The Lumo Lift promises to help you stop slouching — but is it worth the price tag?
Rebecca Paredes --0001-11-30 00:00:00
My shoulders have always been the bane of my existence. The combination of old shoulder injuries from my water polo days and bad posture at my nine-to-five job mean that, at the end of a long workday, I’ll sometimes catch myself hunched over my desk like a workforce Gollum — but with a Twitter account and caffeine.
These posture problems made me all the more excited to try the Lumo Lift. While other posture correctors look like medieval torture devices, the Lumo Lift is part of a new breed of wearable: it’s discreet and minimalistic, and it wants to help you learn how to sit up straight on your own.
By the end of my workweek, I found that the Lumo Lift was an effective reminder to stop slumping over my keyboard — but I can’t help but balk at the price tag. If you’re willing to drop $80 on a vibrating magnet, it’s worth a second look. The device also comes with a handful of features that feel better reserved for fitness wearables, like step tracking and calorie counting. I’d rather do away with those extras and drop the price. That way, the Lumo Lift’s posture prowess can properly stand on its own.
To start feeling the good vibrations, I had to attach the Lumo Lift to my shirt below my collarbone. I sat up straight, pulled my shoulders back, visualized my spine settling into a dapper S-curve, and calibrated the Lumo Lift by pressing it twice. As the device’s packaging explains, the Lumo Lift needs to be calibrated every time you change position — so if you start walking or switch seats, you need to double-tap the Lumo Lift so it can recognize your posture.
After aligning the device, you have two options: you can either let it silently judge your posture all day or you can set it to Coach Vibrations mode, which will vibrate every time you slouch.
I have to be honest: I was skeptical about whether it would work. But once I settled into my desk and the tasks in front of me, I quickly forgot about the Lift … until it started vibrating against my chest. It was angry. I was sorry. I sat up straighter.
When you’re in Coach Vibrations mode, you can set how much leeway you want the Lumo Lift to give you. To start off, the app recommends setting it to vibrate after two minutes of slouching. I thought that was too much hunch-time, so I set it to vibrate after 30 seconds of slouching — and it got to the point where I had to take the device off because it was vibrating too frequently. That’s really my own slouching fault, and after I sat at my desk and considered my hunchbacked life and choices, I put it back on and set the vibrations to a more reasonable one-minute interval.
If you choose not to let the Lumo Lift coach you, it just tracks how much time you spend with proper posture, which accumulates in the form of “Good Posture Hours.” Based on my stats and work hours, my goal was four hours per day. But since it was remarkably easy to forget that I was wearing the Lumo Lift, I preferred having Coach Vibrations on all day — that way, I had a constant reminder to sit like a human and not like a soggy towel.
Like the Fitbit app, the Lumo Lift calculates your calorie expenditure via your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which refers to the rate your body naturally burns calories just by virtue of being alive. BMR is based on your height, weight, and gender, and the app syncs with MyFitnessPal to add your caloric burn to your Exercise Diary.
It’s a handy feature, but to be honest, it felt secondary to the real reason I was using the device. I can only assume the Lumo Lift team wants to offer a wearable that negates the need to use an additional activity tracker, like a Fitbit or Jawbone, in order to track your steps and calories. But I don’t need that jibber jabber — I just want a device that tells me when I’m slouching.
I straight-up did not use the Lumo Lift’s step counting feature. It’s nice to have, but since I only wore the Lumo Lift when I was at my desk, I stopped looking at the step count after the first day. I tried wearing it while I was walking around the office, but even then, the number didn’t help me. I take most of my steps outside of my workday.
Conceivably, the Lumo team wants you to wear and calibrate the device all day so it can continuously track your posture, especially while you're standing. But I wasn’t willing to wear the small magnetic clasp at the gym — in fact, it was more realistic to just leave it in its dock at my desk. That way, it functioned as a reminder to clasp it on and calibrate it as soon as I sat down.
If you’re concerned about your posture throughout the day, the step count feature makes sense because you’ll constantly wear the device, anyway. But if you’re like me and just want a posture coach at work, the feature suddenly becomes fluff … and I don’t want to pay for fluff.
The app is basic, but it covers all the bases: it’s relatively intuitive and easy to use, with some minor exceptions. If you don’t feel like double-tapping your Lumo Lift to align it, you can calibrate it to your position within the app — but I kept having to remind myself how to navigate to that screen.
Your Good Posture Hours and step count are displayed in the form of circles that slowly fill with a progress bar as you move closer to your goal. You’ll need to turn your phone’s Bluetooth on in order to sync your Lumo Lift, but the device stores up to three weeks of data, so don’t freak out about keeping your Bluetooth on and draining your battery. I usually opened the app and turned on my Bluetooth once or twice during the day to check on my posture and adjust the Coach Vibration settings.
As a bonus, if you allow the Lumo Lift to send you notifications, you’ll get adorable morning reminders to wear your device and sit up straight throughout the day. A blog post on Lumo’s site states that the Lift is designed to be “discreet and friendly,” and the notifications stride that tone masterfully. I legitimately looked forward to reading them because they felt like little rays of sunshine on a slouchy day.
Lift lasts up to five days, depending on use. I only used it at work, and five days was right on the money. You charge the device by fitting it into its magnetic cradle and plugging in the USB cable.
It takes about two hours to reach a full charge, and I spent that time trying to test my posture skills without the Lumo. I felt like I had taken the training wheels off too soon, though — I quickly found myself slumping into my usual hunch, especially since I knew I didn’t have to worry about the threat of a vibration during a coaching session.
I was completely impressed by the Lumo Lift’s packaging and design. Everything about it is soothing, gentle, and friendly — from the box’s happy shade of green to the way the device nestles in its charging cradle. In fact, the packaging is a bit too minimalistic: I had trouble figuring out how to get the Lift started, and I had to investigate online before I realized that I needed to charge it before use.
The device works best with snug clothing, which wasn’t always ideal on days when I was trying to look fab and wear a loose shirt. And even though the device can blend in pretty seamlessly against most shirts, I found that the clasp (the part that rested directly against my skin) was just bulky enough to draw attention to the fact that I was wearing a mystical posture device.
That bulk isn’t a big deal when you’re just sitting and working solo at your desk, but it makes it more difficult to walk around with the device bulging out of your shirt — you’re going to have to field some questions about it.
In short, if you’re looking for a posture corrector that you can wear at your desk and adjust throughout the day, the Lumo Lift is your best bet. But if you want something a little less obvious, wait a while. Odds are high that we’ll see a greater variety of posture corrector wearables entering the market soon.
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