Review: Moov Activity Tracker – A FitBit with a bonus coach?

moov

The Moov activity tracker was launched 02/27/2014 with a crowd funding campaign. They did the crowd funding on their own site, rather than using Kickstarter, FundAnything, IndieGoGo, or another crowd funding tool. I was super excited about the possibilities and signed on 2/28 as an early backer.

Gizmodo did a nice writeup Moov Might Be the Most Advanced Fitness Wearable Yet about the device and the company when it was announced in February 2014. The article is worth reading for more history and explains that one of the three co-founders, Nikola Hu was a former engineer at Apple who also worked on the Xbox HALO series.

The Device

The premise behind the Moov is that it will do far more than just count steps. It combines three sensors (magnet, angular rate and gravity sensors) in proprietary manner to create a “9-axis sensor.” This sensor can track the actual motion of movement. Their site states this technology is mostly used in strategic missiles — I like to think of my movement being compared to strategic missiles – powerful. Using an app, this data is interpreted and used to coach an athlete.

The initial app is for running, but Cardio Boxing is now out and there are others in development including swimming and cycling. Their timeframe for release according to the post When will more Moov apps be released? site is as follows:

iOS:
Swimming (late October)
Cycling (November)
Body Weight (December)

Android:
Apps for Android will be released in stages, the first of which, the Run & Walk app, will be released in November. Other apps including Cardio Boxing, Swimming, Cycling and Body Weight will be released 3 months after the iOS release.

Moov Run & Walk was released in July 2014. Cardio boxing will be released in September and the rest of the apps will be released one after the other with a month in between.

As an early backer, I received my Moov device in August and didn’t get the opportunity to really try it until September. This is my experience using it.

Unboxing

The unit comes in a nice looking box. Very Apple-like. It’s a box with a wrap around sleeve.

When opened, after pulling the paperwork, you see the Moov device on display.

The Moov itself is not too large, about the size of a small watch. Here it is with a quarter to get a size impression.

Underneath the Moov, there is are two bands. One for the wrist and another for the ankle. In the other compartment is the charging/sync cable.

The Moov snaps into a cradle at the end of the cable to charge.

When you have the Moov fully charged, you connect it to your iPhone. You will need to have downloaded the appropriate app. Currently that’s Moov Running and Walking or Moov Boxing – Cardio Punch. I tested with Running and Walking because that was the only app available at the time. I was planning to also test Cardio Punch, but having two Moovs is recommended, so I will hold off on that.

After downloading the app, it’s really simple to connect. First, create an account or connect to Facebook (that’s what I chose). Then, fill out your information and press finish.

Then you will be prompted to Press you Moov to connect and it will appear as an option. You can give it its own color and then press Go!

For running, you will need to use the ankle strap. It is definitely noticeable, but many people think us runners are weird anyway. What’s another piece of gear?

As soon as you hit the Go! button, you will be prompted to Allow Location Access. If you are on iOS 8, you will get a second prompt for you talk allow GPS access when you are not in the app.

Once you have granted access, you have four workout types from which to choose.

These are described in the app as follows:

Brisk Walking will challenge users with high cadence intervals. Fit for those looking to maximize their daily walks by increasing step count and calories burned.

Running Efficiency will train you to run further for the energy you expend and turn you into more efficient runner. Made for those who want to run long distance.

Sprint Intervals will challenge users with high speed, high cadence intervals. This program is for those looking to get the most out of a quick workout when time is limited.

Speed Endurance will coach you to run further and faster through intervals that challenge you to sustain a target pace. This program is for those looking to increase their personal running records in marathons, triathlons and other races.

I only worked with the last three workout types.

When you choose one of the workout types, you will be asked a multiple choice question. These are shown below in the order previously listed.

How you answer the question will determine a starting level for the workout. The levels have a pretty broad range. In order to change them, scroll up and down on the screen. When your desired level is highlighted, release and wait for a second. The results will appear.

The images below show Running Efficiency options. If you choose Too Easy, you will start out in Level 3 and you have options all the way to Level 16. You can see that the intervals are quite a bit longer.

Levels can also be chosen for Sprint Intervals and Speed Endurance. Sprint Intervals have a ranges from Level 1 with 5 intervals of 30 seconds each at a cadence of 170 spm to Level 46 with 5 intervals of 2 minutes each at a cadence of 215 spm as shown in the following images:

Speed Endurance Intervals have a ranges from Level 1 with 3 intervals of 437 yards each at a pace of 13:00/Mile and cadence of 150 spm to Level 69 with 3 intervals of 1 mile each at a pace of 3:22/mile and a cadence of 180 spm as shown in the following images:

The mile pace for Level 69 of Speed Endurance intervals is quite hilarious considering the world records are as follows according to Wikipedia:

The current mile world record holders are Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj with 3:43.13 minutes and Svetlana Masterkova of Russia with the women’s record of 4:12.56 minutes.

Obviously it will be a while before anyone will be training at Level 69.

My Run

As an endurance athlete, I started out by choosing Running Efficiency.

Warmup was 2 minutes. Woefully short. This is a real concern to me. I believe that warmups need to really be much longer. They also can be enhanced with some dynamic stretching. I would recommend doing a warmup before running with the Moov. That will eliminate the concern. Here is an excellent article by Jeff Gaudette of Runners Connect: 3 Common Myths About Warming Up Before a Run (and How to Make it Work for You).

When I was running the intervals, a voice that sounds like Siri starts prompting you. If you are on track, there is a chime to help re-enforce your effort.

I got to hear the voice a lot. As I was running, I kept hearing that my cadence was low. Very low. Sometimes as low as 90 SPM (steps per minute). Then a few seconds later, I would hear that it was dead on. I would also hear that I was moving too fast. This was a challenge. When I increase my cadence, I run faster. I resemble what Alex Hutchinson of Runner’s World and Sweat Science and Pete Larson of RunBlogger have shown in their studies about stride rate and pace in these two posts The problem with 180 strides per minute: some personal data and Running Speed: Human Variability and The Importance of Both Cadence and Stride Length.

The Moov is set for arbitrary speeds and cadences. This makes it very difficult for me to dial in to the proper speed and stride rate. I wound up being constantly reminded that I am going too fast, or that my cadence is too slow. It can be a challenge. I really would love a way to customize the program.

I am embedding my marathon from earlier this year to demonstrate my average pace and cadence. You will be able to see that my pace is relatively quick at a moderate cadence of 164 average. I am 6’2 and this definitely may be a factor.

This is the workout I did with the Moov. My cadence was increased and my pace was quicker. This causes me to be reminded that I am running too fast to maintain the pace. It’s flattering, but persistent.

Another fluke was that even when I was told that my cadence was too low, I would look down on my wrist and see that my cadence was dead-on, or even higher. I would be running with a cadence of 178-182 according to my watch, the Fenix 2 (with Running Dynamics) and the Moov would be telling me that my cadence was 134 or the like. This happened frequently. However, I will say in the end, the outcome was pretty similar when I compared the results as shown below.

 

Battery Life

This is a real standout because they must have injected some real magic. From what I have seen, the battery life is pretty stellar. I only used the Moov for three workouts on two different runs, but that was well over a month ago and the battery is showing over 40% as I write this.

Conclusion

The Moov is a really interesting device with a ton of potential. Since it is controlled by software on the iPhone, I feel that they can modify the app to make it a true companion for extended training.

I think that the Moov can be especially helpful for those who are just starting out running. While the voice prompts can be frequent, they really do help keep you in focus with your form and activity with helpful guidance to pick up your feet and run lighter. I also like the G-Force measurements because the amount of impact can be detrimental to your legs. Running is a high impact sport and any way new runners can learn to lessen impact from the start is very welcome. This actually helps experienced runners as well.

If they were to add a way to customize the length of intervals and the paces, this would be an indispensable device that I would use for most tempo runs and the like. I am eager to see what comes out of development and in future updates to the app. I see the promise of it and with a few tweaks could grow to love it.

I also will be testing the cycling and swimming apps when they are released. Since I am a newer rider and a hopeless swimmer, I hope to benefit from the device. I am really curious about how it will give feedback for swimming. I don’t have waterproofing for my headphones or iPhone. That app may have to be different.

The Moov can be pre-ordered through this link https://moov.cc/getmoov/5DF0A58A07. That link also gives me a $5 credit toward a second device so I can review Cardio Punch later. Thanks for your support.

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Eric Hunley

RRCA Certified coach. Started to change lifestyle in 2012 when weight was up to 283 lbs. Eventually started running later that year and racing in 2013. Has run in dozens of races and has been featured in some podcasts. Full Bio on About Page.
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  • Irena Zharkov

    Moov is the best wearable I’ve used for exercising compared to other wearables. It motivates you with a coach unlike the other wearables.

    Here’s the homepage
    http://moov.cc/getmoov/19D4F94BEC

  • FitnessForesight

    I am a big fan of your website, and great review! Taught me a few additional things about Moov. If anyone would like to see some additional information on Moov check out this interactive presentation! http://ow.ly/P6Wwo

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