Once again, my best friend Angela got me hooked on another one of my favorite fitness tools…the Fitbit. She had the original, Fitbit One (the clip-on version) circa 2012. At the time, I thought it was just a glorified pedometer and figured I’d probably lose the gadget within the first week. But then Fitbit stepped up its game — big time (see what I did there!). The company introduced the Fitbit Flex – a tracking device you wear on the wrist – and I was immediately game. It’s a very sleek and simplistic design that fits like a watch.
Embarrassingly, I burned through 3 of them (lost one, broke another, and overheated one in the sauna) within the first 8 months. Not gonna lie, I was just about to give up on Fitbit altogether when they introduced a new line products with a ton of advanced features. And just like that, I was a Fitbit fanatic all over again.
Jasper bought me the Fitbit Charge HR for Christmas and it’s honestly changed my life. If you are data-driven and get extreme satisfaction from hitting your fitness goals, then I promise you it’s worth the $150. And if it’s any consolation, I’ve had it for 3.5 months and so far no breaks, scratches, or bruises to my device (knock on wood). If you need anymore convincing, here are 5 more features that make this device stand out from the pack:
1) ACCURATE CALORIE COUNT
By tracking your heart rate, this Fitbit is a much better predictor of how many calories you’re actually burning during that workout. I especially find it useful for my cycling and vinyasa classes, where the blood is definitely pumping even though I’m not taking as many steps as running. It’s not obtrusive or uncomfortable like an old-school chest strap. And better yet, it can monitor your heart rate all day without you having to think about it — even while you’re in dream land. I find it useful to check during a high-intensity workout to see if I’m hitting my optimal cardio zone of 180 beats/minute (you can learn more about finding your target heart rate in this American Heart Association article).
2) ADVANCED GPS
With so many devices, the technology keeps getting better with each new generation. The same is true for Fitbit and its GPS capabilities. Instead of relying on an outside app like MapMyRun, you can now track all of your activity within the Fitbit app. Using the “exercise mode” on the dashboard, you can record your run, walk, and hike. This is especially useful for runners because the device tracks mile splits, time in heart rate zones, calories burned, and the impact on your day (see graphics below).
3) CALLER ID
Both the Charge and Charge HR have this feature. You can set up your Fitbit to alert you with a notification whenever you get an incoming call. So if my phone is in my pocket or backpack, my Fitbit will buzz and then the name (or number) of the person calling will scroll across my screen. I have found this to be super useful. It would be nice to get text message alerts, but I’m sure that will happen in a few generations from now.
4) EVERY FLOOR COUNTS
In some older versions of Fitbit (like the Flex), stair counting didn’t exist . But this new version has really made floor tracking a unique feature. For someone who likes to hike and lives in one hell of a hilly city, this feature has served me well. How does it work? Funny you should ask, because Fitbit has a pretty useful FAQ page on this for those who are curious. But in some, here’s the gist:
“Fitbit trackers use an altimeter to calculate how many floors you’ve climbed. An altimeter is a sensor that calculates altitude based on atmospheric pressure. Atmospheric pressure decreases with increasing elevation, so the tracker calculates elevation gain based on the reduction in atmospheric pressure.”
In sum, SCIENCE! I had never heard of an altimeter before, but I’m gonna trust the experts on this one. Check out these graphs:
5) SLEEP MONITORING
In addition to steps and workouts, Fitbit also tracks your sleep. I’m telling you, this device does EVERYTHING. The best part: it tracks it automatically; I don’t have to touch a thing! Fitbit uses autodetection, which is based on your movement and heart rate. Once again, I turn to the experts (aka the Fitbit FAQ page) for an explanation on this one:
“When you haven’t moved in over an hour and your heart rate is lowered (if applicable), algorithms assume that sleep has begun, which is then confirmed by the length of time your movements only indicate sleep behavior (rolling over, etc). Morning movement tells your tracker that you’re awake.”
When I wake up, I can view my stats in a pretty chart to see how many hours I slept; how many times I was restless (and for how long); how many calories I burned, and what my heart rate looked like during those hours. Over time, these stats can help paint a picture of what you’re overall sleep pattern looks like…and if you’re really getting enough Zzz’s in every night!
– Not waterproof. It can handle its fair share of sweat and a tiny splash of rain, but take it off when you’re swimming or showering. And don’t even think about bringing it into the sauna or steam room…learned that the hard way!
– Syncing issues. Not all technology is perfect. I’ve occasionally had some syncing issues with my Fitbit, especially after I log a run. It’s very rare and usually means Fitbit is working on something on their end, so just be patient and make sure to update your app in the AppStore.