Talking Fitness Thursday: Getting Fit with Fitbit

For this recently-passed Mother’s Day, I decided to get myself a little gift. I’d been looking at heart rate monitors and pedometers for a while, and it had come down to the Polar FT4 (which I probably would have gotten in pink), and the Fitbit Flex (the base model for which comes in a choice of black or slate). After doing a lot of research, I realized I’d probably be happy with either one; Hubs said his only condition, because I’d probably charge it, was that I’d have to purchase my choice in-store and not online. His words, not mine. Whatever. I was fine with that but had a lot of trouble making a decision…

…until Target’s weekly ad arrived in my mailbox a week before Mother’s Day.

Image via Free Is My Life

Well, that made things easier. I could get a Fitbit for $100 and then a free 3-pack of wristbands so I could match the bands to my clothes? I thought that was fun and felt happy in my decision. I got the OK from Hubs and took advantage of the deal the next time I was in Target.

Hello, Fitbit. I think you’ll go quite nicely with my workout shoes.

And here are the four wristbands — the main black one that the tracking device came with, along with the 3-pack of free ones (navy, teal, and tangerine) — all together. Getting to change out the tracker between bands, instead of wearing the same band every single day, made this decision much easier for me!

So now, how does it work? As I said, the black band (or the slate, if you choose that one instead) comes with a little tracker inside. The tracker measures the steps you take, the calories you burn, how active you are, how well you sleep…it does quite a bit for such a tiny device. If you take the wristband off and look at the back, there’s an opening in which the tracker sits. You can easily pop the tracker in and out of different wristbands, therefore allowing you to make a bit of a fashion statement by choosing which color band you want to wear on any given day. All of the information is stored on the tracker each day, and you sync it up with your computer via a “dongle” that plugs into the USB port to see your stats. Once you’ve done that, you can also download the Fitbit app onto your tablet or smartphone and check your stats on the go. The Fitbit website provides a personalized dashboard that shows you all of your stats for that day, and you can even input how much water you drank for the day and what you ate. It’s all really high-tech and cool to see! Here, take a look — this is a screenshot of my stats for this past Sunday:

What do I love about the Fitbit?

  • Cool colors
  • Easy to wear
  • Tracker is super small and lightweight, and is easily interchangeable between bands
  • Measures how many steps you take — great for a mom like me who spends much of her time chasing around a precocious toddler!
  • Measures your sleep
  • Measures your lightly active, moderately active, and very active minutes
  • Has a website with a Dashboard and app for other devices that shows your stats for the day
  • Features charts so you can compare how active your days were
  • Offers a vibrating “silent” alarm to wake you without disturbing your partner, or as a reminder during the day to get your workout in

Of course, it’s not all perfect — I didn’t expect it to be. So what don’t I love about Fitbit?

  • Doesn’t measure heart rate
  • Wristbands can sometimes be a bit difficult to close
  • Take some getting used to if you don’t frequently wear bracelets or a watch
  • Sleep tracker doesn’t always work — I put it in sleep mode at bedtime, and when I wake up in the morning and tap it to put it in active mode it goes into sleep mode again

So would I recommend the Fitbit Flex? Sure! After the initial adjustment period of wearing something you’re not accustomed to on your wrist, you get used to it and forget it’s there much of the time. Plus, it tells me how many steps I’ve taken on any given day and then calculates the distance that number of steps translates to. It’s really surprising to look at the end of the day and see that I’ve walked several miles without even realizing it. The one thing I miss the most is the heart rate monitor; I’d like to know how hard my heart is working when I’m doing a real workout without having to stop and check my pulse, and the Fitbit Flex doesn’t provide that information. Can I live without that feature? While it’d be nice to have, yes, I can get by without it.

Do you use any particular device — a Fitbit, a Polar, something else — to help you meet your fitness goals?

  • I’ve always wanted one of these, but had no idea which one to choose. Thanks for reviewing this! I want this to inspire me to get fit once Camdie is a big older. There’s something about tracking your progress that makes things more fun!

  • kpsays

    FINALLY getting to read your post!!! Stats motivate me, so I think I am going to invest in the Fitbit. My only concern is that I do barre workouts, and lift weights, so I don’t want to get bummed that it isn’t tracking those workouts and giving me the gratification that I so crave! I am a runner, but take July and August off because it’s just too dang hot here in Georgia to run. I was debating between a Polar, Fitbit, and the Jawbone device. What to do, what to do???

  • readathomemama

    You can actually input your workouts through the app! The Fitbit itself will track your “very active” minutes, steps taken, and calories burned, but you can input the times you started and stopped exercising and (I think) what type of exercise you did. I haven’t actually used that feature yet, though I don’t know why — I tend toward Zumba which can be measured in steps, but I should probably log the workouts too. I can’t speak to the Jawbone, but I can say that if you choose to go with the Polar, get a small pedometer that you can clip to your clothes to track your steps, too. You might be surprised by how many steps you take during the day!