Previously, I used the BodyMedia arm band to track activity. I found it incredibly accurate as far as counting steps, and love that it has the sensors on the unit to track intensity based on body heat. As a cyclist, it’s difficult to find a tracker (outside of a HRM) that can track intensity when you aren’t walking or running; the sensors in the BodyMedia unit did a good job of tracking that even though I didn’t get "step credits" while riding. However, the BodyMedia unit is large and bulky, not very discreet, and I swear it was putting a dent in my bicep!
And so started the quest for a more discreet tracker that would give me the information that I wanted, and would sync with my devices. I did a bit of research on different units, and the FitBit came up at the top of the list on most of them. There are two different versions of the wristband FitBit – the Flex and the Force. The main difference is that the Force has an actual display screen that shows you your data, whereas the Flex has a simple ‘dot’ notification on where you are in the day’s progress of steps. The Force also doubles as watch as the display gives you the time, and it also counts stairs climbed – the Flex doesn’t do either of these things. However, the Flex does have the ability to let you change band colors. As someone who likes to coordinate, fashion won out over the added function of watch and stairs, and I went with the Flex (the Flex is also $20 to $30 less expensive than the Force).
I’ve had the Flex sinc February of this year, and I LOVE it! It’s lightweight and easy to wear. It’s also waterproof (I wear it swimming, not that it counts strokes, but if I don’t take it off I can’t forget to put it back on!). It has a built-in vibrating alarm – I use this almost daily, and it’s great for those who wake up at a different time than their partner does; now my husband isn’t awakened early when I get up. When riding my bike it seems to pick up pedal strokes – this only happens when I’m actually riding, not on a trainer or spin bike, but I’ve played with putting the unit in my sock when I’m stationary and this seems to work well with clients I have who are limited to riding indoors. You can also add activity minutes to the system – I do this for weight lifting, snowboarding, and swimming, or other activities where I’m not ‘stepping’ so that I get credit for activity. The unit is fairly accurate when it comes to calculating caloric burn as it’s within 10% of my HRM and other activity counter. The software is FREE to use (BodyMedia charges you), and the phone app is very convenient for immediate feedback.
The one con: the instructions that come with it are terrible. It doesn’t tell you how to do much of anything except how to put the unit into the wrist band and to charge it. You’re left to figure out the software on your own. Fortunately, the phone app is pretty good about guiding you through setup and device pairing. However, the software is fairly intuitive, and easy to use once you figure it out.
Overall, it’s a great unit for the price, and does everything I need it to do. It gives me all the data I need, though, I don’t put a whole lot of stock in the miles covered. But I’m more interested in movement in general, and sleep quality. AND, it’s not putting a dent in my bicep! Good product for the price, easy to use, and discreet.