About a month ago, my employer introduced a new program called #FuelGood to encourage employees to stay active. They invested in a few dozen Nike FuelBands that employees can check out for a one-week period. For every 360,000 Fuel Points earned by the group, the company will donate packages of supplies to Harlem Children’s Zone here in New York City. I’ve participated for about three of the five weeks, and the group has reached our goal a few times already!Before trying out the FuelBand, my perception was that it is most suited for runners, as it best tracks forward motion and upper body movement. The brand new Nike+ FuelBand SE was designed to more effectively track all types of movement, but I am using the previous generation FuelBand. Until recently, much of my activity has come from boutique fitness class that are not always forward moving or focused on the upper body. I wondered how the FuelBand would react to different types of classes and which would earn me the most Fuel Points, calories burned, and steps taken.
As part of my experiment, I wore the FuelBand for the following classes: high intensity interval training, indoor cycling, and cardio dance. I also wore it on a run, so I would have a sort of benchmark comparison for my class stats. While these stats only represent one workout of each type, I was surprised by the results.
4. As One — High Intensity Interval Training
FuelPoints Earned: 860
Calories Burned: 215
Steps Taken: 2,430
This 45-minute workout consists of bursts of cardio and strength training at stations around the As One gym. While you are constantly in motion, forward movement is not incorporated into cardio like the stair climber or Jacob’s ladder. Nor does the FuelBand capture lower body exercises like squats and lunges.
3. Swerve — Indoor Cycling
FuelPoints Earned: 970
Calories Burned: 240
Steps Taken: 4,885
This 45-minute indoor cycling ride includes one upper body segment using hand weights. In an effort to capture the forward motion of my feet clipped into the pedals, I Velcroed the FuelBand onto one of my shoes. It recorded twice as many steps during the ride as it did in my As One class, but the other metrics were only slightly higher.
2. KP Dance Body — Cardio Dance
FuelPoints Earned: 1,300
Calories Burned: 330
Steps Taken: 3,200
This 45-minute workout consists mostly of dance combinations ranging from hip hop to Salsa with some lower-body mat work. Traveling across the floor and constant arm movement boosted my FuelPoints and calories burned. However, I didn’t take as many steps as I did during my Swerve cycling class.
1. Run in Central Park
FuelPoints Earned: 1,440
Calories Burned: 370
Steps Taken: 7,640
As predicted, my 40-minute run earned the best stats on the FuelBand, and in the least amount of time. While I earned only slightly fewer Fuel Points and calories burned than I did in KP Body, the run crushed even indoor cycling in terms of steps taken. This isn’t shocking, considering running is all about the steps.
I’m not convinced that the FuelBand is a reliable source for tracking movement or keeping fitness stats in boutique fitness classes. I am particularly skeptical of how it calculates calories burned, as the stats seem too low. Still, I’ll continue to wear the FuelBand during my half marathon training, especially because it does good for others.
Have you tried the FuelBand or another fitness tracker? For which types of workouts?