My Review of the Fitbit Flex

fitbit-flex-review

Two months ago, I purchased a Fitbit Flex for $99.95, strapped it around my wrist and have barely taken it off since (except to go swimming). As soon as I bought it, a few people asked for a review, but it takes time to see if you really like something or not…

Today, I can tell you I love my Fitbit. Since I agree with most of what Krystal wrote in her review, I won’t bother writing a pros/cons list. Instead, I thought I’d explain how I use my Fitbit, so you can imagine how you might too.

Fitbit Features I Love/Use Most Often

Let’s start with my favourite part: the Fitbit app. Besides Twitter, Instagram and email, Fitbit is one of the most-used apps on my iPhone. I like to check on the status of my steps a few times every day, as well as track what I eat, how much water I drink (usually 50-60 oz./day) and how I slept the night before.

When it comes to steps, a healthy goal is apparently 10,000. Do you know how hard it is to reach that goal, when you work from home? It’s nearly impossible. I’ve since adjusted my goal to 7,500 steps/day, but then I usually get 10-13,000/day on the weekend. (Below is what my Saturday in Toronto added up to.)

One of the things I love most about the Fitbit is that you don’t have to track how many calories you’ve burned – it assumes that for you, based on your weight and how much you move around. You can add extra activities, such as yoga, weights, etc. (I logged none of those here). Otherwise, it does the rest for you.

As for tracking food, it’s basically the same as any other app, like Lose It or MyFitnessPal. You essentially just add what you’ve eaten, and aim to burn more calories than you take in. I get lazy sometimes and just estimate, but it’s still a good way to stay conscious about what you’re putting into your body.

Now, I’m obsessed with the sleep tracker. Is that weird!? There’s just something so satisfying about seeing when I’ve gotten a good night of sleep. (Below is an example of a great sleep for me. I am usually restless 25-35x/night.) What I like most about it is that you can manually log your sleep in the morning, if you forget to turn the tracker on the night before, because the Fitbit remembers how much you moved around. Of course, there’s nothing you can really “do” with this information… I just like it.

I’m also obsessed with the silent alarm; it makes your Fitbit vibrate, which is a lot nicer to wake up to than having a loud alarm start blaring next to you. (It would also be really nice for couples, when one person has to wake up much earlier than the other.) Mine is set for 5:45am on weekdays.

Finally, I love using the app to see how my friends are doing. It’s not about measuring up to anyone – I’ll never walk as much as Krystal does, that’s for sure! But it’s a good motivator to see how many steps your friends are getting and aiming closer to those numbers. (Cheering people on + taunting them is funny too.)

As I said, I wear my Fitbit Flex 24/7, unless I’m going swimming. So far, I’ve found that I only have to charge it once every 5-6 days for maybe 2-3 hours max (so I usually do it when I’m working or writing). If battery life is a concern for you, I can’t speak for everyone but my experience has only been positive.

Fitbit Features I Don’t Like/Don’t Use

If I were to write a pros/cons list about my Fitbit, it would probably look like this: pros – the app, cons – the online dashboard. In my opinion, the dashboard (a website) and its charts are ugly and totally useless. Let’s look at the “time active” graph for example:

Do I care about how many hours the Fitbit thinks I’m doing a certain level of activity? Not really. I know I sit too much during the week, which is why I try to go to the gym before and/or for a walk after. And then I go for decent walks/hikes on the weekends. Thank you for making this basic information look so confusing, Fitbit. Oh, and thank you for being wrong sometimes, anyway. No matter what I do, a 2-hour hike always shows up as only ~60 “very active” minutes. I don’t understand…

The calorie chart is also useless (and the colours don’t match the legend):

So, most days I eat fewer calories than I burn, and some days I don’t. Great, I already knew that.

There are a few other charts for number of steps taken, distance walked, hours slept, times awakened, etc. and I don’t really look at any of them – not because it’s not useful, but because I prefer to just focus on how I’m doing each day. I also don’t use all the features available via the dashboard, such as the journal, discussion forums or activity groups. If more of my co-workers had them, I’d probably consider making a “RateHub.ca” group, or a “PFWorkout” group for personal finance bloggers. Anyway, now I’m rambling…

Overall Opinion of the Fitbit Flex

If you’re on the fence about buying a Fitbit, or one of the other fitness trackers on the market, here’s my honest opinion about them: they are glorified pedometers. With that being said, wearing one for the past two months has been extremely eye-opening. For example: I discovered that if I work from home and don’t leave the house all day, I can walk as few as 1,600 steps. (THIS IS NOT OK.) I’ve also figured out that I take fewer steps on a treadmill than I do outside, so it’s better for me to get some fresh air than to do all my cardio at the gym. And I’ve learned that skipping the elevator and walking down 22 flights of stairs will add ~600 steps to my day (but I have yet to climb up them, lol).

Overall, I’m really happy with my purchase, because this tiny little bracelet has helped motivate me to be more active. The first few days of wearing it showed me how little activity I was actually doing. A typical day of going to work, running a few errands and then hanging out at home was only adding up to 4-5,000 steps/day. I still have a couple of those days each week, but I love going for a walk or hike and seeing the numbers climb. If I’m within 500 steps of my goal, I’ll pace my apartment before I go to sleep just to get them. And I’ve set and been able to reach my goal of working out 4-5 days/week, since putting this little piece of plastic on. What can I say? I’m motivated by numbers!

Do you wear a fitness tracker? What’s your opinion of it?