Vivonic Fitness Review

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Program Requirements:


Palm III organizer series or greater, Handspring Visor Organizer series, Sony Clie
150 K free RAM (more like 500k, when you are using it)

Windows 95, 98, or 2000

Here is the 5-second version of my review: Get it, it works – If you use it, you will see results!

If you’d like something a little more in depth, read on…

I first found out about the Vivonic Fitness Program while reading the July issue of Walking Magazine. In a glossy advertisement, I was introduced to a new portable touch-screen computer that was dedicated to recording meals & exercise for $229.


“What a great idea”, I thought, “but why would I want to carry another portable device?” Well, after looking at the Vivonic website, I was pleased to find out that that wouldn’t be necessary. The folks at Vivonic were selling the same program (minus the pedometer) for people like us to install on our Palm OS Devices.

Now I realize that Palm OS users have had other fitness, diet and weight monitoring programs available in the past; most notably the programs from
HealtheTech, Inc., which include Diet Log, WeightLog, & ExcerLog. I’ve used all three of those programs and had success with them, but the “new guy” piqued my interest.

Once I had the software CD in my hot little hands, it was simply a matter of loading the program onto my PC, and answering some personal questions about height, weight, fitness goals…you know the routine.

What was different about this program versus others I had tried was that the majority of this information was loaded onto my PC, to be synced to my Palm later. I suppose that it probably saved some room not to have a bunch of one-time profile questions located on the Palm.

The key thing that you need to realize is that this program expects you to use your PC. It is imperative that you enter your profile, custom foods, & exercises there, as it is impossible to edit these things on your Palm. I am spelling this out because if you have the basic Visor that doesn’t come with the hot-sync cable: you’re going to need to get that cable.

Once you have entered your profile & other settings, it is a simple matter of syncing – and then you will be ready to start.

Since I figured it would be worthless to review a fitness plan without actually using it myself, I signed on for the four-week program, which is the shortest of the three available. You can also choose from an eight-week or twelve-week program. Of course you can start over at the end of your plan, or begin again at any time.

I had to overcome some initial problems, mainly from my side, because I was used to using a different tracking system for my exercise, weight and intake monitoring. Once I got used to the “layout” of the program, both on the Palm & my PC, I found Vivonic to be very simple to navigate and a highly intuitive tool. You’ll notice that the entire day is on the screen. You simply hit the block for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, or Exercise. Vivonic realizes that there are very few people who eat just 3 meals a day, so the program literature said that if you snacked, to add it to the meal closest to the time in which you did it.


This is a typical breakfast at Burger King. Kind of looks scary when you see how many calories are actually in that breakfast sandwich, huh. You’ll notice I didn’t get the hash browns, either!

I have to extend kudos to the team at Vivonic for a subtle, but very impressive bit of programming: when you are choosing your food, if you pick the wrong one, you can hit the “Back” button, and you will simply be taken to your previous screen. I was used to having to start my search all over with again with the last program I used. This feature alone saved me massive frustration. You know, it is bad enough to be at your table in a restaurant, tapping out everything you are about to eat, or just ate, without drawing even more attention to yourself by taking twice as long to do it!

This program comes with many of your favorite frozen dinners already listed by brand, as well as many national fast food chains’ menus already factored in. What a time saver! I didn’t have to request the little handout on nutritional facts at Mc Donald’s, Wendy’s, Long John Silver’s or Taco Bell. I did have to get one from Chick-fil-a, though.

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One of the things you can do directly on your Palm OS Device is enter “Custom Meals” from selected menu items. Let’s say for instance that you get the same breakfast almost every time you go to Burger King. To save yourself some time, all you would have to do is enter that first breakfast as a “custom meal”, and in the future you would only have to enter the meal as one item. If you needed to adjust quantities or individual items in that meal, you would still be able to do that.

vivonic5  vivonic6 vivonic7

Exercise is also infinitely editable with Vivonic. When you are setting up your exercise program on your PC, it will transfer the choices you have made to your Palm.

If you are someone that takes great satisfaction in being able to place a checkmark next to a “to-do” item, then you are going to love this system. What you need to accomplish will be spelled out daily – and all you will need to do is to perform it, and then enjoy “ticking it off”.

There is an extensive database of exercises already entered into your Palm to choose from. However, if you happen to partake in some obscure type of exercise, and you are able to figure out what its “calorie burn” would be, then you can enter it onto your PC just like you would a new food and it will show up as a “Custom Exercise”. You can also create “Custom Circuits” from your Journal entries, if you have specific things that you do together on certain days.

vivonic8  vivonic9 vivonic10

It is hard to be apathetic when you know that there is a little box that you should be ticking off on your workout days.

You are also able to enter Personal Metrics. This is where you enter your weight, and whatever body measurements you are interested in tracking. I kept up with this once a week.


Okay, that’s basically the nuts and bolts of the program. Now I want to tell you about the support & resources available to you as a Vivonic user. The Vivonic opening page on your PC interacts directly with the Internet, bringing you information about program updates, informative exercise and health articles, a “fit fact of the day”, and of course, a summary of your current exercise & intake. You can peruse a broad list of information pertaining to exercise, fitness and nutrition, or you can examine detailed summary graphs of your intake & exercise over the time you have been using Vivonic.

I really liked how the desktop was interactive with my Palm, and it actually got me more involved and motivated, knowing that I could access information in this manner.

You can also go to Vivonic’s web site, and download specific exercise and training programs.

…And now for my personal experience:

I began using Vivonic on Wednesday, August 17, 2000. I am 5’10″, and I am moderately active. I weighed 157 on the day I started Vivonic, with a BMI of 21.9, I am generally considered to be at the right weight for my height. Like many people, I felt that I could benefit from a plan that would help me tone my muscles, and maintain my current weight.

I managed to enter just about everything I ate, and I also managed to do just about every workout I was scheduled to do. I kept this up for four weeks. I say “just about” because there were days that I didn’t feel like exercising and there were days where I went above my goal calories – but there were also days that I did extra exercises, and days that I didn’t eat anywhere near my quota, so I suppose that it must have evened out in the end.

Now that I have completed the 4-week program, how do I feel? Great – with a tremendous sense of self-accomplishment! I have lost 1 ½ ” off my waist, 2 ” off my hips, and I can really “feel” my leg and arm muscles. This is in addition to the 5 pounds that I lost! Yeah!

Would I recommend this program? You bet! I think of all the money I have spent on other gadgets & gizmos to help me maintain my weight and tone up – and not one of them motivated me, or made me feel guilty when I was lazy – quite like this program.

You know what? I could have kept on plodding along, recording the food I was eating, but not really paying attention to the calorie intake and outtake ratio that is graphically spelled out for you
each day with this program.


Now that I have completed the 4-week program for the sake of this review, I have started the 12-week program for my own personal improvement.

If you feel like you are in a rut and you need to try a new diet and exercise motivator – You OWE it to yourself to get this program!

Price: $49.99

Many fast food items are already entered by restaurant
Can create custom entries of meals & recipes
Can create custom workout schedules
Can Download pre-made Workout Programs @
Very supportive, with almost daily motivators & articles downloadable to your PC
You will always have it with you

Most of the meal & workout customization must be done on desktop computer


Product Information

  • Many fast food items are already entered by restaurant
  • Can create custom entries of meals & recipes
  • Can create custom workout schedules
  • Can Download pre-made Workout Programs @
  • Very supportive, with almost daily motivators & articles downloadable to your PC
  • You will always have it with you
  • Most of the meal & workout customization must be done on desktop computer

33 thoughts on “Vivonic Fitness Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. AA battery adapter for PDA: I would never get on an international flight without one of these and a fistful of AAs! I have the one by Data Nation, though I’ve heard it’s not too hard to make one yourself if you’re handy with a solderer.

    Airline headset adapter: Depending on which airline you’re flying, you’ll want this $5 adapter (Radio Shack) so you can use your own headphones with the airline audio. I can’t remember which airlines don’t have an 1/8″ jack, though, other than Continental.

    Vindigo: They have London, though not Edinburgh.

    Very envious of the 5 gig PC Card… I need something like that in CF for my Ipaq and Canon CF digital camera! I’d also suggest bringing a sync cable, just so you can transmit photos back home if you can borrow someone’s desktop, so they’re not only on that PC Card. We had one sad instance with a trip where a laptop hard drive died and took many digital photos with it.

    Hope you have a great time!

    Ellen Beeman

  3. a) more waterproof and cold proofing gear
    b) an air ticket to southern Spain or other warmer climbs, use when you realize a) wasn’t a joke!
    c) watch UK electricity: it differs in volts, amps and cycles (i believe). i found i fried several appliances over there i.e. get a high quality adapter which will take all this into account. i think UK elec is more powerful than n.american elec. while i might use it for charging devices, while turned off, i’d be concerned about using anything live on the uk grid
    d) go to southern England: the flowers will be coming out and its way nicer 🙂 e.g. (properties related to tv shows) (properties related to famous people)
    e) warning: London is very expensive, the rest of the country is just expensive

    an Englishman living in Canada

  4. Ellen – that was a great suggestion about the sync cable! The AA Adapter is a great idea, too…wonder if I can get one before I go? Good to hear from you, by the way! :0)

    John – I am afraid that we may have overestimated when we thought we would get to London and possibly Paris. We have become a little more realistic. This means we will most likely be staying only in Scotland and northern England. Yes, it will be cold and nasty, but we will manage. Winter/Spring in Scotland is still worth the trip!

    Thanks for all the ideas and comments, please keep them coming!

    Judie :0)

  5. There’s no helping some people….

    oh well try:

    watch the electricity and

    and for a balanced look at Scotland (from the English 🙂 ) try Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Tim the Enchanter sketch for a go at the Scots and Swamp castle for a go at the northern English). Available on DVD for airplane watching. And as text and wav files:

  6. Judie, Welcome to this side of the Pond!

    Are you planning to bring any software to help you with the language translation?

    Glad to see you got the electricity supply sorted.

    Last week would have been a great week, no rain, bright skies, but very COLD, at least in Liverpool. The Highlands can be VERY beautiful given blue skies.

  7. Ladies you are loaded for bear

    Any additional power supply for the long plane ride, and your scott vest ?

    I still rember lugging around my 26 pound compaq
    and people were in awwww of that 16 yrs ago

    I wish you a safe and fun trip


  8. if we happen to be in any 802.11b enabled areas

    Snigger!!!! That really gave me a good laugh! :rolleyes:

    Here’s one of the current lists

    If your get to East Anglia let me know and I’ll lend you my Wifi access!!!

    BTW You don’t need a power convertor just a socket converter 99% of new equipment comes with autosensing PSU’s. What about a phone must have a MOBILE!! GSM all the way baby!:D

  9. You know what? I forgot to mention the PHONE! HA! Since I don’t use a GSM (I live in BFE, remember?), we are going to RENT a GSM phone from this comapany, Rent-a-Phone.

    It’s $30 for the week, $2 a minute for calls out – but we get $20 worth of calls for free, and all incoming calls in Scotland are free. I shouldn’t need to call anyone – but if anyone from home wants to get us, it will be easy.

    Judie :0)

  10. hmm, no GPS or map software? (granted, you’ll be in the civilized world, but it can still be convenient to have maps of everywhere you’d even think of visiting, maybe on an extra SD card…)

  11. Judie, would you like my GSM-to-PPC CF modem? It is slow (9600 baud) but it works just fine, and my cable is for a Nokia 5100/6100 phone. I can Fedex it to you if you want it, along with my Data-Nation AA battery adapter.

    And…wow!… Tmobile Wifi is in England! <swoon> I have one of their prepaid accounts, and they are GREAT! (Well, rather expensive… but great! <g>)

    Ellen Beeman

  12. Ellen, you sweetie! :0) I think Julie and I are going to just duck into an internet cafe to check the site and do our e-mail, but thank you for the offer!

    Also, I found a Seidio iPAQ to 9V adapter in my “box of stuff,” so I am good to go, there. I think they are sending one for Julie’s and my TTs, so we look to be in all around good shape, gear-wise.

    Thanks again!
    Judie :0)

  13. Judie,
    I wouldn’t travel on any long trips without my DVD Laptop. Why? Playing favorite DVD movies while in transit kept my two young children occupied and happy during our vacation to the UK and France last year. Pack a bunch of DVD’s in a cd wallet to avoid the “Are we there yet?” infinite loop. We pack light, we carry everything in backpacks, but the extra weight of the laptop is worth it. Have fun!

  14. Jay,

    We are flying British Air, and if I understand correctly they will be showing movies with screens on the seatbacks in front of us.

    As long as my daughter (13) has her CD player and a pile of Goosebumps books – she’ll be set. If she were younger, I would definitely be packing for her entertainment, though.

    Judie :0)

  15. You are bringing 2 PDA but no GPS or maps in any of them? When I went to NY I would have been lost if I did not have GPS with maps. But then again I used vintigo. Perhaps a bluetooth GPS like EMTAC ? you can use both with the Palm and HP.:)

    Or no Travel guide for Scotland ?

    Have a nice trip.

  16. Hi Judie,

    I never had the guts not to take the laptop with me. Since you are doing it now, we really like hear all about not having a laptop when you came back from your trip.


  17. Nadir,

    I am nervous about not bringing my laptop. 😉 I will definitely be writing about how it was to be without it, in the article.

    Judie :0)

  18. While this isn’t eletronic, it protects your electronics: Ziplock Bags. I can’t begin to tell you how useful ziplock bags are. If it rains you’ll be mighty happy knowing that your gadgets won’t get wet. Also, if you want to take photos in the rain, a camera inside a ziplock bag keeps it dry. (Can’t vouch for what it does to the picture. Maybe open up the mouth of the bag and make sure the bag doesn’t show in the picture). Stick in receipts to avoid them floating around, guidemaps, etc.

    I see you avoid extra weight by using e-books but your daughter is bringing old-fashioned paper. If you’re really going to try to pack light, think about bringing books that can be left behind. (I always try to do this but never can. I usually come back with more books 😉 )
    You might want to include the mirror hack.
    OHH! Shockwave. I know my clie supports this and I don’t remember if the TT does but I’m pretty sure pocket PC does. Grab some shockwave games and maps.
    Make sure you have the contact info + confirmation # for your car rental, lodging, attractions (incl. hours), food, and etc. If they have a map grab it with isilo.

    As to the phone, I recommend getting a pre-paid phone there instead of renting. I was in ireland and bought a pre-paid sieman’s phone from vodafone. It was about $100 and included $40 call credit. But the best thing about this is that you’re in a country where you A) can understand the language so using the phone and it’s email isn’t a problem B)GSM is king and they have all sorts of neat gadgets. My vodafone Ireland would read my email msgs in a pleasant woman’s voice when people sent mail to a vodafone email account. Also, I could email a voice message to friends back in the states. Plus it is a really really neat souvenier.

    As already mentioned, batteries. Never can have enough of those spare batteries.

  19. Have fun. My wife and I just got back from London two weeks ago. Cold, but no rain. Overall a pleasant trip, except for the broken Central line, no stops at Baker St., intermittent Waterloo and City line problems, and the same on District and Circle.

    BA is pretty similar to American, which we flew. Had a choice of 4 or 5 movies to watch during the flight that repeated several times, so not too bad. Most were new releases that I had not yet seen. You will appreciate warm clothes for sure. Have a good trip.

  20. For a smaller soln to using both a Memory Stick & a CF card on an iPaq, you can use Pitech’s Dual Memory Stick-CompactFlash Adapter. It’s very thin (much thinner than the std iPaq CF sleeve or Seidio’s Dual CF sleeve), & available at CompUSA. George Mosquera did a georgeous mod for it as well. It doesn’t have an extra bty, which would add bulk but would still not give enough juice to last an intercontinental flight of continuous usage.

    You might be interested in Boxwave’s miniSync. It’s a very tiny USB charge-sync cable that is also retractable into a tiny casing. Remember to close your jaw after you’ve seen it! 😉

    iGo’s Juice is also a very versatile soln for travel coz it’s a universal all-in-one power adapter for charging notebooks, mobile phones, & PDAs at the wall power outlet, in the plane or automobile. It has a worldwide auto-sensing capability, & with an optional charging cable, it can charge your PDA/phone at the same time as your notebook. eCost used to sell it below a $100 with free shipping .. don’t know whether that’s still the case. You’ll only need to carry one power adapter instead of one for each equipment.

    Have fun (& that includes testing out gadgets ;)) Gadgeteers!!! 😀

  21. Thought I’d throw this in as well. 😉

    For storage, I think $111 (=$103 + $8 Shipping) isn’t too much to pay for a very fast Iomega 1GB Microdrive. It’s available new at & it includes a PCMCIA adapter & a clamshell case.

    Recently, Sandisk’s 1GB CF was available as low as $139.99 after rebate price (rebate not avail. anymore but watch out for new deals :)). Sandisk’s CFs are rather slow but a price around that range is very affordable. eCost is selling their GVP 1GB CF for $199 (after rebate price). [eCost’s GVP CFs are supposed to be quality CFs made by reputable companies that carry a 5yr warrantee. You will receive a CF made & branded by any of a number of reputable CF mfrs; there’s no ‘GVP’ branding.] Several pple & I have ordered that & the GVP CF turned out to be Viking’s 1GB CF. That is a very fast card rated faster than most if not all other 12X or 16X CF cards! And the Viking card is selling for close to $400! What a deal! 🙂

    Just for photos, IMO, a 1GB CF would be more than enough for a couple-wks’ vacation. For Judie, since you have a digicam with a CF storage, it makes even more sense. I’m not sure whether your S330 takes in Microdrives, if not you’d have to go for a Type-I CF card. I’m using my 1GB Viking CF with my Canon S230, which uses only Type-I CF cards.

  22. If you’re still open to new program ideas, one for Pocketpc and Palm is Worldmate. It’s a world-time, international weather (updates from, currency converter, measurement converter, international calling codes, and even some dress sizes program. Both Palm and Pocketpc versions have a conduit, and it even supports OsX for a change.. although you can also update it with a gsm phone. I use this on a daily basis and even though it’s graphics could use some work, it’s a great utility.

    Only true Gadgeteers would take 2 PDAs each. 😉 I’d switch the Ipaq for an Ipod and the B&O a8s for etymotic 4ps (have the er6, wish I had the 4p) as the most ideal for me. 😀

  23. The way to get around taking the Laptop along is to have a SD card filled to the top with games. Just turn the game sound off when everyone starts to fall asleep hehehe 😎

  24. I noticed that you have the default clip-on cover on your TT. What happened to the aluminum hard case you were using?

    The reason I’m asking is that I’m still trying to decide on the TT. If I were to get one, I would want to carry it “naked” to reduce weight and bulk but I’m concerned that a separate cover and the slider will make whipping this out while on the go more of a hassle than a convenience.

    How useful is the TT when using the supplied cover?

  25. Just curious of your choice of BackupMan for the TT. I checked it out and also Botzam backup, but ultimately had to get Botzam given that BackupMan doesnt encrypt the backup files.
    At least, to me, the security of the backup is important given the large amount of info I carry. And yes, I do use SplashID, but I still have a lot of contacts with note info in them that could make a pretty good profile if someone cared.
    I also use Teallock which means that scheduled backups are not going to work.
    I emailed BitsnBolts (sic) and they said that while encryption was planned in future releases it wasnt in the timetable yet. Backupman does look nicer than Botzam though.

  26. sixty-four,

    The cover on the Tungsten T does not increase it bulk by much at all. It is very form fitting. Also, its made of plastic and won’t give you that much extra weight to carry around. You’ll still be able to carry it in your pocket. As a matter of fact, I have a m130 and a leather Hi-Pro case and carry that in my pocket everywhere. Doesn’t bother me at all. Hope this helps! 😎

  27. Originally posted by sixty-four
    [B]I noticed that you have the default clip-on cover on your TT. What happened to the aluminum hard case you were using?

    Judie uses the Proporta, but I decided to just take the plastic cover with me while on vacation. I thought it would be easier to use for reading ebooks and listening to mp3s on the plane without having to open a case to see the screen.

    How useful is the TT when using the supplied cover? [/B]

    It’s just fine, although not as protective as a regular case.


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