MOOV Classic REVIEW
Updated Oct 29, 2015
Note: The 2nd Generation MOOV device, the MOOV NOW, is available for purchase as of Fall 2015! I've posted a review of the MOOV NOW, which you can read here.
Moov goes beyond traditional fitness tracking by adding live, integrated smart coaching to deliver more efficient and effective workouts, improve your form, and turn you into a fitness superstar via progressively more challenging workouts. One or two motion-sensing Moov devices and a compatible smartphone/BLE enabled device are all it takes to dive into a versatile and growing set of Moov applications that include swimming, running, fitness walking, bodyweight workouts, cardio punch workouts, and cycling. I strapped on two Moovs and set out discover whether these devices can really deliver.
Just a Heads Up!
As always, I like to be upfront about how I obtain the products I review, whether it was via a purchase I made, a gift from a friend, or provided by a company. In this case, Moov sent me two Moovs to test and review — a black Moov and a white Moov. However, no matter how I obtain a device, I'm still going to provide you with my honest thoughts about its pros, cons, and overall experience of using it. Otherwise, what's the point? Read on to find out how the Moovs performed (or how I performed while wearing the Moovs).
Moov is a crowd-funded company that raced through the product launch process at lightning speed: The funding goal was reached in just 90 minutes, $1M worth of Moov products were sold in just two weeks, and the product shipped within just 5 months of the crowd funding date.
The outcome? An impressively polished device, suite of slick apps that is rapidly being updated and that keeps growing, and an AI Smart Coach. Together, these elements combine to deliver a truly new fitness experience.
About Moov: Product, Apps, and Coaching
In the already crowded space of fitness apps and devices, it's Moov's coaching ability that sets it apart. Moov bills its product as a "wearable coach." But what does that mean?
A standard fitness tracker just tracks your motion. A standard fitness app just tells you what to do next.
Moov checks both those boxes: it not only tracks your motion and tells you what to do next, but provides real-time feedback based on your performance (i.e. "Try 5 more intervals at a faster speed"), when to do more based on how you've done already ("You beat that goal by a ton. Try Level 10 next time."), cheers you on, and tells you how to improve your exercise mid-workout (i.e. correcting your form or pace during the workout) as well as afterward (i.e. via written tips delivered alongside charts of your workout data).
When compared to the also well-established personal trainer/"human coach" space, Moov's "AI Coaching" provides something new as well. I've had running coaches tell me to pick up my pace or shorten my stride, but until Moov, I've never had a coach specifically tell me whether I'm hitting my exact target pace or alert me exactly as soon as my feet start pounding the pavement too hard. Nor have I been able to see a chart of how the g-force of my feet hitting the pavement changes after I've received that feedback -- until now. Similarly, I've had a boxing coach remind me to pivot when I throw a straight punch, but I haven't been able to see the quantitative impact of that in terms of the power of my punch, until now.
The Moov Hardware
How does it all work? Part of the magic is in the Moov hardware; housed inside the Moov unit are three 3-axis accelerometers that record motion during your workout. The app then analyzes and interprets this this data to provide feedback on your movements and performance.
The Moov unit is a small a plastic round, effectively the size and shape of a standard watch face, with a nice, sturdy feel and matte surface. The back features two charging terminals, the sides have two grooves that allow it to snap into a wristband or charger, and a clear plastic ring around the top circumference allows LED light signals to shine through.
Each Moov unit is available in black or white and comes with a food-grade silicone wristband and ankle band and a USB charging cradle. The silicone bands are one-size fits all.
Moov Apps & Compatibility
The Moov unit is compatible with iOS and Android (compatible devices list can be found here) and syncs via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), so your device must be BLE enabled. For the Moov Run & Walk App's "Speed Endurance" Program and for the outdoor cycling program, GPS is required.
The Moov apps (as of July 2015) and iOS/Android availability are listed below:
Note that as of November 2015, Moov offers a single, updated app for both iOS and Android that provides access to all sports. (Check out a review of their latest device here.)
Each sport-specific app features programs (for example, the Run & Walk app features "Brisk Walking" and "Speed Endurance," among others) and each program features multiple levels that increase in difficulty. Below, in recounting my experience using these apps, I provide examples of what the programs and levels look like within each app.
The Moov Smart Coach
Moov captures your motion via the three 3-axis accelerometers in the hardware unit and sends that data to the app where Moov's software analyzes and interprets it to provide feedback on which you can take action. The feedback is both audio and visual -- you'll hear the Moov Coach guiding you and imparting wisdom during the workout, and you can also view live data via the app during the workout (as well as a summary view that combines text and charts after the workout). The one exception is the Moov Swim App -- since you can't take your phone into the pool with you, you need to wait until after your workout to view the workout data and tips. The Moov Coach's audio feedback tends to span a range of categories:
My Experience using Moov
My Fitness Savior: Legitimizing "Non-Stepping" Activity
My two Moovs (one black, one white) arrived in a time of need; I had just started an intense fitness program and, in order to fulfill its requirements, I was looking for fun ways to turbo-boost my running and incorporate more varied cardio into my routine.
Also, as much as I love tracking my daily step count as a proxy for activity level, I've found that the focus on steps compels me to replace physical activity that won't count toward steps (like biking) with walking or running -- even when it doesn't make sense. Bike to the store? Forget it...I'm going to walk there...even if that's a long walk that I don't have time for. The result, for me, has been a very run-walk heavy "fitness portfolio" that's not hitting a variety of muscle groups and that badly needs diversification.
Consequently, I was excited to try all of the Moov Apps and programs. I unpacked my Moovs and began to put them through their paces by letting them put me through my paces!
Setup, Pairing, and Battery Life
I started by making sure my Moovs were fully charged. The charging cradle plugs into a USB port on one end and a charging cradle on the other end. The charging cradle has two small, metal charging pins that poke up vertically, and a plastic harness that the Moov snaps into. You align the Moov with the harness's grooves and press to snap it in place. Charging takes about 40 minutes from empty to full. The clear edge of the Moov lights up via a green LED to indicate that charging is in progress.
The charging process was simple and straightforward. I felt a little squeamish about aligning the metal pins with the two metal charging contacts on the back of the Moov. It wasn't a brainless maneuver, and my main concern was that the pins and contacts wouldn't line up correctly, resulting in either the cradle or the Moov experiencing some sort of damage. However, the two pieces proved to be super sturdy and I don't think there's anything to worry about. An even easier-to-use charging cradle would bring me a little more peace of mind, though.
Once my Moovs were both fully charged, my next step was to "get a Moov on" (ba-dum bum). In terms of comfort, I found the wrist and ankle bands to offer a wide range of adjustability, and their slight elasticity helped keep the devices very snug against my skin even when I was throwing punches or pounding the pavement during sprint intervals. In fact, the bands were so adjustable that I didn't need to switch between an ankle and a wrist band -- I could adjust a single band to accommodate the circumference of wrist or ankle. I was also pleased to find that no metal comes into contact with the skin -- an important consideration for anyone with a nickel allergy (like me).
Installing the Moov apps and pairing the Moovs was painless. No sync errors, no glitches, just simple and straightforward.
In terms of color, I thought both the white and black Moov looked good. I did notice that dust from my road run ended up accumulating on the white band, even though I carefully tucked my stretchy run pants over the ankle-mounted Moov. If you tend to do a ton of running in dusty environments and care about keeping your gear looking spiffy, you might want to consider the black Moov.
Moov Coaching vs. Human Coaching
I've been lucky to benefit from real, live human coaches during two periods in my life: in high school, I ran cross country, and in college, I boxed. In both situations, I had great coaches who pushed me to do more, taught and reinforced correct form, imparted knowledge, provided encouragement, and fostered team cohesion.
Coaching within the respective Moov apps for the two sports I was most familiar with surprised me by doing most of the above. (Team cohesion doesn't really come into play, obviously.) From positive feedback ("You beat your goal by a ton") to form correction ("Shorten your stride"), I found the Moov Coach to be helpful, informative, and motivational. Obviously not a replacement for an expert human coach, but much much better than no coach at all.
I was impressed that the Cardio Punch app reinforced appropriate boxing form, and that the Moov Coach's feedback was so true-to-life. In terms of the Moov Cardio Punch app, I think I set myself up to be pleasantly surprised because when I saw the words "Cardio" and "Punch" in the title, I didn't expect said app to pay attention to real boxing form -- I thought "Oh, this will be like a cardio boxing class where it seems like anything goes..." However, the Cardio Punch app intro did a commendable job of walking me through the correct form for various punches, and the Moov Coach made a point of reinforcing quite a few of the same important points my human boxing coach reiterated during team practice (i.e. keep your hands up, send your punches straight out, make sure your feet are offset).
There are obviously going to be some things a human coach can offer that you won't get from the Moov Coach. Here are a few:
Still, the live Moov Coaching that I experienced pressed the right buttons in terms of what a coach should do. It helped me stay focused on form and effort during my workouts in a way that exceeded my norm in a typical solo workout.
Using the Moov Apps
Moov Run & Walk App
The Run & Walk App features several programs. I was able to try three of those programs (the fourth program, Speed Endurance, required GPS -- a feature my iPod Touch doesn't have, and a fifth program was added later). Below is a summary of each Run & Walk Program, including a description, levels, metrics, and thoughts on using it. And, for those audiophiles out there: Yes, you can listen to your music while using the Run & Walk app.
The app has been updated to include a few new options: you can now skip the warmup, pause your workout, and opt for reduced coaching. It also now features a 7-day dashboard, a profile page that shows your progress, and design and experience/interface updates.
Moov Run & Walk App Programs
This app was one of my favorites. The challenge of mastering a level pushed me to do more sprinting than I would have otherwise ("What? I only missed completing that level by 2% on one of the five intervals? That's it, gonna go back out there and try to do five more!"). It also provides little endorphin boosts -- nice intermediate rewards when you know you might not see the real physical or performance results for some weeks. Finally, it helped me solidify what form to aim for depending on the type of running I was doing, and helped reinforce that form in the moment.
One feature that I felt could improve the Run & Walk app would be a way to lock the screen so that it won't turn off during the run. I sometimes found myself in the middle of a sprint interval wanting to see whether I was hitting my target cadence, and the screen would have gone black. I'd be sprinting all out with my phone in my face, frantically trying to toggle it back on and get to the right screen within the app!
Also, I found the chiming to be confusing, and had to ask Moov what it meant. It would be helpful if Coach Moov said in advance what the chiming signifies (or tells you more than once, since if Coach told me, it didn't stick!). It turns out that the chime provides useful feedback that signifies that you're on target for the goal (cadence or pace) for that program.
Below are some examples of iOS screens within the Run & Walk app (these are early views from the February version of the app and don't reflect the latest changes to the app):
Moov Cardio Punch App
The Cardio Punch App features four programs: Basic Training, Light, Semi-Pro, and Champion. You can use just one Moov unit with this app, but ideally you'll want to pair two -- one for each wrist. Below, I describe each of the programs.
The Light, Semi-Pro, and Champion programs each feature six 2-minute "rounds." Fun music tracks play to the pace of each round. You'll need to set your device up at eye level about 3 to 5 feet from where you'll be doing your workout; Punches flow at you video-game style, and you hit them when they reach the "target" point that's close to you.
Because the idea of the app is to give you a high intensity and balanced cardio workout, it calls for you to switch sides periodically -- two feet at the bottom of the screen indicate whether you should be left foot forward or right foot forward. This means sometimes you'll be throwing jabs with your left arm, and sometimes with your right.
Different arrows indicate the punch you're meant to throw. Moov recommends using a larger-screened device (like an iPad) for this app, if you have one, to improve visibility of the boxing punch symbols as they're flying at you. I tried using both an iPod and an iPad, but found that regardless of the size of the screen, the boxing arrows denoting hook, uppercut, and so on, were sometimes difficult for me to discern (and I have excellent vision). In my opinion, this had less to do with the size of the screen than with the arrows' form and design -- the triangular symbols seemed too equilateral, and it seemed that elongating them would help emphasize the direction they're pointing in. Furthermore, they are double-outlined with thin white lines that detract from what would otherwise be a sharp contrast of white against pink if they were solidly filled-in. I also found some of the text to be too thin on the summary stats that are displayed in-between rounds, causing me to have to jog up close to my device in between rounds and peer at them. I passed this UI feedback along to the Moov team, and perhaps they'll make changes to the app if enough other people have the same opinion.
Right now, there is no way to pause during the middle of a round, which was a problem for me. I often found that I would have to stop and open a window, turn the volume up or down, re-adjust the angle of the device, or plug in the device because it was running out of battery. But even when I opened the menu, I could see the punches in the background still rolling by, which incited panic ("Ahhh! Look at all the punches I'm missing! I'm ruining my stats for this round!").
In between rounds, you're shown a rotating display of your metrics from that round: current score, targets hit, speed, power, and reaction time. After your workout is over, the summary page shows total time, rounds, calories and targets hit. For each round, you see the program (light, semi-pro, champion), percent of hits you made, combo (this number signifies the longest string of targets you hit without a break), and score. After that, there are a series of charts showing, for each type of punch, your velocity, power, technique, timing, and duration, along with tips on how to improve.
It looked to me like there might be a bug in how the charts are displayed, and I passed this along to the Moov team -- so it's not going to be hanging around much longer. You can see what I'm talking about via the "Activity Report" screenshot on the right, below: the bar for the "Cross" punch shows a Technique score of 63.45, and yet it is shown jutting above the horizontal gridline that marks a height of 67.
Cardio Punch vs Boxing
I'm approaching the Cardio Punch experience from a background of having spent a couple of years boxing with a dedicated coach and team of fellow enthusiasts who I could spar with. To me, it felt totally alien and physically confusing to switch things up with my stance (right foot forward vs left foot forward) and throw jabs with my non-jab hand. My background made me accustomed to a set stance and a set hand for each type of punch.
In that vein, keep in mind that this is not a boxing app and not a "shadow boxing" app. However, it *is* a cardio punch app that stays true to great boxing form. It's not going to teach you how to spar or prepare you with all the boxing basics the sport requires, but you *will* get a super fun workout that will help keep those boxing muscles happy, and it is going to help you accomplish a great cardio punch session with attention to correct form.
As I was using the app, I found myself hoping that Moov would add a future "shadow boxing" app to their suite of apps. The perfect app would let you chose a dominant stance and not switch feet, would let you choose the speed of punches independent of the combo complexity, and would add in more defensive moves. This would let me see the stats for each punch using my dominant hand for that punch, and would let me do interesting and challenging combos at a speed that still lets me execute them with proper attention to form.
Super Convenient & Fun
I kept coming back to the Moov Cardio Punch app when I needed to fit in a little cardio. It was definitely fun, but it also let me get a real workout in at home when I didn't want to get suited up for a run or pull out other fitness equipment. Too dark out to run? Only have 10 minutes in between tasks? Legs too exhausted? Out comes this app!
It also struck me as a great way to get your cardio in when you're on the road. Visiting the folks, or traveling somewhere where you can't find a gym or a safe place to run? Bingo.
Moov 7 Minute+ Workout App
The 7 Minute+ Workout App (iOS, Android) walks you through a high-intensity bodyweight workout. It begins with a mandatory "Fit Test" to determine the right starting level for you, and the subsequent levels push you to complete a growing number of pushups, lunges, squats, sit-ups and other bodyweight exercises. As you complete each rep, the Moov Coach counts them for you and shows you a video of a fitness model demonstrating the right form.
There is technically no limit to how many difficulty levels this app has --- as long as you complete early levels, you keep unlocking harder levels, and you can progress as far as you'd like. To give you a sense of what a lower levels versus a higher level contains: Level 1 calls for three workout sets (one with 26 total reps, one with 52 total reps, and one with 78 total reps), for an estimated 8 minute 43 second workout, while Level 24 calls for a roughly 28 minute workout (the contents of the workout are not summarized on the level-selection screen). All levels feature three sets and a growing number of reps in each set. For now, all levels also feature all the same exercises, though the Moov team is working to add more exercises and programs to the app.
Post-workout metrics show you the highest level you've reached, the total number of workouts and reps you've completed, and the total number of reps of each type of exercise you completed. From there, you can click on a specific workout to see a Workout Report showing the date, duration, reps, and calories from that workout, the sets you completed and how many reps you completed in each set and for each exercise in that set.
I really liked having someone count my reps for me -- even a robotic-voiced someone. However, sometimes Coach missed one or two of my sit-ups and I had to do one or two extra. This could very well be due to my form and timing. In the end, it just leads to a fitter me, but when it happens in the moment, it's a bit frustrating.
If there were one similar future app I'd hope for (or a modification to the existing 7 Minute+ App), it would be a way to build your own custom workout, or at least to skip one of the exercises. As mentioned above, I was already doing tons of lunges via my own workout plan (with dumbbells, no less), so when I hit the lunges in the 7 Minute+ App, I really wanted a way to just say "Skip This Section" and not be hit with a penalty at that level. My legs couldn't handle any more lunges! Which is why I faked my way out of them. A way to drag-and-drop the exercises of my choice (including new ones, like triceps dip or wall sits) into the desired order, and then let the Moov Coach step up the reps as it sees me improve, would be awesome.
This app was a nice way to throw some new moves into my routine. Though it didn't have the same pizzaz that the Cardio Punch app did for me, it did game-ify my workout by providing the lure of wanting to crush each level.
Moov Swim App
Finally, we come to the Moov Swim App. I braced the (relative) winter cold in February, and jumped into an unheated 60 degree pool to test this one out. Yes, that's not even that cold. But let me just say to you -- it was a pretty big shock to my system. In any case, I braved the "cold" for long enough to collect some stats and check it all out.
The Swim App is the only Moov app so far that doesn't provide live feedback during your workout; that's because you can't take your phone into the water with you. Instead, you start up the app and leave your phone at home or in the pool locker.
While your phone stays safe and dry, the Moov on your wrist captures your swim stats and syncs them to your phone when you return. It can record up to 90 minutes of swimming. The latest Swim App updates included automatic stroke recognition.
Once you return and sync, metrics include a "Lifetime Record" showing the total hours, miles, and strokes you've racked up. From there, you can click an individual Activity Log to see the stats for a specific swim, which include total time, laps, calories, and distance; a cool looking "Swim Signature"; the average stroke rate (seconds per stroke), average distance per stroke; "Highlights" including the laps, total time, seconds per stroke and average pace of your farthest continuous swim (which is any stretch with no breaks exceeding 10 seconds); and a "Lap Breakdown" which shows for each lap the pace, turn time, stroke cycles, and a comparison against the average lap of a 200 meter Olympic gold medal swim (oof!). Finally, a pro tip awaits you at the bottom of each Activity Log.
Moov Cycling App & Future Plans
Since I tested my Moovs, the company has released their Cycling app for iOS & Android and have also added beta testing for tracking indoor cycling/spinning. As I no longer have the devices with me, I haven't been able to test this aspect of the device.
In lieu of first-hand experience with this app, I'll provide a brief overview of the app. Wearing a Moov on your ankle captures cycling stats, while your handlebar-mounted smartphone provides additional stats (via GPS) and lets you view data during your ride. Metrics include speed, distance, cadence, time, calories, a map of your route, and more. The Moov Coach tells you when to shift gears based on the terrain and provides progress updates out loud so you don't have to take your eyes off the road. A the end of your ride, you can view additional metrics including route difficulty, tallest climb, calories, cadence, speed, distance, and more.
Like many crowdfunded companies, Moov has forged a strong connection with its early backers and new users, listening to their feedback with respect to the product and experience. Moov will be adding new apps based in part on demand, so if you'd like to submit a request for a new Moov app, this page explains how to do so.
As Moov takes next steps with new features and future apps, they'll be sharing that information with their followers via social media, so stay tuned if you'd like to be in the know:
Things I'd Love to See
The Moov apps were slick, with intuitive UI and a clean design. However, there were a few features I'd love to see in the future (aside from those already mentioned above), which I've suggested to Moov:
I really enjoyed using the Moovs and trying the various apps. The devices appeal to me in terms of their adaptability to a variety of fitness level and activities: Moov is going to be great for beginners who might only be comfortable with brisk walking and could really benefit from someone guiding them gradually into a fitter state; habitual exercisers who feel "stuck" with their progress or who feel like they've never internalized good form; people who can't seem to push themselves hard enough when they do solo workouts; those who would benefit from diversifying their workouts, or who are looking for something fun and different; and people who do a lot of traveling without access to a gym.
Moov operates beyond the level of a device that just tracks your 24/7 activity. It tracks your specific workout, teaches you how to do it better, allows you to get more out of it, motivates you, and helps you move forward faster by lining up progressively harder workouts. It also encourages you to diversify your activity — an important aspect of staying healthy!
LET'S BREAK IT DOWN
Features & Added Benefits
The Moov's greatest distinguishing features are its live A.I. Smart Coach and its growing range of applications, from running to fitness walking, cardio boxing, swimming, bodyweight workouts, and cycling. For each application, there are various programs and difficulty levels, and Moov tracks multiple metrics corresponding to each sport.
The Moov contains three 3-axis accelerometers to track your motion.
Hardware & Wearing
The body of the Moov is made of hard matte polycarbonate plastic, as is the associated charging pad and wrist/ankle mount that it clips into. A food-grade silicone band is connected to the mount (for both the wrist band and the ankle band). The face of the device also serves as a button that you press to connect your Moov to the appropriate Moov app. A thin clear rim around the top circumference of the Moov allows a colored LED light to shine through to indicate charging status and to help you identify your Moov when you have more than one. Two notches on the edge of the device align with the cradle and mount to securely snap the Moov into place. It is available in black and white.
Moov is waterproof (rated IP67). It can be used for swimming and is rated to be submerged up to a depth of 1 meter.
Battery Life & Charging
The Moov uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery and comes with a USB cable-connected charging cradle. The battery has up to 8 hours of active use time and an automatic power-save mode when it senses inactivity. A full recharge from empty takes about 40 minutes.
Your data syncs to your compatible device wirelessly via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). The Moov is able to maintain contact with your device up to 50 to 100 feet away, as long as the path between them is unobstructed.
A list of Moov-compatible iOS and Android devices can be found here. All apps are now available for iOS and Android (as of 7/2015) with the exception of the Cardio Punch app; Moov continues to expand the apps' capabilities, with several features in beta testing (like tracking spin-workouts).