Replacing one personal trainer with two apps
”Why wouldn’t a device replace gym membership?” John Sjölander, COO of Burt and startup royalty, asked himself in this interview. Like my co-workers here at Hoa’s Tool Shop I enjoy working out, but I also want the workout to be efficient so that I don’t have to do it too often. Accessibility and efficiency are the most important features of a workout. To ensure the latter I hired a personal trainer. As far as training goes this was the best thing I’ve ever tried. Unfortunately it was also the most expensive. Since I’m not yet in a place where I can throw €200 on a one hour workout,I figured I could create a budget version of a personal trainer by using Nike Fuelband and our own app Viary.
I boiled down the function of a personal trainer to two simple features: 1) pushing me to go to the actual workout, and 2) setting concrete goals and making sure I move towards them.
I started working on the first goal by using Nike Fuelband which is a sort of pedometer that tracks all your movement. Nike has created their own unit called “fuels”, and 2000 fuels equals a semi-active day. You can choose how many fuels you want to hit in a day and then it’s up to you to reach that goal. In order to push myself I’ve set my goal really high. At first I set it at 3000 fuels but I’ve since raised it to 4000. If I want to reach that goal every day I have to push myself to walk more and to spend at least 30 minutes on some sort of physical activity every day.
I love working towards something concrete, and that’s why I love entering races. So far I have completed six races in the last two years and knowing that I’ll soon be running in a race is a great motivator for me. My next race is the midnight run in Stockholm. It’s 10 kilometers and I believe that I could get an ok time as long as I prepare myself well. To make sure I stay on track and continue to strive towards my goals I’ve created two goals in Viary:
- Run 2 kilometers under 7 minutes
- Complete the Midnight Run in less than 40 minutes
I hope to hit the first goal after performing the behavior “Run 2 kilometers as fast as possible” five times. With Viary I can keep track of my progression by using the commenting system in the app. In my first try I ran it in 7:29 minutes, then two weeks later I tried it again, this time completing it in 7:19 minutes. Just by logging my runs and seeing how each little run takes me closer to my goal is not only a great motivator, it’s also a great way to know how much I can push myself. I’ve set up something similar for the second goal but the results so far don’t look as good as they do regarding the first goal.
I know that a personal trainer does so much more than seting goals and reminding you to increase them. In fact I love these types of services so much that I’m working on a site that’s sort of a Air Bnb for personal trainers. The point is that they’re expensive and that you can come a long way by breaking down goals into concrete behaviors and then visualize how those behaviors affect the goal.