Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My New Favorite Toy: Striiv

Every year, my company runs a wellness competition where you can join a team and compete in three categories: steps, weight loss and exercise minutes. For the last three years, I've headed a team, diligently logged my steps and minutes and harassed my teammates into doing the same.

The first two years the challenge provided pedometers but I wanted nothing to do with them. They were extremely cheap quality; they made funny ticking noises as I walked. Since I hate walking around with change in my pocket, this noisy pedometer definitely wasn't going to cut it. Enter my first pedometer, the Omron HJ-112. If you're looking for just a pedometer, this model is the best you can get for $21. This one served me well until one hot summer run. My shorts didn't have a pocket, so like every other woman, I stuck it in my sports bra. Did I mention it was summer and that I sweat like a fiend? I think you can put two and two together.

This year, one of my teammates has a Fitbit which tempted me into thinking about a fancier pedometer. I went straight to Amazon and punched in Fitbit. The first entry I saw was not, in fact, the Fitbit. It was this:
Immediately interested due to the cute lemur face on the display, I clicked through and started reading. The Striiv boasts achievements, challenges and a mini-game.

A mini-game? Achievements? Was this pedometer made with my OCD gaming tendencies in mind? I had to have it. It was the Monday before my birthday so I immediately sent the link to my Mom and said that was what I wanted for my birthday.

Now that I've had my Striiv for 10 days, it's time to share my findings!

The Basics
It's roughly the same size as my old pedometer. It fits comfortably into my pocket and comes with a clip for the times when I don't have a pocket to place it. It has a touch screen which nicely responsive, but I imagine that it would be a bit more difficult if you had larger fingers. It tracks five basic categories: steps, equivalent stairs, miles, calories and minutes. You earn arbitrary energy units by simply moving, though I haven't yet discerned the basic energy earning formula. Completing challenges and achievements earns you even more arbitrary energy units.

There are several achievements. Some reset daily and others are cumulative (weekly or all-time). Here's a small sampling just to give you an idea.
  • Morning Glory: Walk 500 steps today
  • Golden Gate Bridge:  Go 1.7 miles today
  • Burn A Cupcake: 420 calories burned today
  • Complete a marathon: 26.2 miles this week

The challenges range from easy, to medium and hard. Most of them are get x steps in y time. They'll occasionally pop up when you unlock the touch screen to take a look at something, which I like. Sometimes I turn it on and I get the challenge of "Walk 400 steps in 15 minutes" which makes me decide that it's time to get up from my desk and take a walk.

I'll be the first to admit, the mini-game is pretty silly. That's not going to stop me from wanting to accumulate little animals, flowers and buildings for my virtual island. You buy the buildings with the arbitrary energy units that I mentioned up in the basics section, and build them using the energy also. Some of the more expensive buildings take more than one day's worth of effort, which motivates me to keep up my average amount of daily steps. Plus, you can click on the lemurs and make them dance, I consider that a win.

The other cool thing about the Striiv is that you can select a charity to log your steps toward. There are three to choose from - providing clean water to families in South America, polio vaccines, and help save the rain forest. Each time you reach the set donation amount, you can plug into the computer, upload your donation and from there Striiv's corporate partners will donate to your chosen charity on your behalf.

Other observations
It gets confused by hills and counts them as stairs. I don't think I would have noticed this except that each time I wear it for a hill sprints workout, my stair count goes through the roof and I get all the stair-related achievements. Honestly, sprinting up a hill and running up some stairs are both taxing so I don't care that it confuses the two.

The Striiv also keeps a log of all your activities and provides you with graphs and metrics (i.e. averages and personal bests).

It behooves me to mention that the Striiv also doesn't require batteries; it charges via USB cable. Thank goodness because I get really sick of buying the 2026 style batteries. Those things cost a pretty penny!

For $99, I think this has to be one of most enjoyable pedometer tools out there. Poking lemurs, donating to charity and earning achievements, what else could a nerd like me ask for?

Do you use the Fitbit, Bodybugg or any other fitness tracking tool? What do you think of it?