There has obviously been a lot of talk about fitness bands over the last couple of years. I myself was an early adopter and still am a believer in the general concept. A few years ago when I did P90X I came to the realization that if I apply the concept of tracking results like I do at work to my fitness routine it helps to motivate me. It was a bit of an epiphany, but I realized that I like concrete results and that is what really motivates me so I started tracking my results in a spreadsheet as I was doing P90X. Seeing my results week over week drove me to be successful. Fitness bands allow you to do this with their online dashboards and without all the manual entry.
I started with the original Up from Jawbone and really liked it. It was a nice looking device and the phone app was slick. Unfortunately I guess I am a bit rough on things and broke 3 of them before giving up on it. Their support was really good and they replaced it each time without issue. Jawbone now has the Up 24 which continues to get good reviews. The down side for the up besides durability was the lack of social following. I’ll talk about this more when I discuss the Fitbit.
When the Up broke for the 3rd time I decided it was time to move on to something else so I gave the Nike Fuelband a whirl. To this day I still think it had the best form factor of the bands I have tried. I liked the algorithm it used for tracking activity instead of straight steps and the display was great. The only downside for me was, one it didn’t have Android support at the time and two Nike abandoned the Fuelband to focus on other things. Similar to the Up it also didn’t have as strong social following.
At the same time I picked up the Fuelband I also picked up a Fitbit Force. Like the name of the blog suggests I am a geek, so yes I spent the money for two bands and yes I wore them both at the same time. The Force didn’t have the form factor of the Fuelband and it didn’t have the slick app like the Jawbone products, but what it did have was a large following, which allowed me to find many other people using Fitbit products. People I already knew through Facebook. Even more importantly it appealed to my competitive side since I could now track my steps against those of mine enemies (friends in the real-world, but enemies in terms of my Fitbit dashboard). The social aspect is what really appealed to me and got me out of my chair to get some extra steps in thereby making me more active. The Force eventually broke and I picked up a Fitbit Flex and I now use the Fitbit Charge.
So here is one topic that everyone debates with all of the trackers that drives me nuts…the accuracy. This one is more accurate than this one and this one has a 20% error rate for steps. Here’s the deal, they all have their flaws and the movements they track clearly isn’t all related to steps. What do for you though is tell you when you aren’t being active. If I don’t get 10,000 steps in a day, I get a little stir crazy, because I know I have spent too much time sitting at the computer, didn’t get my cardio in for the day or had some other LAME excuse to not workout. The important thing to remember is you are tracking trends. Just like losing weight, you are going to have good days and bad days, but as long as you are trending down in terms of weight that’s all the matters. Similarly if you are getting your 10,000 steps in and not trending down, it’s a good thing. (Don’t forget your diet too!)