Q&A with Adrian Hon: co-creator of Zombies, Run!

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And welcome back! There’s been a long gap between posts hasn’t there – fact is, I did something stupid. A few weeks ago I decided to become a ‘serious blogger’ – I downloaded courses, I read posts, googled all sorts and for some reason during all this research, I decided it would be an absolutely brilliant idea to delete something in what they refer to as the ‘back end’ of this blog – it wasn’t I brilliant idea. I broke something!  I ended up getting heaps of error messages from google and have had to spend weeks sorting it all out..The truly annoying thing about this was I had heaps of posts planned – but not written – and so they’ve just sat patiently waiting for their moment of glory while I cleaned up mess that took 10 minutes to make! Today, however, I can finally post one of said posts.

Ironically, it’s an interview with someone who probably wouldn’t make such a stupid rookie techno error as he’s the co-creator of one of the most popular fitness apps ever – so I’m guessing he knows his way around some code! I’m talking about Adrian Hon, one of the people behind the Zombies, Run! app which, if you haven’t tried it, is a virtual reality running game where you have a mission to save the world from zombies. It’s brilliant (check out what I thought the first time I ever tried it here) and The Walk (a walking app set in an apocalyptic Britain) and the 7-Minute Superhero Workout which sees you saving the world one rep at a time. He’s also CEO of games developer Six to Start, author of ‘A History of the Future in 100 Objects’ and a former neuroscientist and tech writer. So I was thrilled when I got the chance to ask him a few questions. Here’ s what he had to say.

Q: I know it’s been out a while, but I’ve just spotted Superhero Workout and it looks fun – tell me a bit about how it works?

A: Sure – 7 Minute Superhero Workout is a smartphone fitness game that motivates players to perform fast, high-intensity workouts at home. It’s the world’s first app that automatically tracks reps and calories for dozens of exercises: we count every push up, every squat, every hook and every jab so players can see exactly how fast they’re improving.

We’ve included 20 missions where players defend the Earth from aliens, plus 12 preset workouts and an interactive ‘Battle Workout’ mode.

Q: Why you decided to switch your attention to strength training?  And what do you hope it will do for people using it?

I was personally very intrigued by the popularity of fast bodyweight workouts like the 7 Minute Workout. Clearly people were really interested in accessible, fast, and affordable strength training! So we decided to apply our unique combination of storytelling, gameplay, and technology to bodyweight workouts and make them far more exciting and motivating. Our hope is that it really helps people build up their strength and keeps them in an exercise habit for longer.

Q: The brilliant thing about Zombies,Run! was that it took away the boredom of running – do you have any other brilliant motivating ideas that can help do that?

A: There are lots of ways to keep yourself motivated while running – Zombies, Run! is one of them, but lots of people also enjoy things like running clubs, Park Run, and real and virtual races.

Q: What do you think (or hope) the gym of the future will look like?

A: You’ll see two types. The first is a ‘no-frills’ gym that has exercise machines and weights that you can’t fit in your own home – but in the future, those machines might be able to wirelessly connect with your phone so you can access workout data.

The second will be much more atmospheric and immersive, employing technology like virtual and augmented reality, along with more sophisticated health tracking wearables like heartrate bands and body-analysing cameras. There are already a few gyms like this now, although the actual content of the workout is still pretty standard. In the future, we might see more gyms immerse users in an exciting adventure or story where they need to workout to ‘survive’!

Q: Other than your own creations – what’s your favourite fitness app, and why?

A: To be honest, I really like Apple’s standard Workout app on the Apple Watch! It’s really helpful when it comes to tracking my runs and my swimming.

Q: There’s a lot of apps out there – how do you pick a good one? What three or four things should someone look for?

A: You should check out the reviews from users, and also see how often it’s updated. With new features always being released for iPhone and Android, if you’re going to invest time and money into an app, you want to be sure the developers are in it for the long haul as well.

Q: What do you think it’s the most exciting fitness innovation on the market right now– and why is that?

A: I’m a bit biased, but I think it’s virtual races. These are like traditional running races, but you can run wherever and whenever you want. These have really taken off in the last couple of years, with companies as big as Disney running their own. We’ve created our own virtual race platform called Racelink (based on our Zombies, Run! technology), and have already launched fun and motivating races for Cancer Research UK and the British Science Association.

We’ve done everything from thrilling spy races, to a race where you run from the Sun to Neptune in 10k, to our latest ‘Celeb Chase Virtual Race’ where you run alongside Mel C, Bill Bailey, Ore Oduba, and Edith Bowman: https://celebchasevirtualrace.com

Q: If you could create any kind of fitness app/gizmo/gadget or machine what would it be and why?

A: I’d like to have augmented reality contact lenses so I could run from zombies in the real world!


So there you have it! Now at this point i do have a confession. This post was supposed to come with a full review of the Superhero Workout app – but in other news since we’ve been away, I’m officially broken! Remember I told you I’d stuffed my leg up by running too slowly, well it won’t heal – it got to the point where I could do one training run a week and I’d be in pain for the next four days. So a few weeks ago, my physio decided it would be best to pull out of the Gold Coast Half Marathon and put me on ‘enforced rest’ before I did some permanent damage. I’ve barely been able to do anything other than walk for weeks. It’s still not fixed. So sorry, there’s no review,, but why not give the app a try yourself and let me know what you think.

Buy it at itunes here

Buy it for android here 

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