2010 might have been the year of the Power Balance band Hoax, but 2012 may just be the year of the Nike+ Fuelband scam.
For the past three months I’ve been in Europe visiting family, one of which was my techno-geek cousin. There is no doubt he is the biggest fan of fitness gadgets I know. If there is a new product on the market, he’d have one snapped up in no time. That’s why I wasn’t too surprised when I found a Nike+ Fuelband in his collection of gadgets.
Being a sports addict, I wasted no time in trying out the Fuelband to see if it really works, using it while snowboarding, CrossFitting and even during rest days.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the product, the Nike+ Fuelband is a small wristband that is used to calculate energy output using a system called ‘oxygen kinetics’. By using a specific algorithm, the band translates your movement and oxygen consumption into a “universal currency” called Nikefuel.
Basically, Nike has come up with it’s own system to calculate how much energy you burn each day, and the Nike+ Fuelband is how you record and store that data.
Using the Fuelband is really simple. All you need to do is strap it on your wrist, type in how many calories you want to burn each day, and then let the band help you achieve your goal. So whether you’re in the middle of a Fran workout, or kicking back watching TV, the Fuelband will allow you to track how many calories you are burning.
There is only one button on the band, which can be used to alternate the display screen from how many calories you’ve burnt, how many steps you have taken, and of course, the time.
There is also a series of LED lights running along the side that keeps track of how close you are to reaching your ‘daily goal’. These lights go from red to yellow, and when you hit green, it means you have reached your target.
After using the band for a couple of weeks, it’s fair to say I had mixed results on how effective it was.
Great design - The Nike+ Fuelband is far from an eye-sore. The design is slick, simple and very attractive. Nike has gone to some extreme lengths to ensure the band fits tightly on your wrist, even curving the battery to keep a constant circular shape. The array of LED lights and display screen is also very impressive, and makes the fuelband look more like a fashion accessory than a fitness gadget.
Doesn’t interfere with training - I have used many gadgets and wrist bands while training, and on many occasions they have affected my training. Whether it be a Power Balance band getting hooked on a dumbbell, or a heart rate monitor itching your stomach, distractions during workouts are not cool. The Nike+ Fuelband does a great job of not interfering with your training. It has a tight design and there are a number of clip-ons you can use to adjust the size.
Awesome Smartphone App – By far the greatest feature of the Nike+ Fuelband is its compatibility with smartphones. The accompanying App allows you to analyze data more closely and see the hourly breakdowns of your day. This will help you find out which activities burn more calories, and which burn less. The App is also connected to the Nike+ web site, which offers a number of motivational tips and advice.
Easy to use – Posting scores and entering data is actually quite simple, and navigating through the Fuelband’s display is easy. Thanks to the smartphone App, it is also easy to keep track of your daily goals.
Good Concept - The idea of having a wristband that can keep track of your movements, and tell you how much energy you are burning each hour is a great. It is also a great way to motivate people to exercise more and gives them a sense of achievement when they reach their ‘goals’.
Accuracy – A great concept, but far from accurate. While using the Nike+ Fuelband I recorded a number of figures I wasn’t sure about. One time I spent two hours watching a movie, yet somehow managed to register more than 50 steps. Another time a went for a jog for an hour and burnt less calories than when I was eating dinner. Overall, I found the Fuelband to be quite inaccurate and I just couldn’t trust the figures I was putting out each day.
Doesn’t measure distance - Huge flaw. One of the best features of any fitness product is being able to measure distance. Almost every athlete will go for a run or a ride at some time, and during these sessions it is important to know how far you have traveled. The Nike+ Fuelband does not measure distance, meaning you might have to carry another gadget with you while training if you want to know how far you have run, or rode.
Not Waterproof - The Nike+ Fuelband is water resistant, but nor water proof. So while you can wear it in the shower, you can’t use it while surfing, swimming or taking part in other water sports.
Expensive – Selling for around US$150, the Nike+ Fuelband is far from cheap and unless you train regularly it may be a waste of money.
While the Nike+ Fuelband might be a great concept, and come with an impressive and slick design, the problem is it’s just not accurate enough. The main reason we use fitness gadgets is to find out useful information about our training so we can improve. The reality is, using the Fuelband actually confused me more than it did help me. I love being able to analyze numbers to pick apart my workouts, however, with the Nike+ Fuelband I really didn’t believe the figures were correct.
In addition, the Fuelband is also limited. There is no feature to measure distance, and any serious athlete using the product will probably be dissapointed.
If you are after a training gadget that looks cool and hip, then this might be good for you. But if you want something accurate that you can use to improve your fitness, then I would avoid the Nike+ Fuelband.