Last month I started hankering over a new treadmill. I’d been researching High Intensity Training Protocols and stumbled across Sprint 8 which is a routine designed by Vision Fitness and pre-built into their treadmills as a program option.
Sprint 8 is quite an enjoyable routine but I’m afraid it sparked a greater interest in the whizzy treadmills with glorious displays and multiple routines. I was lusting after the built-in high-definition screens and the ability run across exotic trails without leaving the confines of my dining room.
Fortunately, before I parted with many hundreds of pounds, I remembered that I’d been asked to try out the Kinomap Fitness app and had been sent a bundle of wahoo fitness accessories to link with the app.
Kinomap has been around for a while but if you haven’t heard of it, the app basically presents you with a virtual reality world to run or bike or row in. The app presents you with a series of videos that you can select from, most of which have been recorded by users out on their training routes.
There are hundreds of videos to choose from but the selection criteria are a bit limited (Sport/video equipment source/HD) and as a result the choice can end up being random and the quality does unfortunately vary quite a bit.
The first course I tried appeared to someone’s training loop about the local park. It was a grim experience. It was a grotty park, not the sort of place I’d be attracted to run around in real life and the scene wasn’t enhanced by the camera angle and constant camera bouncing. I imagine the runner had a GoPro attached to their forehead but it was at an angle and their bounce was out of sync with my bounce so I felt incredibly sea-sick by the end of the 15 min routine.
After that I thought I’d be smart and go with a cycle route, at least the camera was likely to be steady if it had been strapped to the handlebars.
The footage was much better but the overall experience was still flawed as our perceived speeds were now out of sync and the footage kept pausing for me to catch up. You can change some of these settings so that the footage either pauses or slows down and there is something called unleashed, which I didn’t notice at the time so I haven’t tested it – it sounds like it may just run at the recorded speed which would be my preferred option.
The final route I tried was a section of the 2012 London Marathon, it wasn’t the most atmospheric section but it was fun to be in there amongst the hordes of runners and fairly fast runners at that. From my more usual back of the pack vantage point I tend to spend my time tripping over the run/walkers so I enjoyed the feeling of being with the “proper runners”.
I mentioned that I’d been sent some Wahoo Fitness accessories – a heartrate monitor, foot pod and the dongle for connecting to the iPad/iPhone. These enable your heartrate to be captured and displayed on the screen and for your speed to be estimated to control the speed of video playback. Unfortunately none of the Wahoo gadgets worked – I think the batteries were flat. It didn’t really matter that much as the app will also estimate speed via the front camera of your device. It shows you bobbing around in the lower right hand corner of the display and although its wholly inaccurate its good enough to sense movement and get the video playing.
All in all I think the app and the concept has some promise but it could do with some refining. The biggest improvement would be the ability for users to vote on the quality of videos or write reviews. I trailed through a number of videos and the video stability was either poor or the route was stultifyingly dull. I would have appreciated the ability to apply a filter and try out the routes considered to be outstanding by my peers – I imagine some of them are great.
I won’t be renewing my monthly subscription to this service, partly because of the difficulty in finding good videos but also because I’ve swapped my old iPad for an iPad mini and this is an app that warrants a large screen. In fact it would be ideal projected onto an Apple TV suspended above the treadmill. It not so great on a tiny iPhone screen balanced precariously on the treadmill controls.
I may need to consider that all singing all dancing treadmill again.