Most fitness gear has a predictable life cycle: Religious use, followed by waning interest and excuses/reasons to skip a workout, and finally a dusty grave in a dark closet or corner of the garage.
Being a cynic, a couch potato, and a frequent critic of predatory ‘health and wellness’ experts hawking useless products, and more importantly finding a Nike + iPod unit at a decent discount, I felt it was my duty to see if the device was just hi-tech snake oil.
Full review inside.
The Nike + iPod is essentially a telemetry unit. Racing cars, passenger jets, and the Mythbusters have used them for years to record everything from simple motion to G-Forces in an automobile accident.
In layman’s terms, you shake it or smack it, it records how much it moved and how hard the impact was.
The Nike + iPod is designed to fit in a pocket inside a specially designed Nike shoe. Save your money, it will work with any shoe, as long as it’s attached firmly. You don’t want it flying off while you’re running. I tuck mine between my shoelaces and the tongue of my shoe, and it works just fine.
Data is constantly reported to your iPod wirelessly from the unit, and it calculates your speed, distance traveled, and calories burned. The included software (I used the word ‘included’ loosely, it has to be downloaded via iTunes) can walk you through several pre-programmed workouts, or you can create your custom workout, all while playing a custom playlist from your music collection.
Additional workouts, many of them based on a particular musical artist, are available for download, most of them carrying a $9.99 price tag. To get you started, the Nike + iPod allows you to download a free 20 minute workout, currently featuring All American Rejects.
In part to be ‘motivational’, and I’m also sure to prevent piracy of the backing musical tracks, the Rejects have provided voiceovers for the free download. It’s a little weird to hear them giving you words of encouragement, or to have the band calmly tell you that it’s time to sprint… in your headphones… without having them sounding out of breath at all. I think they’re just lazy.
After finishing a run (or stroll, depending on what you’re aiming for) you can synch your device and upload the data to a website provided by Nike.
Here everything gets a little weird.
On the website you’ll create an avatar, very similar to an XBox Live Avatar or Nintendo Mii. You’ll also set goals for yourself (which the software keeps a careful eye on) and earn Trophies for reaching certain fitness milestones. Yes, I said TROPHIES. Just like a Playstation 3 or XBox 360.
You can also compete in virtual events and check out other user’s favorite running routes. Other than the Avatar thing, it’s much cooler than it sounds.
In a society that seems to be looking for a magic bullet to lose a few extra pounds, I have to say THIS IS NOT IT.
You’re still going to need to do the work yourself, and the only thing you’re really getting out of the deal is a pretty nifty way to track your progress… but it is pretty damn nifty.
Any purchasing decision should be based on whether you’re actually interested in running or walking as a hobby.
Surprisingly, weeks after the purchase, I’m still using the device daily. I have to admit that it HAS encouraged me to get up and get out a little more. Instead of sitting on my ass for my breaks at work, I’ve started taking walks around the building. I’m currently averaging about 2.5 miles a day. Considering I started at 0 miles a day, and I’ve dropped a few pounds in the process… I think that’s a pretty good deal for the price tag.
The Nike + iPod is compatible with iPod Nano (1st – 4th Gen), iPod Touch (1st and 2nd Gen) and iPhone.
If you’re using an iPhone or iPod Touch 2nd Gen, you don’t need the bundled pack of sensor and receiver. Save a few dollars and get the ‘sensor only’ option.