As someone who reviews a lot of fitness gadgets, I've usually got something strapped to my wrists, chest or head when I go out for a run. By and large, most of these devices are light enough to be unobtrusive, but every now and then, I like to go for a run completely unencumbered. Under Armour's new $149 Speedform Gemini 2 Record running shoes let me do just that, but, thanks to sensors embedded in the soles, will still let me know, after the fact, how far I went. After taking these shoes out on the road for the past two months, I can confidently say this is where wearable fitness tech is heading, but we're not quite there yet.
From the outside, the Gemini 2 Record looks the same as pretty much any other running shoe. You wouldn't know that inside the sole is an accelerometer that tracks your movement. Also, at 10.4 ounces, the Records are no heavier than their nontech counterparts.
Unfortunately, the Gemini 2 Record is available in only two colors: Gray, with red accents for the men's sneaker, and turquoise accents for the women’s version. That's hardly the look of a next-generation fitness tracker, and a little disappointing, given that the regular Gemini 2s are available in nine colors.
Still, the $149 price of the Gemini 2 Record is just $30 more than the nonconnected Gemini 2, a very modest premium.
I ran with the Gemini 2 for more than 50 miles over the course of two months, and found the shoe to be very comfortable and well-suited for my running style. I should note that I gravitate toward a stability shoe, such as the Saucony Omni series, which are similar to the Geminis.
I really liked the Gemini 2's offset (the difference in height between the thickness in the heel and the toe). At 8 mm, identical to that of the Omni, it helped me land on my forefoot. I also liked how the Gemini 2 wrapped around my ankle, making it feel more like a sock than a sneaker.
The only major issue I had with the Gemini 2 is that its insole isn't removable. If you need an orthotic or some other custom insole, you won't be able to use it with the Gemini 2.
The shoes sync with MapMyRun via Bluetooth, and will calculate your distance, pace, split times and calories burned. Although Under Armour claims that the Gemini 2 Record is as accurate as, if not more accurate than wrist-worn fitness trackers, I found the shoes to be less than precise. A 4-mile run as measured by GPS was interpreted as 4.3 miles by the shoes. Other runs were more accurate, but there was always a bit of variability. Part of the issue is that the shoes will start tracking as soon as your pace increases from a walk, such as when you have to hurry to cross a street.
Still, for the purpose the shoes serve, I think "close enough" will suffice; I merely wanted to get credit for the miles I ran, and wasn't interested in an exact measurement.
A nice side benefit of the Gemini 2 is that it will tell you when it's time to replace them; Under Armour sets the shoes' limit at 400 miles, but that will vary based on the type of surface you run on normally. You can't access the accelerometer or battery in the Gemini 2 Record; Under Armour says the battery in the shoe will last much longer than will the shoe itself.
I really liked running with Under Armour Speedform Gemini 2 shoes, but even after two months, I'm still trying to figure out who they're for. If you want to track your progress during a run, you'll most likely also want to view that information during the workout, in case you want to adjust your pace or stride. And to do all that, you'll need a GPS watch. If you don't care about recording your splits, then why bother paying extra for this, or any technology?
Still, there's something to be said for the unobtrusiveness of the tech inside the Gemini 2. It's the way wearables are headed, and Under Armour deserves some kudos for getting out first, and largely getting it right. If you want to track your runs, I'd still recommend a GPS watch over anything else. If you like Under Armour's Gemini shoes, and don't mind spending an extra $30 on your next pair of running sneakers, then you might find the Gemini 2 Record's tracking a fun feature.