Fitness Trackers: Taking Over the Fitness World, One Wristband at a Time
Fitness trackers are all the new craze, helping users to stay motivated through various products and apps to keep you on the move. With so many products on the market, it seems a bit daunting as to which device to go for. Luckily, we have rounded up some of the top fitness trackers available in South Africa, with a list of their pros and cons to make your decision making process a little easier.
Fitness Trackers That We Back
Fitbit is probably the most well known name in the realm of fitness trackers, duly so, due to their extensive ranges, styles and general offerings – there is a perfect Fitbit just for you. Fitbit pioneered the market and is still the leading provider in these neat little inventions.
Tracker: Charge 2
The Charge range is Fitbits best selling tracker – and the Charge 2 combines the best features of both the Charge and Charge HR, allowing the best user experience. Apart from the basic activity management features, the new addition includes a built in heart rate monitor, as well as a larger display, which allows for greater at-a-glance information gathering. There are multi sports modes available on the Charge 2 for accurate post workout results, which are all recorded and measurable on the nifty Fitbit app. Basic notifications from your smartphone can also be read off the screen, which is a huge plus.
Fitbit is well known for having really nice band designs and quite an extensive range, which makes the fact that the bands are interchangeable, so great as you can dress your Fitbit to your liking according to the occasion. The Charge 2 is more than just a tracker, it’s beneficial for mind as well as the body. The Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights features allow you to track your sleep, while Breathe mode helps you relax and acts as a stress regulator through breathing practices in tune with your heart rate.
There are honestly very few cons with the Fitbit. The brand is consistently working on flaws and tweaking design to create a better user experience, however there are some noted downfalls. The built-in GPS has always been a bit of an issue surrounding the Fitbit ranges, and appears to still be relatively problematic with the Charge 2. However, connected GPS that uses your phone is available if you want to map your routes, although this is inconvenient.
Some find this range slightly bulky, so for the fashion-conscious users, the Alta might be a better option – this still has most of the features that the Charge 2 has, just sleeker and slimmer. The Charge 2 also isn’t waterproof, which eliminates swimmers from using this range, but again Fitbit accommodates swimmers with their Flex range, however also annoying to have to take off for showering.
In summary, the pros most certainly outweigh the cons for this one. Even if there are minor downfalls with the Charge 2, Fitbit makes up for it with their extensive offerings well-suited to everyone’s sporting and stylish needs.
The Apple Watch is another leading force in the fitness realm, more famously known though for its Smartwatch capabilities and recognition as the ‘mini iPhone’. This is a more simplified tracker compared to the Fitbit and other trackers, however still encapsulates the essential activity management features. Empty out your pockets though folks, because these bad boys aint cheap.
Tracker: Apple Watch 3
The Apple Watch is unequivocally stylish, modern and just plain cool. As a smartwatch, it’s primary function is acting in conjunction with the iPhone, so an array of cool apps that you find on your iPhone are available to you in a small digital square on your wrist. Stream music, call your pals, or check your emails and Whatsapps while you’re on the go – just try not to tumble on the treadmill. The activity app allows users to monitor their steps, calories burned and heart rate – offering the basics of fitness tracking.
The Watch 3 has a very clever interface and multiple features that make it the most customisable and personal gadget yet, with over 70 styles, sizes and colours to choose from. It’s waterproof, so you can take it swimming or in the shower, and it’s compatible with numerous fitness apps such as Strava, Runtastic, Gymatic, Runkeeper and Gymaholic. The Watch 3 is now equipped to even have its own 4G network so you don’t need your phone at all to communicate, the ultimate convenience.
Like many Apple products, the battery life is problematic to say the least. The average lifespan of this device is about one day if you’re lucky – this is worse if you have the GPS enabled and are utilising the other apps as well as your fitness features. It also sports a hefty price tag. Additionally, you can immediately cull half the market, as Android users are unable to use this product – iPhones only kids.
All in all, the Apple Watch is great – it’s incomparable in terms of its stylish design and seamless interface. Although it’s not the most comprehensive fitness tracker, it still offers all the essential activity measures that you need, and is perfectly compatible with a number of other fitness apps besides its own. However, the price tag on this luxurious convenience companion is quite hard to justify for most people, and unless you are an Apple supporter, go big or go home to your android.
Up next: Garmin. This trusted name has been in the biz for a long time, so it’s no surprise that they produce some pretty cool fitness trackers. The health and fitness range of products by Garmin is relatively large, with products dedicated to specific sports such as swimming, running and cycling. We take a look at an offering for those that just want a basic, no-fuss fitness tracker with bang for its buck.
Tracker: VivoFit 4
One year battery life? Take our money! And willingly, because the VivoFit is relatively easy on the wallet. This device offers all the necessary bits, bobs and doodads for a very reasonable price. The tracker measures your steps with Move IQ, which automatically measures your activity without pressing a button. It also records cycle rides and measures sleep patterns. The design is simple and elegant, with a colour screen and slim band making it slightly lighter and more comfortable compared to the other Garmin products. The plastic strap is comfy and easy to clean, and the display screen is easily operational – due to there being one button only.
While there are many other products in the same race for best functional tracker, Garmin stands out for having such a long battery life, which means no fuss of having to take your watch off to charge, and no fear of battery running out before you get to the gym. It’s also waterproof, which broadens the swimmers choice again, hooray!
The VivoFit 4 isn’t a very complex fitness tracker, so for those that are looking to receive more in-depth information on their workouts, a more comprehensive device such as the VivoSmart 3 would be a better buy. The device doesn’t have GPS built in, which means the distance travelled can sometimes be a little off. You can, however, connect with your phone, but this means you have to bring this along with you while you exercise. The Garmin Connect app is a little harder to navigate compared to other fitness apps, more complex for wider use, however, can be a little confusing for users.
Garmin is a well-trusted brand and same can be said with their products. The VivoFit 4 is the perfect fitness tracker for fitness newbies looking for an uncomplicated device to use, without all the extensive data measures, but still covering the basics.
Samsung Gear Fit 2
A slightly more expensive tracker – the Gear Fit 2 is by far the best fitness tracker that Samsung has produced to date. The user experience is seamless, with its smart operating system and vibrant display. This is a really cool fitness tracker with a lot of added features for those looking for a more comprehensive fitness friend.
Tracker: Gear Fit 2
The design of the Gear Fit 2 is modern and smart. The 1.5 inch curved, high-resolution colour display screen is the best you will find on a fitness tracker. The screen is super responsive to your swipes and taps and feels really comfortable on the wrist. Apart from the basic activity measures, it includes GPS for accurate activity tracking, and a barometer to measure stair climbing.
It’s also semi-waterproof, being able to withstand water levels of up to 1.5 metres for 30 minutes, meaning you don’t have to take it off when having your shower, which is a great plus for those of us who forget to put things back on once we’ve taken them off. The Samsung Galaxy app is relatively easy to navigate and is compatible with numerous Android devices, therefore you don’t need a Samsung in order to purchase the Gear Fit 2. In addition to Bluetooth, the system also offers WiFi connectivity and automatically syncs your network details from your smartphone.
Although the Gear Fit 2 is compatible with all android devices, it isn’t pairable with iOs systems, which means iPhones are not included. A minor issue that users find is that the new bodyweight feature, designed to measure other exercises such as star jumps or squats, sometimes doesn’t recognise reps, however, this is different for everyone.
In summary, the Samsung Gear Fit 2 is actually one of the lesser criticised products on the market for fitness trackers. If you are looking for something with a smart display screen similar to that of the apple watch, with the capabilities of the Fitbit, then this is the tracker for you.
The Do Fit includes many of the Fitbit qualities at a fraction of the price, so for those looking for a budget friendly option for their first fitness tracker, this is a good one to start with.
Tracker: Do Fit
This affordable activity tracker has the usual tracking qualities – counting steps, distance measurement, heart rate monitoring, sleep monitoring and SMS/call alerts. It’s compatible as well with numerous fitness apps. It has a really sleek design as well ,which isn’t too bulky like many other trackers, so it actually looks quite nice on. The charging system is pretty neat as well, with a USB charging port you can plug straight into your laptop or any charging outlet, and battery life is a decent 5 days.
Not a lot of cons have come up with this device. The heart rate monitoring system has sometimes given a few complications, but this erratic behaviour comes up with a lot of fitness trackers. The brand only has one device available on the market, so options aren’t very extensive, however this little tracker has all the features you need.
This is probably one of the best fitness trackers you can get on the market today, more so because of the incredibly attractive price for what the product offers. With many similar qualities to Fitbit, this product choice is a no-brainer being so cheap with all the comprehensive add ons and features.
Strava Fitness App
Strava is one of the leading favourite fitness recording apps available to those with a competitive side. The app records and calculates your distance, time, calories, heart rate, elevation gain, and various other components of your workout. In addition to recording your runs and bicycle rides, also allows you to view other people’s workouts along the same course or in the same area as you. This creates a platform where riders are able to compete with one another, which some users love and some hate, however the ability to measure your times against others can be a motivating factor.
The app is free, however, a premium version is available at an extra cost. It has a rich set of features, a great sense of community, and compatible with multiple fitness trackers which means you can leave your phone behind, but for those without fitness trackers, it can also be used with your phone alone.
The information gathered from the community allows you to explore segment in any area near you – which is great if you are traveling or newly relocated. It’s also great for building infrastructure as the app keeps track of the terrain that’s been run/ridden on. This allows users to view where it’s possible to go in ‘unknown’ areas. Strava also detaches the user from maps for those who don’t want to be discoverable or tracked. All in all, Strava is just really fun to use with the added competitive edge that it has.
The privacy settings have had varying questionable reviews amongst users. For novices that don’t understand the functionality of the privacy settings, its possible to publicize personal information on the app – including phone numbers and home addresses – eek! The problem here for users is that they have to actively opt-out of privacy sharing, which should always be an opt-in basis. If you aren’t a competitive person then Strava may not be the app for you.