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Fitbit Flex according to a real life PT

01 Dec 2014

Sarahsfit(bit)aye

I was lucky enough to receive a Fitbit earlier this year for my birthday, and I pretty much didn’t take it off for about 6 months. I’m a little obsessed with fitness, as I’m sure most people who such a product is aimed at are. I had been previously regaled with tales of its glory from the very friend who gifted it to me, so it was pretty much my favourite toy for the better part of 2014.

To start with, its super easy to use. I’m borderline disabled when it comes to technology and generally need help for embarrassingly simple tasks, so this was an important feature. Once you’ve registered the Fitbit as your own via a simple procedure involving the Fitbit plug in thingy and the plug in hole on your computer, you’re ready to install the app and immerse yourself in the wondrous world of Fitbit… once you’ve charged the device for several hours. (Why does nothing ever come charged?! Do the technology maker people not realise that everyone is busting to use their iphone/ipod/fitbit/whatever before it’s even out of its wrapping? Someone should tell them.)

Let’s assume you’re the patient type and have been using this time productively to install and get your head around the Fitbit app. This is easy as too, and displays the various stats your new tracking device, well, tracks. Let's talk about these, and what I thought of them.

So first off is my favourite, the pedometer. I have got into arguments with people over its accuracy, and to this day the topic is a sore point. I believe it to be fairly accurate. This is because I have literally walked whilst staring at the app on my phone and counted my steps along with it. So there.

You set yourself a daily goal (it automatically comes set at 10,000 steps) and once you have reached this you are rewarded with an excited green smiley and a congratulatory notification. If you’re as cool as me, this will prompt an excited YUSSSS and fist pump. Please note that no, the pedometer does not register cycling. Sad face.

However there is another function where you can programme in extra physical activity you have done. I found this to be a bit annoying actually and didn’t really use it, as you have to search for the activity and some real basic ones (like cycling) didn’t actually register which was a bit dumb. If you don’t cycle you will not care about this at all and will probably find this function useful.

I wouldn’t rely too much on the amount of calories it says you’re burning whilst doing these extra activities though. As the Fitbit doesn’t have a heart rate monitor option (yet), it really has no idea how hard you are working. For example you could put in that you’d done a boxing session for 45 minutes. You might be massively tired and lazy that day and perform at around 50%. The Fitbit can’t register your laziness and would probably reward you with a massive 800 calories burnt, which would be a load of rubbish. Here’s where your own honesty comes into play. Remember, if you lie to your Fitbit you are only lying to yourself.

You can be super OCD and enter all the water you drink and the food you eat throughout the day, for which the Fitbit will calculate your calorie intake. That’s if it has the food you’re eating in its database (like the cycling issue). Personally I avoided this function as I have the tendency of getting a bit too preoccupied with food and I didn’t think this was a healthy option for me. If you are a calorie counter or on some kind of eating plan though, I think this would work really well and tie in nicely with your fitness regime.

I like the recognition that nutrition and exercise go hand in hand so big tick for this function despite not using it regularly myself. Same also goes for the sleep tracker. I successfully used this application when I was having trouble sleeping, just to see actually how often I was waking up at night. Lots, it turned out. Didn’t help me sleep better of course but at least I could confirm that I was sleeping poorly.

An additional function allows you to use a vibration from the wristband as an alarm, which you programme in through the app. I prefer to be woken abruptly from a loud repetitive noise but whatever.

I’ve heard boasts of other fitness-trackers superiority due to having an actual display screen. Personally, I liked that the Fitbit doesn’t have one. It means that the wristband itself is smaller and you don’t get people asking if you’re on home detention. Also it meant I could wear my watch at the same time, much to my boyfriend’s embarrassment.

Everything you need to know is displayed clearly on the app, and if you’re a normal person your phone is never further than a hand’s reach away so it’s really not an issue. Needing a pedometer reading displayed on your wrist so you don’t have to reach into your pocket seems ridiculously lazy. It’s a FITness device people.

*Sarah Florence is a personal trainer based in Melbourne. You can read more of her fitness insights here or check her out on Facebook.

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