What Fitness Aid is Best for You?
By Leah Lancione
Back in the day you only needed a pair of sneakers and an outfit—maybe a pair of running shorts and a tank top or a leotard and exercise tights for your workout. However, these days there’s a plethora of exercise apparel from compression tights, tanks and shorts that actually wick sweat from the body, specialized socks and sneakers made specifically for a sport or activity, and, not to forget, a wide-range of fitness accessories to enhance any workout experience.
Tracking calories, monitoring your activity level and pace as well as keeping track of your heart rate and distance is no longer a challenge because fitness accessories can do it all for you. Put away your old stopwatch or pedometer because fitness trackers like Fitbit, Garmin Forerunner and Jawbone make getting in shape a cinch, or at least measurable. Just wear one on your wrist or clip it to a piece of clothing and get moving! Here are a few of our favorites:
FITBIT: Fitbit (www.fitbit.com) has a range of products segmented into three groups: everyday fitness products (Zip, One, Flex Charge) that use everyday activities to improve overall health; active fitness products (Charge HR) that make the most of workouts and track wearers’ active lifestyle; performance fitness products (Purge) for training to a new level so wearers can reach desired performance.
For everyday fitness:
- The Zip ($49-$60) is a simple device that tracks steps, calories burned and distance. It syncs to a computer and/or smart phone to keep track of any physical activity or to motivate wearers to get moving more. Clip it to a shirt, shorts or belt or keep it in your pocket all day long—rain or shine.
- The One ($99) goes one step further than a Zip by tracking steps, calories burned, stairs climbed or distance traveled as well as sleep as in hours and quality. The device also syncs to a computer, smart phone or select androids and clips to a belt. Just like the Zip, by registering at the Fitbit site, wearers can track their progress based on their own personal stats.
- The Flex ($99) offers all the fitness functions of The One and more. For instance, LED lights show progress and represent the percentage of goals reached via the Fitbit online tools and a mobile app. The app tracks runs, walks, hikes, etc., as well as maps routes and offers voice-cued stats and music control. The food tools include a barcode scanner for foods’ nutritional info, calorie coaching and a database of grocery brands, restaurant items and meal shortcuts. Flex also works well with other fitness and health apps. Worn like a bracelet-style accessory, it comes in a variety of colors so you can coordinate it with your workout outfits.
- The Charge ($130) provides all the fitness functionality and perks of the devices listed above but with some extra “bells and whistles” that could make it worth the extra money. Also a bracelet/watch-style tracker, this device has a longer battery life of seven to 10 days, a bright OLED display and also — drum roll please — a built-in caller ID when a phone is nearby and a silent, vibrating alarm to wake wearers. The Charge also automatically and wirelessly syncs to a computer and over 120 smart phones. All this, plus the online dashboard and mobile app tools will help manage fitness goals and progress as well as diet and health decisions.
For active fitness:
- The Charge HR ($150) is the same activity wristband as The Charge, but complete with a heart rate monitor built in without having to wear a cumbersome chest-strap.
- The Surge is called a “fitness super watch” because for $250, athletes or exercise fanatics can get all the fitness functions and specs of the devices listed above, but amped up with a heart/pulse rate monitor, multisport workout summaries and a GPS tracker to monitor your run time, distance, pace and elevation as well as a log of your routes and split times. This uber fitness tracker will help you train for your ultimate fitness goals, whether it’s a half-marathon, marathon, intense cardio workout or whatever fuels your engine.
- Forerunner 10: The Forerunner 10 looks and feels like a regular watch, but it does more, such as track distance, pace and calories during a run or walk. Press a button and GPS is enabled and training can begin. While running or walking the display screen will show current pace in comparison to the wearer’s target via a Virtual Pacer. Also, if a goal is exceeded, the display will flash the new personal record. An alert is displayed with each mile completed and then the workout summary including distance, time, pace and calories burned can be shared and saved via Garmin Connect or deleted. The watch costs $130 and comes in various colors.
- Forerunner 15 is the same nifty watch as the Forerunner 10, but with a heart rate monitor and a few extra tools for just $10 more at $140.
- Forerunner 220, which retails for $250, is also a GPS watch that tracks distance, pace and heart rate while also identifying personal records on a high-resolution display. A suitable running companion, the device comes with free training plans from Garmin Connect and features automatic uploads and social media sharing.
- Forerunner 910XT is a good choice for an athlete preparing for a triathlon or a multisport workout junkie who wants to track every swim, bike or running statistic. That’s as long as you don’t mind spending $400 to do it. Water-resistant with a 20-hour battery life, the watch extraordinaire tracks time, distance, pace, heart rate and elevation (through a barometric altimeter) as well as distance, stroke count and pool lengths. Like the other Forerunners models, the device connects to Garmin Connect for analysis and stat-sharing.
Garmin also offers activity trackers similar to Fitbit called Vivofit, Vivosmart and Vivoactive as well as more advanced watches and performance trackers for golf, swimming, hiking, boating and more. Visit the website www.garmin.com/en-US for more information.
JAWBONE: This fitness tracker claims to help wearers: get more sleep, drink more water and get more exercise in 2015. The Jawbone UP App is considered the “road map” because it’s downloaded for the tracker device as the advanced sensors in the UP Activity Tracker monitors movement and sleep. The UP can be synced with other apps and devices as well. The tracker system offers three models: The UPmove ($50), the UP24 ($130) and the UP3 ($180).
- The UPmove is a clip that tracks activity and sleep and provides a smart coach option.
- The UP24 offers the same activity and sleep tracking and smart coach tool, but comes in a wristband or bracelet form.
- The UP3 is a more advanced wristband tracker that features activity and sleep tracking along with the smart coach and a heart health monitor.
With all three models you can examine calories burned, log food and drink consumption, set goals, and sync to a PC or portable devices wirelessly. Not to mention, the website offers accessories from headsets to a BIG JAMBOX portable speaker that can transform “any phone, tablet or mobile device into a portable, hi-fi sound system” to make a workout experience even more enjoyable and invigorating. Check out www.jawbone.com for more information.
MISFIT: Models provide the activity and sleep tracking similar to all the other brands, but with an added flair in appearance. These jewelry-looking trackers from the Shine model have a very simple, yet stylish design. Two—the Misfit Shine ($100) and Misfit Flash ($50) are both suitable for tracking day-to-day movement as well as for walking, running, swimming and cycling. The devices also monitor quality and duration of calories and sleep. Both devices sync to a smart phone. The Misfit app provides a daily food journal to help those striving to improve fitness and diet. The various designs enable the Misfit to be worn around the wrist, waist or neck, on shoes or in a pocket. Wear them while shooting hoops, kicking the soccer ball around or working out. The Misfit makes it easy to create and maintain fitness objectives and look fashionable all at once. Visit www.misfits.com to find out more.
Whatever device you choose to aid you on your diet and fitness journey is up to you, so pick the device that best suits your lifestyle or fashion sense.
Leah, an avid runner and exercise enthusiast, prefers to keep it simple with a good pair of running shoes, a tank top and shorts in warm months and a sweat shirt and cold gear when the temperature drops. Recently she added a Garmin Forerunner 10 to her workout gear.