A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be asked to review the new Nike+ FuelBand SE. This wasn’t something I planned on passing up, as an avid gym goer I’m always up for trying out anything fitness related.

The Nike+ FuelBand SE is a super-slick fitness aid that tracks your movement during different activities and exercises. Your activity is then converted into NikeFuel, a universal way of measuring from which you can set daily goals to achieve.

The new Nike+ FuelBand SE

After getting set up on my band in around 5 minutes in store I was good to go. This new addition of the band features a highly polished stainless steel clasp that makes it look like a classic piece of jewellery and features a removable link to change the band’s size. The eye-catching feature is the seriously cool LED screen; it glides across the band seemingly appearing from nowhere.

The band’s new stainless steel clip makes it look like a modern piece of jewellery.

The band also records the movement you do per hour – prompting you to ‘Just Do It’ if it picks up on the fact you have not moved when the next hour is almost up. But moving for just five minutes in a row, earning more than 6 NikeFuel points a minute will ‘win the hour’. Hours won are then logged as part of your program of results.

One of the key pulling factors for the Nike+ FuelBand is also the wider community aspect – it allows you to create online groups of up to 150 people who you can interact with and track, allowing you all to stay motivated and challenged.

The band is really comfortable and you don’t overly realise it is there. It is however rather solid, so if you work at a desk all day can be a little uncomfortable though not unbearable by any stretch and after a few days I didn’t notice. I was told the battery lasts up to 6 days with regular use – but I assume because I use it with my laptop at home at night and not the app (I am not an iPhone user and the app is iOs only) the battery lasts longer, as I have had it near 2 weeks and not had to do a proper charge.

Me and my Nike+ FuelBand on our first day, ah, memories!

The band is also water resistant – to both sweat and water (think shower). However it will not work in water for swimming and therefore must be removed. This is probably my biggest bugbear with the FuelBand – why create such a sleek, ergonomic and cool design that could be made waterproof and stop before that final hurdle. I can’t help but feel it’s something they are holding off on till more people pick up on the craze and then get everyone to re-invest. If it were waterproof I honestly would probably never take it off.

I gave the FuelBan a thorough testing in the shower after my workout.

I gave the FuelBan a thorough testing in the shower after my workout.

Throughout the day, as well as measuring the amount of steps you take and calories you burn you can focus your training in ‘Sessions’. You start and end a Session around your work out by holding the main control button until it is ready to go. Once a Session is ended you can tag the details of the work out on the app or online with the relevant info of exercise type and you can amend the intensity. It adjusts the points earned depending on how hard you say you worked. This does make it effortlessly easy to cheat for more points, but the only person that is a disservice to, is you. Beware, however, that if you are doing an exercise that Nike doesn’t recognise or can’t record intensity cannot be changed – i.e. swimming.

This is my second bugbear. It makes it a tad unreliable in telling the ‘true’ amount of effort put in. I have to mark my Tabata and swimming sessions down as ‘gym’. As swimming is not recorded it doesn’t add anything as it is sat in the locker, it just records you had a session but appears to have no results. Frustrating. I am a competent swimmer and at the speed I train, burn around 800-1000 calories an hour so I would like to have it added!

Second is my Tabata training – one of the hardest types of HIIT training around, the sessions are short but explosive, as the band cannot measure anything that isn’t really a generic CV movement it doesn’t pick up on the true effort – so I amend this to the nearest true representation I can later – but it also doesn’t take in the fact the class is designed to burn major calories for the proceeding 12 hours by spiking your metabolism.

As you may have figured – this also means it cannot record any resistance training sessions properly either.

So, I ask myself is this a device that I, as a dedicated gym goer, can really use? Or is it just a super-cool attention-grabber that would encourage the unhealthy masses to get moving in, as long as it is in cardiovascular ways?

I came to my answer to this about 1 week into owning it. I was at home at about 11:30pm on a Sunday night and realised that due to it being my off day I was 300 fuel points behind target and about 2 thousand steps. I found myself unable to accept this or to go to bed without completing it – queue me walking/running around the house and up and down the stairs until all targets where hit (sorry housemates!). I was hooked.

The FuelBand seamlessly blends in to your look.

Two weeks in and I check it more than I check my phone now (a pleasant distraction and change) and I love seeing how much certain training does. The Nike+ FuelBand is an awesome bit of kit and I think the truly exciting part is the potential it holds. I cant wait for the moment in the future where it becomes an all-encompassing lifestyle tracker, workable in water and out, able to measure heart rate as well as movement and distance to gain a better gauge of exercise and other forms of training. I’d also like to see it sync up further with the Nike+ tech ad offer training tips/guide online or the app. Finally I would love to see them optimise the NikeFuel – right now it is simply Nike’s way of measuring, but why not actually incentivise it and start a fitness revolution, like how some gyms give people money or refreshments for creating electricity on machines, why not have NikeFuel points translate into discounts at Nike? So many exciting possibilities with this great device.

When that happens – everything else will become obsolete.

If you’re new to exercise or are just a little bored and need the motivation then the Nike+ FuelBand is definitely for you. Even if you’re a daily gymmer, the FuelBand can offer you a new way to set big challenges. I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks with the band and seeing what else it can do, I’m going to try tacking my sleep and varying up my workouts to see how well it does. I shall keep you posted!

The Nike+ FuelBand SE is out now in limited numbers and retails at £139 – you can get yours on the Nike website



Written by Neil Thornton
London-based coffee drinker. Editor by day, blogger by whatever time he finds spare.