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Blue Goji turns your boring cardio into a video game

Josh Smith

It’s nearly summer and you know what that means? Bikinis and shorts, which means we’re all showing off the gorgeous, toned bodies we’ve spent the whole winter working on. That is, unless you’re like me and took the winter to grow fat and happy. And by “the winter,” I mean the last 10 winters, of course.

The problem isn’t motivation, I’m sure we’ve all got that particular thing that drives us to get in shape. The problem is that I, like many of you, simply hate running. Without the objective of score a run, a touchdown, or a goal, running can seem extremely pointless. Except for the weight loss and healthy lifestyle, but those are results that yield instant gratification.

And it’s human nature to want to see results immediately.

That’s where Blue Goji comes in. I’ve had the pleasure of spending the last couple of months with Blue Goji in an effort to see if what they promised — making thirty minutes of running seem like five — was true. At 268 pounds I could use to lose a little weight, if for nothing more than to be a bit more healthy. The fact is, you never see a really old fat person. And I’d like to live long enough to become a crotchety old man screaming, “Get off my lawn!”

The hardware that comes with Blue Goji is simple, but serves a purpose. First, the wireless sensor attaches to you in the same way you’d strap on a pedometer, on the band of your shorts or pants, but it can also go on your shoelaces. It’ll probably get rattled around on your laces, but it seems durable enough to withstand it, though I didn’t test how much damage it could take. It only took about twenty minutes out of the box to charge it up the first time and it lasted through my first workout with no problems.

There’s also a velcro button pad, each with two oversized buttons on them. These can attach to the workout bicycle, elliptical, or treadmill handles and stay in place nicely. If you’re using a piece of equipment without handles, or if they’re in an awkward position on your equipment, Blue Goji comes with some foam batons that are about the same size as most workout equipment handles.

This is where it gets interesting.

After downloading an iOS app (sorry Android users, nothing for you yet) there are fifteen different games and apps for you to train with. The downside is that they’re not all free, with most of them priced at $0.99. The Goji Play app itself is free, but after dropping $99.99 on the hardware it feels like being nickeled and dimed to have to pony up $0.99 for the best apps available on the service.

The apps are indeed developed and for sale individually, but are compatible with Goji Play, which explains the fee. It’s still discouraging, nevertheless.

After swallowing the small fee, the exercise program begins. Though I didn’t have a chance to experience each individual app, the general idea is that the wireless sensor can tell when you’re training hard and running fast versus taking it easy and walking. The apps are designed in a way that you’re constantly accelerating and maintaining a high rate of speed, then decelerating to accomplish a task; if you’re playing a game that isn’t based on speed, your high-energy movement may control power or another variable. Riptide GP for example, is a jetski racing game that pits players against other racers in a visually surprising river race. By mastering button presses and the appropriate times to sprint and run, you’ll become King of the Water Race!

And sure enough, the apps do indeed help take your mind off of the task of exercise. Being the overweight guy that I am though, there was an unmistakable realization that I was indeed running. The difference this time is that I didn’t hate it and it harkened back to the days when I was training for team sports.

While the Goji Play app acts as a bridge to compatible titles, it does have its own uses. As you fall into a habitual workout pattern, the app will track your progress. You can also add friends and update your profile from within. Finally, an achievement system is implemented to give users something to work towards, with badges unlocking for calories or distances. For example, you’ll earn an achievement for burning off the caloric equivalent of a cupcake or walking the distance of New York’s Central Park.

The hardware held up very nicely and required charging only in between sessions. The buttons themselves use AAA batteries, but two months later are still not drained. The app should really have more to offer for free, or perhaps a bundle option where users can spend $7 or $10 to get all apps at once, but the biggest letdown is the absence of an Android option.

Finally, despite the claims, thirty minutes of running still felt like thirty minutes of running. The Blue Goji simply made it bearable and provided enough distraction that I was able to commit to, “just a little bit more,” before running out of steam.

The fact is, running sucks, but Blue Goji makes it far more tolerable.

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