For the last few days, I’ve been wearing three fitness trackers at once. No, it’s not because I’m obsessive about metrics (though I kind of am). It’s because I wanted to see if one was truly better than the rest. How three of the most popular trackers–the BodyMedia FIT, the Nike+ FuelBand, and the FitBit–stack up against one another? To find out, I’ve basically become part cyborg.
Ok, not exactly. But it has been unusual to have three pedometers/calorie monitors tracking my every move (for the most part). Especially since I started with just one. Here’s how this all came about.
For my birthday, I received a FitBit, which I was very excited about. Since Nike’s much-hyped FuelBand came out this spring, I’d become very interested in fitness trackers–they’ve been shown to help get people moving more, and can take a lot of the mystery out of weight loss and overall health.
And because I liked it so much, I Tweeted about it and mentioned it here on Blisstree. Which is what prompted a very lovely and helpful PR rep from BodyMedia to reach out to me, and to see if I might like their tracker a little better.
I accepted the offer with the initial intention of just comparing the two of them. But then, wanting to make it a little more interesting, editor Briana contacted Nike, as well, to find out if we couldn’t round out this little round-up. The kindly obliged, as well. And so, the challenge was on.
In the interest of maintaining a level playing field, I didn’t try out any of the extras or perks. The FitBit, for example, offers a scale that can be synced wirelessly to report your gains and losses, as well as body fat and other measurements, and the FuelBand has a whole host of other Nike+ devices. The BodyMedia FIT has an additional satellite screen that you can buy, so that it actually has a read-out. I also didn’t try BodyMedia’s wireless version, which is pricier and doesn’t work as similarly to the others as the CORE armband. I wanted them all to be on about equal footing.
I scored them using the categories that I thought were the most important in my use–including basic functionality, convenience, and wearability–and gave them a final letter grade, which is at the end of this piece. And, to be honest, it was a tough call. Each of these gadgets makes working out (and life in general) more fun, and motivated me to walk when I’d usually bus, take the stairs, and generally move more.
As usual, I’d love your input. If you’ve had a great experience with any of these, be sure to let me know. You can also leave questions about my experience in the comments, and I’ll be sure to answer them.
- BodyMedia: A
- FuelBand: B, because it monitors fewer things
- FitBit: B, because it’s the only one that stopped working at any point
When it comes to actually working, all three of these trackers are winners. The only one that I’ve had any problems with was the FitBit, which stopped working after about a week. But their customer service department was really helpful, and they sent me a new one.
Regarding what they do and how they work, each of these trackers monitors different metrics, so if you’re trying to decide which one you may want, consider what they measure.
FitBit monitors the most metrics: Steps, calories burned, floors climbed, “activity points” (their version of Nike’s Fuel, which is a proprietary measurement of overall movement and health), mileage walked, and it also shows the time. BodyMedia also monitors sleep, in addition to activity (both vigorous and moderate), steps, and METs. And it does it using actual sensors that touch your body, which makes me think they’re more accurate. The FuelBand doesn’t monitor sleep, but does display steps, calories, the time, and how many “fuel points” you’ve earned.
Sleep monitoring is awesome–and BodyMedia does it amazingly accurately.
But here’s one thing that the FitBit and BodyMedia have to offer that Nike doesn’t: You can add activities if, say, you weren’t able to wear the tracker, or if the tracker wasn’t able to pick up on it. This was really helpful when I went to hot yoga, which doesn’t really register as a calorie-burning activity for the non-sensor trackers.