For TechRadar’s Fitness Week, two of my colleagues and I have taken on the task of writing daily diaries about our exercise regimes. And now we’re over halfway through January, I feel it’s either now or never to get fit.
Over six days, we’re going to attempt five different activities ranging from running to gym-ing and report back how it went and, more importantly, how well the tech suited our experience.
The three diaries are split over levels, so you’ve got the option of a beginner (the one you’re reading now) an intermediate and a fitness obsessed diary.
As I’m taking on the beginner level, I’m using a relatively basic fitness tracker called the Moov Now. It currently sits at number one on our best fitness tracker list and we love it for being an all-round great fitness device at an affordable price.
Be sure to head back here everyday until Saturday 27 January where our final wrap up entry will be published.
Day 1) Running
I’ve never gelled with the idea of putting one foot in front of the other really fast.
I’ve tried on multiple occasions to become that guy who effortlessly glides past the slower pavement dwellers when I’m on my way to pick up my weekend takeaway, but I’ve just never succeeded in keeping running up for more than a few weeks or perhaps even a month at most.
It’s not exactly a New Year’s Resolution (as I never keep those) but I’ve challenged myself to use the start of 2018 as a big push to get fit, and part of that is set to be running.
Now I’m surrounded by technology nagging me to get back out to exercise, and running is by far the simplest way to do so.
Little to zero exercise over the Christmas break meant I was back to total beginner level for this fitness diary, and that’s on top of my complete lack of experience with a lot of the activities we’ll be undertaking such as swimming and cycling. More on those in the days to come.
If you’re in the same boat as me, there’s good news. There’s lots of affordable tech out there to encourage the absolute beginner to get out and start doing at least the basics for their health.
Fitness trackers are one of the best starting points for any beginner, so I’ve chosen the Moov Now – our favorite tracker you can buy right now, as my device of choice for the duration of this diary.
I used that along with my iPhone 8 and a pair of Apple AirPods to keep me entertained throughout my run. Setting up the tracker proved easy, even if it did mean signing up to yet another service to track my runs…
I then used the Moov Coach app (which is a free download on both Android and iOS) to start an open ended running workout.
You’ll need a heart-rate tracker with the Moov Now to be able to undertake any of the specific tailor made exercises. As a beginner, you may not want to invest in a heart rate tracker before you know you’re going to keep your exercise up, so I’ve decided to just use the basic device for this diary.
That said, the heart rate tracker is one of the features I found was sorely missed on the Moov Now. You can buy an accessory headband to monitor heart rate, but it’s a shame there isn’t an in-device tracker like there is on the Fitbit Charge 2 or Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro.
Instead it meant I used my Runtastic account to come up with an exercise and listened to those instructions while I recorded my free run and its stats within the Moov app.
I did two minutes of jogging before a minute of walking, repeated that for half an hour, and that was enough to hammer home quite how relaxing my Christmas break had been.
The app asked me to strap the tracker around my ankle, which is something I hadn’t encountered before with other fitness devices. I thought this would be irritating throughout the workout, but the lightweight activity tracker wasn’t even noticeable on my ankle.
In fact, I got home and left the tracker on for another half an hour before remembering it was tied around the bottom of my leg.
I was capable on the run itself. It was only the odd occasion that the lady in my ear asked me to complete an impossible task, but I found I was able to keep up with the timings the Runtastic app set for me.
If you’re a total novice at running, I’d recommend taking out a subscription to a running plan app like Runtastic. Most of these services will charge you for access to planned workouts, and while you can plan workouts yourself it usually takes a lot of time and knowledge.
Even downloading an app like the free version of Couch to 5K will provide you a ready-made workout, and when it’s sat there ready and waiting you have one less excuse to get out and start running.
You don’t have to faff around with what exercise you’re going to be doing, you just tie your laces, hit the road, and follow orders. It makes the whole process a lot smoother, especially for a beginner.
By strapping the Moov Now to my ankle, it gave me some interesting detail I haven’t experienced from some other fitness trackers I’ve used in the past including cadence (cycles of your feet per minute) and the range of motion my legs made.
I got a score of 81 degrees, which is on the lower end of what Moov Now thinks is ideal, but this kind of stat that gives me something to work on in the future for further workouts.
I missed the ideal goal of steps per minute as I scored 131 while it wants something in the range of 160-190, but I think this is likely down to the app not realizing I’m a total beginner and I’m not yet experienced enough to reach that target.
My distance and location data was also recorded, but that wasn’t through a GPS tracker inside the wearable. It used the GPS within my phone, and while it’s useful to have those details, it can be irritating for some people who struggle to run with their phone on them.
If you’re just starting out at running with a device like the Moov Now that doesn’t have GPS, you’ll need to find a way of taking your phone with you, which could mean a phone strap if you don’t feel comfortable running with it in your pocket.
Alternately, you could invest the extra money to get a device like the Apple Watch 3 or newly announced Garmin Forerunner 645 Music that allows you to run without your phone but still track your location and listen to music.
Check back tomorrow for day 2 where we take on high intensity interval training.