Wondercise review: Gamify on-line workouts with motion matching tech

Wondercise has recently announced a global launch with Apple and Garmin wearable support. The fitness service comes with unique motion matching technology that compares your movements with on-screen trainers in real-time.

Many of us are searching for safer ways to exercise during the coronavirus pandemic. Wondercise is a novel solution that turns your living room into a workout studio.

This is exactly what I’ve been doing over the past couple of weeks. Exercising from the comfort of my home with the Wondercise fitness band strapped to my wrist. Here are my impressions.

The fitness band
Hundreds of training courses

Wondercise review: The fitness band

You don’t really need a fitness band to use the Wondercise system as you can still watch the videos and enroll in the programs. But it’s better if you have one.

That’s because with a compatible wearable you can take advantage of the motion tracking technology which makes the experience much more engaging. It helps gamify your workouts and gives you something to strive for.

There are a few options here. One is to use an Apple or Garmin watch. Series 3 and above are supported along with a wide range of latest generation Garmin fitness bands and sports watches.

If you already own one of these wearables it’s the simplest solution. You are already wearing it on your wrist so there’s no need for additional gear. Plus you can use the $79 needed to purchase the Wondercise Band for something else.

Wondercise review: On-line workouts with a motion matching fitness band

I have one of the older Garmin watches so opted to get for the Wondercise Band. This is a device that takes the form of a traditional fitness tracker.

There are a few colors to choose from including Rose Gold Frame with a White or Black strap, Silver Frame with a Black Strap and Space Gray Frame with a Black strap. I have the Gold/White combination.

In order to conserve battery life, the screen is pretty basic. The letters display horizontally and the font is pretty tiny. One could say the band is more about functionality that form.

Wondercise review: On-line workouts with a motion matching fitness band

Everything is designed to be incredibly lightweight. The fitness band comes in at only 10 grams thanks to a Zinc Alloy, Plastic build. The dimensions of the core unit are 48x16x10 mm. You will hardly feel it on your wrist.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets

In addition to enabling the motion tracking part of the system, the Wondercise Band can be used as a basic fitness tracker. It has a nine-axis motion sensor and an optical heart rate sensor for this purpose, along with a Bluetooth 4.2 Chip.

Wondercise review: On-line workouts with a motion matching fitness band

Battery life is pretty decent. This is a device that doesn’t consume too much power so the 45 mAh Lithium Ion battery can keep the fitness band going for up to two weeks. This is helped with the fact that heart rate tracking is not done too often (outside of the time you exercise). On a single charge you can squeeze out 30 uses of continuous 30-minute training sessions

Wondercise review: Hundreds of training courses

The company offers a smart fitness service that provides access to hundreds of workouts and training courses. These are led by expert trainers such as MMA champion Luis ‘Baboon’ Palomino.

Subscribers can choose from a variety of workouts including some “exotic” ones such as Hip Hop Dance, Kettlebell Crush, Tai Chi and more. All of this is tailored to various levels of difficulty. You can choose between one-off workouts or 8-week training plans tailored to your needs. New videos are added on a regular basis.

The iOS/Android Wondercise app allows you to create a customized profile. Just decide on a fitness goal and the software will create personalized workouts and suggestions for you. For example you can focus on fat shredding, stretching, muscle building and more.

Wondercise review: On-line workouts with a motion matching fitness band
The app allows you to choose from hundreds of workouts

Then its down to you to find the time needed to complete a workout. These are typically split into chunks so you get periods of rest in between.

Wondercise review: On-line workouts with a motion matching fitness band
High-quality videos with beautiful backgrounds and expert instructors

Along with timers, users are able to see their heart rate on the screen and an exercise score. All of this is captured by the Wondercise Band or other wearable which you are meant to wear on your wrist as you are watching the videos.

The closer you follow what the instructor is doing on the screen, the better your score. This is on a scale from 0 to 100 in real-time. It is kind of magical to see your score change as you mirror the instructor’s movements. Post workout you get a summary score which gives you something to improve on next time around.

Wondercise review: On-line workouts with a motion matching fitness band
The score can be seen on the left-hand side of the video

At the outset I followed the videos on my iPhone. However switching to a large TV screen allows for a completely transformed experience.

You actually feel like you are in your gym, following along with the instructors as they are showing the class what to do. It really is not that much different! I suggest that if you subscribe to the service, make sure to watch the videos on a large display.

It should not be too difficult to do. Even if you do not have a smart TV or Apple TV, you can purchase a small dongle for $10 that will allow you to mirror what is on your smartphone to the large screen. This is exactly what I did.

Having said that, the one thing I wish for is an iPad app. I really hope the Wondercise team adds this in due course.

Wondercise review: On-line workouts with a motion matching fitness band
It’s much better on a large screen TV

The immersing experience is, no doubt, helped by the quality of videos. A lot of attention was obviously spent on every single detail. The backgrounds are beautiful, the sets are colorful, the instructors are cheerful and motivating. Sometimes that are others on the screen joining in the workout. The same as if you were in a real class, but without the sweating!

Fitness tracking

Outside of exercise, the Wondercise band can be used as a 24/7 activity tracker. It will count your steps, keep tabs on your heart, monitor your sleep. The device will also monitor exercise and send out sedentary reminders. Finally, you get the option to view notifications from a connected smartphone.

Wondercise review: On-line workouts with a motion matching fitness band

It’s no Fitbit or Garmin, but if you don’t own a fitness tracker or smartwatch it does the job. It might be a good entry point for someone who has never had a fitness tracker before, or doesn’t want one. The Wondercise band can be used when watching the videos, and then you have the option to keep it on your wrist if you want around the clock fitness tracking.

Wondercise review: On-line workouts with a motion matching fitness band
This is the fitness tracking part of the app

Your fitness data is automatically uploaded to the app and converted into charts and numbers so you can see your progress and areas of improvement. All of this can be viewed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. You can also browse through a history of your workouts and see how far you’ve come along in completing training plans.

Wondercise review: The verdict

Wondercise is an innovative service that allows you to workout from the comfort of your home. The experience is very close to what you would get if you attended an exercise class at your local gym.

The added value over other such services comes in the form of excellent quality videos, the wide selection of workouts and the unique motion tracking technology. The latter essentially gamifies the experience and gives you something to strive for.

Going to the gym has become more tricky due to coronavirus restrictions. Now you have no excuse not to exercise.

Wondercise is billed monthly at $4.99. An annual subscription of $35.99 allows you to shrink the cost to less than $3 per month, the same as the price of a cup of coffee. There’s also a 14 day free trial in case you wish to try it out before committing.

The $79 Wondercise Band can only be purchased in the US for now (check price on Amazon). However, you can use compatible Apple and Garmin wearables in other countries.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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