Reviewing a fitness tracker seems like a stretch for me. I can honestly say that this little black band has quickly become one of my favourite things. I won it from Vancouver Is Awesome and Telus (thanks again!) about a month ago. Since then I have become obsessed with step counts, distances, staircases, caloric intake, and sleep patterns. More on that later.
The Charge HR is a minimalist fitness band with a built in heart rate sensor. It has a rechargeable battery that lasts 5 days according to Fitbit but I’ve found that 3-4 days is more accurate. I charge it every day while I’m in the shower so I don’t ever worry about battery life. It tracks steps, heart rate, distance, calories burned, and stories climbed. It also shows the time and displays incoming calls from your smartphone via Bluetooth.
It’s comfortable to wear but the bump on the back of the watch face that contains the heart rate monitor takes some getting used to. There have been many reports of Fitbits causing skin irritation and I can verify that this has happened to me. The thing about fitness trackers is that you wear them 24/7 unlike a watch which you would most likely remove nightly. Keeping the Charge HR and other Fitbits clean is important and helps minimize irritation.
The step counter is pretty accurate based on random manual step counting. I’ve found a variation of +/- 2% based on daily checks over the first 2 weeks with the Charge HR.
The heart rate monitor is similarly accurate for moderate activity but high intensity exercise isn’t its strong suit. For those that need a heart rate monitor for serious workouts nothing beats a chest strap. I’ve found that my heart rate is much better than I thought it would be given my fairly sedentary lifestyle. 59-62 beats per minute resting and my recovery time after being active is faster than I would’ve guessed.
So… the device itself is pretty good. Is it the best? I have no idea as I’ve never used a fitness tracker before. What I can tell you is that the social aspect of Fitbit is what won me over. The mobile app is outstanding. It syncs with your smartphone and gives you all the info on your Fitbit plus sleep tracking and meal tracking with an extensive database of food as well as bar code scanning. You can add friends from your favourite social networks or from your contact list. There are challenges like the Workweek Hustle and the Weekend Warrior which pit you against your friends to see who can get the most steps.
In the last month I have lost nearly 20 pounds, dropped one pant size and I’ve had to add new holes to a couple of belts. The Fitbit isn’t what made this happen, I am what made this happen. The Fitbit and their great little app have been my motivation. The daily and weekly challenges against my friends have motivated me. The banter between us when someone has a big daily step total pushes me to get off my ass and move.
I’ve started walking the Stanley Park Seawall weekly plus another 4-5km in the downtown core in addition to my daily goal of 10000 steps and 8km. I’m mad when I don’t get to 10000 steps in a day and I’ll often go for walks in the evening if I feel like I’m not going to reach my target. Most days I’m over that target before the end of my workday.
Sleep tracking has shown me that I sleep better than most (if Facebook statuses about tired people are any indication). 6.5-7 hours a night during the week 7-8 on the weekends with minimal restlessness and awake time. Not bad for a guy with a 6 year old daughter who likes to wake up early.
The meal tracking within the app has transformed the way I eat. Some days I found I wasn’t eating enough and that can be almost as bad as eating too much if you’re trying to get fit.
The Fitbit Charge HR has been a wonderful addition to my daily routine. I can’t wait to see where it pushes me over the coming months. Is it perfect? No, but nothing is. It isn’t particularly attractive but it isn’t hideous either. Overall I’m very impressed with it, the app, and what it’s motivated me to try and become (a healthy person…).