push myself to do a little more than I would have otherwise – and over time it all adds up.

The Bad:

There’s more good than bad with this device, but it has a few minor frustrations:

-The display lacks a battery monitor to let you know when it needs to be recharged. Unlike competitors, such as Jawbone’s UP, it does not vibrate to force you to check it – so if you’re having a busy day, it might be all too easy to miss your goal.

-Despite being very effective at accurately tracking full body and upper body activity, it does a poor job of registering lower body activity like cycling.

-And while it’s easy enough to sync with your phone or computer to compete on social media – I’ve found myself, and my friends, lacking the desire to actually do so.

-Finally, this is a device that monitors your activity output, and DOES NOT balance that against your caloric intake – so if your idea of being active is throwing on a track suit while you head to Five Guys, the FuelBand may not be for you…

The Ugly:

Nike offers three color choices: black, black transparent, and white transparent – with the transparent versions making the internal computer chips visible. While intending to buy the black band, I purchased the transparent version by accident – and despite still liking it myself, I get a lot of comments about its “…interesting… camouflage look.” So make sure you double check the box before you buy!

There are, of course, other options on the market. Clip-onto-clothing trackers, such as the FitBit and Striiv have gained a lot of popularity – but for the wristband options, Nike’s FuelBand ($150) and Jawbone’s UP ($130) have dominated the market.

A colleague of mine tried the UP for a few months, but in the end gave it away, finding the lack of an in-device display (instead requiring you to connect to a computer for information on your activity) too frustrating. As for me, I intend to keep using my FuelBand, and recommend it to others without hesitation.

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One thought on “The Nike+ FuelBand: Shame Your Way to Better Health

  1. Pingback: Sorry for the Hiatus | Workout Wonks

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