48 Hours With Nike FuelBand: The Good, The Bad And The Frustrating

alyson kevin fuelbandKevin Smith and I both received Nike FuelBands to try out. We were pumped.

On Monday afternoon I received a present from Nike’s marketing department:My very own $149 FuelBand. The FuelBand is a plastic device you wear on your wrist to track daily fitness.

I was pumped. It looked pretty cool, and I need motivation to exercise.

It’s been 48 hours since I slapped it on my wrist and synced it to my iPhone.

Here’s how it’s going so far.

Update: I originally wrote the Fuelband is waterproof. It’s not, it’s water resistant, so don’t take it swimming or in the shower!

The set up process is a bit painful. After 20 minutes of fiddling with it, I gave up and went to the gym without my FuelBand.

On Monday afternoon I was planning to go the gym. I figured I'd charge up my FuelBand, download the app, sync the two together and be good to go.

I was not. After doing all those things, you also have to download Nike + Connect software (otherwise you can't log into the app).

So while I went to spin class, my Fuelband stayed in my bag unused.

The next morning I downloaded software you need to get your fuelband and app working. Then I set a daily goal for myself: 3,000 fuel points.

The software doesn't take long to download. Registering is easy too. Nike asks you for your height, weight, gender and which wrist you'll be wearing the band on.

It also asks you to set a goal for yourself. I chose 3,000 daily fuel points, which Nike says is a pretty active day. 5,000 points are an exceptionally active day -- you probably can't hit this without going to the gym or playing a sport. 1,000 to 2,000 fuel points are a normal day.

Fuel points are earned fairly rapidly. For example, I walked a mile to work today and earned 736 points, burned 182 calories and took 3,343 steps.

The Fuelband comes in different sizes and two colours. It's a little clunky.

You can order the FuelBand in various sizes. Mine came in black in a size large. It's a little clunky.

My initial thought when I put it on was that something as big as the FuelBand should do a little more. If it let you stream and listen to music, it'd be a must-have workout device.

The FuelBand is not the ugliest thing I've ever seen, but I find myself wearing more black to help disguise it -- or at least match it. The Fuelband is also available in clear.

The fuelband tells you the time, steps taken, calories burned and fuel points. I'm checking my phone less because I'm using the fuelband as my watch instead.

Although it doesn't stream music, it does do a few things well.

I'm using it as a watch and I'm checking the time on my phone much less.

Unfortunately the band doesn't sync its data to your iPhone app without you physically pressing a button. If you forget, the two will be on different pages.

I always forget.

The app turns fitness into a social network. It also makes you more competitive, pushing you to workout more.

With Nike's FuelBand app, I can see my best fitness day ever, my best week, or my best month.

I can see my level of activity over the course of an hour, day, week, month, or year too. You can see the morning and afternoon commute spikes, for example. It highlights the hours of day you're most inactive. It was startling for me to see just how long I'm sitting every day, and I'm starting to take more walks.

If you connect to Facebook, you can see how your friends are doing with the fuelband, and how you stack up.

WeWork Labs founder Matt Shampine, for example, is absolutely destroying me. He's earned 16,099 fuel points this week while I've earned a mere 4,974.

I quickly found sitting at my desk and wearing a FuelBand was little depressing.

I kept tapping my FuelBand to see if typing on my computer could somehow trick it into giving me Fuel points.

No luck. The entire first day I sat for about 9 hours with only 224 of my 3,000 goal reached. It made me feel like a mouse in a cage.

Luckily, the FuelBand doesn't track calorie intake.

But realising how inactive I was during certain hours has made me more active in my spare time.

Although I haven't gone to the gym since I started wearing the fuelband, I'm making healthier decisions overall.

Yesterday I was determined to hit my goal, with or without a planned workout.

I walked to and from work, to and from Frying Pan (a bar all the way on the West Side Highway, a good mile hike from Business Insider), and I walked another mile to get home. Instead of talking the subway, buses or cabs, I walked everywhere I could.

Yesterday, I finally hit my 3,000 daily goal.

It was 11 PM and I was walking home from a friend's apartment. I looked down at my wrist and saw I had 2,880 fuel points.

'I'll be damned if I don't hit this stupid Nike fuelband goal tonight!' I tweeted.

Instead of turning onto my street, I kept walking another five blocks. I turned around and walked back. And as I opened the door to my apartment, I hit it.

I pressed the button on my fuelband. 'GOAL! GOAL! GOAL!' It flashed. Bright lights bounced and danced across my wrist band.

Then it was over. But it felt good. And I was proud of myself, I finally hit 3,000.

Here's what's great about the fuelband:

  • It's addicting and motivating. The mix of guilt and competition the FuelBand makes you feel pushes you to make healthier decisions.
  • The battery lasts a long time. It also charges pretty quickly.
  • It's multi-functional. I use it as a watch as much if not more than I use my cell phone. I've also never known how many calories I've burned walking around before.
  • It's accurate. Granted, I haven't taken my FuelBand for a run yet, but it seems pretty spot on when I walk around.
  • The statistics are amazing. You can look at your activity by the hour, day, month or year. You can see your stats and compare them with friends.

Here's what needs improving:

  • The signup process needs to be simpler. You shouldn't have to set up three different things. There really shouldn't be a need to download software if you have an app.
  • It could be easier on the eyes and lighter weight.
  • It should be water proof, not just water resistant. Swimmers will miss out on the FuelBand.
  • If it's going to stay clunky, it should do something else. The band should definitely be able to stream music. It'd be great if it tracked healthy eating as well as exercise.
  • The iPhone app and band should communicate better with each other. Yesterday after hitting my goal I forgot to sync my band to the iPhone app. The iPhone app still has no idea I hit 3,000 yesterday.

In general, I'm really happy with the FuelBand.

Sure, there are some ways the FuelBand could be improved. And I'll admit I'm curious to try out FitBit, a FuelBand competitor, and see how it compares.

But overall I'm glad I have the FuelBand. I think it's probably worth the $149 price tag. I'm pumped to keep using it and beating my personal goals.

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