Favorite Workout Gear: Fitbit Charge HR

A great fitness tracker that captures both steps, heart rate (used to calculate calories burned) and sleep patterns.

fitbit

My Rating:

My company did us a solid last week and gave everyone a $150 credit to purchase a fitness tracker.1 After looking at a few options, I went with the Fitbit Charge HR, primarily because of the positive review on CNET2.

There are really good reviews out there, where people compare multiple trackers and rank them. I can’t provide a side-by-side analysis of trackers, but I can share what I like, and dislike, about my Fitbit.

HIIT/Weightlifting (5 out of 5)

I’ve workedIMG_0323 with a personal trainer for the last two years3; he does a great job of putting me through the paces and getting my heart rate up. Last week, we did a series of full body exercises, starting with plank rows, weighted lunges, burpees, and a number of balancing exercises on a Bosu ball. In my opinion, the Fitbit did a great job logging the intensity of the session (see the picture to the left). The middle of our session was the most intense – which matched the peak and cardio indicators. At the end, we finished with Romanian deadlifts, pistol squats and shoulder presses – performed at a slower pace. Again, this matches what was captured by the Fitbit.

I used it on two other occasions where I’ve primarily done weightlifting – one session pretty intense (building endurance) the other not-so-intense (building strength). On both occasions, the Fitbit seemed to capture the proper “intensity” – based on my steps (or lack of steps) and my heart rate.

image1Yoga (4 out of 5)

My problem with Yoga is that the level of intensity changes by week – some sessions are about balance and space, other focus on core and strength4. So, I wasn’t sure what the Fitbit would tell me.

Overall, I think the Fitbit did well in this area. I’ve used it twice, and again – based on heart rate – I think the Fitbit appropriately captured the calories burned. I feel like it doesn’t capture the intensity of the holding and stretching poses well, but overall, I think it did ok.

My other concern was that the Fitbit would interfere with some of my poses, but no problem there. The Fitbit stayed in place without any readjustments needed.

Other Use Cases:

  • Food Tracking (3.5 out of 5) – It’s not as good as myFitnessPal, but I don’t think it has to be – unless you’re really trying to get super-specific about what you’re eating. The biggest drawback here is that you have to go to the fitbit.com website to see details (protein, sugars, etc.).
  • Sleep Tracking (4 out of 5) – I’m not used to sleeping with a watch on, so it took some time to get used to sleeping with the Fitbit. After that adjustment period, I was fine – and the Fitbit did a great job of tracking my sleep patterns (now, if it would only help me to GET more sleep…).
  • Telling Date and Time (4.5 out of 5) – The display does not stay on all the time; it turns on when you rotate your wrist upward – though this didn’t work all the time. You can also turn on the display by quickly tapping the screen twice or by clicking the small button.
  • Silent Alarm (3.5 out of 5) – I really like the silent alarm function – I just have a tough time setting it up on my phone.
  • Swimming (1 out of 5) – So, you can’t swim with this thing…. but you can record the swimming activity manually. Not great, but at least there is a work-around.

So overall, I really like this activity tracker. I can’t compare it to a Garmin or Jawbone… but I can say that it works well for what I need it to do.

Footnotes

  1. Really, I can’t stress enough how awesome this is. It’s easy for a company to preach health, but I really feel like my company’s executives backed it up with action. Plus, you can get points by tracking food and steps; those points can be used for gift cards and other purchases. Like I said, pretty cool, right?
  2. I was torn between the Charge HR and the Garmin Vivofit. I went with the Charge because it seemed like Fitbit had more market share than Garmin.
  3. Kojo “The Assassin” – at Diesel Fitness in Dallas. Look him up if you’re thinking about using a trainer. His first sessions are usually free and he’s awesome at what he does (and is reasonably priced).
  4. Another Diesel Fitness shout-out – this time to my Yoga instructor Nicole. She’s a great teacher, and tweaks each class based on our needs and requests.

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