One of the main things on my birthday wishlist this year was a Fitbit Flex, and I was so excited when I opened it on July 2nd. Apparently, my parents had quite a hard time buying one – it was sold out at Amazon and Best Buy, but they finally found it at Brookstone. There are quite a few of these wristband activity monitors on the market, but the Flex was the newest, and I’d heard such good feedback about the Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip, that I decided to give this one a try. The $99 pricetag is a bit of an investment, but less expensive than a heart-rate monitor.
I’ve used the Flex for almost a month now, and overall, I’m really pleased with it.
Motivation: It has definitely spurred me on to get in a bit more activity in a day so that I can hit that golden 10,000 step goal I’ve given myself. When I was in Sacramento for the teaching conference, I even went down to the motel gym at 9:30pm my first night and hopped on the elliptical machine for 15 minutes to make sure I hit my 10,000 step target, something I would have never done otherwise. I also love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I hit my 10,000 step goal. This is the biggest factor in why I’ve been enjoying the Flex.
Easy to wear: When I had a BodyBugg, I hated that the armband would show under clothes or when I was wearing something with shorter sleeves or sleeveless. It looked clunky and ugly. With the Flex, it blends right in. Someone looking at my wrist quickly would assume it’s a watch. I’ve worn it paired with bracelets to a party and no one was the wiser. I definitely see myself wearing this everyday without making any fashion faux pas.
Measurement: In my opinion, the Flex is an accurate measure of my activity, especially when walking. I have been really surprised a few times by many steps I’ve actually gotten in a day. The first time was when I was at the beach with my sister and our dogs – we walked walked along the beach and I ended up hitting 10,000 before we’d even packed up to go home. I wouldn’t have given myself that much credit if I was calculating my activity on my own. More recently my cousin and I went walking together along the Presidio in San Francisco, and before I knew it my wrist was vibrating (indicating I’d hit 10,000). It was only 11am! That was a great feeling, but I was a bit skeptical of the measurement, so I tracked out path, and found out that yes, we’d walked over 5 miles during our 2-hour session. The Flex is a nice tool in getting a more accurate idea of how much I’m accomplishing in any given day. I’ve even secured the Flex to my shoe when biking so that it can more accurately measure my “pedals,” and it seems to work well that way too.
Sleep: I wasn’t interested in this feature when I asked for the Flex, but it turns out to be something that’s pretty cool. The Flex measures sleep activity, and I was very interested to find out that I am a highly effective sleeper. Meaning that I take less than 10 minutes to fall asleep and once asleep, I am restless less than 1-2 minutes the entire night. The hardest part with measuring the sleep is actually putting the wristband in Sleep mode before I fall asleep. LOL.
Display: I wish the Flex interface was better. Seeing 3 or 4 dots along the display of the wristband doesn’t really give me as much information as I’d like to have about how close I am to the 10,000 step target. The display moves to 5 dots and vibrates when I’ve hit my goal. But when I see four dots on the display, I have no idea if that means I’m at 7500 or 9500 steps. I won’t know until and unless I take the time to sync it to my computer, which is easy enough, but not convenient when I’m on the go.
Measurement Per Activity: There’s no way to set the Flex to measure how many calories I’ve burned in a single time period, like when participating in a Zumba class, for instance. When I had the BodyBugg, I could set it so that I’d see how many calories I burned in a certain time period, which was a great tool in measuring my progress. The Flex doesn’t really do that.
Sure, I can look at the Dashboard after I’ve synced it on the computer and add up each of the lines in a given time period and try to see how many calories I burned, but who has the time or patience for that? Plus, that only works when I’m back at my computer. It would be really nice to be able to know that on the fly. (Supposedly the Flex can sync wirelessly with my iPhone via the app I’ve downloaded, but I have no idea how it works. And I’m no neophyte when it comes to online gadgets, apps, etc. This is another negative in my book…
Directions/Guidance: The Flex comes with no directions. You have to go the Fitbit.com site the first time you activate it and follow their steps. But finding out how to do things like sync it with the app or whether or not I should wear it in the pool, is not user friendly. The message boards are somewhat helpful, but who wants to wade through that information? And again, I’m someone who loves computers, gadgets, and apps. This is my forte. If I’m finding the lack of information upsetting, how about someone who is not a big computer user?
Price: Based on it’s functionality, I think the Flex is overpriced. For what you get, I think $50-60 would be a much better price point. The Flex is a glorified pedometer.
I’m really grateful that my parents bought me the Flex, and I have enjoyed it, but I do think that it’s a tool that I will outgrow quickly. I’m still going to use it to measure my steps; for example, I’m very interested to see how many steps I put in during an average school workday. If I had it to do over again, I might ask for the Nike Fuel Band, which displays the steps numerically on the band, offering real-time information. But really, I think I’m more interested in the information that a Heart-Rate Monitor offers, so I think that will be my next purchase. (If you use a HRM and have a recommendation, please let me know in the comments).