11 Fitness Trackers and How to Pick the Best One for You
Even before the Apple Watch came along to revolutionize our workouts, wearable fitness trackers were becoming a thing. When Tory Burch is designing jewelry for a tech company, you start paying attention, right?
But, browsing the options can be a liiiittle overwhelming. Do you really want to drop $350 for another piece of iTech? On the other hand, will a $50 tracker deliver enough information for you to accurately assess your performance?
It's enough to make you long for the day when all you wore on your wrist was a watch — you know, to actually tell time. Now your stressing can come to an end. We're breaking down all the deets on the most popular fit trackers out there. All you have to do is pick the one that works best for your lifestyle, then put it to good use (that means hit the gym, people).
Ah, the Apple Watch. Let’s get this one out of the way, since it’s the crème de la crème when it comes to wearable tech. If you’re an Apple geek, you’re probably already counting down to the to-be-announced sale date in 2015.
If you’re not, here’s what you need to know: It measures three different aspects of movement (how often you go from sitting to standing, how many calories you burn, and how much exercise you’ve done), prompts you to exercise if you’ve been lazy, has a heart rate sensor, helps you set workout goals, has built-in GPS, and shows all of that on the screen instead of directing you to an app after the workout. If you’re obsessive about tracking your performance, this is the tool for you.
Do you need a little extra motivation to get yourself to the gym? This sleek little black-and-yellow wristband is your new BFF. Pavlok helps you break down your goals, just like other fitness trackers, but it does a better job of helping you stick to those goals, thanks to its shock value.
That would be an electrical shock. Yep — if you don’t meet your goal, like making it to spin class on any given day, the bracelet will zap you with real voltage to make you think twice about slacking. (It also uses less physical forms of motivation, like posting embarrassing messages about you on Facebook, or even fining you — frankly, I’d prefer the shock.) Sign up now for one of the prototypes; the bracelet will be on sale to the general public in 2015.
Wearable gadgets from Jawbone are among the most popular fitness trackers out there. This one, the Jawbone UP24, tracks everything, from how many steps you take, to how many calories you burn, and even how much sleep you’re getting (the Apple Watch can’t do that).
When you’ve been a little too sedentary (it happens to the best of us), it gently prods you get up and move. Also cool: You can set the vibrating alarm clock to wake you up at the best moment of your sleep cycle. The app also lets you track your diet, which many other fitness trackers ignore in favor of activity information. Plus, the multicolored, ribbed bands practically double as jewelry. At $129.99, it’s a steal.
If the only physical exercise you believe in takes place in the bedroom (no judgment!), you’re in luck: British adult retailer Bondara recently debuted its prototype for the very first fitness tracker specifically designed for sex (it’s not actually being manufactured yet, but who knows? Maybe this is what people have been waiting for…).
The ring goes on your partner’s penis and uses an accelerometer and Bluetooth module to calculate thrusts per minute and calories burned. Then, the ring transmits that data to a companion smartphone app (the ring has built-in Wi-Fi, naturally) so you can see if he, uh, measures up. If you’re into oversharing, you can even post your stats directly to social media. Cool?
Like Jawbone, Fitbit offers several versions. The Fitbit Flex is the most advanced — it tracks steps, distance, and calories burned, as well as sleep quality. Each light on the band represents 20 percent of your daily goal, so you’ll know exactly how much you’ve accomplished and how much more effort you need to put out.
Fitbit also tries to make fitness fun by awarding badges for goals achieved and allowing you to challenge friends in physical feats. But, most importantly, the Fitbit inspired an entire line of Tory Burch jewelry, so if you’re the type who likes her fitness tracker with a major dose of fashion, start shopping.
Hey, we get it — sometimes you can’t get to the gym. Meaning, there’s no real fitness activity to track. That doesn’t mean you can’t track your health statistics, according to the creators of Dharma, the Kickstarter-funded “smart cushion.”
This inactivity tracker uses fiber-optic sensors to record your sitting position, heartbeat, respiration, posture, and stress levels — and then shares that data with you through its partner app. Based on the personal information it gathers, it will also share stress-relief tips and recommend stretches to help your posture.
And, of course, there’s a feature to remind you to get up if you’ve been inactive for too long. If you’re a total workaholic glued to your desk, maybe this should be the newest addition to your cubicle.
If you’re not into all the bells and whistles, and you just want something to track your steps, the Vivofit is it (this is also a great option for newbies to the fitness tracker trend — it’s super simple to use).
Just watch the red meter at the top — once it fills up, get up and start walking. You can set step goals to force yourself to cover a certain distance per day; just download the Garmin Connect smartphone app to track your progress over time.
There’s also basic sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring, but at its core, the Vivofit is all about stepping. Oh, and it runs on a watch battery that lasts for a whole year. Once it’s on, you barely have to think about it — until that red meter fills up, of course.
Bowflex Boost, $25, Amazon
Hey, you know those Bowflex commercials, with the fancy treadmills and home gym machines? If your apartment is way to small for one of those guys (admit it — you’ve totally dreamed of ordering one while in an informercial daze), splurge on the Bowflex Boost. Use the free companion app to set daily goals, then track your activity day and night.
The Boost automatically syncs with your smartphone so you can check your progress, but you can also see where you’re at using the wristband’s easy red-yellow-green display (green means you’ve completed 100% of your goal). It’s only $50, too, so this is a purchase you can totally justify.
Samsung Gear Fit
The Samsung Gear Fit was the ”next big thing” until the Apple Watch was announced, but don’t discount it just because Apple got in on the fitness tracker game. It’s the top choice for comfort, thanks to a nifty curved screen that seems to be all the rage these days. Samsung’s S Health program is built in to the smartwatch, allowing you to track steps, set personal goals with real-time coaching, and track your heart rate, exercise amounts, and food intake.
And, it qualifies as a smartwatch, not just a fitness tracker (just like the Apple Watch, but for $200 less) — you can view emails, texts and alerts, and dismiss calls and alarms just by tapping the screen.
If a fitness tracker is the last thing you feel like spending a ton of money on, but you’re still into the idea of, you know, tracking your fitness, you’ll love the Misfit Shine. For $50, it logs your activity levels — including steps taken, calories burned, and distance traveled — and your sleep quality and duration. It’s a super subtle design (and comes in seven colors) that blends in with any jewelry, and you can actually use it as a watch if you just press down on the face to make the time appear.
Fun fact: You never need to charge it (although you do need to replace the battery every six months). The Flash starts shipping in mid-October, so if you’re interested, sign up for a pre-order now.
Image: Misfit Wearables
For gym rats, there’s an activity tracker focused on weight training and strength, and you don’t need fancy equipment for it to work — it is $289 and works with a companion smartphone app.
Instead of counting steps or distance, the PUSH Band will actually make recommendations to you for increasing or decreasing weight in your strength training. It tracks velocity and power to identify when you’re getting tired, so you can avoid injury and optimize your efforts.
The band is shipping in early November, after a successful Indiegogo campaign in 2013.