Fitness trackers are fairly abundant these days. Watches, phone apps, clips; there’s a quite a lot of choice available to anyone wanting something to keep track of their activity.
But why use one, and who are they targeted towards?
Well, there are varying levels of what fitness monitoring technology can do. On one side of the scale you have the top end GPS training devices like Garmin or TomTom. Devices tailored towards specific sports and high levels of activity. They can tell you pace, cadence, heart rate, elevation, improvements in performance and even give you a training plan. They’re products designed for athletes, or at least people hoping to be athletes.
But not everyone has aspirations of being an athlete. Not everyone cares about improving their cadence to shave two seconds off their PB in a 5k road race.
There are a lot of phone apps put there that measure performance. Things like Strava or Nike+ for athletes or Lifelog for general activity tracking. And for the most part their perfect at what they do. The problem is that you have to carry your phone around with you, and when you’ve got an app running most of the time it’ll see your battery off pretty sharpish.
Here’s where entry-level fitness trackers come in. A device designed to measure day-to-day physical activity 24/7 to give a full overview of your lifestyle and the fitness elements surrounding it. Things like walking, sleeping and eating.
Up until now we’ve never really had an opportunity to test a fitness tracker. If you’re the kind of person who goes to the gym a lot, runs throughout the week and has a high level of athletic activity, a fitness tracker offers a relatively two-dimensional overview of what you’re actually doing.
If however you’re not precious about those few second gains in a triathlon, then a fitness tracker may be perfect for you to keep track of your physical activity.
As we mentioned earlier we’ve never had a real opportunity to test a fitness tracker simply because we want more from our fitness tracking. However when we were offered the chance to test out the new Fitbug a perfect opportunity arose where we could really see if it was any good.
For two weeks we would be InterRailling across Europe. No gym, no marathons, no HIIT classes. Just us walking around, looking at things and relaxing.
But even though we were on holiday, we still wanted to make sure we were staying active. We decided that our only form of exercise over the fortnight would be walking, so we needed to make sure we weren’t getting lazy. Enter Fitbug.
As fitness trackers go the Fitbug is one-off the most reasonably priced at £50. It offers a range of activity tracking functions covering walking and anaerobic walking (anything over… Of consistent movement meaning you’re burning fat as opposed to care), sleep, diet as well as goal tracking, if you’re using it to lose weight. Cue, Fitbug.
Our aim wasn’t weight related. We simply wanted to set ourselves a goal of maintaining a daily level of walking activity of over 26,000 steps, which for us, based on height, was around 10 km. As well as see how well we slept over the course of the trip.
The Fitbug is essentially a small pebble shapes circle that contains the tracking mechanics along with a battery. It comes with two methods of carrying the device; a wrist strap and a clip which you can attach anywhere you want. We used the wrist strap. When you’re carrying a big rucksack a clip is likely to be knocked off at some point.
We wore the Fitbug for the whole two week trip. The strap was pretty unnoticeable and save for a couple of times where we pulled something out of our bag too quickly, it stayed on for the duration.
The operating system is ridiculously simple with a single button turning on and off Bluetooth connectivity and sleep mode. That’s pretty much it. It didn’t take long to grasp.
The Fitbug connect via Bluetooth to an app on a smart phone (Apple or Android) which is as equally simple. Once a night we turned the app on and pressed to button on the Fitbug and our stats were downloaded.
To track sleep you simply press the button three times in quick succession and the mode is activated. Them when you wake up you just turn it off. Or it’ll do it automatically if you walk over 50 steps, cleverly assuming that you’re no longer asleep.
So how does the tracking hold up? Well, we overshot our target every day on the first week, which was nice and gave us a nice sense of fitness achievement leaving us to enjoy our trip. On the one day we didn’t hit our target we just went out for another walk, which was nice as we were in Cannes.
As for the sleep monitor, it shows you moments of activity during the night. So if you’re a light sleeper or things keep waking you up, say, if you’re in a hotel with a stag party in the room next door, then you can see how long you were awake for. Which is useful if you’re feeling tired throughout the day.
If you are planning to use the weight goal function then you just need to input your weight every day along with whatever calories you’re eating. It’ll let you know if you’re on track, which is handy.
For £50 it’s a great little piece of kit. Simple, comfortable and an effective way to keep track of your day-to-day goings on. It also acts as a nice reminder if you’ve become more inactive and wondering why you’re not hitting your goals.
To get hold of a Fitbug head over to the website here.