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Moov Now review: A personal workout coach on your wrist

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It can be hard to get yourself to the gym. It can be even harder if you're a beginner and not really sure what workouts to do. There is the option of hiring a personal trainer, but that comes with an added expense many people may not be willing to pay.

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6.9

Moov Now

Pricing Not Available

The Good

The Moov Now is small and comfortable workout tracker with a long battery life. It can be worn in the shower and the pool. The Android and iPhone app provides real-time audio coaching and feedback for a wide array of activities. It can track sleep, calories burned, and active minutes.

The Bad

It's not a good option as an all-day activity tracker; the syncing process is a hassle; it requires you to have a smartphone with you for coaching feedback; its best feature -- the boxing workout -- requires two devices.

The Bottom Line

The Moov Now helps beginners interested in working out take a step in the right direction, but you'll need to keep your smartphone handy to use it and overcome some quirks.

The $100 (£65, AU$135) Moov Now is a workout tracker and coach for beginners that want to become more active and start working out, but don't know where to start. This little device, which is a follow-up to last year's Moov tracker, is like a personal trainer on your wrist. Workout programs and real-time audio coaching through the mobile app (for iPhones and Android phones) can help make you a better runner, a faster cyclist, a more efficient swimmer and -- most importantly -- can help you lose weight. You can even wear two to train for boxing, although that doubles the price.

Working out with the Moov Now (pictures)

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The Moov Now is a small pod that is worn on your wrist or ankle. It measures your movements, while also tracking calories burned, active minutes and sleep. It's almost like the love child of a Wii remote and a Fitbit.

I've been wearing the Moov for the past few weeks. As an avid athlete, I may not be the target audience, but I enjoyed the feedback it provided. I also had a blast doing the boxing workouts. Ultimately, I'm not yet ready to give up my gym membership. But for a beginner who's ramping up a workout regimen and looking for a little digital encouragement, the Moov may be a better starting point than a more traditional fitness tracker like a Fitbit or Jawbone.

What is it?

The Moov is an activity tracker, but rather than counting metrics like steps and distance, the Moov tracks your sleep at night, calories burned throughout the day, and your active minutes. It also uses a traditional coin battery, which is said to last up to six months. It's nice never having to charge it, but you will need to eventually manually replace the battery. Fortunately, they're dirt cheap -- you can get a 10-pack at Amazon for under $7.

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It's a weird fitness tracker. As I said, it doesn't use standard measurements. And while it syncs with Apple's Health app, it doesn't included detailed information on sleep (deep, light or REM) and doesn't let you set personal activity goals.

It's also a pain to sync. Most fitness trackers automatically sync with your phone when you open the related app. The Moov requires a ridiculous six-step sync process: open the app, select the fitness option, click sync, press the Moov to enable sync mode, tap connect on your phone's screen, and then sync the data.

Editors' note (October 15, 2015): We tested an early build of the Moov app on an iPhone 6 Plus. A recent update to the app has now made activity syncing a one-step process. A single press on the Moov will initiate a sync, but connecting the device to the phone still requires the process outlined below. We will continue to test the Moov through the general release of the app on Android and iOS on October 19 and update our review with our experience.

This is only for syncing sleep and active minutes data. Workouts are synced automatically, but that's because that band is already connected to your phone. This process to connect to your phone is a little less tedious: open the app, select a workout, press the Moov to enter paring mode, tap connect on your phone's screen, and start the workout.

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So why should you even care about the Moov? Because, despite those issues, it's a pretty interesting basic personal trainer and workout tracker.

The Moov supports four coaching activities, with multiple workouts. There's one for running and walking, another for cycling, one for swimming, and one for at home coaching, which includes interval workouts you can do without weights and a boxing routine.

You wear the Moov on your wrist or ankle (it comes with two strap sizes), depending on the activity you are doing. For running and cycling, it's the ankle. Swimming, boxing, and interval training use the wrist.

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Running in Central Park

The Moov works on its own or can be used along with a Bluetooth heart-rate strap. Run and walk coaching includes workouts that help improve running efficiency and speed endurance. There are workouts for brisk walking, pace running, sprint intervals, distance running and open training. I paired it with my iPhone 6S Plus (it also works with Android phones) on a sunny day and went for a run toward Central Park.

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It wasn't long after I began my workout that I started to receive my first piece of coaching feedback. I was told to land lighter on my feet and lengthen my stride. The coaching will come through your phone's speakers, you can also use a pair of headphones. When I reached my first mile, I was told my pace and encouraged to keep it up. At one point the coaching even called me a "monster," which gave me a boost.

Beginners will like the motivation and coaching of the Moov, while more advanced runners will be more interested in the detailed information it provides. But as you continue to use the Moov, you too may find yourself obsessively analyzing the data, as I was.

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Post-workout data includes cadence (steps per minute), range of motion, impact score, elevation, pace, distance, calories burned, a map of your run, and more, all recorded by the Moov device strapped to my ankle and the GPS in my phone.

You get similar real-time coaching and post-work information when cycling with the Moov, too. Swimming is the only activity that doesn't include real-time feedback (headphones would be a challenge and the phone would likely be too far away), but you get detailed information on your stroke and distance when the workout is complete.

It was fun to use. And yet, honestly, it won't be replacing my GPS running watch anytime soon. I don't like running with headphones, which you need to get coaching feedback. And I rarely run with my phone, anyway. The Moov requires me to use both. I didn't like having a tracker on my ankle, either. And while the coaching and feedback were fun, I've been running for almost 15 years: I don't need basic training. I need something deeper, which, although it's double the Moov's price, my GPS running watch provides.

Sarah Tew/CNET

A rainy-day workout at home

Even though I consider myself a serious runner, I prefer to stay indoors on cold or rainy days. This is where I really enjoyed the Moov. Rather than relying on a treadmill to get my morning cardio in, I used the Moov's at-home coaching programs. There's a seven-minute-plus workout and a boxing one, which was my personal favorite.

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The seven-minute workout doesn't require any weights or special equipment (aside from the Moov and your smartphone). Everything is done using your own body weight, along with a variety of intervals. The workout includes multiple levels within it, with each being slightly more difficult than the last. The competitor in me really enjoyed this. I eventually made it up to level 20, which was a 25 minute workout that included a variety of jumping jacks, planks, lunges, squats, push ups and crunches. It was exhausting but made me feel accomplished.

The app includes a video demo before each exercise, which is nice for beginners that may not be familiar with them. Along with coaching and motivational feedback (yet again, being reminder that I'm a "monster"), the tracker will also count the amount of reps you complete. We have seen this before with some Android Wear apps, but those cost almost double what the Moov does.

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I did notice that the Moov's measurements could be easily fooled. Moving my arm up and down would register as a lunge or squat. This holds true for any device that measures using an accelerometer, Fitbits, Jawbones and even the Wii-remote are no different. Regardless, not completing the exercise as intended is hurting your own personal fitness ambitions in the long run.

You are provided detailed information when you have completed the workout. This includes which exercises were performed properly, the time it took to do them, the amount of reps completed, and how many calories burned.

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Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee

I've never boxed before, but the Moov made it feel like I could take on Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather. This was the most fun I had with the device. Unfortunately, that fun comes with an added price (remember that you need two Moov trackers for boxing). The app lets you test the boxing workout with one device but notes for the best experience (counting all of your punches), a second Moov is required.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It looks similar to games like Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution. Floating icons that represent specific moves (jab, uppercut, hook) will rain down from the top of the screen. You are required to land each punch when the icon reaches the circle (which represents your fists) towards the bottom of the screen.

There are four boxing modes: basic training, light, semi-pro and champion. The first two will get you going, and you will begin to feel the burn with semi-pro. I fired up the champion mode and only lasted three rounds (about 9 minutes). It had me sweating, it had my heart rate pumping, and it had me smiling. Rather than a boring cardio routine, the boxing workout feels more like a game. It was by far my favorite activity, and I could see myself continuing to do it.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion

The Moov may not appeal to experienced gym rats or long-time athletes, but beginners that don't have access to a gym or personal trainer will reap the benefits. Not only does the Moov provide a fun way to work out, but it also educates you on the correct form.

Moov has mentioned that it will be adding support for spinning and high-intensity interval training (a program more commonly referred to as "tabata") sometime down the road. I would also love to see a yoga workout.

The Moov is different from all the other fitness trackers on the market. While you won't want to ditch your Fitbit or Jawbone completely, the Moov can help and educate you in ways they can't. The Moov delivers an overall enjoyable experience, marred by its too-complicated syncing routine. If the company could fix that -- either with a software update to this model or a future hardware upgrade -- I could give it a more enthusiastic recommendation.

moov-now-06.jpg
6.9

Moov Now

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 7Battery 8Performance 6Software 8Features 6