Activity trackers have flooded the fitness market as tools to keep you moving, motivated, and accountable. These wearable ‘high-end pedometers’ track everything from number of steps you’ve walked, distance traveled, flights of stairs climbed, and more.
In the last few months I’ve been playing with three of the markets most popular fitness trackers to test them against my day-day-day activity and give you the low-down – Michelle-style – on what I like (and dislike) about each, and why. I’ve already shared my views on the Jawbone UP and Nike+ Fuelband and now it’s time to share my views on the Fitbit Force – one of the top selling Activity Trackers out there. Sort of.
I have to begin my review by noting that the Force has been under recall since February of this year due to reports of skin irritation by some of its users. As a result of this recall, Fitbit Force is currently not available for sale. Fitbit is working on its next-generation tracker and you can still buy the Flex and One trackers without problem.
As you read this review then, keep in mind that both Flex and One share similar qualities to the Force so much of what I’m writing here will apply to either of those devices. The big difference between the Flex and the Force is that the Flex (also worn as a bracelet) has a display in the form of LED indicator lights, (no numerical feedback) and they’re small and tricky to understand.To view your daily stats for the Flex you have to consult your Fitbit App or the Dashboard on your computer. They sync wirelessly but it’s less convenient than looking at your wrist in the moment.
The Fitbit Force, puts all worthwhile measures (steps, distance, flights climbed, calories burned, time, etc.,) within a button’s press in the form of a tiny, sharp OLED display.
So does the Fitbit One. It shares ALL the same measures as the Force on a small OLED display with the big difference here being that the One is worn on the waistband versus the wrist. I’ve used the One and it would be my pick over the Flex if you’re in the Fitbit market and don’t want to wait for the next-generation Fitbit.
Okay, so now that we have that out of the way…
Wearability: The Fitbit Flex is sleek but a bit clunky, but it does come in many different colours. Fitbit One is a pod you clip to your waistband. It’s sturdy and durable, but not as convenient to check on than a wrist band.
What it tracks: Fitbit devices measure a bit more than Jawbone or Nike Fuelband and seem to be quite accurate. Take a look at this link so you can compare Flex and One. They both measure steps, distance and calories burned. The One also measures stairs climbed, which I like because it’s nice to be motivated to do something that will up the intensity on your workout. Just sayin. You can calibrate the devices to your stride length to help with that too.
They both measure sleep length, efficiency and number of times woken though the night. The Flex has access to goal setting information on the Dashboard, One doesn’t.
You can also log additional activities (like yoga, boxing class, or cycle class) that won’t log accurately based on steps alone. The device won’t add steps to your day but it will note calories burned.
For sleep, both devices can be set to deliver a Silent Wake Alarm by vibrating on your wrist. The devices are easy to set for sleep measurement as well. Hold the button down just before bed and the sleep timer will kick in. Hold it down again when you wake up and your sleep will be logged the next time you sync the device to your App or Dashboard.
The trophies show in this picture aren’t accessible on the App so if these goal setters motivate you then make sure you sync with your computer platform now and again. I’ll be honest though, where these goals or trophies are concerned Fitbit could steal a couple of ideas out of the Nike playbook to create bigger challenges, and celebrate your success with more style. I’ll be blogging on that next time.
There’s more to explore with the Fitbit platform, from logging food and water and connecting it with www.myfitnesspal.com, to monitoring weight (computer and App), or logging thoughts and feeling in the on-line journal and keeping track of blood pressure, glucose levels and heart rates (not on the App).
I kept my usage pretty simple and focused on the exercise element, but it’s nice to know the options exist for those who might want the motivation.
My confession: When I first started testing the 3 devices I mention, I was 100% certain Fitbit would be the winner for me at the end of the day. The measures are plentiful and accurate, the devices are easy to use and sync, and they’re well made devices (Force recall aside).
The Fitbit products would be my device of choice if I was only walking and running as my primary activities, or if I was a new exerciser that doesn’t need all the distractions but just needs to get moving.
But for me, I started wanting more. I’m a cyclist and do other classes like Dancestrong and Boxing and started to feel a bit ripped off that those classes weren’t always accurately logged. Plus Fitbit wasn’t able to motivate me like …well… like the Nike+ FuelBand does.
Which surprised me because the Nike+ FuelBand doesn’t measure steps as accurately, it doesn’t record stairs climbed or distance travelled, and the device is a bit clunky compared to Fitbit.
Advice: If you’re new to exercise or just trying to incorporate more and better movement in your life keep it simple and accurate. For that, Fitbit would be the way to go.
Nike+ Fuelband is best suited for the established fitness geek who doesn’t have a problem getting more than enough exercise, engages in multiple forms of activity and needs a kick in the rear to jump to the next level…not a new or returning exerciser who should be focusing on simplicity for consistency.