Nike FuelBand Review
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image by Alan Klim

Ever since SXSW I have wanted a Nike FuelBand. Nike had a huge launch of the FuelBand complete with Allyson Felix and Jimmy Fallon. My “I’m With The Band” shirt is my favorite piece of SXSwag. However, I was not enamored enough with it to shell out the $149 price knowing very little about how it worked for the average non- running athlete.

However, when I logged on one morning to see my Twitter friend Robin offering hers for free I jumped at the chance. My virtual hand shot in the air as I tweeted Me Me Me! (Thank you Robin!)

The package arrived a couple of days after we returned home from our Maui adventure. After installing the software and resetting the device I was ready to see if I was really as active as I thought I was.

Wrong. Big wrong.

Here is what I learned about myself in the weeks since I started wearing the FuelBand:

When I sit at the computer I burn very few calories. Logically I knew this but I never had it stare me in the face so dramatically.

Sundays are not my most active days. Sunday has always been a day for me to treat myself with a bigger dinner (Movie Night means black bean burgers and sweet potato fries!) because I do a longer workout on Sunday. However my hour long bike ride does not offset the sitting I do for pretty much the rest of the day. I may read, watch basketball or catch up on Ellen before dinner and I movie.

It makes me want to work harder. I love pushing the button on the FuelBand to see how many calories I’ve burned or Fuel I’ve earned during a workout. If I don’t like the number, I kick it up a notch.

The days that I actually reach the 2000 calorie mark are my busy and on the go days. These are days I train clients in the morning (usually about 5 hours of sessions), a strength training workout of my own and then take a walk after dinner with Brian. I may actually burn more than 2000 calories but it takes being on the move all day to hit that target.

We all tend to overestimate the amount of calories we burn in a day or during a workout. In most cases our BMR is an estimate, too. We simply think we must be burning at least that 2000 calories a day the USDA estimates our Recommended Daily Allowances. A tool like the FuelBand can be a much needed reality check for those trying to lose fat by giving an estimate of much fuel we are really burning each day.

I say “estimate” because the FuelBand does have it’s drawbacks.

There isn’t any monitoring or measuring of biometric data. The Fuelband has an accelerometer to estimate activity – it’s only accounting for movement of the wrist it’s on. It doesn’t have a sensor to measure body temperature or heart rate.  You do enter your age, gender, weight and height at set up so it does take that data into consideration.

It’s impervious to biking and mountain climbers. I am working my butt off with mountain climbers and push ups but since my wrist isn’t moving it really doesn’t register much of a burn. Biking presents the same challenge. I was able to overcome the biking issue by lacing it in my shoe laces. Now the faster I pedal the more Fuel I earn.

What the heck is Fuel anyway? The FuelBand does show calories but it’s main number is Fuel earned. I have yet to determine the relationship of calories to Fuel. It’s supposed to allow for comparison across differing activities.

Make sure you get the right size.  Since my Fuelband came second hand I didn’t have the option of using the sizing guide. I have tiny wrists so my FuelBand has to be pushed half way up my forearm to keep it from jangling around like a bangle bracelet.

Am I glad I got a chance to try out the FuelBand? Absolutely. If something happens to it, would I pay to replace it? At this moment in time I would have to see yes. I like the instant data and the push it gives me. I like the nudge to move away from my desk and move. It is better for runners than bikers. But no matter your sport, it will give you data to make better decisions on how much move and how you fuel.

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