Moov Now review: A personal trainer on your wrist
Faster, leaner, fitter, healthier. These days, keeping fit is rapidly becoming the trendy thing to do, and there’s a whole army of gadgets and gizmos aimed at helping you reach your goals. Pedometers, smartphones, smartwatches and smartbands can count your steps, track your heart rate and monitor your calories. None, however, are quite like the Moov Now.
Instead of simply tracking your activity and rewarding you when you hit your targets, the Moov Now aims to coach you towards your goals, actively encouraging you via audio instructions to go further and dig deeper.
Moov Now review: Day-to-day
I’ve been wearing the Moov Now on my wrist for a few weeks now and, although I’m no athlete, I’ve found its mix of tracking, audio coaching and sleep monitoring much more helpful than the usual pedometer or smartwatch-based approach to activity tracking.
For starters, it’s more comfortable and practical than most. The stretchy rubber strap holds secure on your wrist and the small circular pod inside, which contains all the motion-tracking tech, is both waterproof and sweatproof. You can wear the Moov Now in the shower or during a swim, on either your wrist or your ankle, and you’ll hardly know it’s there.
It isn’t rechargeable like other trackers, but this turns out to be a bonus, not a bind. The Moov Now’s single-use CR2032 coin cell will last you a mammoth six months, and though you have to replace it when it runs out, the batteries are very cheap.
The disadvantage of such a low-power device is that synchronising your activity and sleep data with the app isn’t automatic. To do it, you have to press down firmly on the Moov Now’s circular body and wait a few seconds for the data to transfer across. It’s a little bit tedious, but I’d rather do that than have to recharge it several times a week.
Moov Now review: Workouts and motion tracking
Technologically, the Moov Now is a simple device. It uses accelerometers to track your motion, and nothing else. There’s no built-in heart rate monitor or fancy altimeter, and the day-to-day tracking data it provides is a little unusual. Instead of counting the number of steps you’ve taken, and your light, deep and REM sleep cycles, all you get is an assessment of the number of minutes you were active, and the amount of sleep and “restorative” sleep you’ve had.
I rather like the Moov Now’s slimmed down summary, but this is not where its true talents lie. All its cleverness is in the companion app, the workout software and coaching programmes, and the algorithms that analyse the data provided by the Now’s nine-axis Omni Motion sensor.
The Moov Now app (which works on both iOS and Android devices) includes a selection of workouts that cover the full gamut of fitness activities, from interval running to cardio boxing, cycling and swimming, but the beauty of it is that you don’t even have to break out your gym kit to get started.
Fire up the “Brisk walking” workout, strap the Moov Now onto your ankle, plug in a pair of headphones and the app will take you through a series of power-walking intervals, providing audio encouragement as you go.
It’ll let you know if you’re keeping up with the target cadence, if you’re slouching or landing too heavily, and you can raise the intensity of the workout in between intervals if you’re exceeding the targets by a lot. This is addictive in itself, but it’s the data provided at the end of each workout that really pulls you in.
After a walk or run, the app provides a summary of your cadence, an impact score (how hard your feet are hitting the floor and, thus, how much strain your joints are under), your average stride length expressed as the angle of forward/backward leg swing, plus a whole series of detailed pace, cadence, elevation, range-of-motion and impact graphs for you to analyse.
And that’s just the walking workout. The Moov Now takes a similarly detailed and motivational approach to most of the rest of its workouts. There’s a sprint interval programme, a couple of running endurance activities, a seven-minute indoor workout, and an outdoor cycling programme among others.
You can even partner a third-party Bluetooth heart rate monitor with it if you want an even more detailed analysis of your exercise sessions.
Moov Now review: Boxing and swimming
There are two principal exceptions to this template: the cardio boxing and swimming workouts. The cardio boxing takes the Wii Fit approach to workouts: you prop your phone up on a shelf, start the workout, and the app displays a series of circles approaching you along a track, which you’re supposed to aim punches at.
As with the running, walking and cycling workouts, you’re given encouragement along the way and a detailed analysis of how you did at the end. It’s a fun way to exercise, but works best only if you have two Moov Now devices, one strapped to each arm.
You don’t get audio encouragement during the swimming tracking workout, understandably – you couldn’t have the phone in close enough proximity for that to be possible, unless it was strapped to your arm in a watertight case – but it’s impressive in a different way. You start your swim in the usual way: select swimming from the Activities page, press your Moov to synchronise it, then start your swim, leaving your phone in the safety of your locker.
At the end of your swim, simply tap a button to end the swim and the Moov Now uploads its information to the app over the course of a minute or so. What it then delivers is a truly impressive bank of data: a full breakdown of each and every length of the pool, including times, stroke types, stroke rates and all sorts of detailed breakdowns and advice. I took it on a 900m swim at the London Olympic training pool, where I swam mainly breaststroke with a few lengths of front crawl thrown in and a single length of backstroke, just to test it out.
The Moov Now app counted the laps correctly and recognised every single stroke I executed. I can’t say how good the lap times were without someone on the side timing me with a stopwatch for comparison, but I’d certainly like to think it is – the Moov reported by best 25m length at 17 seconds. Boom!
Moov Now review: Verdict
If you’ve already got your training regime sorted, the Moov Now won’t add much beyond what you already know, although you may find that the stride length and impact data add to what you get from your existing fitness tools. Neither will you get much out of it if you don’t like training with headphones, or taking your phone with you on your runs and rides.
If that isn’t an issue for you, however – and if you’re looking for something to provide that extra boost of motivation – the Moov Now is an ideal companion. The data it provides at the end of each training session is on another level compared with standard fitness trackers and it doesn’t cost the Earth. If you’re looking to get fit, lose weight or both, it’s a great place to start.
Looking for a smartwatch instead? Read our roundup of the best smartwatches of 2015 here.