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My Review of the Fitbit Flex

fitbit-flex-review

Two months ago, I purchased a Fitbit Flex for $99.95, strapped it around my wrist and have barely taken it off since (except to go swimming). As soon as I bought it, a few people asked for a review, but it takes time to see if you really like something or not…

Today, I can tell you I love my Fitbit. Since I agree with most of what Krystal wrote in her review, I won’t bother writing a pros/cons list. Instead, I thought I’d explain how I use my Fitbit, so you can imagine how you might too.

Fitbit Features I Love/Use Most Often

Let’s start with my favourite part: the Fitbit app. Besides Twitter, Instagram and email, Fitbit is one of the most-used apps on my iPhone. I like to check on the status of my steps a few times every day, as well as track what I eat, how much water I drink (usually 50-60 oz./day) and how I slept the night before.

When it comes to steps, a healthy goal is apparently 10,000. Do you know how hard it is to reach that goal, when you work from home? It’s nearly impossible. I’ve since adjusted my goal to 7,500 steps/day, but then I usually get 10-13,000/day on the weekend. (Below is what my Saturday in Toronto added up to.)

fitbit-app-review

One of the things I love most about the Fitbit is that you don’t have to track how many calories you’ve burned – it assumes that for you, based on your weight and how much you move around. You can add extra activities, such as yoga, weights, etc. (I logged none of those here). Otherwise, it does the rest for you.

fitbit-calories-burned

As for tracking food, it’s basically the same as any other app, like Lose It or MyFitnessPal. You essentially just add what you’ve eaten, and aim to burn more calories than you take in. I get lazy sometimes and just estimate, but it’s still a good way to stay conscious about what you’re putting into your body.

fitbit-food-calories

Now, I’m obsessed with the sleep tracker. Is that weird!? There’s just something so satisfying about seeing when I’ve gotten a good night of sleep. (Below is an example of a great sleep for me. I am usually restless 25-35x/night.) What I like most about it is that you can manually log your sleep in the morning, if you forget to turn the tracker on the night before, because the Fitbit remembers how much you moved around. Of course, there’s nothing you can really “do” with this information… I just like it.

fitbit-sleep-tracker

I’m also obsessed with the silent alarm; it makes your Fitbit vibrate, which is a lot nicer to wake up to than having a loud alarm start blaring next to you. (It would also be really nice for couples, when one person has to wake up much earlier than the other.) Mine is set for 5:45am on weekdays.

Finally, I love using the app to see how my friends are doing. It’s not about measuring up to anyone – I’ll never walk as much as Krystal does, that’s for sure! But it’s a good motivator to see how many steps your friends are getting and aiming closer to those numbers. (Cheering people on + taunting them is funny too.)

As I said, I wear my Fitbit Flex 24/7, unless I’m going swimming. So far, I’ve found that I only have to charge it once every 5-6 days for maybe 2-3 hours max (so I usually do it when I’m working or writing). If battery life is a concern for you, I can’t speak for everyone but my experience has only been positive.

Fitbit Features I Don’t Like/Don’t Use

If I were to write a pros/cons list about my Fitbit, it would probably look like this: pros – the app, cons – the online dashboard. In my opinion, the dashboard (a website) and its charts are ugly and totally useless. Let’s look at the “time active” graph for example:

fitbit graph time active

Do I care about how many hours the Fitbit thinks I’m doing a certain level of activity? Not really. I know I sit too much during the week, which is why I try to go to the gym before and/or for a walk after. And then I go for decent walks/hikes on the weekends. Thank you for making this basic information look so confusing, Fitbit. Oh, and thank you for being wrong sometimes, anyway. No matter what I do, a 2-hour hike always shows up as only ~60 “very active” minutes. I don’t understand…

The calorie chart is also useless (and the colours don’t match the legend):

fitbit-calorie-graph

So, most days I eat fewer calories than I burn, and some days I don’t. Great, I already knew that.

There are a few other charts for number of steps taken, distance walked, hours slept, times awakened, etc. and I don’t really look at any of them – not because it’s not useful, but because I prefer to just focus on how I’m doing each day. I also don’t use all the features available via the dashboard, such as the journal, discussion forums or activity groups. If more of my co-workers had them, I’d probably consider making a “RateHub.ca” group, or a “PFWorkout” group for personal finance bloggers. Anyway, now I’m rambling…

Overall Opinion of the Fitbit Flex

If you’re on the fence about buying a Fitbit, or one of the other fitness trackers on the market, here’s my honest opinion about them: they are glorified pedometers. With that being said, wearing one for the past two months has been extremely eye-opening. For example: I discovered that if I work from home and don’t leave the house all day, I can walk as few as 1,600 steps. (THIS IS NOT OK.) I’ve also figured out that I take fewer steps on a treadmill than I do outside, so it’s better for me to get some fresh air than to do all my cardio at the gym. And I’ve learned that skipping the elevator and walking down 22 flights of stairs will add ~600 steps to my day (but I have yet to climb up them, lol).

Overall, I’m really happy with my purchase, because this tiny little bracelet has helped motivate me to be more active. The first few days of wearing it showed me how little activity I was actually doing. A typical day of going to work, running a few errands and then hanging out at home was only adding up to 4-5,000 steps/day. I still have a couple of those days each week, but I love going for a walk or hike and seeing the numbers climb. If I’m within 500 steps of my goal, I’ll pace my apartment before I go to sleep just to get them. And I’ve set and been able to reach my goal of working out 4-5 days/week, since putting this little piece of plastic on. What can I say? I’m motivated by numbers!

Do you wear a fitness tracker? What’s your opinion of it?

33 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dayle #

    Hey! Thanks for this… I’ve been on the fence about getting one. Most recently I decided I wanted a Kobo more. I just got my iPhone in April, and since then I’ve been using MFP religously, and I also use Map My Run for all my runs, walks, and now bike rides. I think this would be another dimension that I maybe don’t really need, but like you I think I would just like to know these things! Did you order yours directly from Fitbit online? The decision now is between spending $100 on the Fitbit, or on the Insanity DVDs!

    Dayle

    June 18, 2014
    • Cait Flanders #

      I don’t have experience with the Insanity DVDs, but know Bridget is doing them. I can, however, tell you that the Fitbit syncs with Map My Run and dozens of other apps, so you can make them all work together! Good luck with the decision :)

      June 18, 2014
  2. I got the fitbit zip last week and am really liking it. I literally just wrote about it on my blog yesterday :) I’m looking to find people to ‘connect with’ on the app. Let me know if you’re interested, no one else I know owns one!

    June 18, 2014
    • Cait Flanders #

      Of course! Add me anytime: caitflanders at gmail dot com

      June 18, 2014
      • Awesome! Thanks! I think I wore mine in a weird place yesterday, my steps were low even for me :)

        June 19, 2014
  3. I was close to purchasing one once but I think it wouldn’t have been very useful or give me any added benefit. I think it’s great though for people who need to be more conscious of how much activity or non-activity they are getting. I think most people don’t even realize! Glad you are enjoying it! I need a biofeed back monitor…the kind that sets off an alarm if I get stressed out. :)

    June 18, 2014
    • I was shocked at how inactive I was – I knew a desk job wasn’t the healthiest but I was really surprised.

      June 18, 2014
    • Cait Flanders #

      Yea, you move around enough, lady, so I don’t think you need it! But that other monitor sounds interesting, haha.

      June 18, 2014
  4. My BFF and her hubby got Fitbits recently (about 2-3 months ago now) and I didn’t really understand what they were or the motivation to have one. Thanks for doing the review, I “get it” now! I’m still not sure it’s something I truly want but it’s nice to know more about them.

    June 18, 2014
    • Cait Flanders #

      Happy it was insightful!

      June 18, 2014
  5. I’ve had mine for almost a month now and I field a lot of questions about it too. I describe it as a geeky pedometer for people obsessed with tracking things (like me) and that usually answers people’s questions pretty fast :)

    June 18, 2014
    • Cait Flanders #

      Ha, nice.

      June 18, 2014
  6. Sooo, I had no idea that fitbits allowed you to track your food and sleep as well. I also thought they were just glorified pedometers, but those additional functions could be really useful! I might have to add this to my discretionary budget now…

    June 18, 2014
    • Cait Flanders #

      Think about it, for sure! If you were here, I’d offer for you to wear mine for a day, just to see how it works. :)

      June 18, 2014
  7. It’s funny that you mention the difficulty of reaching 10,000 steps while working from home. Kyle has the Fitbit too and also works from home and it was a big eye-opener for both of us just how inactive it can make you. It’s definitely helped give us some perspective as to what a healthy amount of daily activity should look like.

    June 18, 2014
    • Cait Flanders #

      Good thing you guys have a dog you can take out for long walks. That would help motivate me, haha.

      June 18, 2014
  8. I’m pretty sure I want a FitBit, but I’m on the fence about whether to get a FitBit Flex of the FitBit One. I heard the Flex isn’t as accurate when it comes to steps but… it’s so much cuter than a FitBit One! Hahaha

    June 18, 2014
    • Cait Flanders #

      Haha, can’t help you there! I will say, it seems like it’d be easier to wear a bracelet (like a watch) than to clip something on. But maybe that’s just me?

      June 18, 2014
      • Elizabeth #

        See, i was wondering if there was one I could clip on. I do a lot of walking at work, but I never wear bracelets because they constantly hit on my keyboard tray and the Flex doesn’t look like it would be appropriate for the workplace dress code.

        I’ve been tempted to buy a pedometer, but I’d like to track my sleep too. Thanks for the review!

        June 21, 2014
        • Hazel #

          I have a Flex and wear it on my ankle during the day as I find it bothersome on my wrist. Fitbit says it’s meant for the wrist but I’ve read from people that wearing it on the ankle is a lot more accurate (especially with things like biking). I love being able to track my sleep!

          July 14, 2014
  9. As you know I didn’t end up buying one and opted for a Reebok pedometer that details kCal burned, steps, distance and mins active. I use it in conjunction with MFP and for $20 I’m really happy with it. It seems to be pretty accurate and discrete enough that I can hide it (on my bra). Glad the flex is working out for you! I still might get one for my husband.

    June 18, 2014
    • Cait Flanders #

      Nice! Are you finding it motivates you to move around more? (Although I’m sure the kid makes you do that anyway, hehe.)

      June 18, 2014
  10. I WANT ONE SO BAD

    Using my Swagbucks for Amazon cards ASAP. I need this!!

    I just wish it had a heart rate monitor… I think the Force did and then it burned people =\

    June 18, 2014
    • Cait Flanders #

      Hahaha… yep. That exactly.

      June 18, 2014
  11. L #

    Interesting review, thanks! I’m always so tempted by these… LOL

    June 19, 2014
  12. Sammt #

    I love my fit bit. I am obsessed with the sleep log.

    June 19, 2014
  13. Elizabeth #

    A tip for anyone who isn’t sure they’d use a pedometer: check your library. Our local library loans out “walking kits” which include local trail maps and a pedometer. I decided to give it a try to see if I would use a pedometer before buying one.

    June 21, 2014
  14. Sara #

    My mother and her sister got the original (One?) when they first came out and they love them. They’re fitbit buddies or whatever it’s called and challenge each other to step competitions and check in on each other from time to time. It’s adorable.

    I’ve always thought that fitbit geared itself toward our parents’ age group, but now that they’ve come out with the bracelet version it seems like more people our age are getting on board. For now I like a combination of My Fitness Pal and Daily Mile but if I scale back on running maybe I’ll have to look into something like this.

    June 21, 2014
  15. I just got a FitBit Zip a month ago (regifted to me by my brother, who received it last fall and it was still in the box when I helped him move in May, so he passed it onto me), so it was really interesting to see how you’re using your FitBit. I also work from home, I feel your pain on the challenges of getting in enough steps on weekdays! It was even tougher when I was visiting my mom in the suburbs and we drove everywhere.

    I actually think I prefer the Zip for a couple of reasons. I’ve heard others have gotten a skin rash from their Flex, but it sounds like you haven’t had that problem? I like that the Zip is unobtrusive to wear even in more formal settings (my other half has a Flex and won’t wear it to work because he works in a very professional office) and that I don’t have to remember to charge it. You’re right that it’s basically a glorified pedometer but it does have a gamified/social component that makes it fun.

    June 23, 2014
  16. Paul #

    I’m getting mine tomorrow – I’m pretty excited to start tracking my steps :)

    June 26, 2014
  17. Michelle #

    I just got a fitbit flex on Monday. I am curious what I’m doing wrong? I have a desk job so I do very little walking throughout the day. However, I had it on for a few hours and it said I walked 2,940 steps and 1.13 miles. The next day it said 5,561 steps and 15.89 miles. Wednesday I left it off and without it being messed with, it logged 84 steps and .24 miles and 1.659 calories burned.
    I have set my walk and run stride according to the instructions to ensure accuracy and yet it still over estimates. The weird thing is if I click on the steps and it takes me to the graph, it seems more accurate. For instance on Tuesday, the day it logged 5,561 steps, the graph only indicates 594 steps.
    Can anyone help me figure this out? I’m considering returning the product because I know for a fact it’s not reading my true results. I have it on my non-dominant wrist and I do type, but that little motion should not make it appear as thought I’ve done “15 miles”.
    I’m sorry, it’s just extremely discouraging. :-(

    June 27, 2014
  18. I came across Fitbit when I was looking for a watch that would vibrate to wake me up so that Jacob would not wake up too. I never ended up getting one because of the price point. I really wish you could wear it swimming. Kind of a deal breaker for me. Thanks for the review. Very helpful.

    July 3, 2014

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