I took a look at the FitBit this spring when it was clear that my ultra-budget heart rate monitor was not cutting it at the gym. Interference galore froze the poor thing. Something that is quite painful for those of us…I hope it’s not just me….obsessed by numbers. What’s my Heart Rate? How many calories have I burned? Give me numbers and not just sweat!
I liked the precision of the BodyBugg and what it had to offer. I did not like the price. Call me cheap. No, really, call me cheap. I could have justified saving up for it if it wasn’t for the monthly fee required to use the web tools. That’s like buying a car but having to pay extra to see the dashboard. Those two items should go hand in hand. Off the soapbox.
Enter the FitBit. A calorie tracker, pedometer, sleep tracker all in one. Pretty up there on the technology level yet affordable. It’s actually a cute little thing without a cumbersome chest strap or arm band or anything else accentuating anything I don’t want people looking at to begin with. The bonus was that the web tools are FREE!!
The fit bit is 2-inches long and about ½ inch wide. It looks a bit like a money clip. It’s black with a fashionable yet gender neutral aqua blue interior.
How it works
The FitBit uses 3D motion sensors similar to those used in the Wii. It has the ability to track steps, miles walked, calories burned, and sleep patterns. The information is automatically transmitted from the FitBit device through the base station and onto the user’s website whenever the FitBit is within 15 feet of the base station. Each Fitbit has a unique number so any FitBit can use any base station for transmission. It gives the user an idea of the daily amount of calories expended and level of activity exerted during the day. With online tools it provides a historical view of this data. Food and activity logging online can assist the user in losing, maintaining or even gaining weight.
What the $99 fee includes:
The FitBit clip on device
Base Station/charger with cord that plugs into a USB port
Wrist band for sleep monitoring
An extra clip for use with thick belts.
A website address to go to in order to download the free tracking software necessary in order for the Base Station transmissions to occur. This is a necessary step to use this product. It doesn’t take long and it’s easy to do. Even I managed to do this properly without blowing up my computer.
Shipping was extra and the product was sent by USPS Priority Mail.
Charging & Battery Life:
The FitBit will stay charged for approximately 10 days. Charging is done of the base station. I usually stick it on there when I shower. The battery life can be seen from the website. It takes about 90 minutes to fully charge the battery when it’s fully worn out.
The data that the Fitbit collects is stored in the device for 10 days. The display data itself renews at midnight in the users time zone (which is set by the user online). The reset does not delete any data not transmitted. It’s just to make it more user friendly and efficient. I always hated clearing the data on my HRM so this feature is much appreciated.
The fun stuff is all online. If the user is away from the base station, for work or travel, simply press the button on the FitBit and a pretty blue display will show calories burned, steps taken and miles walked. There is also the image of a growing flower. The longer the stem, the more active the individual has been that day. That is a cutesy feature for a quick activity level check.
I love this feature. Press the button down for 2 seconds and the word “start “ appears. Then put the FitBit in the wrist holder, wrap it on the non-dominant wrist and head to bed. In the morning press the button again for 2-seconds until “stop” appears. At the next data transmission, the website will be updated with sleeping activity. Not only does the data tell you what time you went to bed, how long it took to fall asleep, the amount of time spent in bed, the actual sleep time, but it also shows exactly what times you woke up and how often. The data then gives you a sleep efficiency percentage. It’s awesome. Especially for someone like me who has had lifetime sleep issues. I thought it would be hard to remember to start and stop the sleep tracker but it’s not. The wrist wrap is a good reminder.
Graphs, data and tracking
On the website there is a space to enter height, weight, gender, goals and stride length. Stride length is easily measured using the water test. Make a puddle of water on cement. Step in it with bare feet and walk forward. Measure the tip of the right big toe to the tip of the left on the footprints. Do this for a few sets and average out the number of inches. Repeat the test with running. This helps the FitBit better count the number of steps taken and miles walked.
This was interesting for me. I walk in quick short steps so I always figured I walked so many miles during the day. Um, not so much. I do take a lot of steps, 10,000+ on most days. But the short stride length makes it harder to hit the big mileage numbers.
The website has lots of cool graphs and comparisons. These cover everything from activity levels to calorie expenditures to weight changes. Lots of fun things to look at and help reach fitness goals. There are privacy features to hid most or all of your profile to pubic and/or forum friends.
The FitBit Forums are in their infancy right now. There is a decent amount of participation. If I compared it to a party, I would say it would be like small bursts of quality conversations followed by short periods of silence. You won’t miss out on too much if you don’t check the main forums daily yet much of what does get post is pretty good stuff.
There are also groups set up on the site. This is an easy way to find other s with similar interests. It’s also helpful to be able to bounce ideas off others. Not to mention the support this offers for weight loss or whatever fitness goals are made.
There is a nice touch added to the forums and that is a suggestion forum to communicate items the developers should consider for future FitBit upgrades. It’s even nicer that replies from the founders are readily seen in this specific forum. These guys read what is suggested and they respond. There is comfort in this. This is a product that has developers who actually care about the quality and satisfaction of their customers. To me, a strong selling point.
What it can’t do:
It can’t be used for swimming or in the shower. Nor should it be washed worn in any areas where it could get wet. Don’t take this to an amusement park and wear it on a water ride. Be sensible.
It might not accurately track EVERY SINGLE thing you do. If you’re wearing the FitBit in a shirt pocket and bicycling…it probably isn’t going to pick up that activity with 100% accuracy.
It doesn’t track heart rate. At first I was bummed about this but when I’m in the middle of some butt kicking cardio, the last thing I want to do is throw off my groove to look at my FitBit. Although it would be nice if there was some type of tracking that could be transmitted to my online profile but not viewed on the device itself. For example, minimum & maximum heart rate and minutes in that zone. Things like that. I can see the graph in my head now.
Without the heart rate feature the calories burned are based on height/weight/gender and not on cardio conditioning. This could possibly lead to a few small inaccuracies. Although, those I’ve communicated with who use the FitBit in conjunction with a HRM (heart rate monitor) do get similar calorie burned readings on most activities.
It doesn’t automatically track food. This is a “Duh”. But the user has to remember to go into the site and add the daily food intake. The site is so addicting that this probably won’t be a problem. This is the easiest it’s ever been to see calories expended vs. consumed. Unless the user is WAY OFF on portion sizes, this feature is close to flawless. If the calories burned are greater than the calories consumed weight loss will occur. If they are close weight will stay stable. If consumption is more than calories burned, gain weight will occur. It’s not even a matter of subtracting the difference (unless you are obsessed like me) it’s simply a matter of seeing which number is bigger. The food tracking also makes it easier to change unhealthy eating habits.
This is an excellent product. I’d buy it again in a heartbeat. At the rate I lose things, I probably will. My ONE HOPE is that reviewing data transmission and graphs remains a free privilege for FitBit owners.
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About the reviewer
Dominique W (dgwithrow062405)
I ammarried and the mother of 3 boys. I own my own businessas an Independent Team Beachbody Coach. I'm also a blogger. Shoppingis a process for me. I enjoy it. I loveresearching … more
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The Fitbit accurately tracks your calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled and sleep quality. The Fitbit contains a 3D motion sensor like the one found in the Nintendo Wii. The Fitbit tracks your motion in three dimensions and converts this into useful information about your daily activities.
You can wear the Fitbit on your waist, in your pocket or on undergarments. At night, you can wear the Fitbit clipped to the included wristband in order to track your sleep. Anytime you walk by the included wireless base station, data from your Fitbit is silently uploaded in the background to Fitbit.com