I'm 100% playing the stereotype by saying this, but I went to a crossfit style class this morning. But I don't want to discuss the class (my whole body hurts right now). I want to talk about my Apple Watch.
I know there is an app for workouts, and that app has an option for indicating you're doing a high-intensity interval workout. That's great. But I forgot to use it. It was my first time doing a class like this in three years, and I had other things on my mind. Do I need to weigh in? What do I do after the deadlift? Medicine ball? I don't understand the circuit. Somebody please help me.
So having given my Apple Watch zero thought, I was surprised after the workout, staggering to my car like a particularly decayed zombie, to see that it had registered, not thirty minutes of intense interval training... but one minute. It had registered one minute of generic exercise
What gives, Apple? How is this so grossly inaccurate? This isn't an anomaly. The other day it showed that I'd been active for twelve hours that day, but didn't hit my stand goal of twelve hours.
So... so I'd been "active" while sitting down? I'd been moving and pumping my muscles... in my chair? Granted, that's fully possible for a person to do, but it wasn't true for me.
Having an Apple Watch (or a Fitbit or other measurement device) certainly helps me be more aware of my activity. Just being aware will improve activity. But it's annoying when I know it's not measuring properly. It makes me want to use the device less. And this happens often.
From a technical perspective, how hard is it to accurately measure activity? Here’s what I think would help, and I don't see it on the market. This is a solution I'd use. Tell me if you think you would or wouldn't.
If I was wearing a low-profile device on each limb, the measurements could be very accurate. Some people think this is overkill, and that's fine. Maybe it’s not a solution for everybody (not everybody wears an Apple Watch, or works out, or cares about health). But I'd happily wear a slim inconspicuous device on each wrist and each ankle if that meant that I could have extremely accurate and totally passive measurement of my activity and the subsequent impact on my body, like calories burned.
I wear an activity monitor because I want that information. If that information is blatantly inaccurate, I'm discouraged from wearing the device. But if the information was extremely accurate, then I'd happily wear more devices more consistently, especially if they're unobtrusive.
That information, coupled with the right apps and outside expertise, can give just the right nudges to make the right choices a thousand times a day. Our life outcomes, whether they be in physical health or financial wellbeing or even relationship satisfaction, are a product of the small decisions we make frequently, far more than any grand gesture we consciously strive to commit to (for instance: a 6-week crossfit boot camp).
I want a system that will reliably and accurately give me the right prompts, the right nudges, at the right times to produce the best long-term outcomes for my life goals.
From what I can see, that kind of device ecosystem is shockingly hard to find.
UPDATE: Day two at the gym. I remembered to start the workout timer on my watch, but paused it to listen to another minute of instruction from the coach… and forgot to start it again. After a brutal workout, with a racing heart and constant motion, I had fully zero minutes of exercise recorded.