Are you looking for a way to make exercise easier? Do you need help tailoring workouts to your specific situation? Do you like learning while you work out? Check out GlucoseZone, an online fitness center designed specifically for people with diabetes.
Just before the holidays, the friendly and enthusiastic folks at GlucoseZone asked me if I’d like to review their digital exercise platform. They offered me a free trial and, in the spirit of setting goals for the New Year, I opted to start in January. I’ve been using GlucoseZone as my primary method of exercise for the last three months and that includes while being in many hotel rooms. My husband, who does not have diabetes but does need to lose weight, has been using it too. Working out together has been kind of fun.
What’s the GlucoseZone philosophy?
So, what is GlucoseZone and how did it come about? Basically, it’s an online series of exercise videos and live classes you can tailor to your specific needs. You can find the best workout for you based on factors such as current blood glucose (BG), fitness level, or type of activity. There are even exercises specifically tailored for seniors and for those who need a chair-based program.
“GlucoseZone grew out of my frustration with the lack of guidance and support available to me. Now with GlucoseZone, there is support from a phenomenal team of diabetes experts, fitness professionals, and digital engineers. We are able to bring the global diabetes community a solution for millions of people like me. Our goal is to help people get control of their diabetes, lower their cost of treatment, and take back control of their lives,” said founder Charles O’Connell.
“Our goal is to help people get control of their diabetes, lower their cost of treatment, and take back control of their lives.”
GlucoseZone founder Charles O’Connell
How does GlucoseZone work?
The first time you log in (via the website or app), you’ll fill out a brief questionnaire. Then you can search for the type of exercise you want to do or you can browse all of the workouts by trainer, fitness level, duration (20, 30, or 40 minutes), category (abs, cardio, upper body, etc.), or workout type (e.g. knee-friendly). You can also do a “Quick Start” which asks you to enter your current BG and then it suggests workouts based on that.
Before each workout, you enter your food (optional), medication, and BG. After your workout, you check your BG again. For longer workouts, you also check your BG halfway through.
Here’s an example of a Level 2, Total Body Workout:
What’s good about GlucoseZone?
- No matter your age or fitness level, GlucoseZone has something that will fit your situation.
- The exercises are easy to learn.
- There are several trainers, so you can find the ones you like best.
- You feel like you’re in a real class.
- The trainers, most of whom actually have diabetes, teach you something about the way your body handles insulin and glucose during some of the workouts.
- There are many different types of workouts including cardio, resistance training, balance, core, and yoga.
- Several routines feature three trainers: one doing the exercise, one doing a more intense version of the exercise, and one doing an easier version of the exercise. If you are working out with someone else who is at a different fitness level, the same video will work for both of you.
- Live sessions are available where you can interact with the trainer in real time. (I haven’t tried any of these because my schedule didn’t align, but they look like fun.)
- Some workouts have graphics that show which muscles in the body the current exercise is targeting.
- You can contact trainers with specific questions and they will generally get back to you within 24 hours. For example, I was having pain in my neck during some of the crunches and the trainer said I should make sure to look up at the ceiling during the exercise.
- I can easily do the workouts in my hotel room when I travel.
- I like that I can search by fitness level and workout duration. For example, after being sick, I wanted an easier (level 1) workout that was short (20 minutes).
- There’s a free trial period, so you can test it out before you start a subscription.
- GlucoseZone is now an American Diabetes Association-approved benefit. If you’re an ADA member, you get a discount.
Here’s an example of a Level 1, Chair-Based Strength Training Workout:
What could be better?
- They ask in your kick-off questionnaire what medications you take. For one of mine, they didn’t have the dosage I take listed as an option. Each day when you start a workout, you have to check off whether you’ve taken that specific dose of your medication. The dose they list isn’t correct for me and it’s something I take weekly, so I’m not sure how to answer the question. Do I say “yes” only on the days I take it? Or do I say “yes” each day meaning I’ve taken it on schedule? (I usually say “yes” each time.)
- The “keep me logged in” feature on the website works fine, but I have to enter my username and password each time with the iPad app for some reason.
- My husband, who does not have diabetes, loves the workouts. He would like to be able to exercise when I’m not around without having to enter his BG.
- When I’m traveling, I’d like to be able to quickly search and get a list of workouts that don’t require dumbbells.
- I would love a GlucoseZone app for Apple TV.
- A couple of the trainers do some of the movements too quickly for me. For example, I have really tight hamstrings. When I stretch them, I like to do one at a time and hold the stretch for a while. A couple of the videos have you going back and forth quickly between the two legs which doesn’t work for me at all.
What I’ve learned while using GlucoseZone
- Boxing moves are a really great workout! Now I know why boxers are in such great shape.
- Standing and simply lifting your toes up and down quickly is HARD!
- I know more about things like hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. The trainers, many of whom actually have diabetes, educate you along the way (especially during the D-Fight series of videos).
As you know if you read The Pocket Carbohydrate Counter Guide for Diabetes, I’m a big believer in regular exercise. If you’re looking for a way to incorporate it into your day without having to drive to a gym or worry about the weather, check out GlucoseZone.
Disclosure: I received a free trial of GlucoseZone for review purposes.