Tuesday 12 January 2021

Apple Fitness+ Cycling and Standing

No I haven't overdone the sessions and I am now struggling to stand but instead want to post about how I'm building up the length of the standing sessions on the bike. The disclaimer before I start this post is that I'm not a fitness instructor but saving these thoughts more for myself as I talk to people about my experiences. I hope the post can help encourage people to build up more confidence standing during the Fitness+ cycle sessions as each session I have done encourages (but not forces) standing.  

I have been going to spin classes for years and one aspect I still fear to this day is long periods of standing on the bike with high revolutions per minute (RPM) rates. This is probably as I'm heavy so my body is having to put in more work to spin the pedals underneath me whilst I support my weight. The Fitness+ instructors are great at reminding you to stand if that's where you feel the most comfortable but who doesn't enjoy challenging themselves more and more?

Over the last couple of weeks I have done a number of sessions where I have come across a series of sessions that I am using to build up my standing stamina in both RPM and length of standing sessions. Fitness+ doesn't have the functionality of picking sessions that work certain body parts or focus on certain muscle groups. Hence I thought this little playlist would be the best way to record this:

Building comfort standing on the bike

I've never been the most confident balancing when being clipped onto a bike. It's taken years of riding many thousands of kilometres to relax when doing so. I built a lot of that comfort on my turbo trainer so I know I might be starting at a different place to a lot of new people to spin / cycle sessions. The turbo trainer is pretty stable but I've had a couple of moments as I have on a spin bike. Wheeling a few kilogram spin bike takes some effort but is possible (although I wouldn't recommend it). Practicing the transitions when not tired during the middle of the session is a nice way to go but once you are comfortable with the basics, it's time to use those techniques in a session. One session I completed with Tyrell was a perfect way to start to build confidence whilst standing during a session. 

Tyrell's 30 minute Pure Dance session that was originally released on 21st December 2020 is a perfect way to start getting comfortable pushing the pedals whilst standing. 

After a solid warm-up, there are a number of low RPM standing pushes that feel controlled as there is high resistance at the point you go for them. The standing sections aren't excessively long so all of the sessions involve a quick stand and you'll be back in the saddle before you know it. I would have loved this session to follow when I first started spin sessions at home.

Building standing stamina

If I told you I have found a great session to build standing stamina you might at first laugh but one of Kym's 10 minute sessions are a great way to go. Originally released on 14th December, Kym's 10 minute Everything Rock session has a long, almost relentless stand in it. My legs were screaming towards the end of the stand but I'm really feeling the improvements. 

I have completed this session twice and plan going back for more to continue to build more stamina. The long, continuous standing section with higher RPM encouraged at parts of the stand really feels beneficial to building more stamina to apply to other classes (and outdoor riding once the weather improves).

Standing Test

So you've followed the two sessions above and you are now ready to test how much you've improved? Another session from Kym will do exactly that. 

I was taking this 45 minute, Pure Dance session with Kym when I realised how much I need to go back and build up more standing stamina. It's not coincidence that in this session I burned more active calories than any of the other 28 sessions I have taken so far. One word: brutal. Yes, Kym is an amazing trainer who inspired me to go further but the standing sections sent my heart rate high. Hitting a heart rate of 178 bpm is really hard for me on the bike but this session got there a couple of times for me. The sessions were long and fast. The toughest combination for me. 

Maybe it's my competitiveness but I love following the sessions to the full set of instructions given. I don't want that fear and loathing of standing sections become a mental blocker when I'm on the bike so I know I need to work at it. Hopefully these three sessions aid your development in this space too or test how you are getting on. 

Time for session 30 I suppose... 

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Apple Fitness+ One week on

 It's been a week with Apple Fitness+ and I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying it. Sure, I'm walking like a penguin cowboy as my muscle stiffen after pushing myself hard but that's had the fun right? What have been the highs and lows of my first week?

The Highs

There have been a number of highs created by the platform:

Instant feedback

I'm a numbers person so I love seeing my heart rate playback to me exactly how hard I am being on myself. We all have those times when we are feeling good allowing us to do more. We also have times when we can't push ourselves hard enough. I was wondering just how well Fitness+ would give the pressure of a personal training session without the trainer being there. The heartbeat tracking is a great way to do that once you understand your limits and levels. 

From previous exercise and tracking, I know that my heart rate tops out at 189 when running. I also know how hard it is to get close to that when cycling. This gives me a good idea of how to work in a range that makes sense for me. Throughout the sessions, Fitness+ occasionally flips to view in the top-left corner of the full heart beat range for the session. Your heart beat is always shown but highlighting the range can help those who aren't used to what their working ranges are, find them. 

The burn bar also appears at time and shows your calorie burn rate relative to others. There are five categories that you can achieve (from easiest to hardest):
  1. Behind the pack
  2. In the pack
  3. Middle of the pack
  4. Front of the pack
  5. Ahead of the pack
If you have a wifi connection, you will get a view of your performance versus others. I workout offline occasionally so unless I connect to my phone's network, I don't see this. Where I have made the connection, the burn bar is great for pushing you on a little harder. I am competitive so always want to be as far along the bar as possible. You are graded for the last two minutes of work versus others so you can get swings as you go through the workout. The session as a whole is graded after you finish. 

Both heart rate and burn bar keeps your motivation going well throughout the hard parts of each session. Speaking of keeping you going...

Storytelling during sessions

I love the instructors stories as they go through the workouts. Whether it is talking about looking for small wins, wanting to be a lead singer in a rock band or working your way uptown as you are late for work, these storylines help to distract from the burning in your legs. I'm not sure what it is going to be like when going back over similar sessions (if I need to do that) to get the same stories again but in the short time I like the flow. 

In a recent session there wasn't really a story and I actually found myself missing them. Keep the stories coming team!

Nudge to try something more

I love cycling and after hours of trying to entertain myself on the turbo trainer with music, podcasts or tv programmes, I was curious as to how long it would be before I started trying non-cycling workouts. Apparently five days is the answer. 

The Fitness app does a great job of nudging you towards both 'More of What you do' in similar classes you have taken before but with different instructors, or the same instructors with different music genres. Alternatively, the app nudges you towards new types of sessions. I chose strength and didn't regret it. 

Gregg's 10 minute strength session was a great way to get going with a different class. I will definitely be going back to other strength sessions and felt good (apart from my hamstrings) the next day for trying something else. At the end of the day, if you don't like it, there is no shame in stopping a workout early as you're not going to offend the trainer. I'm interested to see how this effects people choosing different classes once in-person classes come back post-covid. 

The Lows

For an app that is only a week old, that's not a bad list of Highs. But if anyone is out there listening, what would I like a little more of or change?

Too much variety right now

At the point of launch, I was seriously impressed with the range of exercises, music genres and trainers available. But was it too much? Once I find a session I like, it's difficult to find the same trainer, doing the same type of exercise with the same music again. Maybe this is intentional as it forces you to try different classes with different instructors but it's also a little frustrating. I want a 45 minute, rock, cycle workout but there just aren't any. 

Hopefully this will change rapidly as Apple release new workouts weekly. It would be neat to be able to set alerts for the sessions you are looking for too. 

Obviously, if you are joining Apple Fitness in a couple of months, you will probably wonder what the heck I'm talking about... or at least I hope so!

More detailed views

Yep, another point about be being data driven. I love being able to get stuck into the details of my ride and at the moment, there isn't much to get stuck into. I'd love to compare this 20 min ride versus my other 20 minute ride. Yes, there will be different points where I am pushing harder based on the session but there needs to be a way of analysing how well I am working. The Heart Rate chart is virtually impossible to read or compare between sessions. Would another chart type of time spent in each 10 bpm range show my efforts more clearly? I think so. 
Having more detail on the Burn Bar would also be useful. Although the chart makes it look like I can see how far ahead of the pack I am at the end of the session, this really doesn't seem to change. I would love to know this to see whether I am getting further away from the pack, or whether they are pulling be back in. 

Help from Apple to let me have some deeper views would help a lot to keep me motivated and monitor my performance. 

Focused sessions on certain body types

With such variety, it's hard to find exactly the workout I want and when I want it. The current filters don't really do the job. Yes, I can pick the exercise I want, any particular trainer, the time and music genre but I can't pick what part of the body I want to focus on or what equipment I might need. 

I know that after a cycle, I'd love a mindful cooldown (love these sessions by the way) that is either on the bike or doesn't involve a mat. I found myself reading a lot of descriptions to try to infer which sessions would be standing only. I highly recommend 'Mindful Cooldown with Dustin - 5 mins - Chill Vibes' for post cycling to calm down your body but find I still need to stretch my thighs separately. 

In Summary

I am enjoying using the app. I have completed 10 different sessions from 5 different trainers. I don't feel bored on the bike and have enjoyed exploring other forms too. Hope your enjoying the app too if you are using it. 

Favourite class: Cycling with Emily 
Time: 20 mins
Music: Latest Hits 
Difficulty: 7 (on a 0 to 10 scale)
Why?: Brilliant Hill Climb class even though it isn't sold as such. Didn't get into the music but nicely structured session that felt like a normal hill climb workout in a spin class. 

Weight: 101.3 kgs

Thursday 17 December 2020

Apple Fitness+ A new adventure

As soon as Apple Fitness+ was announced, my attention was grabbed and I was intrigued. In a year where any new way to take some form of exercise and enjoy it, has been a tough challenge to find the right thing that worked for me. But I am also a numbers guy so the chance to link together live data on screen about my performance with a decent workout sounded great. I've enjoyed yoga over zoom as I knew the instructor in-person but other forms of exercise didn't appeal. I like competing even if I know I am far from fit at the moment. 

Like many people, 2020 has meant I have been a lot more sedentary... like a lot! For background, if you've never met me before, I am 6 foot 3 inches tall and not slim. I've played basketball for years, enjoy tennis but love road cycling. The problem is I'm not the typical build for cycling so weight always plays on my mind. Last year I had cycled 2,975 kilometres (1,848 miles if that's your preference of measurement). How do I know this? Well I said I'm a numbers guy and I mean it. I track all of the rides I do. Here's the view for this year so far:

So how have those nearly 500 km less than last year affected me? I'm now just over 100kgs (102.2kgs to be precise as of this morning). This is too much so how did I let myself slide from the 93kg I was at earlier this year?

Due to cycling, I really enjoy spin classes and until February I was loving the classes I took at DigMe in London. We all know what happened next... Covid. I'll be honest, I was hesitant to go to gyms, I still went to a few more spin classes before everything shut down but I did with some hesitation. I stayed active by playing tennis and riding whenever I could but where was there to go? My commute had virtually disappeared so miles on the Turbo Trainer was the next best option. 

My Turbo is a 'dumb' turbo trainer. This means there is no data feedback from the turbo trainer so I just literally time how long I can ride for before boredom or tiredness sets in. At least over the summer, I could ride in my garden (I know I'm very lucky) but autumn came and back indoors I went. I actually turbo train in our garage (again I know I'm lucky) but there is no wifi there. I normally download an NBA game, some songs or a TV show to watch to ignore the time I'm on my bike whilst pushing myself through intervals. 

Hello Fitness+

I desperately needed some more motivation and that is where Fitness+ came at the right time. As soon as Tim Cook announced Fitness+ I was intrigued. The demo presentation showed numbers being fed back live on screen as an instructor led you through a class. Sessions were split by genre so no I didn't have to listen to tracks that annoyed rather than motivated me. But how did that translate to real life?

The tech bit

Fitness+ requires you to use an Apple Watch and another Apple device to watch the class on. For me, my original iPad Pro from when the model was released (2016?) would be ideal but the Watch was another story. 

Tracking my rides on my phone used to be a hassle, especially if you didn't want to ride with your phone in your pocket. The Apple Watch changed. With the Series 2, you no longer needed to ride with your phone on you (although it gave a lot more functionality as I had only the GPS version). I snapped it up early after the release but sadly Apple Fitness+ doesn't work with anything less than a Series 3. I've released a book on data this year so treated myself to a new Series 6 so I could ride for longer in the wild without the fear of my previous watch's battery dying and try Fitness+. 

I'll talk about the set-up in a future post as I had a mixed experience.

First Experiences

The early experiences have been good. Today is Day Three since Fitness+ was released and I've already clocked three classes: 2x 10 minute ride yesterday and 1x 30 minute ride today. 
The two 10 minute classes were as much as me testing the tech out as it was about testing myself. The 30 minute ride today with Gregg was a proper challenge. Having not been to a Spin class for a while due to Covid restrictions I wanted to push myself as much as I could. 
My heart rate normally maxes out at 189 when sprinting for as long as I can when running so was happy with how hard it felt. Instructor Gregg did a great job of sign posting as we went through the class what was happening, when we could tail off a little and when to push harder if we weren't feeling 'the burn in our legs'. Riding with power meters (as I do at DigMe), I have a pretty good gauge on this but the 'Burn Bar' helped show where I was at (always at the head of the pack) so my legs and the data was telling me the same story. 

How this feedback loop of what's on screen, my fitness levels and how I feel I will see over time. It's a really good start. I'm genuinely excited to do more classes and try non-cycling classes too. I will update as I do. 

Class: Cycling with Gregg
Time: 30 mins
Music: Everything Rock
Difficulty Rating: 9 (on a 0 to 10 scale)
Weight: 102.2 kg

Wednesday 24 October 2018

TC18 - Devs on Stage

Tableau have a 1,000 developers working across the product suite

Dashboards - Amanda Luthy
Transparent background on visualisations in dashboards. Transparent Layout Containers too (now called zones) 2018.3
Toggle zone visibility - like the former hamburger menu pop-out 2018.3
Vector tile maps - more responsive mapping.
New background maps - topographic and satellite styles to build on traditional Tableau mapping
Navigation buttons - no more workarounds. Work even with hidden tabs (a favourite annoyance of most users). Can choose custom images 2018.3
Export to PowerPoint (excuse me whilst I cry a little - not with glee) 2019.1

Collaboration- Alex Vertin
Public - 1.5 m vizzes, 1.5 billion views
Add Attribution to Tableau Public
New Alert side panel on Server - add yourself to an existing alert 2019.1
New mobile app - biometric authentication, project navigation, interactive offline previews (scrolling, highlighting and tooltips) 2019.1
Automatic phone layouts - can still edit yourself 2019.1

Data Model - Swati Srivastav
The challenge of Tableau forming single tables often makes for large extracts and slower extracts (2018.3)
Multiple Table extracts start to solve this. HyPer can hold tables separately.
Security - encryption at rest
Drag and drop file load in web edit, federated joins and custom sql
LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Developer - Keshia Rose
Extension gallery updates
Extension API updates - write back updates
Support for webhooks - push notifications for events on server (ie failed extracts), can send feeds in to Slack / Convo etc will include snapshot

Analytics - Denny Bromley
Filtered nested sorting (sorting in a single column or a single row but both of the sorts persist)
Parameter actions - parameters filled by any of the action types (creates a lot more dynamic analysis). Time calculations - more interactive and simple once parameter actions set up
Set actions - sets hold multiple values where as parameters just hold one. Add elements to sets by just clicking. Click on one element to drill further (ie just one section of the treemap or table to drill in to a hierarchy further)

Tuesday 23 October 2018

UBS - Deploying Tableau at Scale

Paul Banoub

Runs a CoE (Centre of Excellence)
Self service model

Ability to handle a growing amount of work
Scalability involves performance, maintenance and expenditure
14,000 unique monthly users on server now compared to starting this on a box under his desk

Infrastructure and Tableau Architecture
Online gives you scalability but you lose control of some elements (Postgres database)
48 core environment (v10.3)
Different environments: Production, DR, UAT, Engineering, alpha, beta and Tabjolt / tabmon/ Viz alerts
Build the relationships with the infrastructure departments to get the best of their support and facilities
Upgrades are great but increase require more hardware. You can disable if you need to.
Keep close to Postgres, you will be rewarded to do so
Use open source tools to help avoid harder challenges (like tabjolt / log shark / lumberjack etc). Tableau Replayer - can push historical logs back in to a server environment to show what has happened and why
Splunk to aggregate logs to then do the analysis and not be at risk of handling sensitive data

Service & Support
Use an appropriate service model - how much self-service vs governed?
Self service best for scalability as lowest central demand
Focus on talent recruitment and keep up with R&D
Beware of key dependencies
Efficiency - get the help requests to the right place - servicenow for tickets, Tableau Doctor for the harder stuff and forums for the questions
Users can not be trusted
Housekeeping - delete after 100 days, old subscriptions binned, long running extracts

Training and Community
Create a community with whichever social hub your company offers
Use Tableau champions as an extension of your team
Beware cultural challenges

Vendor & Costs
Customer success program pushing UBS to do more as much as UBS pushes Tableau
Understand your Total Cost of Ownership
Understand the other tools so you know whether they are good or not and why

TC18 - Opening Keynote

Tableau prep developments
Data roles - built in definitions for email address, URL (all within one click on the smart recommendation icon).
Custom data role - create your own rules
Recommendations for fixing data (filter or fix)
Highlighting the flow - highlights where changes have been made based on the field you select
R and Python scripts able to be run in Prep (ie sentiment scoring)
Tableau Prep Conductor - add-on to server to publish and administer flows. Sits in alongside the existing server.

Data Modelling
Choose source table and then choose ‘related tables’.
As long as Primary and Other kres are set-up then the rest of the dataset will be formed
Tableau will automatically work out which table to pick so it avoids duplication
Measures are part of the table of origin rather than just being pushed together
Will determine the join type to use (reducing the need to scaffold)

Natural Language
Ask Data coming in 2019.1
Type in what you want to analyse / just ask your question and Tableau will form the visualisation which can then ask further questions of

Thursday 5 July 2018

TC18 London - Practical Tableau Tips

Ryan Sleeper

Fundamentals = Success
Ryan’s two most popular posts out of 200 is one on bars and one on lines

Bar chart tips
  1. Give your headers space
  2. But don’t make your bars too fat
  3. For only a few bars - use a direct label and hide the axis
  4. Heavy axis ruler bar to give the base a firmer zero line

Line chart tips
  1. Maximise Data Ink ratio (Tufte concept) To do this minimise the non-data elements
  2. Remove redundant data ink
  3. Make increments on the axis larger
  4. Remove obvious axis labels
  5. Highlight the key element you want to analyse

Psychological Schemas - we learn by patterns so if we disrupt the pattern, we struggle. Ie if green didn’t equal good and red wasn’t bad
  1. Don’t break these within your visualisation or you will confuse your users

Spatial Context
  1. Adding any spatial element to a view helps add additional context and spot weird outliers as we have preconceptions about how the pattern should be

CTRL+E - in Tableau this can tell us a lot
You can also click on a calc in a Calculation window and click ‘describe’ on the dialogue box and you can copy and paste your calculation

Filter in Use
Create a calculation If sum(num of red) <> attr({fixed: sum (num of records)}) then ‘Filter in use’ else “” end
Add to the dashboard to show when someone is filtering

Descriptive analytics (basic dashboarding)
Prescritptive analytics - explain why something has happened and describe what to do about it
Add your own commentary by using a string parameter on another sheet and a three choice option as to whether it is positive, neutral or negative and then show the resulting values in the main dashboard.