- Exercise & Fitness
Fitbit Flex Review
Fitbit Flex: The Basics
The Flex by Fitbit is one gadget in a long line of fitness trackers. It is a small tracker that fits inside of one of two flexible bands that come with the product, each of varying size. The smaller band generally fits women, and the larger one would be comfortable on most men. The band I purchased was in black, but the company has released many different shades to fit many different styles.
The product advises one to wear is on their non-dominant hand for the most accurate tracking, and the tracker itself is meant to be worn at all times, even while sleeping. The tracker claimed to be waterproof, but they do not advise swimming while wearing it, and I remove mine before bathing or showering.
It comes with a few charging accessories, and the tracker itself is a tiny unit that is removed from the band when charging or switching bands.
Fitbit Flex: In Action
I have a fairly active lifestyle. I work a fast-paced job and am on my feet for my entire shift, 5 or 6 times a week, every week, all year. It isn't very physically demanding, but it does involve constant movement of my entire body. When I purchased the Fitbit Flex, I was looking to find out just how much movement I actually did throughout my day, and how to increase my motivation after the work day was over.
I am someone who does not wear a lot if any jewelry on a regular basis, and I found the Flex very comfortable and easy to adapt to wearing on a constant basis. Some might have to adapt a bit to sleeping with the band on, as some positions may constrict your wrist, but for the most part it is manageable.
The Fitbit Flex works with a free app available on Apple products, and it provides all you need to track your daily activity. The app itself also works well with other fitness and health apps, such as MyFitnessPal and many, many others.
Using the Fitbit app, which syncs using your iPhone's Bluetooth, you can add food that you've eaten and water that you have consumed, and you can get a complete picture of your day's activities. The home screen of your app will show you the number of steps you've taken today, the miles you've traveled, your active minutes, and the calories you've burned. You can also log exercises and, with a recent update, even track a walk or a jog on your map.
By tapping the tracker three times, it can be put into "sleep mode," and will show you an image of your sleep pattern upon waking. This allows you to see how restless you are during sleep, and how many times you awake throughout the night. It's very interesting to see how deep or restless a sleeper you happen to be, especially day to day. The Flex even has a vibrating alarm function, so you do not wake a partner. It can be set at certain times to optimize your nights rest, and really deserves to be experimented with.
Where do you need the most help increasing your activity?
Fitbit Flex: My Experience
The Fitbit Flex app lets you set your own goals, but also provides you with examples and suggestions for goals for general health. People with higher levels of fitness may want to increase their goals to better challenge their abilities. Adversely, someone who is just starting out might want to lower their goals a bit at first as to not get too discouraged by constant failure to achieve the suggested goals.
Throughout an average work day I've discovered, with Flex's help, that I often reach over half of my daily recommended steps. This means that after my shift is over, I have motivation on my wrist and on my phone to somehow move enough to reach my goals. Maybe I'll park further away from the supermarket, maybe I'll walk to where I need to go instead of driving or staying in, and so on. There is something so gratifying about seeing those goals turn green before the end of the day. Your wristband does a little light show and vibrates when you reach your main goal, celebrating with you. Days off are even more difficult, and I've taken up jogging and walking on a more regular basis to increase my activity level.
Another goal you can set on this handy app is a weight loss goal. The app estimates the time it should take using your current goals, and a few other stats such as your age, gender, and current weight. It gives you a suggested calorie deficit based on a difficulty level that can be adjusted.
One of my favorite things about the Fitbit Flex is the accountability it provides me. The days I am feeling a little bit lazy or struggling with my willpower to resist the foods that aren't good for me, everything is in the red. Seeing my goals not being met lights a fire under me like nothing else, and motivates me to make changes and challenge myself even more before things get too out of hand.
Fitbit Flex: Flaws
Unfortunately, I do not have other fitness trackers to compare my Flex to for more perspective on its flaws. However, I do recognize that is has a few on its own.
When participating in a workout, it very rarely records active minutes by itself. Workouts can be logged manually, and this must be done in order to get credit for the activity. It seems to log active minutes during a walk or a jog, but bafflingly seems to add a minute here and there when you move just a little bit more than usual.
Another thing that doesn't seem to work at all times is manually putting the Flex into "sleep mode." At first, I was lost as to how to achieve this. The website states that tapping the band 3 times in quick succession changes modes. This failed each time I tried, and I turned to the internet and even a few videos to learn how to get this to work. It seems to only work for me when my wrist is against a surface and it is tapped just above where the tracker is located inside of the band. It then vibrates as it switches modes.
If you forget to put the tracker into "sleep mode" before you fall asleep, you can also log sleep manually using the app, provided you remember when you fell asleep and when you awoke.
Fitbit Flex: Conclusion
To summarize, I believe the Fitbit Flex is a very useful tool to get to know yourself and how you can improve. Learning about your patterns and getting motivation to move more is something almost all of us could use in our lives. The price is in the ballpark of most other products of its kind and can seem a bit high, but I found it to be worth everything I spent.
There is something fun about setting goals and achieving them that keeps you challenging yourself day after day to be a better you. You can even receive emails from your Flex telling you how you've done that week, and even small achievements and trophies within the app to help you feel good about what you've achieved and motivate you to keep aiming higher.
The Fitbit Flex is great for anyone who is looking to make a lifestyle change and needs a little help with motivation, accountability, and learning new and healthier habits.