The Activ5 from ActivBody is billed as the Tiny Gym in in Your Pocket that enables you to Exercise Anywhere. We will review the system in two installments. In this first part we will examine the hardware and software. In part two, we will assess the results after using the system for several weeks.
‘Tis the season for giving. Has a certain someone you know been letting themselves go a little recently? Is that certain someone you? A feasting and merrymaking holiday looms large. If you survived the purchasing perils of Black Friday and Tech Monday your thoughts may have now turned to Christmas gifts. This device could be just the encouragement needed to motivate that certain someone into staying or getting back in shape. The bijou palm-shaped Activ5 pod and matching iPhone stand would make a thoughtful gift.
The pod has an ON/OFF switch and a light that flashes in blue, green, and red. The red flash has two sequences, periodic for low battery and a single flash to acknowledge shut down. That is as complicated as it gets. The instruction card uses only a single panel to explain how to operate the device and then needs three panels to explain how to change the batteries! Simple is a good thing. We then went to the Apple App Store and downloaded the Activ5 Training App. The software is free and available for iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch. Any questions? There is a FAQ for that.
The pod is well made and finished. It feels robust, although it is only rated for 200lbs (90kg) when pressed between two body parts, so do not be tempted into stomping on it to fake a high reading. After the starting screen has loaded, the app will load a screen inviting you to start the device. Establishing a Bluetooth connection was no more difficult than briefly yet firmly depressing the ON/OFF button on the pod until the blue light flashed. The app then loads a scrollable list of 17 sections with 163 workouts.
After reading the online Get Started in three easy steps, we began our first Activ5 session. Thankfully, not all the human models in the graphics are infuriatingly young, fetchingly flexible, and gorgeously sexy. One of the sections is labeled Boomers and another, which is labeled as Stay Strong, shows a mature couple. The workouts are organized into sections classified by such things as activity type, environment, and specific muscle groups that you may want to develop. The last section is Suprise Me.
Each exercise has a screen describing the exercise and the muscles affected with how-to instructions. The exercises mostly have memorable names. We particularly liked Pistol Sumo Squat Crush, which invites you to place the pod under your heel and press into the floor. If you were paying attention earlier then you will take it easy with the stomping! First tap the screen button labeled SET MAX POWER to establish a starting level and then two gentle squeezes on the pod to start the exercise.
To begin you will perform a single sustained exertion at maximum force. You can repeat or continue; continuing will cause the app will switch to an interactive screen for you to perform multiple targeted reps. When you have hit all the target points then that particular exercise has ended and you move on to another routine. It is easier to do than it is to describe, especially when taking screen shots along the way is not required.
Simple? Yes! Effective? We set ourselves a target of three five-minute daily workouts on six days per week. Throwing oneself in at the metaphorical deep-end is not advisable, so we allocated a week to build up to this target. Early next year, in the second part of the review, we will report our experiences and results.