Bodies & Buildings

Homework 1 Response to Donella Meadows’ points 9, 8 and 7 in Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System (http://www.donellameadows.org/archives/leverage-points-places-to-intervene-in-a-system/)

My cousin and I used to train five days a week to prepare ourselves for running long distance events. Although our original idea was to train together, because of time and distance restrains, we had to look for an alternative. Adidas’ Micoach, seemed like a good option to share our progress, achievements, and statistics. Micoach is a customizable personal trainer that helps you meet your training goals, while keeping you motivated and informed; and if you are running with other people, it allows you to track their progress, interact and share with them.

The lengths of delays, relative to the rate of system changes.

When I first began using Micoach, I used to upload my training data as soon as I got back home, even before taking a shower. Also, I used to review my data and statistics to keep a daily track of my performance and progress. Few months later, once the initial excitement about the new gadget fade off, I shifted to uploading my training data every few days (3-5) and reviewing my data and statistics every two weeks.

For some unknown reason, after several months of training, my pacer stopped recording data. Since there was a delay in the way data was uploaded—it depended on me to connect the pacer to my computer, I didn’t realize about it until it was too late. The extra uploading-the-data step led me to lose the information of several trainings before I realized that something was wrong. A similar problem was solved by Apple introducing Time Capsule as an alternative to backup your computer wirelessly, effortlessly. Doing it for you, avoiding the risk of losing valuable information.

The strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the impacts they are trying to correct against.

In order to maximize the results, a clear goal was set by the training system: to maintain your speed and heart beat inside the planned effort zones—blue, green, yellow and red. At the beginning, I would often hear the voice of my personal trainer telling me to speed up or to slow down because I was off the expected zone. Six months into my training routine, those warnings became inexistent. I learned to maintain within the expected effort zone, and was running at a whole different level. Those negative feedback loops would also protect me from dangers such as a having heart attack, by providing real time feedback, telling me to slow down and pace myself.

The gain around driving positive feedback loops.

The positive feedback loops embedded in the system, were all about motivation. From words of encouragement after successful trainings; to batches and medals for achieved distance, speed or burned calories goals—I still remember with pride the first time that I received the 100Km batch. Micoach is a programable gamified system designed to help you meet your exercise goals that profoundly affects your physique, leading you to push yourself harder and train better day after day. It is a training system that promotes self-reinforcing behaviors helping you to keep motivated and focused.

Writing this essay I rationalized some of the reasons why for me, Micoach offered such an engaging user experience. In general, I was very happy with the system. I used it for more than two years obtaining wonderful results. I would definitely recommend it as a good example of a well though wearable device which uses social media and gamification as tools to keep you motivated and training.

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