As reported in Wearable Fitness Trackers – A Chicken and Egg Problem That is Solved with Coaching, I am beta testing the GOQii band fitness tracker. This post includes my first impressions of the entire approach.
The Band and Smartphone App
As stated in my earlier post on fitness trackers, the whole sector seems of limited value for as long as they display basic data and give no context on what to do with it. So I don’t intend to write-up a lot of information on the technology. With that understood, the band and app meet my low expectations. The user interface is a little clunky and buggy but I give GOQii a pass on that because they’re new to the game and this is a Beta version. I am sure that in time it will be every bit as stable and capable as any of its competitors. If you have any specific questions, I’m glad to answer them but the real reason GOQii piqued my interest, is…
The Integrated Health Coach
When you setup the device using the smartphone app, you’re prompted with questions about your demographic information and health goals. With that done you’re presented with a list of compatible health coaches. I was offered a choice of five coaches.
For each coach you’re given an autobiographical description, a list of certifications, and a list of specialties. I chose mine based on the specialties. My choice was the only one who was less focused on nutrition and fitness (because I think I have those under control) and more focused on stress management and life coaching. The whole Davey H 2.0 process is pretty overwhelming when the limited development resources (me) are also focused on v1.0 maintenance. So when it comes to being a Health Coach client, Professional Development is where I need help (because we do that too! See the Wheel of Health)
Soon after I selected my coach, I received a robo-message from her welcoming me to the program. This was immediately followed up with a personal message. I heard from her every day after that and below is a summary of our conversation:
- Day 1 – Coach provided a very detailed overview of the process and an invitation to talk live after a few cycles of entering data. She had obviously reviewed the information I added at setup as well as the data that I tracked so far. I replied that I was about to embark on a long business trip and that I would not be able to arrange our live meeting until my return. She responded with some tips on staying healthy while traveling if I didn’t know them already. So far, I think the interaction is good.
- Day 2 – Coach provides me positive feedback on what I am doing nutrition and activity-wise and asks me more detailed questions on my goal to manage stress. I give her limited information about my 2.0 plan and how that the issue isn’t really stress so much as it is avoiding overextending myself. She tells me that she recently went through a career change (I imagine it was to health coach from something else) and can empathize. She asks some question on my current strategies to manage stress.
- Day 3 – I provide full disclosure by admitting that I can probably learn a lot from her experience because my new target career is also health coach. I respond to her questions on current stress management strategies. Her response is very enthusiastic and “coach-y”. She first provides me affirmation that my healthy lifestyle (as tracked in the device) should help me become an excellent coach. Besides the fact that good health leads to good performance in all aspects of your life, it is a belief among many coaches that if you haven’t lived it, you can’t coach it. She follows this up with questions on where I want to be a year from now (goals, focusing…like I said, coach-y).
- Day 4 – Another message from the coach. More complements on my nutrition and activity but concern about my limited sleep. She asks about my strategies to stay energized. Meanwhile, my business trip started so I don’t get back to her.
- Day 5 – I let coach know that the poor night’s sleep is the result of a 5 hour time zone shift and the associated jet lag. I tell her that I do it all the time and that it is nothing to worry about. Depending on the length of the trip, I manage my energy in different ways and since this one is less than a week, I’ll just plow through with low sleep knowing that I’ll recover when I get back home. Coach provides some insight that let’s me know my homegrown strategy for staying energized actually has some formality around it and sends me an article that confirms her explanation.
- Day 6 – I thank coach for the article and tell her I will read it but haven’t had time yet. I also thank her for the complements about my practices and for ignoring all the fries I am eating while in Belgium. She replies with more affirmation. By now I think we’re used to each other’s style and our rapport is pretty good.
So far I’m impressed with the coaching aspect of the GOQii program. I definitely think they are onto something to, ahem, crack the chicken and egg problem. What I don’t understand is how GOQii can build a moat around their ecosystem to prevent any other tracker vendor from doing the same thing. And without that, they can easily get crushed by a well-funded competitor.
Meanwhile, as far as my specific coach is concerned, I think the jury is still out. Based on our text-based communication, I feel she is a bona fide coach and not simply a graduate of a certificate-mill. She seems to be doing all the right things and I have high expectations that I can learn from her. However, she is dealing with a pretty compliant client (Hey, that rhymes!). That makes her job easy. The real test will be our first live discussion and how she helps me with my real health problem…developing a confident and competent Davey H 2.0.