April 5, 2021

Predictive Fitness Apps

Predictive Fitness Apps

Does "smart" fitness really work?

In this episode, we discuss the latest trend in smart fitness: predictive AI. Similar to working with a personal trainer, predictive fitness software promises to help you progressively build strength in a way that's customized to you.


  • Fitbod app -- "AI" fitness
  • Oura ring
  • Smart workout equipment (e.g. Tonal)
  • Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure
  • Apple Fitness+

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Ryan Purvis  00:00
Hello, and welcome to the digital workspace works podcast. I'm Ryan Purvis, your host supported by producer Heather Bicknell. In this series, you'll hear stories and opinions from experts in the field story from the frontlines, the problems they face and how they solve them. The years they're focused on from technology, people and processes to the approaches they took, they will help you to get to grips with the digital workspace inner workings. So on Well, some of the fitness apps, I found an app that I'm really impressed with, called Flipboard. Fit pod. What I really like about it is an essay that using machine learning, which is bullshit, I don't think they are I think they're just doing a very basic weighting system. But But anyway, what what they've got is they've got a library of all the exercises, and then you can you can group them or categorize them based on what you've got access to facilities wise. So do you have a gym? Do Is your gym like a full setup? Or is it like a partial gym, like a home gym, or you can do bodyweight exercises. And then what it does is based on your desire, so you know, you want to lose weight, you want to build muscle, whatever it is, it builds your program for you every day. And they also say how long you've got for that day. So like I got 30 minutes today. So what's the bodyweight exercises, what you know, what's my bodyweight workout for that day, and then it basically will build in, it'll decide the workouts for you, then you can have like, like, I always want a high intensity workout. So it'll always do super sets for me for my workout. And then of course, as you do in the workout, you're capturing your your sets, your reps, your weights. So it might say, like I was doing when yesterday, this is you need to use 10 kilograms for this eight times, or whatever it is. And you're doing five sets. And these all superseded so you know, you're doing 25 exercises. So you might start off on 10 kilograms you think are telegrams take it again, it's nothing, that's okay. But by the time we get to the fourth set, you can hardly lift your arms anymore, and you think you're telling cryptid telegrams is too heavy. So you can make those adjustments as you do the exercises. So you could circle start with 10, and then drop down to eight, because too much or start at eight and put it to 12 when you get to the end, but then it uses all that information then the next week, when you do your your next round of exercise, it's changed the weights and all the rest of it based on what it's predicted as your thing is now what I also like about it is it works out your fatigue on your muscles. So this workout today yesterday Did you know would have been 25% fatigue on the on triceps 40% fatigue, or my back, muscles, hamstrings, all that kind of stuff. And it's so funny because when I get up in the morning, I look at what previous workout says and I feel how my body feels it almost is accurate. I feel like Geez, my you know, I'm stuff in the right places and like kind of stuff. And then you can mix in your cardio automatically as well. So like I do a six or seven minute cardio exercise at the beginning of the workout, or your stretching is in there as well that matches up to your workout. So it's a really nice plan. For me, I do three days a week with football. And then I'll alternate two days a week with you know, high intensity training. So I'll either use the apple fitness app, or I'll use my Beachbody insanity. So I've gotten back to Apple fitness hoping that it would work out and the exercise I found the routines a bit better. But I'm finding now that my watch does work with it anymore. So So I've still that there's still some bugs with that platform. So my dream is that footboard kind of absorbs Apple fitness so that I can because my workouts that are outside of the fit outside of football don't count inside of football.

Unknown Speaker  03:59
Hmm, so yeah.

Ryan Purvis  04:02
Yeah, so so I'm pushing everything out of football, into Strava. And everything out of Apple fitness into Strava. So that's my like everything you want to see what I'm doing. It's in Strava. Because that's the only place that I can actually see a consolidated view. But what I quite like about football go back to that for a second is they will send you an email in the week tell you how much you how much volume you've you've lifted, exercise, you've done minutes, you've spent all that kind of stuff, which I think is really nice, because you get at the end of the week, if you want to know that you've accomplished something. And at least you've hit the gym thing. At the very least, because we're always going to be there. But as I say, I'm quite impressed with this experience. So I've been pushing out my footpod free workouts on non toll my WhatsApp status is so if anyone wants it, that's where it is. Well,

Heather Bicknell  04:56
I'm surprised to hear you still have Apple fitness plus so we can dig into that and it's Cuz I was sure you're going to cancel it. But with the fit bad, so that's really interesting, I feel like I've seen, it's used to be trendy to have a workout program or there's one of those home. You know, like the wall mounted fitness units that are really becoming popular. So there's one that is like a touchscreen. And it has, like these arms that come out and you can you know, different attachments, right? So you can it's like your home gym in a wall on your wall that you can do stuff with, but it's supposed to be intelligent wear it, and that one's really nice, because it just takes the thought out of it entirely that it is progressively adding weight and like adjusting to your strength level, which is super interesting. But yeah, the whole, like AI trend of helping you progress strength is. Yeah, it seems to be really big right now.

Ryan Purvis  06:01
Yeah, I think that's the future I think. So it's a football I found it was it was actually a it was an agitator on another podcast that I heard it on, I got the 20% discount. Go because we don't we don't really use. We have a sort of advertising on this podcast, obviously. But you know, there will be one that I would probably advertise because I think it's a good product that I would support. So I tried it out for one workout, and it was a bit clunky to begin with. And then it is a second work. I was like Actually, no, now that I get it. I think it's a good product. And I think it works. To answer your question on so with that system that you're talking about on the wall, we call it Maxim Maximus here has a lot of elastic pulleys and stuff, and it's all attached. Now, it was a guy that listened to as well, Ben Greenfield, and he talks about a goes exercise bikes with the fan inside it, and you move the arms and the fan goes. And that's supposed to be this, this one that he uses is supposed to have an AI engine with that as well. And what that does is it changes the resistance based on what it was algorithm, but also your your effort. So it's supposed to be in a 10 minute exercise session, you do more work than you would do on a 30 minute workout session. So you get great results, I think that's going to happen, I think you're gonna find there are machines that are gonna come like that. And they go back to the wall thing, which is what I was trying to get to is that there's one that I can't think was called, when you pulling the elastic through the range of motion, the motors are pulling backwards at just the right amount of different points to give the muscle the full stretch, flex, so that you get the full range of motion build, so you fatigue a lot quicker. You don't just fatigue everything about your bicep, but I'm sort of showing you, you know, your bicep connects to the elbow, and then it connects into your shoulder. Usually what happens is this, this part here, the middle of the bicep fatigues the most. And that's usually why I see that sort of bolts out. But what you really want is actually that where the where the muscle connects to the tendon to fatigue as well. And these in That's why lastic exercises is so much better, because keeps tension all the way through. Whereas if we lived in a way to get to the point, we actually there's no tension on the muscles at all. And that's why it takes a lot longer to build. Well, in theory with with weights as opposed to elastics Yeah, I'm

Heather Bicknell  08:31
all I'm all for these smart systems. They can take I mean, it is in some senses, it sort of replaces Personal Training, but even you know, the appeal of Oh, it's so customized to me, you know, it's hard to ignore anything. When you want to, you know, a lot of us, you know, you don't have infinite time to dedicate to your fitness routine, right? If you're working, you know, working family, you know, you have your own hobbies, you know, a lot of times it's like, the most efficient way to get fitness in is, can be the ideal one.

Ryan Purvis  09:08
Yeah, that's why you look at bringing in the things like the aura ring, or you know, wear an apple watch or whatever your smart watches, because that the ordering will tell you how you're feeling physically today. So if I, you know, tell you what mine said this morning. So I slept really I slept really well. And I woke up feeling feeling good. So my reading this morning was 85 out of 100. And my sleep was 78 out of 100. If I go back to yesterday, it was 84 and 80. And, you know before there was 1987. So I'm actually on a downward trend, which is actually quite normal. Because what happens to me is a is a Monday to Friday. I push the height of the can with everything. And then Saturday and Sunday. I just don't. So good. I'll make sure that I do my 30 minutes Have Apple fitness or whatever it is. But it's mostly stretching, it's mostly going for a walk or whatever. But I'm really not trying to do any exercise. So my, you know, I sort of my readiness goes down to Friday, and then Saturday I recover. And then I start again. And that's sort of has worked for me as a way to to approach it, but I'm using the data to support that I'm not, I'm not just making that as a, you know, some thuc task. Because I know by the time we get to Friday, I'm pop like that last workout really, really takes a lot of mental effort to do it, but but I still do it. That's kind of the achievement for the week that I don't feel bad if I had you know, bowl of ice cream and a milkshake and whatever on Saturday. Because I've achieved what I wanted to achieve for the week

Unknown Speaker  10:49
on the

Heather Bicknell  10:51
sort of less sophisticated a little bit less optimize and of this I've gotten into the habit of picking up my Nintendo Switch ring fit adventure more because probably because I'm so I've made more of a commitment to closing my rings every day. And I think Yeah, the other watch inflates the fitness gaming function, like there's just no like, it's so funny because the watches, inflating my caloric burn, and then ring fit adventure. Basically, it gives you like, no, it only counts as exercise, the like it doesn't, when you're using the app, it's not counting that entire session as exercise even though even when you're you know, navigating the menu, you're pulling and pushing on the ring. So you are getting, you know, a little bit of arm resistance, but it really is only counting when you're doing the when you're you know, attacking your foes with your, your with your sights. So it really like the the caloric difference at the end is always like, you know, ring fit adventures, like you burn 56 calories. And My watch is like 300 it's, it doesn't make any sense. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle, but but it is, you know, that does the the system adds You know, it adds levels adds difficulty, it always gives you the option to up difficulty in the form of you know, ring resistance or increased reps, I think is how they do it. But that one's just, you know, I got it because it was novel, and I grew up with the the we fit stuff. Yeah, which was always just, you know, a fun thing to do at friends houses. So, you know, ring fit seemed seemed like, you know, the latest version of that. So, um, yeah, I can't recommend it as someone's like, soul fitness program. But as like, just a way to give yourself more variety to do you know, any form of activity. I think it's a good system for that.

Ryan Purvis  13:06
Well, I think the key is as you're doing something. I mean, I think I was reading listening to something the other day that walking is considered the biggest health find of the other pandemic, because that's what most people are doing. And it's good. I mean, you know, we, we take my daughter out for a walk, we're going to gym in the morning, then we come back, we take my daughter for a walk for about an hour. So we do, you know, four or five kilometers in that walk. Because, you know, from from wake up in the morning to that point, I'll do maybe 10,000 May, if I'm lucky 11,000 steps. So so so by 11 o'clock in the morning, South Africa time, that's what I've done well, between 11 and seven, already doing over 2000 because all I do stand by my desk all day, either on the phone or working on something so so you need to get the exercise somewhere. I think that's the key is that you need to find the solution that works for you. And if it means that you're playing games to do it, then even better. This is fun.

Heather Bicknell  14:12
Yeah, it's a it's, it's, it adds a different element to it, I suppose. Not as not quite as fun as you know, a more traditional video game, but somewhere in the middle. It's at least I it's at least distracting i think is the key. It doesn't really feel you know, and a lot of it is like you know, there's mountain climbers You know, you're doing different plank exercises or squats like they are a lot of traditional exercises, but it's just gamified so so you still have Apple fitness class.

Ryan Purvis  14:53
Yeah, so my my thing actually expires the 15th of April. So that's probably why I stuck Got it. So I was I thought I'd give it a good go. So I've got less than a month left. And and I found a few exercises programs that were actually working as sort of, you know, stressing me out enough. But that was irritating. My watchlist is not working with it. So I've had a few conversations with Apple support. And this is where I really get frustrated by the, their, their approach. So the first question was gonna tell me what version of iOS you've got, which had sent in the original message, but I did it anyway. Good. Then they asked me to check a whole lot of little, little itty bitty things like, are you signing with the same account on both devices? What's the version of both devices as a worker and all that sort of stuff? And I sort of said to going, you wanted to give me everything you want to know, first? or Why not? What by Now, why is it not an an app? Or somebody that I can respond to? You know, in the apple support arm?

Heather Bicknell  16:09
Yeah, we're

Ryan Purvis  16:10
not even a phone. But like, if I if I open the apple support app, on my iPad, or my iPhone, why can't I give that permission to take a scrape of all the stuff from the device or two devices, and, you know, run that while I'm doing that, doing the exercise to like a screen record, because that's what I did the screen recording I showed them as, as I log in to the fitness session, that here is me trying to use it, it's showing that I can't find the watch. And then Mr. That I've got a video of my, my watch or standing open waiting. And I'm gonna send them both videos, because that's what they need, they need to see what I'm going through. But they've got you know, this is Apple, this is the operating system, it's the devices, you know, I might have paid for them. But but they, you know, so like, it's not like with windows with there's too many variations on the device, that they can't cater for everyone. These are machines that come out of the apple factory. So so why not have that all there, so that they got all the diagnostic information they need. And then all I have to do is wait for them to analyze it, and then come back to it and say, Okay, now we've analyzed everything, we understand everything. Can you tell us something else, maybe it's the why, you know, because if you think about it, they can, they can work out the Wi Fi strength, they can, they can collect the diagnostics of the actual device itself, they can tell what the Bluetooth is doing or not doing go Alyssa said half so the odds are could be as simple as a patch. You know, and this is coming back to what we did. You know, when I worked in the bank, where we were, we were looking at the data we were collecting to predict where the fix was going to be required to go and fix it before the user actually had to worry about it. And that's probably where my frustration comes from. It just feels like this completely reactive and not thought out approach to troubleshooting, which I thought we'd move past to be quite honest.

Heather Bicknell  18:11
Be a bit more proactive.

Ryan Purvis  18:14
Yeah, but more sophisticated.

Heather Bicknell  18:18
And you're on your hardware to right.

Ryan Purvis  18:21
So this is a 20 2019 Pro. So it's new ish, I would say I mean, it's

Heather Bicknell  18:30
pretty nice. It's still pretty current. It's not like you're I feel a lot of people you know, good rule that you can affect them and it's a problem but you should still be well within you know, support

Ryan Purvis  18:45
well it's I mean it's interesting in the sense that this this all worked before so so you know it was it wasn't like it's never worked and cannot complain about it worked for like a month and then I didn't use it for a month and a NASA working

Unknown Speaker  19:10
Yeah, that's a bummer

Heather Bicknell  19:12
on the positives for Apple fitness plus they are with the new with the next iOS release enabling airplay for fitness plus, so I can finally you know stream that to my TV instead of because that's what my big frustration with it is I can only use it on my phone which is obviously not going to be a terrific experience so

Ryan Purvis  19:37
no not at all. So that's interesting because we we just bought a TV now about our wine bought up about to buy it. It's got the apple airplay components in it because most smart TVs actually don't. So that'd be quite cool. That would be law. We use it we use it on an iPad anyway assets to know

Unknown Speaker  20:00

Heather Bicknell  20:01
I'll probably I'll probably end up using it on the TV so I can give my impression of how well that works. But we just had to get a new one because our old one, he was like four or five years old, it just didn't turn on anymore. It just gave up but one day is a little engine that couldn't anymore. So got a new TV. So you know, that's been that's been fun. They're so big and heavy these days. It was amazing how much Wait, wait here a TV is four years later? Yeah. Just a lot of advancements there, I guess. So. didn't even try to mount that one to the wall. Just we have some straps connecting it to the wall just so the cats can't tip the whole thing over. But we had this like puny TV. Walmart, wall mountain just didn't want to mess with that right now. So

Ryan Purvis  20:58
no, no. So we were all it was a mountain on the wall. But you get a specific wall mount you put up, but you got to be careful. I mean, you know, the South African walls are double, double layered brick. So you can pretty much get a hang anything off them. But in the UK, it's like a plaster board. Installation. brick. Yeah, a gap brick, you know, whatever. You'd be very careful how you mounted on there. So I can understand your hesitation.

Unknown Speaker  21:27

Heather Bicknell  21:30
Well, I don't know if we have time to move on to distributed teams, so maybe we should hold that one for another day.

Ryan Purvis  21:40
Cool. Yeah, that sounds good.

Heather Bicknell  21:42
So um, but yeah, we are coming up on episode 50. So I'll have to think of something. Fun for that one.

Ryan Purvis  21:49
Yeah, exactly. What are we 48? down? So? Yeah. No, he just thought

Heather Bicknell  21:57
that's quite quite a milestone.

Ryan Purvis  21:59
I am trying to work out because we started in May. And we did, we did we have we put out three episodes to begin with. But now we're in March. And if we were doing, you know, 52 weeks in a year, we should actually be getting to 50. You know, the sort of end of middle of well, not the end of April, early May. So I was trying to work out how we sort of didn't weigh episodes and weeks in a year if that makes any sense. Because we did one one week or we did two. But uh, yeah, somewhere along the line, we've we've accelerated planning, but yeah,

Heather Bicknell  22:36
yeah, I guess there must have been a few double weeks. But for the most part, it's just been really consistently putting one out every week. Come with me. So

Ryan Purvis  22:46
yeah, yeah. And and now it's being put out automatically onto YouTube as well. Okay. Goes

Heather Bicknell  22:52
excited to see how that integration works. That'll be much more seamless. So awesome. Yeah.

Ryan Purvis  22:59
Super. Alrighty. Well say sir. Yeah. Thank you for listening today's episode. Hey, the big news app producer, editor. Thank you, Heather. for your hard work on this episode. Please subscribe to the series and rate us on iTunes or the Google Play Store. Follow us on Twitter. At the D w w podcast. The show notes and transcripts will be available on the website WWW dot digital workspace that works. Please also visit our website www dot digital workspace that works and subscribe to our newsletter. And lastly, if you found this episode useful, please share with your friends or colleagues.

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