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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.