I’m moving with Moov Now now

I jumped on the fitness tracking and maintaining bandwagon in April 2015 when I was sold about the merits of the tracking, fitness tracking wearables became affordable and my weight crossed a line that I was comfortable with and started going upwards. I bought the then released Xiaomi Mi Band for INR 999 and used it to track my daily steps. I tried to achieve the goal of 10,000 steps everyday but, eventually, the novelty wore off and I found the Mi approach to be too static and not giving me any insights about how to achieve and better my daily targets.

After that, my priorities changed and the focus on fitness flew out of the window. I decided to get back onto the train in October 2015 and decided to focus on one activity, running. I always had a soft spot towards running and decided to start jogging in the mornings. One thing led to another and I hopped onto an 8-week plan to run my first 5k. I got interested in fitness tracking wearbles again and after researching ones that I could afford, I got a Pebble Classic. I use the Misfit app with the Pebble and have found that approach quite good for daily step tracking. I also bought the yearly membership of Runkeeper and have been using their training plans to better my time for my next 5k.

But, after a few months of quantifying my activities and training to run, I started feeling a bit of a gap in what I wanted and what I as getting. I could see my daily activity but wanted to know what I could do and how I could improve it. I was adhering to the training plan but wanted insights into how to better my running technique and improve my time and distance covered. I started reading about what else can be done (I don’t believe in weight tracking and food logging apps, they take a lot of effort to input data and almost all of the food items consumed daily in India are missing from their lists or the calories for them are miscalculated) and realized that coaching and motivation were the next level to go to in fitness.

I had been following Moov (founded by an ex-Apple employee) and liked their focus on training and coaching. Though the original Moov left quite a bit to be desired, in looks and features (it wasn’t even a full fledged fitness tracker, just a workout coach), when they announced the Moov Now, I was quite intrigued. Their four-pronged approach towards running coaching was something that I thought would be the next step for me. Plus, they recently made the Moov Now available in India and there was a 25% discount on it during Flipkart’s last sale.

Moov Now Mark-sheet

Design & Packaging

After a bit of confusion and coordination, I went and got my Moov Now in all of its sea green glory (just two color options available in India, red and sea green). The packaging is minimal and puts all the focus on the Moov Now. The box slides out to reveal the Moov Now with two bands (one for the wrist and one for the ankle) and the central disc (just slightly bigger than a INR 10 coin). There are a couple of manuals too, telling you about how to use the Moov Now in general, how to replace the battery, and so on. The battery itself is a coin-cell battery and needs to be replaced every six months. That shouldn’t be a problem as firstly, the app will tell you about the health of the battery and secondly, the mechanism to replace it is very simple. The straps are quite different from what other manufacturers provide in that that Moov classifies them as being ‘breathable’ with a lot of holes so that your band doesn’t feel like it wants to choke your arm or leg when you are working out. The clip mechanism is a bit finicky and it does take a bit of time to get used to clipping the strap in. The disc has one small LED indicator which takes up multiple responsibilities like letting you know about the status of the battery and as to when the Moov Now is syncing with it’s companion app.

Mooving with it

Talking about the app, that’s where the magic happens. The app, in itself is quite minimal and on launch, focusses on you initiating activities than showing you analysis. Though Moov says that the Moov Now is a day long activity tracker and also tracks your sleep, those features are barebones and seem to have been added so that they’d appease fans and not fall behind other activity trackers. For activity, the Moov Now adopts Apple Watch’s approach and focusses on completing 30 minutes of intense activity a day (anything that gets your heart rate up, from walks to runs to other activities which require movement. The Moov Now doesn’t have a heart rate monitor, so, even though planks are intense, they won’t register). Sleep tracking shows you how long you slept and focusses on restorative sleep (sleep that helps your body recover from all the physical turmoil of the day). All of this is then shown in a scrollable timeline of your day. One thing that Moov does and does way better than anyone else in the game is that it explains every technical bit about all these parameters (‘why we should exercise 30 minutes a day’, ‘what is restorative sleep’, etc.). And it is not just limited to the activity and sleep tracking. The coaching part also explains everything you are required to do and why you should do it. That’s a great value-add for someone who has just gotten into the fitness game and would otherwise be overwhelmed with all the information and what to do with it.

The app also boasts about 4 types of workout coaching, running, cycling, swimming and at-home workouts. Moov is at its best when it comes to running. With 4 types of workouts for running and 1 for brisk walking, with simple and understandable names like ‘walk to sweat’, ‘run farther and easier’, ‘push to the limit’, etc., the app has you covered. When you launch one of the workouts, the app gives you an overview about how the workout will be and asks you to connect your Moov by tapping on the disc. Once in the workout, the coach checks with you if you’d be comfortable with a target it suggests (‘running for 30 minutes’, ‘running at full speed for 3 minutes’, etc.) and depending on your response, sets the level of difficulty for the work out. After that, you just have to do your thing and the coach will keep giving you inputs as you run. The inputs are quite helpful and range from motivation (‘you are on track, keep up the pace and you’ll achieve your goal’) to inputs to run better (‘you are landing too hard, land on the balls of your feed to reduce your impact’, ‘keep your shoulders relaxed and back straight’, ‘move you arms quicker to increase your cadence’, etc.) to giving you data about your cadence, pace, impact and how well or badly you are doing for the ongoing interval. It is like Siri talking to you while running and though I found the insights, tips and motivation very useful, the constant updates in the robotic voice can become a bit irritating at times and push you out of your zone. At the end of the workout, it shows you your summary, with all the metrics and a map of your path (if you are running outdoors) and whether you cleared a level. The coaching aspect is the game-changer here and I can’t stress on how useful it has been to me. In just a few runs, by focusing on running as per the tips given, I feel that I’m being able to run better after every session. If you don’t want the constant jabber in your ear, you can just opt for your ‘Run your way’ workout and see your pace, cadence and impact and improve through those stats or you can just reduce the number of times the coach talks to you from the menu, during a workout.

Another nifty coaching feature is that of at-home workouts which includes focused intense exercises that can be completed in 10 minutes and a fun way to workout through Cardio Boxing (the latter requires you to have two Moov Nows, one on each wrist, to better track your workout). The 10-min-workouts have 99 levels which progress in difficulty with each level and never feel stale. The coach gives you tips about your form and guides you through all the exercises during the workout. I’d love to try out Cardio Boxing as it feels like playing Guitar Hero to exercise and sounds great fun (and based on what I’ve read about it, it is).

Coaching for cycling and swimming is also included with you being able to keep your phone in the locker and swimming with just your Moov Now. The cycling part helps you get better by showing you your pace, distance and cadence during the workout and also giving you tips about your form and how you should cycle to achieve maximum results. Swimming doesn’t give you tips during the activity but records your pace, lap times, etc. and shows you the metrics in a very detailed manner to help you better understand your technique and improve it.

Conclusion

All in all, I think that the Moov Now signals the next step in fitness tracking and I’m sure that in 2016, we’ll see more manufacturers like Fitbit and Jawbone and even Apple put more focus on and efforts into coaching and helping us make sense of all the data that our fitness trackers collect. Moov Now is a must have for amateur runners at least; to improve their running and take it to the next level. Also, with the INR 5k price tag, it is also a good buy for people looking to get onto the fitness tracking bandwagon who’d rather quantify their activity in minutes than number of steps and would slowly want to move to being more active through running, cycling, swimming or at-home cardio with coaching baked in for each of those activities to help them get better.

What do you think? Have you used or tried out the Moov Now? What are your thoughts about it? Do let me know in the comments. For more reviews and experiences about gadgets and technology, do follow the blog.

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