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I feel the intensity in my muscles before I clock the green bars on the screen. I’m nowhere near a gym, or a PT, but thanks to Mvmnt, a new AI-powered fitness launch, I’m squatting with the kind of form that Gemma Atkinson would be proud of.
Oh, and I’m genuinely enjoying it.
Like many women before me, I went into pregnancy one woman and came out the other side someone else.
Unlike celebs, I did not – for want of a better phrase – “snap back”. Parts of my body felt like they were clinging on for dear life, while others had truly given up and either creaked or leaked. It was a feeling I wasn’t used to.
In the space of three years, I’d gone from running marathons to being one of the many Brits who, according to The Healthier Nation Index published by Nuffield Health, completed just 40 minutes of vigorous activity per week in 2022 – that’s 35 minutes short of the official NHS guidelines.
Most months, I had the intention to exercise but with two children under two, and eye bags darker than my morning coffee, I couldn’t keep up with most workout plans or would have to abandon workouts halfway through.
I was the walking definition of a yo-yo exerciser.
You might wonder why I kept trying when obviously my life stage and organised exercise were not compatible. Truth is, I really related to the 4,350,000 Google results for “losing yourself in motherhood”. But I knew that regular exercise was my route back.
Thankfully, an invitation to try Mvmnt landed in my inbox.
What is Mvmnt?
For years, fitness apps have used heart rate, calorie burn and sometimes user feedback to score your exercise efforts but Mmvnt is different. Rather than just pairing an instructor with a heart-thumping playlist and a calorie counter, Mvmnt uses an interactive camera and AI tech to track reps, how you’re moving and to give real-time coaching feedback.
‘We want to help you to truly do your best in workouts,’ says Rory Knight, Director of Fitness at Mvmnt. By ‘best’, he’s referring to near-perfect form to help reduce the risk of injury and supercharge results.
‘The goal is for our community to get better at exercise, not feel more stressed by it,’ Knight added.
But, you might be wondering, how can AI fix my squat form IRL?
To get going on Mvmnt I needed two things: Sky Live, a new interactive camera (from £6 per month) and Sky Glass, the new(ish) voice-controlled streaming television that doesn’t need a satellite or set top box. FYI, prices for this start from £14 per month.
The set-up is ridiculously seamless – you simply plug it all in and go. In fact, the most complicated part of it all was explaining to my then two-year-old that ‘it’s mummy’s screen time now’.
Before each workout it only takes a moment to calibrate the movement tracking. You simply stand in front of the camera as it attaches a load of little green dots to your image to show that the camera has found you. Ideally, you’d have a good few metres between yourself and the camera. Then it’s just a case of choosing how to move.
There is a bumper library of strength training, cardio and yoga classes but to get out of the gate I opted for Daily Mvmnt; a short workout, around six minutes or so, that blends all of these.
You might think that anything shorter than ten minutes is pointless, but I needed workouts that wouldn’t be so easily derailed by motherhood. Plus, according to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit. The same study also found that for most, it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic – you don’t need to be a PT to know that manageable workouts are more likely to stick than hardcore HIIT.
I’m nearing the end of my second set and the instructor is counting ‘four, three, two’. My mind whispers to me to stop before the timer and it’s tempting to listen, but the rep counter convinces me otherwise.
Working out with Mvmnt is like exercising in front of the Strictly Come Dancing judges. All. The. Time. Whenever I was or wasn’t moving, the camera knew, and I scored zero. There really is no hiding.
Just when I think I’m going to score a perfect 10, bam, the on-screen feedback tells me to ‘drive [my] knees out in line with [my] toes’.
The point of all of this is to get past the outdated adage of ‘no pain, no gain’. When done with incorrect form, that exercise-induced pain can lead to injury and enforce a stop to your new-found exercise habit – undoing all your hard work.
Instead, by using this AI guidance to do each rep focusing on quality, not just quantity, you can move better and get more benefit from your workouts – even six-minute ones.
Three weeks into a Daily Mvmnt streak and I’d found my groove. In the workouts, I looked at the screen less and less and became able to self-check my form. This was actually a real win because I quickly learned that if I turned my head to clock my stats while doing floor exercises, for example, in a plank, I would wreck my form, which wrecked my score. There’s a real irony in this.
Data that helps
Fitness buffs among you might be wondering if Mvmnt is just another Peloton Guide in different packaging. Yes, there are similarities but the standout difference is that Peloton Guide tracks movement (reps and body parts worked, to name two) but doesn’t give real-time feedback. This ability to provide instant form-correction cues – both visually and with audio – is essentially Mvmnt’s crown jewel.
I found that the app’s ability to pinpoint where I was going wrong and coach how to do it right was undoubtedly cool. Previously, I’ve only ever experienced this in PT sessions. But I did miss some of the stand-out features of other home workout apps. For example, a Peloton instructor calling me out by name during a live workout, or offering words of encouragement that were relevant to that day or the week or cultural moment.
Then there’s the TV-sized elephant in the room. Signing up to Mvmnt is only possible if you own a Sky Glass TV and Sky Live camera requires good justification – together, prices start from £20 a month. Of course, there is the argument that at £20 this is less than other fitness apps, but getting a whole new telly for the privilege feels like a lot. (Although, if you are in the market for a new telly, Sky Glass feels like a good offering. FYI Paw Patrol Dance Party was a hit in our house, as was the ability to video call grandparents from the sofa.)
I also won’t deny that having a camera on top of the telly did feel a bit weird, especially when trying to explain to the babysitter that yes, it was on privacy mode and no, we weren’t spying on her while out.
I can’t knock the fitness talent or the tech – this combo held my hand as I gradually rebuilt my confidence through daily, manageable workouts. I felt supported in a way that other fitness apps hadn’t – being prompted to ‘lift my hips’, ‘look forward’, ‘drive knees in line with toes’, motivated me to try better, not just harder.
I also found real comfort in Mvmnt’s practice space – a section of the app where I could spend time before or after my workout learning how to do the movements. After each of the 130 workout classes, the app cleverly shows you what exercise to practice so you can dive straight in.
Will I continue to get up early before the kids to work out with Mvmnt? From time-to-time, I will. Daily Mvmnt was my gateway to dumbbell workouts and gave me a renewed confidence to try IRL group exercise, such as F45, where good form is essential to avoid injury.
There’s also real joy to be found in fitness data that celebrates what you’re gaining (the personal best scoring system) rather than only the calories you’re burning.
Plus, this fitness launch is only just getting going. This autumn, the brand is launching personalised programmes, heart-rate zone matching, smartwatch integration (Apple Watch, Fitbit, Samsung, and Garmin) and more.
You won’t find me running marathons anytime soon but move by move, coaching tip by coaching tip, I’m getting that bit stronger for the marathon of life and that feels good.
Mvmnt is free to Sky Live customers.