Ask Laura: Should I Buy a Nike+?

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 pm — Filed under:

Hi Laura:

I’m not a runner, but the idea of syncing my tunes up to how hard I’m working sounds excellent. Would I get any use out of the Sport kit even though I don’t run? (I mostly do treadmill or ArcTrainer, sometimes the bike, infrequently the Stairmill.)

Eh… not so much

Eh… not so much,

Nike + iPod Sport KitThe Nike+ Sport Kit tracks your workouts with a little sensor that you put in your expensive Nike shoes or a Shoe Pocket (like I did). That little pod is an accelerometer, which means that it tracks how quickly your foot is moving. That’s how it registers how far you’ve run.

If you use the Nike+ on the treadmill (like I do for about half my workouts), you’ll notice that it will give you a little different mileage than the treadmill says you’ve run. I’m okay with that difference because it’s all just an estimate anyway. I like the Nike+ on the treadmill because it tracks my workouts. They show up on the Nike+ website and I can see my progress. I’m all about the external validation, so when I see the little trophy for exercising three times a week, I feel motivated to earn another one.

The Nike+ might register something when you use a stair climber or elliptical trainer, but I don’t know how accurately it will rate your workout. Considering that you can turn the intensity up really high on those machines and your foot fall would be the same as if you had low intensity, it’s not as accurate of a measurement. I’ve never tried using the Nike+ with those machines, but I’m pretty sure it will measure something. And again, remember, it’s all just an estimate anyway.

Polar RS200sd Heart Rate Monitor Watch (Black)If you already have an iPod Nano, then the SportKit is only a $20 investment, so it might be worth your while. If you’re thinking of investing in a Nano just so you can use the Nike+, then you would probably be better served by a Polar Running Computer like this one here.

This unit costs $199 and comes with a heart rate monitor, watch, foot pod (accelerometer) and computer software to track your workouts. The reviews of the watch are very positive and technically, this will give you MORE information than the Nike+. Additionally, the calorie estimate will be more accurate because it’s based on your heart rate instead of the number of times your foot moves. It won’t talk in your ear like the Nike+ will. It won’t log your information on the Nike+ website and give you trophies for achieving your goals, but it might be a better option if you don’t already own a Nano.

Remember, tools such as the Polar and the Nike+ are just that: tools. They can’t force you to get to the gym, out of the house or on the treadmill. These things might be inspiring and motivating, but in the end, you can’t buy fitness.

Good Luck,


One Response to “Ask Laura: Should I Buy a Nike+?”

  1. Nick Says:

    I just tried the Nike+ SportKit on my elliptical and it wouldn’t even recognize that my feet were moving. 🙁

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