The latest FORM Swim Goggles software update slaps on a structured workouts feature. This lets you pick from a library of workouts and follow your progress in real-time.
The augmented reality specs were launched a couple of years ago and remain the leader of the pack when it comes to smart swim gear. In our original review of the device we found the intelligent goggles to be a great concept. Fitness technology company FORM has managed to transform a novel idea into something that works really well.
The specs are simple to use. All you need to remember is to bring them with you when you head off to the pool and to check there’s enough juice in the battery. Then simply press the front physical button to start your session. FORM Swim Goggles do all the tracking automatically so you can focus on swimming.
A wealth of info can be viewed in real-time and all in your line of vision. This includes time, split time, stroke rate, stroke count, distance per stroke and much more. You can even connect the Polar OH1+ for heart rate information from the temple.
FORM Swim Goggles: Guided Workouts
Now the experience is getting even better. FORM has launched a new structured workouts feature. This can be considered the second major software update. The first came in the form of GPS support for open-water swimming when paired with an Apple or Garmin watch.
Essential reading: Review – experience the future of swimming with FORM Swim Goggles
There’s a plethora of workouts to sink your teeth into. The idea is to guide swimmers to improve their ability through structured guidance. Think of it as a real-time coach that tells you how far to swim, how hard to go, how long to rest and more. It adds another dimension to your swim workouts.
“Providing guided workouts to swimmers of all abilities is a massive next step in the evolution of the FORM Swim Experience,” said Dan Eisenhardt, Founder and CEO of FORM in a press release today.
“Millions of swimmers go to the pool every week to swim without a team or a structured workout. We are fundamentally changing this. There is nothing like this in the market and we’re incredibly excited to make swimming so much more engaging and motivating.”
How to use
I tried out the feature on a couple of swim sessions. At this stage I should mention that I am not someone with an enviable swimming ability and consider myself to be average at best. Throw me in a body of water and I won’t sink. I’ll be able to keep going for a couple of kilometres if needed, although my technique leaves a lot to be desired.
After updating the app to the latest version you will notice there’s a new Workouts tab along the bottom. To access the functionality you will need to subscribe to the monthly membership option. This will allow you to browse the full range of workouts, pick from the library and download workouts to the FORM goggles.
The company has added what seems to be an endless stream of workout options. You can get the app to suggest something for you, or browse through the entire library and pick and choose.
To make this job easier, workouts can be sorted by distance, category and intensity. The first allows you to select between short (up to 1,500 metres or yards), medium (1,500-3,000) and long (3,000+) workouts. Category consists of Endurance, Speed, Technique, Pace, Recovery and Test Set options. Finally, intensity lets you choose between low, moderate and high.
As someone with no bragging rights to their swim ability I tested out the easiest of options. But I found even these to be a challenge. In order to use the functionality to its full capacity, you do need to be able to swim freestyle confidently. Otherwise you will struggle when it comes to completing the workouts.
Having said that, I did find that the easier workouts pushed me to improve my technique. Something I would not do otherwise. In that sense they act as a great motivational tool, particularly as they allow you to monitor your progress through detailed stats.
Once you choose a workout you will need to sync the app to the smart goggles. For added convenience FORM allows you to download multiple workouts. Five is the maximum that you can have on the specs at the same time which should be plenty for most people.
In the pool
When you find yourself in the pool, fire up the goggles and you will notice a new workout option. As with any session you will need to choose the appropriate pool size before commencing the swim. Then it’s just a matter of following the instructions.
These are overlaid in your line of vision in real-time. It looks something akin to the picture below. Along the bottom of the display you will notice a progress bar letting you know exactly how far into the workout you are.
I found that the feature works flawlessly. Along with the usual stats, you will get guidance on exactly what to do next. You’ll know what is required at each point in time and how to do it.
On the laps where you are asked to take it easy there will be no timer, at other times you’ll be able to see the stop watch. Then there are rest periods and these come with a count-down timer. If you need more rest time, simply ignore the clock. The workout will continue when you resume swimming. All of this works really great.
Some of the exercises give you the option of using equipment such as kick-boards, but you can opt to swim equipment-free. Further help on everything can be found if you take the time before the swim to study the workout instructions in the smartphone app. All of this is laid out very nicely and quite detailed.
In addition to text instructions, the smartphone app gives you access to videos demonstrating correct technique. Much easier than hunting around for YouTube clips.
There’s no need to end the session. The goggles know when the workout is complete and will end it automatically. Next time you sync you will be able to sift through the data in incredible detail in the smartphone app.
Price and availability
Technically, the Guided Workouts feature works flawlessly. It is very easy to use and blends seamlessly into the FORM Swim Goggles experience.
There’s a very wide range of sessions to choose from, including pre-workout tutorials, recommendations based on your swim ability and post-workout analysis. It really is the next best thing to having a swim coach.
FORM Swim Goggles
If you don’t mind the price, I would recommend the feature to anyone with at least high-average swim ability. Those with average proficiency in the water will also find some use. These two groups probably account for most FORM Swim Goggles owners.
However, lower ability swimmers will struggle. In that sense I think FORM should add some workouts that target those not so confident in the water. The company has said it will be releasing new workouts weekly so in time these probably will be added.
The FORM Workouts membership can be purchased through the FORM Swim App. A monthly subscription runs at $19.99 with some savings to be had if you opt for the annual option at $179.99 ($14.99/month). There’s a 30-day trial offer and I suggest everyone that has the goggles tries the new functionality. You can always cancel before the month is up to avoid getting charged.
The FORM Swim App remains available as a free download from the App Store and from Google Play. The specs will continue to work as usual for those that do not want the Guided Workouts feature with free access to all the detailed swim info.
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