Guys! Did you know they make movies in Los Angeles? They do! They make a lot of movies in this city. It’s something we cannot escape and, despite “the industry” being somewhat annoying, it is a part of our ecosystem, for better or worse. We can learn to use it to our advantage, though, like getting to see movies earlier than their actual release date, seeing celebrities in real life more often than most people, and even passing movies being filmed or getting to go “on the lot.” Last Thursday, Nike took advantage of this to an extreme level for the West coast launch of their new Fuelband, the newest entry into the Nike+ world, a tool that turns life into a constant pursuit of calorie burning.
The event started at Vine’s Montalban Theatre, a space frequently used by the athletic brand and affectionately referred to as “The Monty” by staff. We gathered at 6PM sharp, all participants outfitted in Nike athletic clothes sent to us by Nike a few days in advance of the event. No one knew what was going to be happening, everyone was mildly uncomfortable with the idea of working out with a bunch of strangers, and all of us knew we would be doing something for the Fuelband.
The doors opened to the Montalban, letting the forty five of us blogger, tech people, style hunters, trend forecasters, minor celebrities, and more into the space. It was a bit like Christmas morning or the first time the cast of The Real World enters their house on the first episode. Nothing had even happened yet but everyone was pumped: people were running around, exploring, excited, asking tons of questions, and soaking it all in. A giant screen played their “COUNTS” commercial on loop, the walls lit in a gradient from red to green. The upper room of the entrance had a DJ and a booth setup for the people to explore and ask questions about the Fuelbands. We still only had a vague idea about what it did–but we were excited nevertheless.
Once the initial giddiness died down, we all waited outside of the theatre, congregating around vegetable and meat skewers as we signed waivers for the night. We did not know what we were signing off for but many theorized it was something “movie like” because the top of the form said Paramount Studios. We were all creating crazy hypotheses that ranged from sky diving to playing basketball. Fortunately for everyone, it was something better than both.
We entered the theatre after some time, greeting by a booming energetic performance by Taiko Project, which could very easily become the new sexy “performance” group, stealing focus from novelties like Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group, and Pilobolus. It was a rousing introduction for the night. When they finished, we listened to lots of explaining of the Fuelband, getting a clear idea as to what the product is: a watch/bracelet/band, similar in size to the Livestrong bracelets, that tracks how many calories you burn, how many steps you take, what time it is, and how many “points” you earn in a day.
After this introduction, we were sent back upstairs to suit up and get ready to head “somewhere.” We all had these nice, personalized tracksuits waiting for us and Fuelbands for us to put on: it was exactly like grown up Christmas up in there, people screaming and giddy, posing with their stuff and actively trying to burn calories to see how the band would respond. When everyone was ready, we hopped on party buses (that didn’t have booze on them) and headed over to “the site,” Nike personnel asking us every five minutes if we signed waivers. Thankfully, everyone did.
Of course, we arrived at Paramount Studios, the gated fortress on Melrose between Gower and Wilton. We were escorted off of the bus and congregated before a fake alley, where smoke and loud noises were heard, you could see a police car was parked in the distance, and–you know–there was some man on fire running around: typical Thursday night. Nike had prepared the most Los Angeles form of activity for us to test out the Fuelbands: a four course exercise session of film stunts, parkour, football, and dance.
Placed into groups of four, we set out to conquer each little physical world. We first did the parkour, where we were taught how to properly jump over objects, jump under objects, and jump from object to object to object and then over a police car, the highlight for many as we looked like badass cops from the 1970s in Nike apparel. As we finished up this first station, everyone was furiously checking their Fuelbands, catching how high their points had gotten, which was roughly around the six, seven hundred.
We moved on from parkour to football, the station I somehow had the most fun at (despite being incredibly frightened of catching, throwing, or being hit by flying balls, an irony I will not expound upon). This station consisted of various athletic warm-ups, us jumping over blocks, zipping around trashcans, and sideways skipping over tiny hurdles: it was like we were the Little Giants preparing for our Annexation of Puerto Rico. This station ended with a game of touch football that we got a little *too* excited about. (Well, I got too excited about it because it switched a very nascent competitive button from off to on.)
As we walked from the football station to the choreography station, we got more of a glimpse of the lot, peeking the iconic Paramount water tower and even a celebrity: Oscar winner Linda Hunt of The Year of Living Dangerously, Kindergarten Cop, and–currently–NCIS, which films on the lot. She was exiting her trailer like a boss. Get that lady a Fuelband, ASAP!
The choreography station had us doing a dance with one of Michael Jackson’s choreographers, the guy who played the black leather jacketed and stripped shirted gang leader in the “Beat It” video. We did some “Thriller”-ing and some various other MJ go-to moves–all from the man who created them. It was likely the hardest station because, well, choreography is hard and requires soooo much coordination.
The final station was an all out movie stunt course. We learned how to properly jump off of a one story high scaffolding into a cushion, how to fake a punch, and–most importantly–how to break a fake bottle over a stuntman’s head. It was amazing. If your childhood dreams of being an action star in a movie were not fulfilled in this station, you obviously did not have a childhood.
In the end, we were all wrangled together to perform the dance one more time for cameras, who had been recording our every move since we arrived at The Monty. How Hollywood! The dance all together was much like a Fuelband flashmob, with everyone hooting and hollering and finishing the dance with an obvious product placing hand gesture. Everyone then furiously checked their bands, which had far exceeded their goal, LED fireworks shooting off to celebrate the occasion. If you haven’t caught on yet, the points are a combination of how many steps you take, how much you move (from an accelerometer inside the device), and other little factors that make a “point.” It basically turns life into a game, getting you to do everything that “counts” to reach your goals (like parkour, football, dancing, and–you know–stunts).
At the end of the Paramount activity, we rode the party buses back and had a delicious feast courtesy of the Kogi Truck. It was nearing 11PM and, despite everyone wanting to hang out and have a cocktail, nearly everyone wrapped up after the final “Goodbye!” from Nike and went home to bed as we were all exhausted.
The Nike Fuelband is a very cool product coming from an even cooler brand like Nike. What other brand could throw a uniquely Los Angeles event that took locals and placed them in the (fake) movie they always wished they could be in? Where else on the planet could you do that? Certainly not New York.