The other day, I was watching a gentleman try to train his dog to bring him a bottle of water from a cooler in the park.  No, I am not kidding, and no, I have no idea why I was watching this.  Two things amazed me...first, the dog was pretty much doing it, and second, he wasn't offering him any reward (no treats) other than saying "Good boy".

Now, you must think I have lost it, but no, well, not totally, as there is a tie-back to M2M.  Most of my regular readers will know that I have been using M2M to complete a 6 month weight loss program (all done, by the way, down 45lbs).  I have recently started researching a variety of M2M tools towards my next goal, which is completing a half-marathon later in 2014. 

While researching, I came across a National Post article stating the jury is still out regarding how effective these 'gamification' programs are.  

Among the applications/toys that I am using is RunKeeper.  One of the interesting aspects of RunKeeper is that it really likes to congratulate you on pretty much everything that you do.  It sends you nice notes when you reach certain milestones (amazingly, it seems to find a reason to send a note on pretty much every run/walk) and it encourages you to get out and run.  It also incorporates your runs into more advanced programs which help you achieve certain goals (which is how they pay the bills).  It mimics itself as a sort of personal trainer for you.  During some research, I found that there are similar programs for those who wish to lift weights, bike, run a triathlon or pretty much any other exercise.

A few thoughts came to mind:

•   Are these programs really just giving positive reinforcement and not delivering a lot of valuable information?

•   How beneficial are they to actually helping you towards your goal (i.e. are they giving accurate and personalized information that will accelerate your progress?)

•   Could an M2M-based solution effectively replace most personal trainers?

Now, before I get messages from personal trainers, I understand the value that many of you bring.  Some of your have very specialized health/anatomy training, many of you have extensive experience with training athletes and some of you offer much more advice than just training (such as equipment suggestions, dietary improvements and more).

However, take a look at what some of the benefits are from a solution that combines applications.  My current offerings does the following:

•   Withings (Takes my weight, Blood Pressure, Body fat and other variables daily)

•   MyFitnessPal  (Takes my current weight and determines how I am balancing my diet vs. my needs)

•  RunKeeper (Keeps track of my runs, using accurate distances from the iPhone and using accurate calorie counts based on a weight that is updated daily.  As well, it compares my runs vs. the pace/distance that I should be at and helps to customize a program)

•  Garmin 620 (My most recent toy....It is a watch-style device that provides me with both real-time feedback during my run...things like pace, heart rate and distance travelled.  As well, it provides me with a ton of information after my run including a very accurate prediction as to how long I should take until I do my next long run.  It does this using some really cool calculations of my VO2 max, heart rate and other variables.  Finally, it helps to analyze the amount of time that my foot stays on the ground while running, which can help me get better information towards picking the right kind of footwear.)

So, with all of this information, would I need a personal trainer?  Well, there’s no doubt that all of these applications can totally compete with that of an experienced trainer.  Trainers often have an intuition or gut instinct about an athlete that could not be gathered through biometrics.  As well, if they are an experienced runner, they will be able to provide tips and strategies that a simple software program will not.

The bottom line

So, are IoT-based health solutions going to make the personal trainer obsolete?  For some people who are trying to get in shape, it most likely will.  However, if you are inclined to look at the vast amounts of information that comes from these solutions to improve yourself, I don't think you were a likely candidate to use a personal trainer in the first place.  For many, the personal interaction and encouragement (along with expertise) given by a personal trainer will never be replaceable.  They will always be there to give you the "pat on the back", whether you are getting into shape or learning to retrieve water from a cooler .

As always, Novotech is ready to assist with your M2M needs. Whether you’re looking to control, track, monitor or back-up, Novotech has the solutions and products you need. View our Line Cards and let us know how we can be of assistance.

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