How Choosing a Pedometer Gave Me an Existential Crisis

We all know that I'm a woman who believes in the transformative power of accessories.Would I have ever survived a three-hour spin class without my tutu? Nope! Would I have ever learned to climb the aerial silks without my butt sequins? Never! Would I even consider lifting big weights without the presence of my trainer, Buffin*? Heaven forbid! So, when I started wondering how I would count my daily 10,000 steps for the True North challenge, I suddenly felt like my choice of tracking device could be a defining moment in my life. Which activity tracker would best convey, "You are so badass, you can walk for miles while wearing hot pink lipstick, and success, my friend, will be yours forever?" I wanted it all - a device that would count my steps, boost my morale, cuddle with me at night, and match my outfit.


Shiny New Things

Personal Tracking Device Mania!

Misfit ShineMove over Fitbit, Nike FuelBand, Jawbone Up, Larklife, and all the rest, here comes Misfit Shine! Behold, the Misfit is smaller and shinier than it's competition, and it plays nicely with jean pockets and t-shirt collars. More to the point, it can tell when you're swimming or riding a bicycle which is a first in the category.

What also sets the Shine apart is that it's not yet available for sale. The product is still in the prototype stage, and so the San Francisco-based Misfit crew has launched an Indigogo campaign (kind of like Kickstarter) to raise the funds to take their device from dream to reality. Thusfar, they've raised $348K, crushing their own 100K goal.

That still doesn't seem like quite enough of a war chest, however, to compete with Nike. Get out your credit cards! We love the tiny, shiny form factor, and are generally glad to see that the pot of tracking device innovation boileth over. Our big question remains: What social software platform will integrate all these disparate hardware devices so we can all play together virtual-like? Just asking.


Social Workout Makes Esquire's Top Social Fitness List

A. J. Jacobs, the World's Healthiest Man, has nicely included Social Workout in his recent Esquire magazine round up of top "social fitness" sites. Cool! It's a funny, short read and includes info on the big devices (FitBit, Nike+, Withings), as well as Social Workout, Fitocracy and Stickk.

"There are many good and noble reasons to exercise. It cuts down on stress. Keeps your gut from becoming walrusesque. Helps ensure you'll stick around long enough to see your kids go to the prom. But my main motivation for exercise these days? To humiliate my friend Kevin....


Semi Automatic

Doh! Time to Throw Away Your Fitbit?

There is a growing crowd of geeky, self-righteous researchers and businesses — like Social Workout — exploring the bleeding edge of personal wellness "tracking," i.e. tracking your every heartbeat, footstep, and sun salutation. One of the basic articles of faith in this field has been that more automation is always better. That is, if a person can carry a fitbit or Nike+ device which eliminates the need for them to manually enter their activities via keyboard, they are more likely to collect the data, and thus benefit from it. Now, however, researcher Anind Dey of Carnegie Mellon has made a surprising finding: Too much automation is counter-productive:

Manual collection of information means the collector is focusing on the data (whenever collection occurs) and has the opportunity for short reflections, and can keep abreast of the data more easily. We have found that completely automating collection removes these opportunities and can actually hinder individuals in keeping track of and making sense of their data.

In short, a bit of manual data entry is actually a good thing. Long live mlogging! (Via Project HealthDesign via Quantified Self.)


msh258 said "

that would be awesome!

" More comments...

Bad Blogger, Bad!

I LOVE Social Workout! I read the tidbits on the homepage. I get super excited about the challenges. I tell everyone who will listen to me about this website. But...and it's a doozy...I suck at blogging regularly. The moment usually passes before I can get to a computer so I just forget. (A Social Workout iPhone app might help?)


Fit Tech

Fitness Tech Just This Side of Tiny Robot Trainers

PC World is out with a list of the best and brightest new fitness tech. Their picks (a few of which you could totally give your dad for Father's Day, which, reminder, hits next weekend):

  1. The Philips Activa ($130). Plays media player and radio, also tracks your calories burned and distance traveled, plus has a "TempoMusic" feature that picks songs to match your speed. 
Philips Activa (via <a href="">philips</a>)

Progress Reports

Halfway Home and Picking Up Speed

Halfway! And then some. It feels good. Even if it has taken us FOR-evah, and, even if we've got a long way to go. Here's how I think of the MMM just now: It's like a bassline. As in, a steady beat. Or possibly a Buddhist meditation: We track our minutes, and each there is something new to notice, or celebrate. (Like the fact that today, at the top of the leaderboard, way up near 11,000 minutes, michlny and bwaytapper are separated by a mere 26 minutes. That's like ultramarathoners being neck-and-neck on mile 150. Incredible.) Not that good old fashioned crack-pipe stimulus prizes don't also help. 

To wit: Welcome to Phase II of the Halway Mark Stimulus Plan, wherein we give away the hottest fitness product on the planet: The Fitbit. Yes, this week we will award one brand new Fitbit, (super-sophisticated, accelerometer-driven, motion detecting fantasy of Silicon Valley), to that MMM Challenger who submits the most inspiring workout "prescription." Note: This is similar to a workout post, but different. Shocking details after the jump — like that brand new MMM challengers are welcome to compete — but before you run off to oggle all that (not to mention the Day 49 leaderboard), please bask in the glory of 500K. Know that you are part of something epic, even if it is interminable. Indeed, epic because it is interminable! One million or bust!

Day 49 of the Million Minute Month!

shaynet said "

Love this idea! I can't wait to read all the prescriptions!

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Mr. Mohawk said "

yeah, I've definitely hacked out / hacked up 18 page papers on The ..." More comments...

Wired Intern

How Many Calories Do Your Burn Kissing on a Subway Platform?

Personal body tracking is on the rise in America. Armies of geeks have finally found something in fitness they can love, and they're storming the gym armed with Fitbits and NikePluses and ExerSpies. Data from a billion footfalls and a trillion heartbeats are just now streaming on to the web, an explosion of bits that Wired magazine labels the "macrocosm." How for real is this? Can you say Quantified Self Meetup? Eager to make sense of it all, Social Workout has outfitted our intern, Juliet B., with four of the top body tracking gizmos. Her job? To plumb the depths of personal surveillance as she proceeds through her life as a Junior at Fordham University. Following is her first transmission.... ~The Eds.]


Time Calories Heart Rate (bpm)
Distance (miles) Steps Activity
SAT 08:15-09:15PM  200 75 0 0 Start fab Avatar date at coffee shop.
SAT 09:15-09:20PM 33 80 0.25 367 Walk to theater, he makes me laugh with Boondock Saints impression.
SAT 09:30PM-12:12AM 6 70 0 0 Avatar. 3D.
SUN 12:30-12:31AM 33 90 0.1 0 Subway platform kiss.
TUE 06:00-9:00PM 250 75 0 0 Catching up with everyone on the phone foreverrrrr.
WED 12:45-01:00PM 43 85 .25 490 Schlep to Journalism Seminar.
WED 01:00-02:15PM 129 70 0 0 Sit in Journalism Seminar. Room was too hot. I was dead tired.
WED 06:00-06:11PM 18 85 0 0 Talking to friend and telling her stories about Avatar date.
WED 06:12-06:12PM 2 85 0 0 Friend told me I made her day and gave me a big hug.
Juliet and Heart Rate Monitor Ring

sassletics82 said "

awwww i love it! i wonder how man cals i burned when vonH and I held ..." More comments...

Workout Gear

Screw the Gym, Buy a Movement Tracker?

David Pogue of the New York Times thinks you're unlikely to follow through with your resolution to go to the gym. Instead, he thinks you should buy a movement tracker. He tested out both Fitbit and DirectLife, and thanks to their movement tracking wizardry he's revolutionized his life by parking at the far end of parking lots. Pogue is a musical theater geek and a magician, not really a fitness buff, so baby steps are good. But you have to wonder what would have happened if he'd paired Fitbit and DirectLife with actual exercise. 

His take on Fitbit: It's "one wicked-cool piece of hardware," but it's somewhat delicate — he dropped and broke his — and while it feels like it's for the masses who'd like to get a bit more fit, it overwhelms a casual user with masses of raw data without offering much help for developing a realistic fitness program. 

His take on DirectLife: Not as technologically impressive, but more likely to get you in shape and help you lose weight thanks to the 12-weeks of free personal coaching that come with the device. Where Fitbit leaves you to analyze your own data, DirectLife assigns experts to sort through it all, help you set goals based on your current fitness, and encourage you along the way. 

My take: Maybe get a fitness tracking device and go to the gym too! Imagine! 

Fitbit (via <a href="">fitbit</a>)

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