Staying active and fit is far more of a mental challenge than a physical one. While your body may ache and may not allow you to run as fast as you’d like, or lift as much weight as you’d like, it’s your mind that causes most of the problems. It’s your mind that tells you things like “you’re so out of shape, why bother”, or “since Carol’s not going to the gym today, I’ll skip it as well and start again tomorrow”, or “my life is way too hectic to fit in any type of consistent exercise routine.” Whether mental tapes like these play for you, or you have your own repertoire, clearly our minds can serve as our best personal trainer, or our worst, most lazy friend looking for a TV buddy. As There are no easy answers and I don’t have a trick or quick-hit solution to ensure your mind plays the kind of messages that will make you “opt in” and get moving. It truly comes down to you and what works for you – you must do it for yourself. However, there are some great new tools available, that if utilized can help provide a little kick start and some horsepower for the mental side of the health/fitness battle. One such tool is Nike +.
I’ve used a few running and exercise apps over the past few years, all of which were pretty good and all with an integrated web-site. I switched to Nike+ in early 2012 and personally think it’s the best. The Nike+ tools and website integrate a number of things to create a customized, goal-driven, positive and supportive experience. Here’s a breakdown of the key elements of the Nike+ experience, and what I like about it.
THE TOOLS:* All are well designed, somewhat stylish, and easy to use:
- Nike+ GPS App for iPhone
- Nike+ App for iPod Nano
- Nike+ Sports Watches & Bands
- Nike+ Fuel Band
*Some of these products use a sensor that you place in your running shoe, but the ones I use do not. I have the Nike+ App for my iPhone and iPod Nano, as well as a Fuelband. All (with the exception of the Fuelband) track my runs via GPS and will also do a nice job of tracking my run on a treadmill — much more accurate now than they were a couple of years ago I would add.
The website, which has gone through a recent overhaul and is still being fine-tuned, is an excellent hub for all training and fitness activity. It allows you to set personal goals, browse and select a personal training programs set up by top professionals, and it does a great job of tracking progress and providing encouragement along the way in terms of key milestones and achievements earned. It has a social component to allow you to track your progress against others, connect with friends, and you can link to your Facebook or Twitter account. For those of you who aren’t that social, these are options that can be turned off/on. The website shows your personal profile and integrates your Nike+ Fuel burned, information regarding your runs, and a lot of great statistics to arm your mind and pump up the motivation level. Some website features and information include:
- Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Yearly Totals for Runs & Nike Fuel (e.g. How many miles/kilometers, calories burned, average pace, etc.)
- Fastest 1K, 5K, 10K
- Longest Workout
- Farthest Run
- Challenge friends or compete in challenges (e.g. run at least 3 times per week, or earn at least 3,000 in Nike Fuel/Day)
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THE NIKE+ EXPERIENCE:
As I said, there are a lot of apps and websites out there. So, why do I prefer the Nike+ experience? Here are a few reasons that rise to the top of my list.
- Audio coach throughout your run to keep you on track (let’s you know distance traveled, pace, and when you’re approaching a goal/milestone), with the addition of celebrity voices providing encouragement when you’ve completed or are close to a milestone (e.g. “Hey this is Dirk Nowitzki and I want to congratulate you on running more miles this week than last”.). Even as a Lakers fan, this is cool.
- I love the fact that my Nike+ app not only plays whatever song list I pick, but it let’s me set up a “power song” list and when I’m closing in on a new distance or near the end of a programmed workout, the voice of some Olympic athlete comes in and tells me “You’re almost at the 5K mark, so tap your iPhone to play a ‘power song.'” How cools is that?!
- When I start a run, it will post a note on my Facebook account (this is optional of course) and when my friends click “like” I literally hear a crowd “cheer” in the midst of my music, during my run. It’s surprising how these cheers and the power songs can make tired legs feel energetic!
- The fact that all my runs (outside or on a treadmill) are tracked. In Nike terms, “they count”.
- The fact that with the Fuelband, my total daily activity is tracked and standardized, so that I can set goals and track progress. Thus, my weight training, sit-ups, etc. all count and are integrated at the Nike+ website.
- Nike+ is definitely establishing a “community” and a very supportive one at that.
- I can’t help it, but the Nike+ marketing group and creatives just know how to make something look cool and work better than their competitors. The apps and website look great.
Whatever gets you moving and keeps you moving is worth a try. If you haven’t checked out Nike+ lately, I’d recommend it.
Small steps add up!