I pretty much rely on Amazon’s Alexa to tell me the weather for the day, read some headlines and play a little music. This week, the digital voice assistant provided an assist to Seattle Storm star Sue Bird and together they got me moving through a new workout aimed primarily at kids.
The Alexa skill, called “Storm Workout,” features the three-time WNBA champion Bird putting users through a series of exercises for several minutes. It’s the first partnership between the hometown basketball team and Seattle-based Amazon.
Bird is no stranger to technology, and she’s previously spoken to GeekWire about how she uses technology and sports science to stay ahead of the competition. The 38-year-old point guard helped lead the Storm to its third WNBA championship last year as she posted career highs in key stats such as field-goal and three-point shooting percentage, and assist-to-turnover ratio.
“I am excited for fans to experience the ‘Storm Workout’ for Alexa,” Bird said in a news release from the team. “I’m passionate about basketball, fitness and technology, so the chance to work on a product that brings those passions together to support youth fitness was special.”
The skill is available on all Alexa-enabled devices and can be activated by saying, “Alexa, open Storm Workout.” From there, Bird and Alexa lead users through a series of drills with a basketball focus — no basketball needed — in an effort to get the heart pumping. Bird shouts words of encouragement throughout and Alexa mainly keeps time.
“Hey there, baller. I’m glad you’re here,” Bird says to open the workout. “Are you ready to get to work? Great, I’ll be cheering you on and my pal Alexa will be keeping time.”
A whistle and ticking stopwatch punctuate the drills, which include:
- Jogging in place for 20 seconds
- Running fast in place for 10 seconds
- Line jumps to the left for 20 seconds
- Line jumps to the right for 20 seconds
- Rebounding position practice for 30 seconds
- Easy jog and 10-second water break
- Fast running in place for 10 seconds
- Layup position practice for 30 seconds
- Defense position work for 30 seconds
- Final drill combing all skills over 30 seconds
Young fans of the Storm and Bird will certainly enjoy hearing her shout, “Now we’re cooking!” and “Awesome job!” and “Great work!” At the end she says, “Way to go champ!” and encourages participants to come back again tomorrow.
I was a little winded and managed to break a sweat. It felt good to actually get moving thanks to a piece of technology rather than sitting slumped over my phone, scrolling with one thumb.
According to Amazon, there are more than 90,000 skills for Alexa built by third party developers, and some popular sports skills include ESPN, Golf Channel, and the NBA, as well as skills from franchises like the Dallas Cowboys, Golden State Warriors, and New England Patriots.
The NFL teamed with Amazon earlier this year for “The Rookie’s Guide to the NFL,” a skill designed to teach casual fans about some of the terminology associated with pro football.
And a Seattle team’s desire to work with a tech giant is somewhat reminiscent of what GeekWire witnessed in the Bay Area last month during the NBA Playoffs, where Google and the Golden State Warriors teamed for a unique sponsorship.
“Amazon is excited to be working with the Seattle Storm to bring fans and families a new way to interact with the team, get moving, and have fun with Alexa,” Kevin Burkhart, director, Amazon Alexa and Echo, said in a statement. “As a season ticket holder and Seattle Storm supporter, I’m excited to try the workouts with my family.”
Fans won’t get to see Bird moving up and down the court too soon. The 4-time Olympic gold medalist had knee surgery last month that will sideline her indefinitely. But the Storm Dance Troupe recorded a video in which they go through the paces of the Storm Workout, and fans at Sunday’s game in Seattle will get to see that.