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A month ago I told you that I was going to trial the Step Success Actiped+ pedometer. As I said then:

Much more than just a pedometer, it forms part of an online fitness tracking programme. It comes with a memory stick to connect with your computer; you update your score by shaking the Actiped near the memory stick; it then magically syncs your data (OK, OK, so I’m not a scientist). Having analysed a full fitness and health questionnaire, including weight (shameful after Christmas), height, diet, alcohol consumption (ditto) and fitness regime, and with sophisticated inner workings that notice for how long your foot strikes the ground (which informs it about your speed), it aims to give an accurate reading of how far you’ve travelled and how many calories you’ve burned.

Particularly pleasing for a competitive type like me, it has pitted me against a group of equally sporty types (including award-winning body builder, Nicola Joyce), with a leaderboard showing how we’re doing.

So, how was it? I have to say I found it much more motivating than I expected, especially when Joel, the Step Success founder and boss, kicked off the year with a rowers vs. runners challenge (and anyone who knows me I can’t resist a challenge). Normally I don’t need any extra impetus to get myself out to boot camp or rowing, but for running and walking sometimes need an extra boot up the booty. That’s exactly what the Actiped gave me. Comfortably in the lead most of the time, mostly because Joel was off sport for a couple of weeks thanks to an injury, as soon as I saw his step count creeping up towards mine, it was all the incentive I needed to haul myself out into the ice and drizzle.

Pleasingly, it also allows for manual entries for other activities like rowing, cycling (and even ironing, though I rarely find myself doing that!), so if your activities are more wide-ranging you can still log them. And, if you’re proud enough of your achievements to want to make them public, it syncs with Facebook so you can share your step success with the world.

It fitted well on both trainers and various shoes and boots; if you’ve got laces or a strap of some kind, you’re good to go. I haven’t used it so much this week as I’ve been living in Ugg boots (freezing in Wales!) and there’s nothing to attach it to. Occasionally I’d forget altogether to put it on; it can take a while to get into the habit.

Here’s a glimpse of what I would see when I logged on (click on the screen shot to get the full screen):

Step Success is mostly aimed at getting the unsporty and unfit into the habit of exercising, but I think it could really work for someone who is already fit but who is prone to finding excuses not to get moving (especially in the winter). Being pitted against others is great for motivation, and it’s heartening to see the calories burned and distance covered (cooking is a gratifyingly active activity, I discovered). It also won against my husband’s cherished Garmin when out on a family walk; his nerdometer (as we affectionately refer to it) failed to get a signal in the woods for much of the time, whereas my Actiped+ kept recording throughout.

It’s not yet perfect; it can’t tell whether you’re slogging up a hill or jogging comfortably along the flat, and I’d like to see more options for the manual entries, but Joel tells me that there are plans afoot for subsequent models to detect hills and/or heart rate. This would make it a more serious rival to some of the watches available. Definitely worth a try.

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Since I’m off rowing for a while, I’m anxious to be sure that I’m not falling behind too badly in my fitness. Without that weekly erg score to keep me focused, it’s been hard to keep track of my efforts. Until now, that is. The lovely people at Step Success have generously provided me with my very own Actiped – a 21st century pedometer – to help me track my fitness.

In the past I haven’t been too impressed with pedometers. I had one, for instance, that clicked every time I swivelled in my office chair. However satisfying it was to see my score soar, I knew that it wasn’t real and soon lost interest.

So far, the Actiped seems to be of a different order. Much more than just a pedometer, it forms part of an online fitness tracking programme. It comes with a memory stick to connect with your computer; you update your score by shaking the Actiped near the memory stick; it then magically syncs your data (OK, OK, so I’m not a scientist). Having analysed a full fitness and health questionnaire, including weight (shameful after Christmas), height, diet, alcohol consumption (ditto) and fitness regime, and with sophisticated inner workings that notice for how long your foot strikes the ground (which informs it about your speed), it aims to give an accurate reading of how far you’ve travelled and how many calories you’ve burned.

Particularly pleasing for a competitive type like me, it has pitted me against a group of equally sporty types (including award-winning body builder, Nicola Joyce), with a leaderboard showing how we’re doing.

Happily, my first full day on the regime has involved a run (the first after the festive season – ouch!), so my score’s looking reasonably respectable. I’m looking forward to finding out what it has to say about a planned shopping expedition and my everyday life.

I’ll report back at the end of the month and will let you know how I get on. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Have you tried a pedometer? Have you come across a system like Step Success? Are there other new generation fitness devices that I ought to know about?

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