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Tech Tools to Supercharge Your Walk

This is a guest blog post by Selina Tobaccowala. Selina is the co-founder and CEO of Gixo, a mobile app that offers more than 180 live fitness classes for anyone and at all levels, every week. She also sits on the board of Redfin.   Previously, Selina was the President & CTO of SurveyMonkey and the co-founder of Evite. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, 8 year old daughter, and 5 year old son. Join Selina and other presenters on our webinar on May 22nd, “There’s a Walking App for That.”

I am a serial entrepreneur, and have always loved technology. I started to code around 10 years old and knew that I wanted to study computer science at a young age. On the other hand, my passion for walking is only a couple years old.  While I was working at SurveyMonkey, my mentor and dear friend Dave Goldberg passed away suddenly from a heart issue at 47, and it turned my world upside down. This event was the wakeup call that I needed to prioritize my own personal health. At the time, not only was I the President of SurveyMonkey, but I was also raising two kids, and the most exercise I did during the week was walking to the train station from my car.

Being an entrepreneur, I immediately started doing research into how to impact heath.  Although a lot of the spend is with end of life care, the biggest eye-opening fact was that just 20 minutes of raising your heart rate a day can reduce your fatality rate by 31%. What’s the best way to raise your heart rate? WALK!  (Ok guessing all of you reading this blog actually know this!)

During the past few years as I became an avid walker, I have found that technology, gadgets, and apps can go hand-in-hand with promoting walking and physical activity. In fact, I have come to depend on several apps & gadgets to help maintain my healthy lifestyle. Below is a sampling of how technology can play a role as you go on your own walking path:

1.  Stay engaged and entertained during your walks. When my co-founder Al Lieb and I discovered all of the facts around activity we knew that we could create a way to revolutionize fitness through technology.  The biggest issue we heard from people about moving was being bored. That led us to build Gixo – a new fitness app that offers live classes (over half are walking / running) for anyone to exercise, anywhere. The live coaches will help keep you engaged & encourage you to go farther. Also, in our little startup we have a full-time DJ and so we promise you awesome music to keep you entertained during each workout.  

2.  Explore your community and local parks. Our family has gotten much more into hiking and walking in the city. For hiking, AllTrails is a great app. You can even download the trail map before you are on your way, so when you have cell signal you can still see where you are (GPS works often when cell doesn’t). For the city, we’ll quickly check Walk Score before we go out to make sure we’ll have sidewalks & a nice place for breaks with the kids! The walkability score is based on an analysis of routes and proximity to nearby amenities.

3.  Always feel safe. I have tried my best to also incorporate walking into my everyday routine.  Part of that includes taking public transport and walking home. When it’s dark I am always conscious of my personal safety. I recently discovered a great app called SafeTrek. Even if I have my phone on me, there’s still a question of how fast and if I will be able to call for help should anything happen. SafeTrek rids my mind of any of those questions. The app works by giving users a ‘safe button’ that they press whenever they’re feeling uneasy and can hold with their thumb until they safely arrive at their destination. Once you let go, you simply put in a pin that lets the operator know you made it safely. If something should happen, the app has your GPS location transmitted to the nearest police station. Helpful Tip: use a 4-digit pin you won’t forget because you only have 10 seconds to type it in after pressing.

4.  Feel the music with less distraction.  The main issue with earbuds is not being able to hear other sounds.  These wireless headphones rest just in front of your ear, not inside them, and actually transmit sound through your cheekbones into your inner ear. For me, since they’re not inside of your ears you can still hear what’s going on around you, making bone conduction headphones safer than alternatives. You can still hear traffic, horns, and the people around you. There are several brands on the market, but these are my go-to.

Join Selina and other presenters on our webinar on May 22nd, “There’s a Walking App for That.”