First Two Weeks with the Fitbit Flex

21 May

Preface

I’ve been intrigued by activity trackers for a little over a year now.  I purchased the Fitbit Flex two weeks ago and have been pretty much in love with it, so I decided to share my thoughts and experiences so far.  If you don’t know what a Fitbit is, find out here!  If you’re interested in comparing Fitbit trackers to the Nike Fuelband, Jawbone UP, and the BodyMedia FIT Link, you should check out this review – it helped me a lot when I was originally doing my research.

New toy!

New toy!

How It Fits In My Life

I’m a runner (derrrrrrrrrp, obviously) and am very intrinsically motivated to run.  I am also very intrinsically motivated to eat all the ribs and drink all the beer, and to not budge an inch once I am home from work and I consider my day to be over.  These are the things I want to work on.  And while I know that I don’t need a $100 device to help me with that, well, I really like gadgets, ok?  See: my Garmin Forerunner 405 obsession.

Removable tracker next to the wristband.

Removable tracker next to the wristband.

What I Like

  • Sleep tracking:  By far, my favorite feature.  Tap it 5 times or so when you go to bed, repeat when you wake up.  I thought that I was consistently logging almost 9 hours of sleep a night – turns out in actuality, it’s more like 7.5.  This is definitely something I can work on.  It also shows you restless periods during the night to help you gauge quality of sleep.  I’m not entirely sure what to do with this information, but it is interesting.
  • Water resistant:  This little guy is wearable all the time, even in the shower, and is water resistant up to 10m.  This will be even more excellent once the weather turns and the amount of time I spend in the lake is increased by at least 47%.  This is the biggest feature that made me choose the Flex over the One – I want it to be on my body at all times and be able to forget about it.
  • Battery Life:  I’ve had it for two weeks and I’ve charged it once.  Amazing.
  • Vibrating Goal Alert:  I have it set on the default goal of 10,000 steps and when I meet that for the day, the wristband buzzes.  I love it – it’s like a little pat on the back at a random moment during the day.
  • App/Dashboard Layout:  It’s a really well-done user interface; it presents the information overview in a pleasant, easy to read form and I love the “Hooray!” messages that pop up when you reach each goal for the day.
  • Accuracy (distance):  I did a little test to measure the out-of-the-box accuracy.  I hopped out of bed and went for a run immediately using my Garmin.  GPS measured 5.6 miles, the Fitbit measured 5.5.  I was more than satisfied with that.  However, if yours isn’t as accurate as you’d like, you can update your walking and running stride measurement in the settings – definitely a plus.
  • Accuracy (activity/steps):  The tracker uses an accelerometer and an algorithm to determine step count.  However, if you were to shake your hand up and down a bunch of times, sure – it’d measure those as steps.  Wearing the tracker on your non-dominant hand reduces this.  It also isn’t going to measure any activity that doesn’t involve swinging your arm – elliptical, biking, yoga, etc.  You can manually add in these activities in the web interface or through the app.  This doesn’t bother me and I knew what to expect going in – I’m also not super obsessed about calorie counts, though.  If this sounds like it would bother you, you should probably look into a heart rate monitor.  I find my tracker to be accurate enough for my uses.
  • Wristband design:  The band itself is incredibly minimalistic and blends into every outfit I’ve worn so far.  Granted, I work in an office where the dress code is somewhere between casual to business casual, but I think it would work just fine in a more formal environment.
I was very restless last night, apparently.

I was very restless last night, apparently.

Look how awesome I was on Friday!

Look how awesome I was on Friday!

Room for Improvement

  • Food database:  The database native to the app doesn’t seem very comprehensive.  I’ve heard that you can sync the Fitbit app with MyFitnessPal or LoseIt (possibly some others, too?) but I haven’t bothered.  I’m really bad at logging food in general so maybe this is more a flaw with me than with the app itself.
  • Custom goals:  It isn’t readily apparent to me how to add a custom goal – and maybe the answer is that you just can’t.  For instance, one thing I’d really like to keep track of is water consumed (I’m always dehydrated.  Always.  It’s just a fact.) and even though I can log it and see it on the food log page, I’d like to be able to pull that information out into a tile on the dashboard.

Overall

Like I said, I’ve been loving this thing – it helps me make better small decisions during the day, like taking the dog for an additional walk, using the water fountain that’s further away from my cube, parking away from the door at the grocery store.  It actually reminds me to do my strength training and stretching each night, and if I blow it off, I have to own up to that the next time I sign in.  When I’d really like an IPA and a bag of popcorn for dinner, it makes me actually think about and process that choice.  (And sometimes it is absolutely the right choice.)  In general, it’s helping me to be a little bit more healthy in all the non-running aspects of my life, which should in turn help me become a better runner.  Will I get tired of it eventually?  Maybe.  But for now, it’s a welcome addition to my life.

 

Do you have a Fitbit or another activity tracker?  Any thoughts?  Wanna be Fitbit friends?!

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7 Responses to “First Two Weeks with the Fitbit Flex”

  1. jenbigham May 21, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    Oh my goodness, I’m so glad you posted this. I have a family member who is VERY obsessed with fitbit. Must talk to you more! I’m emailing you. hopefully I get your email address correct!

  2. outside time (@itsoutsidetime) May 22, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    I’m just glad to know I’m not the only one who goes to sleep at 9:30!

    • upstaterunner May 22, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

      Hahaha, right back at ya! I need my shut-eye, what can I say 🙂

  3. Laura May 22, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    You make me want to try this thing SOOOOO bad. I would love something like that to track everything for me, that’s the numbers nerd part of me. I really like that it tracks sleep and how restless you were, but I can totally see myself forgetting to tap it when I go to bed or wake up…that would take some time for me to get used to.

    • upstaterunner May 22, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

      I thought it would be hard to get used to also, but I think the new-ness of it is helping me to remember maybe? It’d be great if it could automatically sense that you were snoozing though.

  4. HollieisFueledByLOLZ May 22, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    I agree with everyone. This seems really cool and I honestly hadn’t even heard of it until now and wow. I’m so impressed! I’ve always wondered about sleeping. I think you’ve sold me with this review LOL.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Staying Motivated Through Injury | UpstateRunner - January 29, 2014

    […] have previously raved about my Fitbit Flex, but I have to say – here I am, almost a year later, still going strong.  That’s as […]

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