Runfit. Cyclefit. Dancefit. Swimfit. Climbfit. Heartfit. and today Reviewfit.
Fit Bit have made their mark on the UK fitness industry with their memorable ‘Find your Fit’ campaign.The motivating music, unusual activities and new smart technologies that Fitbit teased us with in their TV ad left me eagerly awaiting my join of the Fitbit family with the Charge HR.
It was worth the wait.
Fitbit claims the Charge HR is “a wristband with continuous, wrist-based heart rate, all-day activity tracking, sleep monitoring, Caller ID and more.”
Like most other fitness watches, the HR comes with very little instruction, however it really isn't needed. It was simply a matter of strap on and go (after downloading, profiling and linking with the app of course).
Once it’s up and running with a simple tap of it’s LED screen users can view their steps, calories burnt, distance travelled, stairs climbed, heart rate and obviously the good old fashioned time.
The Heart Rate
This was the feature I was most excited about, as in my opinion there is no more effective method of training. Heart-rate training provides the user with personalised feedback throughout their training, revealing exactly how hard their body is working, as well as many other detailed insights into their training zones, recovery and overall level of fitness.
I have always trained with a chest strap to optimise my training, which can often be uncomfortable and frankly hassle to attach, so the continuous wrist-based monitoring was something I was particularly intrigued by.
Initially the HR’s heart rate seemed to be accurate, it was producing readings I was familiar with at rest so I decided to put it through a Spin class. If Spin’s reputation hasn’t already preceded me let me just clarify, it is 45 minutes of high intensity exercise trading between Tabata’s and hill climbs. This is not a class for the faint hearted, plus I have to put in twice the effort… I’m the instructor!
I leave the class a sweaty mess, expecting my HR to congratulate me on spending the majority of my workout in its ‘Peak’ zone (166 bpm +) however this is what greeted me:
As you can see the HR has counted 0 minutes of peak performance and the majority of my workout is split between the cardio and fat burning zones with a peak of just 157 bpm. This is a reading I know is inaccurate, not only from the pounding in my chest I experienced throughout the ‘push’ intervals, but via comparison with my Polar T31, which during my time teaching Spin has averaged a maximum heart rate of around 170 bpm during the class.
The app then goes on to detail my average calorie burn per minute and the impact the training has had on my day, although after the unreliability of the first set of data, i’m reluctant to trust the accuracy of this feedback.
Overall I was disheartened (excuse the pun) by the HR’s performance with this feature, however for someone new to training via heart rate, or engaging in steady state cardio the HR would provide more useful feedback.
The Other features
The steps, calories burnt and distance travelled were pretty generic, similar to almost every other fitness activity tracker out there; however the HR does boast two extra features which are a rarer find within this market, stairs climbed and sleep monitoring.
Stairs climbed I found an interesting feature, particularly for those working in an office, or perhaps commuting into work. I was pleasantly surprised on a trip to London by how many stairs I climbed simply travelling up and down from the tube.
Monitoring my sleep proved more of a challenge, as according to my HR, I barely did any!
I thought maybe the lack of sleep had affected my vision when I awoke to this, so I decided to research a little further into how to ensure the Fitbit was performing accurately. Fitbit suggested I update the app and swapped the watch to my less dominant hand.
To my relief, the change in results was drastic and the sleep monitoring has remained consistent from this moment on.
The Fitbit App
The app consists of a dashboard of your watch’s feedback, each detail can then be selected to unlock further analysis of your performance. The set up is simple and effective, it was easy to navigate my way around the app and automatic syncing made it easy to see how my daily activity was going at the touch of a button. Other features include setting up daily goals and adding friends to compare results with, both of which gave me a little extra motivation.
The little competitive streak in me flourishing with the determination to beat my friends!
The app also updates regularly, improving both its accuracy and features.
Battery, Appearance and Comfort
If you’re committing to wearing an activity tracker it basically glues to your wrist 24/7, so it needs to be something you're happy wearing. The Fitbit HR comes in small and large and fits comfortably just above the wrist bone. Aesthetically, I opted for a classic black watch, which could easily match every gym outfit, whilst remaining smart enough to keep on in the office. For the more adventurous the watch also comes in plum, blue and tangerine.
Once it’s strapped on the Fitbit HR is so comfortable it can be forgotten about until it’s battery dies in around two days time. This is with constant monitoring and a daily gym session, to maximise its battery life further Fitbit suggest turning off constant syncing and automatic heart rate.
This is a good all-rounder and ideal for most fitness users. The volume of feedback is good and with prices ranging from £85 - £140 it's good value for money. The Fitbit HR’s simplicity makes it an ideal first activity tracker, the only drawback being that the heart rate is not always entirely accurate.
Perhaps it’s just a cheeky ploy by Fitbit to get us pushing that extra bit harder to earn its highest training zones ? Clever !
10 Fitbit Statistics
If you’re planning on buying a Fitbit, here’s the lowdown on the company you’re buying into:
- Fitbit have a whopping 19 million users, beating Nike + 18 million. That’s equivalent to 35% of England's entire population!
- FitBit own a 34% share of the wearable technology market.
- Fitbits are sold in more than 50 countries.
- Fitbit ended 2014 with a revenue of $745 Million!
- In 2015, Fitbit sales were up to 30 million, which is sure to rise in 2016!
- The Fitbit app is available on over 200 different types of smartphone.
- Thermos partnered with Fitbit in their sales of water bottles which track your water consumption through their lids and fire it back to the mobile app.
- In 2015, Fitbit had 579 members of staff. They’re also currently hiring!
- Over 45,000 shops sell Fitbit products
- Fitbit currently have 11 different trackers: 1. Fitbit Tracker, 2.Fitbit Ultra, 3.Fitbit One, 4.Fitbit Zip, 5.Fitbit Flex, 6.Fitbit Force, 7.Fitbit Charge HR,8. Fitbit Charge, 9. Fitbit Surge, 10. Fitbit Aria and 11. Fitbit Blaze.
With many more idea’s up their sleeve Fitbit are sure to increase these numbers by the end of 2016. Fitness watch this space!