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Moov Now review: Personal training on a budget

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
45
inc VAT

At the cheaper end of the fitness tracker spectrum but the Moov Now’s unique technology and coaching features set it apart

Pros 
Cheap
Motivational coaching app
Six-month battery life
Cons 
Dependant on smartphone
Data syncing is slow
Fiddly to put on
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These days, it seems half the population is wearing a Fitbit or Garmin, which can leave the few without them feeling left out as everybody else obsessively compares their resting heart rates and daily steps. But you don’t need an expensive smartwatch to monitor your activity and improve your fitness, as the Moov Now activity tracker ably proves.

This simple device, paired with the Moov Coach app, offers a simple but ingenious way to monitor your progress and motivate yourself without getting bogged down in daily step goals and non-stop push notifications about how lazy you are compared to your ultramarathon-running colleagues.

READ NEXT: Best fitness trackers

Moov Now: What you need to know

The Moov Now is a budget activity tracker comprising a stretchy rubber strap and a removable pod, which is powered by a CR2032 coin-cell battery that will keep it going for a ludicrous 6 months. Unlike more advanced fitness trackers which record your heart rate, your steps, your REM sleep cycles and your stress levels, the Moov Now uses its “Omni Motion” accelerometers to detect movement during exercise and sleep – and that’s all there is to it.

The true appeal of the Moov Now lies in its accompanying app, Moov Coach, which is available on both iOS and Android. This free app works with the Moov Now as well as Moov’s other fitness tracker, the Moov HR. You’ll need the latter if you want to make use of Moov Coach’s heart rate data tracking.

Although the Moov Now can’t measure your pulse like the HR, it still provides detailed estimates on your sleeping patterns and deep-sleep cycles. Better yet it can be paired alongside a bunch of third-party heart rate monitors using Bluetooth.

Moov Now review: Price and competition

Decent fitness trackers under £100 are few and far between, but two stand out as relevant competitors to the Moov Now: the elegant Misfit Ray has an equally minimalist design but it’s undeniably a prettier piece of wearable tech – it could easily be mistaken as an artsy fashion accessory.

Although it launched at £80 it has fallen in price to £45 on Amazon, the same as the current price of the Moov Now. The Ray is a tad light on features but what it does, it does well. Distance covered is accurate when running or swimming, it offers great sleep-tracking, and it even has a vibrating alarm function.

Secondly, there’s the popular Fitbit Flex 2, which is available from £50 on Amazon. It’s a simple no-frills wearable which automatically monitors sleep, steps, different types of exercise and calories burned. It’s especially suited to tracking swimming workouts due to the waterproofing Fitbit has added since the first Flex. The coaching features available with the Fitbit Flex 2 are nowhere near as extensive as the Moov Now’s, however.

Moov Now review: Design

As wearables go, the Moov Now looks pretty odd. It has an unusual design in that there’s no screen, just the colourful pod inside a stretchy silicone rubber strap. Every now and then I noticed people in public staring at it, probably trying to work out what was. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it looks bad, though – it’s just different, sort of like an extraterrestrial bracelet.

The Moov Now gets top points for comfort. Whether you’ve got it on your wrist or your ankle, its rubber strap is barely noticeable. Combined, the strap and tracker weigh a feather-light 9g, which explains why you can barely feel it. The tracker is also water, sweat, and dirt proof, so there’s no need to take it off unless you’re scuba diving.

Another reason not to remove the Moov Now is how fiddly it is to secure the strap in the first place. Two metal pegs must be slotted through perforations on the strap to suit your wrist width, but it’s so tricky to fit it securely you have to invert the strap and push through from the other side. I lost few leg hairs the first time I tried fitting it above my ankle. Once it’s it’s on properly, though, it does at least stay put.

Moov Now review: Activity and fitness tracking software

The Moov Now works in conjunction with the Moov Coach app, available for free on iOS and Android. Once you’ve paired the device with your phone, you use Moov Coach to select workouts, view progress and “achievements”, and compete with friends who also use the Moov Coach app. The app has several types of ready-to-go workouts, which are broken down into two categories, Motion or Heart Rate; you choose the category depending on whether you’re wearing the Now or the HR.

The best part of the Moov Coach software is the audio encouragement it provides during each workout, telling you how you’re doing and pushing you to work just that little bit harder to meet your targets. If you’re out on the streets or in the gym this audio coaching is best listened to via headphones; that way you can make sure you hear everything while avoiding annoying those around you.

With Moov’s coaching tips, even a simple stroll to the railway station can turn into a hard-core power walking intervals workout. This makes the Moov accessible to people who aren’t looking to train for an Iron Man but want to build up a base level of everyday fitness.

For walking, running, and cycling you must fix the Moov Now to your ankle so that activity records accurately and during cardio boxing workouts you’ll need two Moov Nows – one on each wrist – in order to track everything you’re doing. Another neat feature of the accelerometer inside the Moov Now pod is its ability to record stride length and the force of impact when you’re running. If you’ve never had a professional consultation about your running gait, this feedback can be revelatory.

There is one drawback to all this activity: syncing your workout data is a slow process. The Moov Now is a low-power device, so it doesn’t send data to your phone continuously like other rechargeable fitness trackers. The plus side of this is that the battery lasts a long time; the downside is that you have to press down on the movement tracker so it transfers activity and sleep tracking data from the pod to the app.

It’s especially slow when you’ve finished a swim and that’s because during swim workouts the tracker doesn’t communicate continuously with the app – it uploads at the end and that process can take minutes to complete. The data bank is undeniably impressive, though; when you return to your locker after the swim, the Moov app provides a detailed breakdown of the number of laps swam, the types of stroke performed, the rate of your strokes and your lap times too. Not bad for a £45 device that only uses accelerometers.

And it’s worth noting that it’s important to always end your workout in the Moov Coach app when you’ve finished, otherwise it won’t save the information properly. This is easy to forget, especially when you’re wearing it on your ankle following a bike ride and your phone is in a bag or back pocket.

On one morning after I cycled to work, I did just that. When I remembered, I went into the app to find that Moov Now had recorded the distance of my cycle correctly, but everything else was skewed because I’d been stationary for the past 20 minutes. That’s pretty frustrating; when activity stops, so should the workout.

I had planned to measure my average time and speed on my daily cycle to and from work across a period of one week, but the fact that I had to dig out my phone to end my workout the second I arrived at my destination put me off the idea.

Another problem which pertains mostly to outdoor cycling is the need for headphones to receive Moov Coach’s active coaching feedback in your ears. Anything that distracts your senses from the hazards of the road has the potential to be very dangerous. If you choose to play it from your phone instead you’ll still get the feedback but unless you have it in a breast pocket it will be too muffled to hear anyway.

Moov Now review: Verdict

For such a low-cost device, the Moov Now and Moov Coach app have an amazing potential to improve your overall fitness and motivate you towards your long-term goals. While its tracking technology may seem rudimentary compared to the advanced smartwatches made by Samsung, Garmin, and Fitbit, the data that Moov Now provides can actually be more useful, especially the feedback it gives about stride and landing impact.

Not only that, but its motivational coaching feature is highly sophisticated and, importantly, actually works. You do feel encouraged and you do benefit as a result. The Moov Now may not be for everyone but if you don’t mind working out with your headphones in then this unconventional fitness tracker could give you the boost you’ve been looking for.