If you’re one to follow modern wrist accessory trends (and who isn’t?), you’ve probably noticed that there has been a bit of a fitness craze that has taken over during the past few years. There seem to be more fitness trackers than wristwatches lately. And while it’s bad for the watch industry, the tech-fueled fitness craze overall is a good thing – being healthy is always in fashion.
But personally, I’m not really a part of this craze. I exercise about three times a week, but I likely wouldn’t track my activities if not for the wellness program OWC offers. I did briefly own a Nike FuelBand fitness tracker that I received as a gift a few years ago, but it wasn’t compatible with our program. So I decided to buy a Fitbit Zip instead, which works with the free Fitbit app available in the App Store in iTunes.
The Fitbit Zip is a clip-on fitness device that’s perfect for barebones tracking and it’s small enough to clip anywhere. It keeps count of your steps, calories burned and distance traveled among other things. But what good is all this data without a great accompanying app? Luckily, Fitbit has combined great health-tracking hardware with great software.
A wealth of health data
The Fitbit app is a great way to track your health and fitness whether or not you even own a Fitbit device (more on that later). You’ll of course get the standard step count, miles traveled, calories burned and active minutes, but you can also use it as a personal fitness journal. Before each workout, you can choose the type (run, walk or hike) and even enable audio feedback in the app so you can hear your distance traveled, time and pace in real-time, which provides some added motivation for that final push. And if you keep your phone on you while you’re running, the GPS will even map your routes (obviously this can really kill your battery, so be aware of that.)
The step counts with Fitbit are the most accurate of any device that I’ve tested. I’ve actually counted a few times while running and it’s almost always within a few steps. And that has been the case wherever I have kept the tracker on myself.
If you’re watching your diet, you can bring the app into the kitchen and log the food you have eaten (and water you’ve drank) to see how many calories you’ve consume each day to help manage your weight. There’s even a handy barcode scanner to help during your shopping, or you can just use the quick calorie estimator for customizable entries.
Fit bit allows you to enlist your friends and family to help you reach your goals by sharing stats, joining fitness challenges, direct-messaging each other, and competing on leaderboards. Unfortunately, I only have one friend in my iPhone’s contacts with the Fitbit app, and sorry Mike C., but you’re not much of a challenger.
As far as the actual challenges go, there is something to be desired at the moment. There are four: Goal Day, Weekend Warrior, Daily Showdown and Workweek Hustle and they’re basically all the same step count competition with a different day. Some variety might make the challenges more fun and bring out the competitive spirit.
There are plenty of other cool features that I haven’t had a chance to take advantage of without the proper hardware. For tracking your weight, you can connect wirelessly to a Withings wireless scale. The app can even track your sleeping habits, floors climbed, GPS, caller ID, music, and more. Unfortunately, some features require the high-end Fitbit devices that cost around $250. But even with my simple Zip, the syncing is almost instantaneous and is always accurate. This is great considering that every step counts for the program I’m in.
If you don’t have a Fitbit device
In what might be the app’s best feature to the general user, you can take advantage of the Fitbit app without owning a Fitbit device… as long as have an iPhone 5S or later. Fitbit MobileTrack lets you track basic health and fitness activity including steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned via the iPhone’s M7 coprocessor. This serves as a pretty good introductory experience to fitness tracking, and you can always get a tracking device later.
The Fitbit app is incredibly simple to set up and was easy to sync with my device right out of the box. It was also easy to integrate into our company wellness program. There’s occasionally a delay between what the app shows and real-time and when the wellness website updates, but the site has never missed one of my steps. On the downside, it can drain your phone’s battery, so be sure to disable Bluetooth when not syncing your device and when using the GPS.
The Fitbit app has a very clean and intuitive design that’s easy to navigate. There’s not much more you can ask for here.
Get your pace, splits, time, distance and route maps in real time, use the calendar to track monthly programs, track your diet with the food database, and even connect to your digital scale to help track your weight. It really can do a lot for your fitness routine. And better yet, you can use most of the features without owning a Fitbit device.However, to take advantage of all features, you’ll need one of the high end Fitbit devices which can be fairly pricey.
Health apps are relatively new, but this one has most of the features you would want between tracking your exercise, diet and sleeping patterns. However, there is no jaw-dropping exclusive feature.
Admittedly there’s a huge caveat in this review in that I haven’t used another fitness app for comparison, so feel free to sound off in the comment section about your favorite. That said, the depth of data in the Fitbit app is great. But best of all, the app is a great motivator that will bring out your competitive spirit. I can’t speak to how well it would motivate me if I were using it strictly for personal reasons and not as part of a wellness program, but its simplicity makes tracking activity simple. And that’s the most important thing.