Review: miCoach for BlackBerry smartphones

By Ryan Blundell on 23 Sep 2010 01:10 pm EDT
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micoach

Personally speaking, trying to lose the remaining pounds to get to your goal weight is just as hard as the first week or so of losing weight. Sometimes, you just have to pull out all of the stops and make use of any type of help available. It could be as simple as having an extra bit of motivation, or coaching, to help you push through that barrier. Something as basic as knowing your progress during your workout could also mean the difference between a strong sense of accomplishment or disappointment. Besides having the Jiminy Cricket of fitness on your side, you also need a decent pair of shoes …and maybe a BlackBerry app for good measure. What if you could somehow combine it all?

This is where miCoach comes in. By tapping into your BlackBerry’s GPS, miCoach provides a way to track your workout progress (calories burned, pace, etc), receive real-time coaching and manage your workout routines. Heck, you can even track your shoes and learn when to pick up a new pair! Your workouts can also be saved for future reference – to help you become a stronger, faster (and hopefully healthier) you. It’s time to tie up your runners and hit the pavement.

About miCoach

miCoach is actually an online program brought to you by Adidas. The application is currently in version 1.0 and has a file size of approximately 699 KB. Currently, the following BlackBerry models are supported; 8310, 8900, 9000 and 9700. If you are using another model, try it out, as miCoach does give you the option to switch from Outdoor Mode (gps-enabled) to Indoor Mode (gps-disabled). miCoach is available in English, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

The miCoach program is designed to help you plan your training by setting your goals, your routines and your current physical stats. To truly benefit from the program, you need to set up a free account. They require participants to be 14 years of age or older. On your BlackBerry, miCoach is secured by a 4 digit passcode of your choice, making sure someone doesn’t run off with your phone and tamper with your progress and stats. On the other hand, if they are in better shape that you, you may want them to get a head start – you know, to boost your stats.

micoach main menu
Main Menu

The main menu of miCoach houses these four options:

GO! – Here you can access and perform your exercise plans, free workouts (basic activity) and assessment workouts.

Track – This option allows you to review your workout history, achievements and your shoes (“Shoes?!” you ask, we will touch on this later on). Workout history gives you an in-depth look at your performance during each workout. Besides looking at calories burned or distance, you have access to charts that can give you a look at your pace (min/km), the elevation of your route and splits. The achievements section displays your distance, time, calories and speed during the lifetime of your miCoach account- the previous week and this week.

Explore – this option is a window into specific features and tips you can use to your advantage. These options range from using GPS and conserving battery life, to managing re-assessments and learning about audio coaching.

micoach explore
Explore what you can do

Settings – Here you can alter your personal info, audio volume, passcode and the type of voice used for coaching. The voices include samples from well-known athletes, such as; Reggie Bush, and Andy Murray.

Your web account makes it easy to switch up your workouts, as we know you can’t just rely on a single routine alone. The workout intensities are divided into what miCoach calls zones. These zones represent increasing degrees of difficulty, with each focusing on a different area of training. From miCoach, here are the 4 zones:

Blue Zone

The easiest of the miCoach zones, you’ll train here during early stages of your plan, as well as when you warm up, cool down, and dial back your training. Although it’s easy training, it’s extremely important. Training in this zone improves your aerobic base and helps your body recover. It also allows you to put forth a greater effort in the higher intensity zones to get more out of your training. Think of it as roughly a 3-4 level of effort on a scale of 1-10.

Green Zone

In this zone, you’ll burn calories, boost endurance, and build a greater cardiovascular capacity, or foundation, to push harder in later stages and more intense zones. It’s a sustainable medium effort, around a 5-7 effort level on a scale of 1-10. At the top of the Green Zone, you’ll transition to a harder effort that begins to draw on new energy systems to challenge your body in new ways.

Yellow Zone

At the top of the Green Zone and bottom of the Yellow Zone, your training will become more difficult. You can still push your body more at this point, but your body begins to rely more on your anaerobic energy system, meaning you’ll start breathing rapidly and you may start to feel your muscles burn. This offers your body remarkable benefits. Working at higher intensities in the Yellow Zone will improve your ability to run harder for longer. This is a hard effort level of about 7 or 8 out of 10.

Red Zone

This is where you’ll put forth your greatest effort. Training in the Red Zone develops strength, speed and power. But it’s stressful, so you can’t sustain this effort for long periods of time. Expect to put forth a level of effort of 8 or 9 out of 10. While it’s certainly possible to train at a higher intensity, the added stress on your body is not worth the extra effort.

Essentially, by alternating between the zones, you should be able to reduce the risk of succumbing to the stress of plateaus and over training while increasing your endurance. The miCoach app will offer audio queues indicating when, how much and how long to push during a workout. You can also view a progress bar that is divided into the coloured zones, to see when to step up or ease up.

micoach assessment progress
Assessment progress

During the workout, another screen displays the elapsed time, calories burned, distance and current speed. Please note that these stats are only available in outdoor mode. Indoor mode will only track the time, leaving you to enter in calories burned and total distance and the end. If you need to stop and tie your shoes – or switch from a jog to a pee dance- you can pause the workout until you are ready to resume. After you finish a workout, miCoach prompts you to rate the exercise (1 to 5 stars) and add any note such as; good but tiring, fun, or your own.

micoach current stats
Current Stats...I maaaay have been in the car at this point
micoach summary
Summary

miCoach also offers plans to help you achieve specific goals. Besides losing weight, these workouts can help you become game-ready for soccer, basketball, football, tennis or running. Unlike the iPhone app, you cannot view mapping of your route during your workout. In order to view your routes, you need to sync your workout with your web account after you finish. The routes, displayed via Google Maps, are available in Street, Satellite or Terrain views. Syncing also provides an off device storage location for your progress.

Unfortunately, miCoach cannot track how smelly your shoes are; only you peers will tell you that. It can, however, alert you of when you should consider switching to another pair. Around the 483km, or, 300 mile mark, you are alerted. They say that, due to changes of “cushioning and stability areas” of your shoes, you should. Of course it tracks Adidas shoes, but you can also track others, including: New Balance, Nike and Reebok. With the mobile app, you can select which pair of shoes you will be using, as well. In order to do this, you need to enter them using your Web Account first. To fight sheer boredom, miCoach also supports listening to playlists on your BlackBerry. In order to receive coaching at the same time, you have to access the playlists from within miCoach (playlists only, not individual song files). miCoach will also briefly pause music to present any coaching notes; resuming the music immediately afterwards.

Conclusion

miCoach has the right idea when it comes to being the voice of motivation and the source for information. At first I thought that the shoe tracking was a bit silly, almost felt as though there was a crafty motive behind it (Buy More!). But it does make sense to me now, as every piece of equipment is important. Having a real-time coach, an equipment manager, a record keeper and a DJ on my BlackBerry will definitely help me press on and reach my goal. The only option I wish they would have expanded on was the route feature. I couldn’t zoom in on the map to see any specific details. If you want to try out miCoach, you can pick it up for free from BlackBerry App World.

Pros

  • Real-time audio coaching (includes voices from athletes)
  • Multiple options to view, track and measure results
  • Keep an eye on your smelly sneakers

Cons

  • Mapping/ route views are limited

More Info

Reader comments

Review: miCoach for BlackBerry smartphones

19 Comments

I love miCoach, but the real downsides are the lack of features that you get on the website, for example you have to sign up on the site, which a bb can't open (unless its os6 I suppose).
Things like the export tool on the website to share the full details of your workout with friends, would be easy to implement into the app, but is missing, and a pain to get hold of if you don't have other internet access.

I've been using MiCoach for just under a month now to great effect. And today the MiCoach website is undergoing a big upgrade. So hang on Nephiko better website is on the way.

I run a few times a week and tried this out a few weeks back after previously using Endomondo. I thought that MiCoach was good, but that the set up was overly complex - at the start and for each run. I decided not to spend much time investigating MiCoach and uninstalled and went back to Endomondo. I suspect that MiCoach probably has more features, but for ease of use, speedy use when going for a run, immediate access to the most important stats, online access, and for the post run mapping (as mentioned in the interview) I preferred Endomondo. Both are great though, and that they're free too is fantastic - and both are worth trying.

I have been using miCoach for roughly around a month now, several times a week running and so far it has been an excellent app. I enjoy being able to monitor my stats when I get back from a workout as well as on hand in the middle of a work out. The interface is a bit much like 3Dee said, its annoying going through the pre-work out set up even with an account.
Im going to take 3Dee's advise and try out Endomondo to see what would be most fit for me.

Hey there CL8Baller, if you do give Endomondo a try, I'd recommend opening the app a minute or two before going running to let the GPS connect - this caught me out a couple of times when I first started using it.

I've been using this for three weeks now; coming from Allsport GPS (another great program). The main advantage I found with this is the training program that you can pick on the website; I've chosen the 5K 12-week program, but there are many more (such as training for a marathon). I really like the audio cues when I'm running, and that it'll work with my music (Bluetooth Motorola S9HD).

Having said all that, it's not perfect: You do have to go through an initial setup, and use the Web-based function to really take advantage of the program. And some features -- such as integrating your training with your BlackBerry calendar -- aren't there. There is a delay when going between screens at the start of each session, too. Still, I'm keeping it for now, and the price is right.

The Allsport GPS had some advantages that his didn't, including built-in mapping, but it doesn't really have that training program ability nor the audio cues when you're running. It does have, however, various activities including cycling and skiing as well as running.

Quote from article:
"If you are using another model, try it out, as miCoach does give you the option to switch from Outdoor Mode (gps-enabled) to Indoor Mode (gps-disabled)."

Ok, I would love to try it on my 9650, but how? Can't find it in App World and can't find it anywhere via OTA...help.

I have never seen a more random list of supported BlackBerry Devices. 3 different screen sizes and 4 different operating system versions. At the very least is there a good reason for the 9630 and 9650 not to be supported? Or if it is a GSM thing, the 8520 and 9300?

It looks like it wont work on my 9800 Ive been looking for a training program like this but just cant find one. anyone know of any that work on the 9800?

This is one of my favorite app in my BB. I always use it for my running but I always like to compare it with Endomondo. I noticed miCoach distance not exactly the same with Enomondo. But who cares, as long I burn some calories :)