By Falon Sweeney
Just yesterday as my barre class was beginning, looking around the room, I counted at least seven of my 20 fellow classmates with some sort of fitness tracker, smart watch, or heart rate monitor strapped to their wrists. Since when did we decide to become so hyper aware and obsessive about our bodies’ energy expenditure – even in a 50-minute barre class where the object is not necessarily to torch calories, but to tone, lengthen, and strengthen our muscles to fatigue? Recently, more than ever, it feels as though the fitness industry is pushing the need for these activity trackers, but the question is – do we really need all the data that these trackers provide?
Now, I’d be a walking hypocrite if I told you I thought these activity trackers were totally bogus, because, anyone who knows me even remotely well would tell you that my FitBit and I are practically inseparable. Yeah, I even wear it out to the bar and I’m not ashamed. Gotta log all those dance moves, ya dig?
So yeah, you could say my FitBit is my guilty pleasure. There’s something about knowing my sleep patterns, how many steps it takes me to get to class, or my average resting heart rate, all with one tap on the wrist that really just gets me going. To some, it sounds ridiculous, but to other data-whores and avid goal setters like myself, it literally does help us sleep better at night, knowing the best window of time to wake up in the morning to avoid grogginess. Oh, and did I mention you can challenge any of your friends that have a FitBit to a little healthy competition? Ideal for all my fellow competitive folks out there…
I could talk all day about how much I loooooove my FitBit and how it instantly syncs with My FitnessPal, and how awesome it is that I can see in real time how many calories I’m burning; however, not without acknowledging that it is a little strange knowing all these hard numbers about my body’s performance, when in reality, our bodies don’t even know what a calorie is. Yep, that’s right; a calorie is just a measure of energy determined by science. Our bodies really only know the difference between hungry and full, healthy and sick, and tired and well-rested. However, modern technology has allowed us the opportunity to optimize our health and athletic performance, all based on a few numbers. That’s pretty cool. Now, I’m not saying that running out to the nearest City Sports or Best Buy and buying one of these devices will revolutionize your fitness routine or be a quick-fix to weight loss, because it certainly is not. But, if you have even been remotely curious about how active you really are, sitting in that cubicle from 9-5, an activity tracker will tell you just that; and, it’s a sure fire way to motivate yourself to get up and move more.
- FitBit vs. Jawbone? FitBit all the way. I got my first FitBit during summer 2013 but the band broke (womp womp). I carried around the little piece that fits inside the band for a whole two weeks before it was lost and gone forever. I took a little hiatus from the trackers and used a step counter on my iPhone, but it just was not the same. I caved and went for the Jawbone UP because it was on sale and, to be honest, I didn’t love it. It served its purpose, but having to constantly plug it into my headphone jack instead of it automatically updating via bluetooth was definitely an inconvenience. But as soon as the FitBit Charge HR ($150) was released, I ditched my Jawbone and am totally satisfied. There’s no removable piece to lose – you just plug in the band to charge it, about every five days. Jawbone makes a similar version, The UP3, but for $180. Long story short, if you’re going to make the investment and want the HR technology, go for the FitBIt.
- Do I really need real time HR monitoring? The heart rate technology is definitely cool, and eliminates the need to wear a separate HR monitor and strap. But if barre, pilates, and yoga are your activities of choice, you probably don’t need it. But, if you’re a HB regular and are curious about how hard you’re actually working and if you could see more results by pushing just a little bit harder – consider it. Sometimes just seeing that little number pop up on my wrist is enough to make me tap it back just a little bit farther. The HR technology is also great because it makes your daily calorie burn more accurate.
- Are there any other brands worth considering? I’ve never tried the Nike FuelBand or any other brands, but from personal experience and doing my research, FitBit and Jawbone are for sure the top two contenders. If you use another brand of tracker, let us know your experience in the comments!
So, there you have it, HBers – insider insight from an activity-tracking junkie! Whether you decide to hop on the tracking bandwagon or not, try not to take it too seriously. When we say everything in moderation, fitness tracking is no exception. Don’t let a few numbers take the fun out of your workouts, because at the end of the day, enjoying your workout is the most important part. See you in the saddle, with or without that FitBit!