Youniverse Contributor Katrina Plyer
Some of the fastest-growing trends in the fitness world are trackers or wearables. We are in the age of using technology for instant feedback and fitness trackers are becoming more affordable and advanced. If you are ready to purchase a new fitness wearable to use in the gym, here are 4 things to consider before buying.
- Determine what you want to track. Look at your fitness goals: Identify if you want to become faster, stronger, more efficient, lose fat, gain muscle, or improve your distance running. It is easy to get caught up in the eye-candy on the wrists of people in your favorite gym. Be sure to get a tracker that meets your needs.
- Choose a band that is comfortable and durable. If your tracker is uncomfortable or too bulky, chances are you won’t use it for very long. If you are looking for a heart-rate model, think carefully about chest strap models. The best option, whether it is worn on the chest, wrist, or arm is the band you will want to wear.
- Choose a band that is compatible with your device. Some trackers are not compatible with smartphones and must be synced to a computer. You want to choose a tracker that will work with your current device, but also with your future device if you foresee a device operating system change. Most new trackers are iOS and android compatible, but read the fine print to be sure.
- Choose a tracker that syncs automatically or easily. This feature is almost a requirement. Older models utilize USB cords to transfer data to a computer. After a long day and workout, it may be hard to remember to plug in your tracker to sync data. The point of using a tracker is to get current feedback and use that information to reach health goals. Most new models use Bluetooth® technology to automatically sync data to your device or to sync easily with the push of a button.
If you are a beginner, all the bells and whistles can be overwhelming. Data overload may lead to the tracker staying home instead of on you. Here are a few easy-to-use trackers that are beneficial to beginners but are still stylish and functional for all-day use.
This everyday activity tracker keeps up with steps, distance, calories, floors climbed, and active minutes. Worn on the wrist, the user can change the display with one button and can set the “home” screen using the settings on the smartphone app. The Charge automatically syncs to the app using Bluetooth® technology, has a 7-day battery life and is compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows devices. The Fitbit Charge is $130. For $20 more, the upgrade to the Fitbit Charge HR will include all day heart-rate monitoring which will allow more precise caloric burn.
The Move wrist model tracks steps, distance, calories, and sleep. Unique to the Jawbone are the Smart Coach and Activity Tracking features. The user can log different workout types to get the full picture of activity by logging actual active time. This provides more detailed caloric burn which is highly motivating feedback. The Jawbone Move syncs automatically to Android and iOS devices and has a 7-day battery life. The more advanced Jawbone Up3 boasts sensors to monitor heart rate. The Up Move retails at $50 and the Up3 is $180.
Garmin Vivofit 2
With a one-year battery life and Bluetooth® sync, the Vivofit is perfect for gym members. It tracks steps, distance, sleep, and calories. It also has a move bar to signal sedentary activity and it allows the user to set a Personalized Daily Goal. The 2 model syncs automatically to iOS or Android devices and includes an activity timer which is great for gym group classes. It has a retail price of $130.
Retailing for $50, this is a very accurate measure of steps, distance, sleep, and activity including spinning and swimming. The face is a series of lights, not a display. The Flash comes with a fitness wristband and clip so you can put it on your shoe for spinning. It tracks activity, but gives an “active point” score in addition to steps, calories and distance. The battery lasts approximately 6 months, which is an advantage for those who want basic tracking without having to remember to charge every few days.
The Atlas Wristband is a fitness tracker that identifies your exercises, counts your reps, calculates your calories burned and evaluates your form. As stated on their site, “The Atlas Wristband is smart enough to tell the difference between push-ups and triangle push-ups. Our machine learning algorithms can intelligently detect and track exercises in 3D effortlessly. Atlas motion detection utilizes aircraft grade sensors to map out your body’s motions. Imagine a painted dot on your wrist that leaves a 3D trail as you move. We track this trail – a kind of inertial sensor fingerprint – and assign it to the correct exercise from our exercise database. From there, your Atlas Wristband communicates with your mobile Atlas Wearables app to relay the analytics that matter most to you.” This is a new wearable and will be released in early Summer with retail price $249.00.
This is not an actual wearable, but it is specifically designed for use in strength workouts in or out of the gym. This is small unit that measures body fat composition in various muscles that provide real time feedback on a completed workout. It will give an MQ score. MQ is muscle quality based on muscle fiber size. A higher MQ score means a leaner muscle group and decreasing body fat. It uses thousands of data points on 24 muscle groups, measured in 4 areas: biceps, triceps, abs, and quads. The reviews from this have been extremely impressive. Again, this is not an everyday tracker to measure steps, distance, or calories. The purpose of this small unit is to measure the slightest improvements in muscle growth and fat loss. The Sculpt Aim retails at $199.
No matter which fitness tracker or tech wearable you choose, the key is to wear it consistently and apply the feedback. Pick a model that fits your style, preferences, and information needs and use the results to take your fitness to the next level. Beginners and advanced athletes can benefit from the latest fitness technology options. Keep healthy and happy!
**Precision Performance Trackers are available for those with a bigger budget who desire more complex monitoring and an abundance of data feedback. Several options for advanced fitness trackers are due to release later in 2015. The Sculpt Aim is available in the US now. The Atlas is available for pre-order for early Summer 2015.