The Push Fitness Tracker has been one of the more exciting crowdfunded projects on IndieGoGo geared towards those who are serious about fitness that shipped a few months ago.

It isn’t just vaporware or a glorified pedometer for that matter. But does it actually deliver on its promise in terms of delivering a tracker that can measure power and velocity?

For those interested in quantifying the previously unquantifiable in the strength and weightlifting worlds, this review will be right up your alley.

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euGH_ak54Dc]

 

While I’m doubtful that the gadget reviewer from any of the major tech blogs will write as thorough a review as I will, as guessing that aren’t many folks from numerous fine online publications that truly understand how the Push product would resonate with the CrossFit, Powerlifting or Olympic Weightlifting worlds and put it through its paces.

What follows is my best attempt to view this product from the lens of a discerning athlete who wears the CrossFit, Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting hats all at once.

Push Fitness Tracker Background

I had the privilege of testing out both the Beta unit (thanks Coach John Vivian!), the emphasis will be placed on the newer Push unit on retail shelves as opposed to the Beta unit that was released to IndieGoGo backers.

(For differences between the newer and older unit, I cover it here on my blog.)

The first experience with Push was when they had their launch party with their prototype on display sometime way back in October 2013 after their IndieGoGo campaign had wrapped up.

While everyone was in a celebratory mood, I don’t think anyone there save for a few folks truly appreciated or understood what the Push team created. I can only guess to them it was some “fitness thing”. However, glorified pedometer it is not.

I recalled being stared at while trying to do some light power cleans and then being amazed at the rich data being captured in real time.

Thinking about it in terms of power and velocity wasn’t something that I was used to considering I’ve been wearing a Fitbit Flex for the last two years and thinking my generic fitness levels in terms of steps.

Steps are a seemingly arbitrary number that used to quantify fitness started by Fitbit with their then revolutionary pedometer technology that they pioneered and debuted at TechCrunch50 back in 2008. But compared to power, velocity or intensity over a given time period, a metric like steps is bit silly and definitely not applicable, especially when you consider athletes of the Strength, Olympic weightlifting, Powerlifting and CrossFit realms.

First encounter

I had the opportunity to sit down with Mike Lovas, Cofounder at Push to get to know where they’re coming from.

They’re a lean and mean team that works out of the MaRS Discovery district and constantly looking to improve the product on both the software and hardware side. From the unboxing experience to the feel of the Push Fitness Tracker, down to the user experience of the

The box is minimalist with a small footprint. There’s only 3 things included in the box, which involves the unit itself, a micro USB cord and a instruction pamphlet.

But I get the sense that there’ll be so much more to the device once I start to put it through its paces.

Onboarding

Registration is a bit of a pain as you need to fill out all the fields below.

I feel they can spread this out a bit more so I can actually get into the app before they ask about all these personal details.

I don’t know what the sweet spot is, but I feel it could be easier to remove the friction of getting set up and getting to the “Ah ha” moment of what the Push tracker is capable of.

Push Fitness Tracker registration

There might be some benefit from an interactive guided walkthrough in the app as it’s easy to forget the steps in the initial onboarding walkthrough tutorial to ensure that people get the first run experience right the first time or even an over the shoulder tutorial, unlike my experience of being a bit confused as to how to track everything or navigate through their app.

As it stands, those who’ve been training for a while will be the most appreciative.

It will resonate with the serious athlete, coaches and trainers who want to quantify the previously unquantifiable.

While beginners can use it, I’m not sure if they’re able to wrap their heads around not so much the learning curve of the device, but the learning curve of strength training, Olympic lifting or CrossFit itself.

Tracking

After I figured out how to use the Push Fitness Tracker, everything was a breeze from there, save for a few hiccups in terms of miscounting some reps.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urdOM73NEWk]

Getting the device to connect to my iPhone via Bluetooth was a breeze.

In fact, from my last few weeks with playing around with and testing the unit, I’ve found it to be a joy to use and found that I’m not so attached to my pen and journal where I previously wrote down my progress, and after my workout, I’d manually log in my reps, weights and sets into Fitocracy as my progress dashboard.

As I previously wrote in my previous post, Fitness Tech’s Evolution, I’m a fan that removes any friction having something like Push

UX

While I’m no stranger to fitness apps, maybe it’s the way the app is laid out, but it takes some time to acclimatize and figure out what’s stored where.  There are a few little hiccups on where you can find past workout performance data.

From the screenshot below the Load session data is a bit ambiguous.

I read it as being able to load the previous workout data because it’s after I had finished a workout.

What the load session button actually does is that it re-loads that workout so you could do that same workout as you did in the past again. While useful, it doesn’t allow me to get to what I want.

It isn’t until you click on the individual exercises, you’ll be able to reveal the “See Velocity & Power” button to view how many sets and reps you did along with velocity and power data.

There also seems to be no way to edit or delete certain reps along with the weight while I was testing to see how it would record certain movements.

While somewhat annoying, if I had entered the incorrect weight for a movement, I wouldn’t be able to go back in hindsight and edit it to reflect the correct amount.

The net result is that it’s carried forward until I beat the PR and replace it with a new one, but it would still be a part of my workout history (and skewing results).

One final thing, this was something I only noticed when I left for a week long vacation, upon trying to use the Push unit for another workout, it seemed to have almost fully discharged after not touching it for all of 7 days.

I was able to record half a workout after that, not knowing how much of the battery was left after I had recorded one full workout for about an hour or so.

It would be nice to be able to see how much of the battery was left on the unit or at the very minimum being able to check how much juice is left via the app.

Thankfully, you can still record your movements, reps, sets and weights, but without the power and velocity data that the Push unit provides.

WOD Mode?

While the Push tracker wasn’t meant to be or is capable of tracking CrossFit WODs (workout of the day) at this point, it would be interesting to see if the Push team could incorporate a “WOD mode” with as little input from the user as possible.

For instance, I could pre-load or enter a WOD like “Fran” (21-15 and 9 reps of Thrusters and Kipping pull-ups) in advance.

Before I start a workout I would start the workout normally with one button tap, and then move onto kipping pull-ups with 3 consecutive button pushes on the unit to delineate moving from thrusters to kipping pull-ups.

Once I’m done the final set of 9 reps, I’d end the workout with one button press on the unit and then press a confirmation button in the app to officially end the workout.

The ideal way to measure all this was if  the Push unit and software could dynamically figure out what the movements in a workout are so as long as you give the benchmark workout the movements to anticipate as you go through the workout.

Social & Gamification

While I don’t think that Push should incorporate all aspects of gamification to make it more like a game (although I wouldn’t mind..), I do think that it would help with some game-like elements.

Of course, I’d experiment with what game-like elements would resonate the most with users.

I think something like leaderboards and friending would be an welcome feature to be able to compare yourself to your peer group and track each others progress.

Not that this feature will replace the camaraderie in a gym, it would merely aid it and inform you of others progress and accountability.

Mobile Apps: iOS and Android

I’m glad to say that Push is available to the majority of users (sorry to Blackberry and Windows users.. you’re outta luck!).

The apps are top notch for both iOS and Android.

The user experience is polished and you can navigate around to find your data. The apps are smooth and snappy and feel pretty much the same across iOS or Android.

It’s only when you need to log into their web portal dashboard where things are a bit different.

The Push Web Portal

Push Fitness Tracker portal

It was kind of hard trying to find and log into their web dashboard that they call their “portal”.

Upon visiting their website, I expected to easily find a link to their web app, but I couldn’t find it anywhere until poking around a bit and finally seeing their “Start a Free Trial” button under the Explore drop-down menu.

It really shouldn’t be that hard to find the login, and I don’t know why they don’t simply include a “Login” button for current Push users on the home page.

If you do find it and pay attention to the web app url, it’s simply app.trainwithpush.com. Hopefully in future iterations, they’ll resolve this navigation issue.

push strength fitness portal

Outside of trying to find the login, the process afterwards seemed pretty straight forward, as it has all the functionality of the app, but available to your desktop via browser.

One of the first things to note and was a bit annoying is the persistent reminder of the free trial of the portal.

I’m not sure if this is a premium feature, to be able to get access to our data in a browser and view performance and workouts over time or if it’s meant for trainers/coaches as an up-sell as part of their business model, but I’d imagine there should be at least a free feature set that singular users/athletes can access.

It would be quite a bit of a let down if the only way to look at your workout data is through their mobile apps if you don’t upgrade to $10 USD a month or $100 USD for a year.

At least provide some basic metrics or at least get access to some workout data at the bare minimum with a call to action to upgrade later on if there’s value.

With respect to your workout data, I had a bit of trouble at first trying to figure out where my workout data resides.

Upon clicking on the calendar mode, I figure it would be me to a screen that shows me my workout data for that data.

Instead it brings up a pop up modal that lets me know how long my workout lasted.

It’s only until you scroll down a bit that you realize the workout data is below the calendar view.

To me the calendar view is pretty useless and only acts as a log that lets me know when I worked out, as opposed to assisting me to get to my workout data.

Conclusion

Let me put it out there from the Strength or Olympic Weightlifting training perspective, this device is perfect for those who are focused on those areas.

The way it’s set up and how you interact with the device fits into the flow of a lifting session, from rest time between sets, activating the device to denote when you’re starting a set and ending a set.

It’s quite simple and intuitive and they have a solid product on their hands that will make many athletes and coaches very happy with the measurement and feedback that Push provides.

While $189 USD isn’t a paltry sum, for the serious athlete looking to get the edge in terms of how they’re progressing in terms of the power and velocity of your lifts, you can’t get this sort of tracking anywhere else.

I’m looking forward as they build out the rest of the Push Fitness Tracker platform into something more robust and a bit more user friendly in the near term.

Have you used the Push Fitness Tracker or another tracking product?

Let me know about it in the comments below.

 

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