By Scott Edwards
The first on board paddle coach
The first thing everyone who wants to kayak or surfski needs to do is learn a basic forward stroke. As simple as it may seem, having a steady, efficient forward stroke that propels your kayak and allows you to do all that you want it to, is actually something that paddlers continuously work on.
Up until now the feedback we’ve received has either been determined by our personal feelings of our results or by a coach who critiques your technique after your session. Neither of which gives you the feedback while you are on the water nor the opportunity to correct and start building that muscle memory that can make a proper forward stroke part of us, something we just do, without thinking about it. Wouldn’t be it be great if you knew right away when you missed a stroke, it wasn’t long enough, didn’t propel you far enough? Was it out of the range of your average, or is your average too short?
If you have ever thought of any of those things, or are using your paddling as a part of your work out routine and want to track your progress, where you paddled, how long you paddled, how fast you went and the like, your answer is now reality and is being showcased around to paddlers of every kind, and it works through an app in your smart phone! Welcome to the world of paddling Motionize!
Motionize is a combination of three ‘modules’: one that attaches to the middle of your paddle shaft, one that attaches to the bow of your kayak and an app you can send to yourself via email or social media via your smart phone that attaches in front of your cockpit with a RAM X mount, that holds it in place solidly. That being said, even if the case your cellphone is in is waterproof, I highly recommend getting a small light dry case, with a tether just in case! These are easily found and very affordable. My phone case is waterproof, but, I do like to be doubly sure everything that goes in the water, comes back out with me.
All about the stroke
The Motionize (I was testing the ‘Edge’ model) measures the length of every stroke on each side of the kayak, it shows you an image of the width of your stroke (how far out from the side of your kayak), your total stroke count, how many strokes you average per minute, how far you travelled and how long you paddled. Below that is something that looks not unlike an EKG chart, showing your strokes per side for the duration of your paddle, it is uncanny how one side mirrors the other, than drops off if you’re making turns or corrections.
Underneath all that information about your paddle strokes, is a GPS map of your route. So, not only do you know how many strokes you took and how many miles, but, exactly where you went. This is an excellent feature for those who have worked out a route for exercise and want to stick to it. You can actually have a record of all your workouts and do side by side comparisons, as the information is available to your computer as a png file via the aforementioned methods. I believe seeing your trip is not only useful for workouts and for racers, making sure they took the fastest route they could, it is also just fun for the paddler out on a day trip who wants to keep records. I know I have a file full of GPS maps of many of my paddles.
Mind you, all of this is happening real time, right before your eyes. You are able to get instantaneous feedback about the length of your stroke, how far you travel, each and every time. There is even a field for heart rate, which I have yet to use, but it will give you cardio feedback as well. All in all, Motionize gives you a lot of information in a very small, very easy to use package. The unit I have been using is called the ‘Edge’, obviously because it gives paddlers an ‘edge’ in being able to maximize every paddle stroke.
The RAM-X mount
In looking at each piece of the system, the sensors that attach to your paddle and kayak are small and do not get in the way in the least. The batteries are rechargeable by plugging their bases into the included USB connection. They do not take long to recharge and last about five hours. Your phone is whatever your phone battery life is; I know some last longer than others, but four hours is more than the norm. Obviously the sensors are waterproof and attach by sliding them onto the base that uses an adhesive backing. The RAM mount has a disk that you attach to your kayak, and you then stick the RAM X-mount onto it, at the front of your cockpit so you can easily see it. Although the RAM mount does firmly hold your phone, I personally like putting it in a dry bag that has a tether.
The only thing fault I can find with the Motionize system is the permanent mounting of all fixtures. The paddle sensor and the kayak sensor are fine and only cosmetic. The RAM mount, however, for me, is a sticking point. If the disc has to mount permanently, that’s fine. But I believe some sort of clip mount is needed; so you can remove the mount, yet still have it firmly affixed to the kayak. It doesn’t interfere with rolling or any performance issue, but, it is a fairly large piece and is in the way of putting my camera on the deck facing towards me, and if I had put it on the other side, it would be too far away to see and block the camera pointing forwards. Also, it only allows you to use Motionize on one kayak. I’m sure there has to be a way that the mount can be secure, yet still be removable and allow you to accessorize all your kayaks to see how you perform in each different one.
Even though I’d like to see a different mount for the phone, all in all, Motionize is a great tool that gives every kayaker, surf skier, racer and fitness paddler a lot of information and self coaching, not just to make you go faster, but, to get the most out of yourself and your paddling experience. Since most of the time we are moving forward in our kayaks, it only makes sense that we do it as well as we can, Motionize is the tool that can really be of great help, instantly, stroke by stroke.