The Nike Fuelband For Competitive B*tches


Nike recruited me for a Fuel Challenge.  It's been fun, frustrating and a lot of people asked me: Is that a NIKE Fuelband? What do you think of it?   Well, read on...


Fuel is a made-up unit by Nike to track movement. The number is NOT to be confused with calorie burn or intake. Read Nike's definition HERE.  The idea with fuel is that it levels the playing field so that any activity can be tracked (and compete) equally.  Instead of comparing distance, speed, stats or goals, there is one number: FUEL.  Users can sync to their wireless devices. The interactive app let's you connect via Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. You can set goals and challenge other users. It's a very clever way to turn every day life into a game.  Thus the "GAME ON, WORLD" tagline.


Upon accepting the Fuel Challenge, Nike bestowed upon me 6 FuelBands, told me to find 5 team mates and that the competition began at midnight.  We had 24hrs to rack up fuel. At the end, the team with the most Fuel wins.  I immediately began flailing my arm and checking the counter to see what movement earned the most fuel. I found 5 other hyper-competitive humans to join the mission.  At midnight, 3 of us hit the clubs to dance, drink, fist pump and high-five our way to higher fuel counts each while the rest went to bed early to start an early morning of shadow-boxing, running, jumping, and traversing the 5 boroughs.

Our team had 2 rules: NO CYCLING (it doesn't record accurate fuel) and BE CREATIVE.  The latter lead to the extremely effective "fan method":

 I should mention right now that we did NOT win. The fan idea was vetoed. We played fair and lost out on the prize (Jay-Z tickets!) with a clear conscience. ah well.

What my team discovered, however, was that drumming, running (or swinging your arms AS IF you are running) and fist pumping earned the most fuel, walking and yoga the least. Now when it comes to calories, the band essentially calculates based on distance, age and weight.  Since there’s no heart rate based aspect, the calorie counting is going to be suspect at best.  Gizmodo found that a night out drinking burned 463 Calories, while our team burned an average of 700.  Guess it depends on how rowdy you get.



In the game of fuel earning, not all players are created equal.  The biggest problem I have with the band is that my biggest activity, cycling, isn't accurately counted.   If we had all Fuel players on one field, there would be a lot of irate type A's screaming in the ref's face:

WTF, NIKE? Where's my fuel for spin class? Surfing for 4 hours got me... a broken fuelband! My 100 push ups got me 0 points. Ref, are you BLIND? My band says that my Cross Fit class yesterday was only 400pts but I can barely walk today! I rode the Brooklyn Bridge and all I get is a lousy 200pts?? seriously?

That last one is true. My 8mi commute by bike earned me a lousy 200pts. I got the same from taking a shower!  Even with the band secured to my foot, the fuel count for my 8mi ride only increased to 500 fuel pts.

So for the super competitive active user, you will likely be frustrated by the band's inability to keep up with you.  Your resistance training counts for squat.  Doing lunges with your arms swinging (as Solo demonstrates in the video) will earn you many more points than lunging with heavy weights.


* As a side note, I personally think the goal of 3000 fuel points/day for an active person is weak. 3000 is easily reached by commuting, cooking a meal and walking the dog.  I've been averaging 7,500pts per day with my spin classes counting for only 200pts each. I would recommend setting your fuel goal higher than 3000 if you consider yourself an active person.


The Nike Fuelband is great for anyone who would benefit from extra motivation and accountability.  If spinning, cycling, surfing or swimming is your main activity, you're at a loss because none of the bands on the market right now are waterproof or able to track cycling.  That aside, the FuelBand is fun and easy to use AND makes a cool watch. * It will make you more aware of how much you move and encourage you to do more. * It won't provide a training program to shape and strengthen your body. Resistance training and stretching are extremely important activities that don't earn fuel- but can prevent injury and increase bone density.  As long as you don't neglect these aspects of your routine, the Fuelband is a fun, interactive way to count for the rest.

  • Slick water-resistant design that's comfortable to wear all the time
  • Bluetooth syncing to your phone
  • It's a watch I'll actually wear
  • Interactive to encourage goal-setting and competition
  • Can't track cycling or resistance training
  • NOT waterproof. So that rules out surfing, swimming and diving.
  • Set-up can be tricky. (Youtube can help)
  • Doesn't track heart rate