I haven't played basketball in years. I don't even exercise regularly. I love air conditioning. I explain all this to D-TRAINED, a Nike physical trainer, on a soul-sapping hot day. He ignores my slob story and runs me through a grueling series of drills. Afterward, with my hands melting into my knees, D-TRAINED walks over and hands me an iPhone—and it shows me what I really did.
These new Nike+ shoes have sensors in the soles that measure the amount of steps you take per second, how high you jump, and gather more quantitative stats about your performance. These results sync with your phone to show how much of the time during drills you're idle, running, jumping, or whatever.
Unlike the Nike+ Fuelband, which was geared more towards normal people doing general, everyday tasks, these Nike+ shoes are for serious athletes who want to know more about their performance, and how to improve.
People who want to live an active lifestyle. People who want a personal workout regimen but can't afford a personal trainer. Former athletes who lost their way after the discovery of beer.
It's not often that amateur athletes get access to specific details about how they're performing. Sure, you can shave a few minutes off a mile time, but do you know your foot speed during your run? How many times you can jump a rope in two minutes? You probably have no clue. If your workouts were once measured in theoretical terms—"going hard"—wearing these Nike+ shoes completely improves your metrics with quantitative data most people never get to see.
The LunarTR1+ are attractive from afar, but a little on the bulky side when you get up close. They make for better training shoes than running shoes. The blue trim and slight purple tint on the midsole give the shoe a futuristic gradient, while the Flywire is stylishly hidden in a breathable black mesh. It's a good lookin' shoe. Putting the sensor inside the shoes is annoying, but it's not continually bothersome.
The whole Nike+ sensor system is controlled by a black plastic puck that looks like a thick guitar pick. It houses a three-axis accelerometer which triggers the shoe's sensors, measures what you're doing, and spits out numbers to your phone via Bluetooth 4.0. (Phones that don't have Bluetooth 4.0, like the iPhone 4, need a little mini adapter.)
Pairing the shoes with your phone is easy. The battery of the sensors is stunningly long (I haven't charged it in a month). Your phone acts as the trainer, giving you exercises to do complete with video instructions, and as a tracker, keeping count of what you're doing within 10-15 minute "drill packs" focused on strength, total body, cardio, power, explosiveness and more. You can also join a 4-week Nike+ Training Program to give yourself a systematic way to whip yourself into shape. It's celebrity-athlete-endorsed—I'm working out with LeBron James, Manny Pacquiao and Hope Solo.
Working out is easy. You just fire up the app and pick a pre-programmed, automated workout. It turns training into a game—you know the numbers of reps you've hit before, you want to beat that number, and you generally want to work out more. It's easy keep track of your own records and compete against yourself (or Facebook friends) to get better. If you're just looking for less than an hour of activity a day, you could buy these shoes and ditch the gym altogether.
The shoes are X-rated exxxpensive. $235 for the Nike LunarTR1+ (for men) and $220 for women's Nike Lunar Hyperworkout+. There are also kinks and limitations in the new Nike+. The stats, while awesome to track, aren't completely full-featured—you can't chart your performance of one exercise over a month, for example. You can only see the data inside the app, which is competent but not as usable as it could be. It's also completely inelegant to hold your iPhone while working out—an iPhone arm band is a must. As of now, there's no Android or Windows Phone version.
- Sometimes the shoes got a little squeaky.
- The Nike+ Training app is ironically hefty—it weighs in at 583MB. It needs to cut back on all those video exercises.
- It's pretty amazing how long the battery lasts and how fast the app syncs with the shoes.
- In case you've forgotten, Nike has replaced calorie burning with Nikefuel earning.
- I really hate burpees.
If you want to get in shape now, absolutely. These shoes are good for your health, man. But if you already know your way around the gym and you regularly do some hybrid crossfit/insanity/p9000000xburpee/ftw type workout, then no. Don't buy these yet. Wait until Nike allows you to pull more data from the shoes' sensor. Then, you can chart your impressive stats however you'd like.