"At first, I was skeptical. Another expensive, overhyped Apple gadget, right?" — Joel Dembe
From an e-mail that came in over the transom and landed on my desktop earlier this week:
Like many others, COVID-19 disrupted my entire fitness regimen. Gyms were closed. Recreational wheelchair sports were off-limits. And for some reason, I wasn’t motivated to use my handcycle or push my chair outdoors as much as I thought.
Essentially, I stopped moving. I lost my edge.
However, once I got my hands (or should I say wrist?) on the Apple Watch and activated “wheelchair mode” everything changed. Here’s my two-week journey:
Day 1: I’m getting hourly reminders to move my wheelchair. “Time to roll!” displays the watch. I go outside. I push my chair for a few minutes. I hear a ‘chime’ sound. It’s a virtual reward for completing a task. Another notification pops-up that I’m 260 active calories from obtaining my daily goal. This is interesting.
Day 3: I arrive home after a 5-minute outdoor push. The watch tells me to wash my hands. That’s a good reminder! But I do it for precisely twenty-seconds until the automatic countdown timer chimes ‘complete’. I get another reward.
Day 6: I open the watch “workout” app and select “outdoor push, running pace.” I listen to a workout playlist synced from the watch to my AirPods. I wheel around my neighborhood. The watch tells me I’ve burned off 20 calories. I keep going. I push harder. 50 calories, then 75. After 30-minutes, an animated ring ‘closes’ on the watch. I still have to close two more rings to reach my daily activity goal. Now, I’m motivated to get that reward.
Day 8: Another workout. Another reward. A text message pops-up on the watch. I ask Siri (the watch’s virtual assistant) to say the message out-loud. It’s my wife. I respond using only my voice. I haven’t stopped wheeling and yet my message to her is completely accurate. No fumbling around with a phone while pushing anymore. It’s seamless. So I keep going. But now, I feel like the wheelchair-version of Dick Tracy.
Day 9: I’m stressed. Apple Watch already knows this. It notifies me that my resting heart rate is high and tells me to breathe. It begins displaying an animated breathing exercise. I inhale slowly, then exhale as the animation shrinks. A minute later, I feel better. I hear a ‘chime’. A reward for breathing. Then, I use the Blood Oxygen app on the watch for the first time. I’m at ninety-eight per cent. What about the remaining two-percent, I ask myself? My heart races again. I panic. Am I okay? I ask Siri. Siri says I’m fine. I should do that breathing exercise again, I tell myself. I hear a chime. I’m once again rewarded.
Day 11: It’s getting late. The watch vibrates, displaying “time for bed!” I keep the watch on while sleeping. It’s monitoring me throughout the night. It’s now the morning. Instead of a noisy alarm, I receive a gentle ‘tap’ on my wrist, waking me up at 6:30 am. That was pleasant. The watch tells me I slept just under seven hours - three of which were in a state of deep-sleep. Apple Watch says I need more sleep.
Day 13: My wife and I have finished converting our garage into a gym. My handcycle is now mounted on an indoor trainer. In tandem with the Apple Watch, I’ve created an accessible version of the Peloton. I’m now tracking multiple workouts. I’m synced into the Nike Training Club. I’m now participating in online fitness classes. I’m completing challenges against other Apple Watch users - some of whom also use a wheelchair. I’m beyond motivated.
Day 14: I look at a summary of the data Apple Watch has collected. It’s tracking everything from forced expiratory volume to the total movement distance of my wheelchair. I’m using my phone less. I’m relying on Siri more. Apple has me hooked. I’m obsessed with progress. Obsessed with the daily and stretch rewards. Obsessed with closing those activity rings. Obsessed with competing against my friends.
I want to type much, much more. But then I hear a chime.
“It’s time to roll!”
My take: Good stuff. Thanks for sharing, Joel
UPDATE: Thanks to Handicap Help for reposting.