Right. Previously, I’ve vehemently swerved the fitness tracker bandwagon. “I know I’m relatively fit,” I’d scoff. “I don’t need a chunky watch to tell me I’m doing ok.”
But then I got the envy because the world and his wife had a bloody step-county, sleep-tracky timepiece on their non-dominant wrist. I put the feelers out on my personal Facebook page, and opinions were completely divided between the Fitbit and the Apple Watch. I’d saved up a few pennies so if I absolutely stretched it, I could afford an Apple – but they are pretty heavy dollar. When I started looking at different specs and thinking about what I actually needed it to do, I decided the Fitbit Blaze was the boy for me.
Dear Reader, I LOVE him.
I got him for the handsome sum of £129.99 in the cheapest colour option available, once I realised that I could snap the watch itself into different straps and frames (er, I appear to have spent a small fortune on those in my quest for perfection, but let’s not discuss). Once I’d given him an initial charge, he was an absolute piece of piss to set up. I downloaded the app to my iPhone, turned on Bluetooth so that it could pair with my device, and then it pretty much sorted itself out.
The watch itself has good functionality in terms of settings, but the app is where it’s at. From there, you can plug in all of your vital stats, tell it what your priorities are (e.g. steps, calories burned, amount of exercise per week), and find friends within the Fitbit community to share progress with.
After I’d carried the essential task of choosing the most aesthetically pleasing display style, Blaze and I began our blissful journey into sweet, statistical ecstasy. A few weeks in, here’s my lowdown of the amazing, the pretty good, and the could-be-better.
I love it!
- Yeah, so basically Blaze thinks I’m brilliant. When I first set up my watch, I tapped in my target steps, floors climbed, calories burned, and exercise time. When I hit those, everything on the screen goes all green and “well done girlfriend” on my bad ass. Look:
- The app has a tile that captures all of your heart rate information. It works out your average resting rate compared to your activity, and gives you a cardio fitness score. Mine is (drumroll) in the ‘Excellent’ category for my gender and age bracket, which is reassuring as I work bloody hard on my overall fitness.
- I’m shit when I’m at work. I usually walk for the bulk of my lunch hour, but often I can sit at my desk for two hours without even going for a wee. So, I told the app that on my work days, I wanted to walk 250 steps every hour, and I wanted reminders if I was falling short of the target. It just pulls your conscious state away from the computer and gently nudges you to get the hell up and move. I know, we shouldn’t need an app to tell us this – but I do. So I let it.
- Every mode on the app comes with some sort of clever stats wizardry, where your readings are plotted onto a graph. But, more than that, it gives actual context to your results and explains what they mean, and why they’re so important. It’s an education, I tell thee.
That’s pretty cool!
- The sleep tracker blew my mind. I don’t know how, but it can tell when you’re just slobbing about on the sofa as opposed to when you’re actually asleep. All to do with the heart rate, I guess – but it’s so clever. You can tell it your ideal sleep hours and your nightly sleep target, and in the morning you just run a quick sync and it pulls up your stats from the night. The app will show you how long you spent in each sleep stage, how many minutes you were awake, and how this compares to previous nights. Upshot: I sleep for 7 hours a night, and I’m usually awake for about an hour of those. I spend below the average amount of minutes in the deep sleep stage and too long in light sleep. I’m shit at sleep, basically.
- As well as tracking food (see section below), you can use the app to record how much fluid you’re taking on. It’s as easy as tapping the cup or bottle symbol on the screen, and onto your tally it goes.
Er, you what?
- Spinning is probably my favourite exercise alongside running, and I do two classes a week plus some extra jiggery pokery on the spin bikes as part of my own workout. Blaze has a SmartTrack exercise detection system which will automatically recognise when you’re doing certain things, but the list is a bit limited. It has running and walking on there, for example, but the only cycling option is an outdoor bike ride. Now, you can input spinning as a type of exercise that you’d like to log, but that’s basically just a category selection rather than knowing the ins and outs of the activity. So, when I did my first spin class using the watch, I didn’t manually tell Blaze that I was exercising. Instead, he auto-detected that I was doing something, but categorised it as walking. The cheek of it! I go fucking fast on those bikes!
- This is the very short version of a long and grim story: I don’t weigh myself. My GP weighs me once a year as part of my pill check and that’s plenty for me. So I know roughly how much timber I’m carrying, and I know that it’s absolutely healthy and fine. So my weight is in my stats, but it’s not connected to any goals or tracking. Anyway, when I was lording it about because of my superb cardio fit rating (see “love” section), the app asked me: “Would you like to know how to boost your cardio fit score even more?” Yes please Blaze – you are king. You tell me, and I’ll do it. “Lose 4lb”. What? No. I don’t want weight stuff from you, Blaze. Piss off. We didn’t speak for a few hours after that.
- You can use the app to track food and calories, but it seems like a massive faff. Maybe it gets easier as it starts to recognise the foods you eat, but I had to search for every single component of every meal and it was painful. Type in “salmon” and you get allllll the supermarket variants of allllll the salmon: just doing one day took me forever. The plus is that it breaks down your carbohydrate, protein and fat intake into percentages and grams, but to me it’s not worth the hassle.
So – if you’re debating whether to get a tracker, my advice would be DO IT. It depends what your core use for it would be as to which end of the market you plump for, but hand on tracked heart, it’s the best purchase I’ve made in years.
-SJW August 2017