#BeTheForce: The GOQii Fitness Band reviewed

The GOQii activity and fitness band pushes you to take that extra step thanks to unique features like one-on-one coaching, the ability to contribute to social causes, on-ground fitness events, and web chats with nutrition and health experts.

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I hopped on to the fitness bandwagon (pun intended 😉 ) sometime in December 2015 when I was gifted a FitBit. Prior to that, I had been tracking using apps like Armour, MyFitnessPal and, of course, Apple Health. I have since become that much more obsessed about tracking my steps, heart rate, sleep and what not after I started wearing the band. But I recently put my FitBit away to check out another piece of wearable tech — the GOQii. I imagined that I would get back to the FitBit within a few weeks of testing the GOQii. But here I am, three months down the line, still wearing and enjoying the features of the GOQii. Read on to know more about this fitness band that offers a host of interesting and motivational features.

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GOQii in the Power Black variation

A fitness band like no other

I’m not going to get into a review that compares the GOQii to other fitness trackers. That’s because the GOQii is so much more than just a fitness-tracking device. If you browse through the 2016 list of best fitness trackers, you’ll notice that most of the new devices offer a heart rate monitor, while a select few come with GPS functionality. The GOQii offers neither of these features, and it’s safe to say that you won’t even miss them. After all, it’s easy to get caught up with all that data crunching when you start tracking. But the thing about the GOQii is that it lets you immerse yourself in the world of numbers while gently pushing you to change your lifestyle with exciting initiatives.

But first, a little background on the company and the passionate people behind the GOQii band.

GOQii is headquartered in California and has offices in Mumbai and Shenzhen. The company was formed as a collaboration between some of the world’s leading experts who believe that a healthy, sustainable lifestyle is not too difficult to attain. Indian entrepreneur Vishal Gondal (ex-founder of gaming company Indiagames) is the founder and CEO of GOQii. Vishal, who has for a very long time been obsessed about tracking his health and fitness data, says that he experienced the lack of a ‘human’ touch when it came to other wearable tech products. And, that’s how GOQii was born.

Even the company investors are incredibly passionate about fitness. Madhuri Dixit-Nene is one among the list of investors who remain passionate about utilising technology to achieve a healthy and fit lifestyle. The teams who run the company — from nutrition and fitness experts right up to the tech guys — are just as ardently passionate. But more on this later.

Now, let’s get into the features of the GOQii and how it works.

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Components of the GOQii: Straps, detachable capsule and USB charger

The GOQii band

The GOQii band tracks your steps, sleep quality, number of calories burnt, distance covered and the amount of time you’ve been active through the day.The band has a solid feel and never once did I experience any chaffing against my skin. Its 360-degree motion sensor system is housed in a removable capsule (pictured above) that also accommodates a touchscreen OLED display on its face. To turn on the display to view your data points, all you need to do is tap the ‘+’ symbol on the screen. It was easy to get a quick glance of my step count and calories burnt, even when I was running on the treadmill. Because I’m so obsessed with counting my steps even when I’m in the middle of a run!

You’ll need to remove the capsule to charge it via USB. That said — I really appreciated the fact that I could simply carry the capsule around in my bag — without the need to always wear it on my hand. The GOQii’s rubber straps are available in a choice of colours — Persisent Red and Power Black.And for those who need their wearable tech to reflect their sense of style, the GOQii fares well on this front with its overall cool, sporty appeal.

The GOQii app

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The homepage on the GOQii app

The GOQii band pairs with the GOQii app via Bluetooth quite easily and you only have to pair them during the initial set up. Once paired, you can set up your account, fill up your profile with goals, targets, personal fitness and health data. The home page (pictured left) also clearly displays  your daily steps calculated, calories spent, sleep quality and water consumed. Data related to steps and calories consumed automatically syncs every now and then during the day. However, you do need to enter data like water consumed. Further, unlike other wearable tech devices, the GOQii doesn’t automatically track the quality of your sleep. You’ll need to switch to ‘Sleep’ mode before bed, without forgetting to deactivate and switch to ‘Awake’ mode once you rise. That’s a con in my opinion. Although this is not something that the company can’t work out in future models.

The latest update includes a new ‘Goal’ feature — I wanted to include more fibre in each of my meals and thus chose to include this as a reminder on the homepage. Other than that, you’ll see buttons at the bottom of the homepage that take you to different sections of the app like ‘Karma Points’, Social (to connect with GOQii users), Notifcations, Settings, etc.

You can log your exercise completed for the day, food and water consumed, changes in weight, and sleep just by tapping the big ‘+’ icon on the homepage. Also in this section is the ‘Meditation’ option that takes you through guided introductory meditation sessions.

All in all, the GOQii app is user-friendly, which is a prerequisite for wearable device users.

Now for some of the GOQii’s unique features:

1) Expert-led coaching

I received a phone call from GOQii as soon as I signed up. I was told that I could expect a call from my personal nutritionist and wellness coach. Soon after, I received a message on the GOQii app asking me to choose a coach from the list of experts. On making the choice, I once again received an in-app message — this time from my new coach, Fatma, who scheduled an introductory call with me later that evening. We discussed my health and fitness goals, my current diet and fitness routine — basically everything that I was hoping to achieve with regards to my lifestyle.

Now, here’s where the fun begins. My coach was able to keep track of my daily steps, calories burnt, quality of sleep and food consumed — all through the app! And, she did it relentlessly. In fact, there were days when I felt low on energy and lacking the will to exercise. But there she was always popping up on my screen, reminding to push myself and even giving me tips to feel energised. Yes, that lime water certainly did work wonders!  Oh, and I can’t help but mention that those high five emojis that my coach handed out, albeit quite judiciously, really did make me smile and stay motivated. The easy access to my coach truly motivated me to stick to my health plan. Over the course of three months, I might have received around two or three calls from GOQii, asking me if all was going well with the GOQii and if I had been in touch with my coach.

2) Earn good Karma and pass it on

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One of the many social causes that GOQii and Oxfam works towards

Yet another unique motivational feature of the GOQii is the ability to earn Karma Points based on your step count, which can then be contributed to a social cause. The nice folk at GOQii call it ‘sweating for good’! You can see your Karma Points displayed on the homepage itself, and if you click on the button, you’ll reach a section that displays various causes to which you can donate your Karma Points.

For instance, last month there was a cause that pledged support to education for the girl child. I donated a chunk of my Karma Points that I had collected during that week. I could see that 2,300 other GOQii users had also pledged their support. Funded by Oxfam India, the project pledged to donate 22530 USD once the goal was completed, and when I checked within a week, it was already fulfilled. It certainly felt nice to be able to contribute to social causes such as this one. Over the months, I contributed my Karma Points to other causes related to implementing the Right to Education, providing the lesser privileged with footwear, lending support to victims of the Tamil Nadu floods, and empowering women against violence.

Fitness events

Now, this feature is yet another one that puts the human element and the fun back into fitness tracking. All GOQii users across India are regularly invited to fitness-related events including yoga sessions, community runs and more. For example, the last invite I received as a text message from GOQii invited me to the Active Sunday Boot Camp and Games event. Although I didn’t go, I’m sure that those who did must have had a blast while working out. Interestingly, the event also allowed GOQii users to invite their family and friends. I was however aiming to go for the 7 a.m. Core Fitness Drill session at Patwardhan Park on Linking Road in Mumbai. Sadly, I couldn’t make it to that event too.

Hear it straight from a health specialist

Luke Coutinho - GOQiiLuke Coutinho, one of India’s most reputed and sough-after holistic nutritionists who specialises in lifestyle medicine and integrative healing, is the head nutritionist, master coach and mastermind behind GOQii’s lifestyle and health coaching model. As a GOQii user, I benefited from many of his articles filled with very useful and relevant health tips that were delivered straight into my email inbox. One such article focussed on the importance of Vitamin D in our lives. Other articles penned by Luke talked about the dangers of weight-loss diets, the myths related to protein intake, and the importance of looking after your kidney.

Now, you can always get in touch with Luke even if you aren’t a GOQii user. But maybe you aren’t ready to part with coaching fees at this point of time. As a GOQii user, you can ask him about any of your health concerns via the GOQii webinars that are hosted quite frequently. To me, this is a fantastic initiative and a feature that makes the GOQii experience truly unmatchable. Check out this video in which Luke talks about the GOQii and its features.

Important things you need to know

Battery life: The GOQii claims to have a battery life of up to 7 days — a promise that the device fulfils. It takes just two hours to charge the capsule.

Accuracy: One of the biggest concerns among fitness device users is the accuracy of captured data. There’s almost always some variations, ranging from 500 to 1000 steps, in certain devices. The GOQii is quite accurate on this front, and if you compare it with the iPhone health app that also quite accurately tracks steps, you won’t see much of a variation. However, I must add that my GOQii once acted up — my band started to log steps when I was travelling by a rickshaw. Luckily, that happened just once.

Water-resistance: The GOQii is a water-resistant device, which means you don’t need to take it off when you shower. It will, however, not withstand complete immersion in the water, which means that you cannot go swimming with it.

Compatibility: The GOQii device and app are compatible with all iOS, Windows and Android devices. And, just in case you already own another fitness tracker like the Fitbit, it helps to know that the GOQii app is compatible with it too.

Getting yourself a GOQii: It’s quite easy to get your hands on a GOQii device. All you have to do is sign up for a GOQii Life Programme, which means that you pay an amount for either 12, 6 or 3 months to get yourself a GOQii and enjoy access to all of its features.Of course, once your time limit is over, you get to keep your GOQii, but you can no longer get access your coach. Prices are really low right now! The one-year programme costs just Rs. 4,799, while the six-month service is priced at Rs 3,499 and the three-month programme costs Rs 2,399 only. That’s quite a low price to pay for good health!

Having used the GOQii over a period three months, I can safely conclude that it’s a great piece of wearable tech for those who want to switch to a healthier and more meaningful lifestyle. The remote coaching, Karma Point system and overall user-friendliness of the app certainly kept me on my toes through the day. I’m pleased as punch that I benefitted from using the GOQii band and even happier that it has motivated me to stay put on the path to happiness, wellness and good health!

Visit the GoQii website for more information. It’s time to #BeTheForce!

 

 

 

 

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