Nike Fuel Band – Useful or Gimmicky?

Six months ago I received a Nike Fuel band and I have been wearing it daily since. I’ve read some mixed reviews on the actual product so I thought I would write my own from both a techy/geeky perspective and a gym fanatic point of view.

The Look and Feel

Nike Fuel Band  Lit up band

I love it! I am, however, pretty geeky! To me, it looks very futuristic. I have a white one and I love the fact that there is no display until you push the button and then everything lights up. There are five functions displayed on the band:
1) Time.
2) Calories Burnt.
3) Nike Fuel Points earned.
4) Steps taken.
5) Whether you have achieved your goal or not.

I find the band aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. I have heard it described as a ‘jail bracelet’ because it does need to be worn pretty much all the time and if you’re a girl it does tend to clash with certain outfits. It becomes almost impossible to accessorise the arm you have chosen to wear it due to it being taken up by the band.

The Functionality
In order to make effective use of the Nike Fuel band, one must set goals. Goals are presented in the form of ‘burning calories’ and ‘earning Nike Fuel points’. You can only have one active goal at a time, and these goals are achieved over a time period of your choosing. As well as an overall goal, you are able to set a daily goal of how many calories you would like to burn. When you have achieved your goal(s) you are rewarded by virtual trophies that then become a part of your Nike+ profile.

The goals can be set via the Nike Connect software that comes with the band or the nike+ website, which also integrates your other Nike products (for me at the moment this is the running).

There are two main parts for the Nike+ website that allow you to monitor and track your activities. The dashboard, which shows your most recent activity and whether you are on track or not and the activities tab which provides statistical information of your achievements via a graph.

dashboard activity

By clicking on your profile, you are able to see an overview of all your activities and your recent trophies.

profile profile b

You are also able to add friends who also have Nike+ products/accounts and compete with them or challenge them to activities such as runs/earning points etc.

The good, the bad and the ….. BEAUTIFUL

So that’s an overview of what it does, but why is it good? Before I get into that, however, like every product it will have it’s cons. Let’s start with those.

It’s not waterproof so you are unable to monitor your swimming activities. I have also found that the there is no indication of how the calories burnt is calculated. My guess is that it is an average that is taken, and unless you are a beginner it is highly unlikely you will be burning what the band is indicating. On the contrary though, the calories burnt values for resistance based exercises such as weight lifting etc are very low compared to walking, running, boxing and high intensity exercises. For this reason, some describe it as a glorified pedometer. It is also not good for monitoring cycling activities, unless you do what I do and that is to fix it onto your cleats.

Ok, so you can’t accurately calculate calories burnt (it’s probably best to use a heart rate monitor for this, however, even then there is no guarantee of absolute accuracy) so why not measure fuel points instead?

I tried this and I found it to be arbitrary. I have no idea how the fuel points are calculated and found trying to achieve a fuel point based goal rather than a calorie based goal a lot harder. It was mostly difficult to measure how long it would take you to achieve the goal.

Finally , it is a pretty expensive bit of kit.

So many negative points, so why do I love it so much?

For me, personally, it is an excellent motivational tool. Although, most people would argue that the band is designed for beginners, to which, I agree to an extent but as someone who is a gym fanatic and who has been exercising and eating healthy for a long time you have moments when you hit the wall. It’s easy to become deflated and demotivated and the band works wonders for me. I find that the reward based system of ‘trophies’ and the little green alien who commends you after you have synced brings a great deal of satisfaction and keeps me moving outside of my daily exercise regime.

I am also the kind of person who likes to statistically track my activities and for that reason also I love this device. It is also great for competing with friends and of course the most important reason being that I am a geek and if a product is released to the market place that ties in one of my past times with technology, which, is designed beautifully and has useful functionality then I am highly likely to buy and love it.

From a tech point of view, the software and the website is designed pretty well. It is easy enough to navigate the nike+ site, customise it to your needs and add friends. The statistics and visualisations produced upon your data is very good as well as the mapping features for running. The trophies and animation as a reward based system work fairly well too. The only qualm with that is once you have achieved the highest trophy there is nowhere else to go. It starts to become a bit meaningless after a while achieving numerous amounts of the same trophy. I guess the concept of levels is in place, especially for the running and the milestone points achieved combined with game like elements of competing with your friends but i think at the moment this is probably still pretty weak.

What would be great is that if Nike would open it up for developers to be able to write additional functionality. Maybe build some fitness apps based upon the fuel band but I think it’s highly unlikely this will happen.

So, to conclude I think the fuel band is a fantastic motivational tool that is aesthetically pleasing and definitely worth investing in whether you’re a novice or a fanatic.

7 Comments

  1. Great review! I’ve always been curious of the Nike Fuel Band. I agree with your assessment of it being aesthetically pleasing. I would buy based on its look (pretty shallow, huh?), but the motivation piece is hard to put a price on. Earning rewards for fitness is a great way to keep things fresh. Even if they are virtual rewards, I think it still engaging.

    How does hold over time with sweat? Does white hold its color over time?

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  2. Thank you very much, I’m glad you like the review. A lot of reviews I’ve read seem to dismiss it based on the fact that they deem it a ‘glorified pedometer’ but I believe it’s so much more.

    It’s definitely very robust as I’ve performed kettle bell snatches whilst wearing it and it’s been fine. The colour is holding too, I wear it daily and workout at least 5 times a week and it’s still white 🙂 My PT has also wrapped it with my boxing wraps and the colour hasn’t rubbed off so I’d say pretty good kit.

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  3. Ps I don’t think it’s shallow, when it comes to tech I LOVE beautifully designed things. Just makes them so much cooler.

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  4. You’re right probably not shallow. If one is to wear the band ALL THE TIME – it should look good not look you one is on house arrest.

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  5. Good review! How much was it? How often do you have to charge it?

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  6. good review. Im of the opinion that anything that motivates you is a good thing. There are a few different ways of measuring fitness or how much you energy you are burning or how hard you are working in a workout and a few different types of gadgets. But depending on how far into the science you want to go, or how technical you want to get then something like this works for people that like to have a rough idea of how well they are doing and told if they have doen well/ achived certain targets. The only thing, and one you mentioned was the lack of accounting for resistance…but for cardio based stuff great

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