When Nike teamed with Apple several years ago for a fitness device that measures and records your pace and distance while running, it changed the workout world. Called Nike+, the small sensor could fit in your shoe, and sync with an iPod or iPhone to track your jogging data. It retailed for $29. Adidas has been running a distant second ever since, but is beginning to catch up with a a free miCoach app being introduced today.
In January, the German-based sports company premiered its $140 miCoach Pacer, an iPod-connected pedometer, heart rate monitor, calorie counter, and real-time coaching device. Now Adidas is foregoing hardware for software, tracking for coaching, and giving it away the new technology in the iTunes and BlackBerry stores for free starting today.
The Adidas miCoach app turns your smartphone into a personal trainer, without any supplemental devices. Rather than simply collect data, the free app provides workouts and conditioning pegged to specific sports, including tennis, soccer, and football, among others. "Everyone needs a coach," says Andy Graham, director of miCoach mobile, who gave Fast Company a demo last week. "You really need someone running alongside you."
Adidas miCoach gives runners a real-time audible training system, which features pace-triggered voice coaching and personalized workout plans designed by professional trainers. The app will tell you how fast to run and how much distance you have to go. Plans are also pegged to sports, so if you're a tennis player, miCoach might suggest a conditioning of quick speed-boosts to strengthen your agility on the court.
Moreover, the app collects a tremendous amount of data from the run, tracking your workout in bar graphs and charts that automatically sync to Adidas miCoach's online manager. What's more, the iPhone's GPS tracks your run on Google Maps, and gives you an outline of your route, complete with speed, distance, and elevation data. You can also select the athletic shoes that you conditioned with, enabling runners to see if a particular pair of sneakers helped one perform better.
"There's a huge difference between just tracking what you do, and moving to a coaching paradigm," says Graham. "Nike+, well executed on their part, uses a century in your shoe, and is another tracking system. It's only speed and distance."
With the free price tag and professionally designed sports training, Adidas' miCoach app is well worth a try. And Nike better keep an eye out; otherwise, the company might need some personal training of its own to catch up in the mobile app market.