There is lots to talk about when we begin down the road of Fitness Technology. There are broad gambits of items like watches, armbands and heart rate monitors that do an array of things to help you get in shape.
Ok, get some paper or a device to make some simple notes. We can narrow down your decision fairly quickly and leave you with the best options for you.
First off, when choosing a device – the very first question you have to ask yourself is “What do I want it to do?” Seriously – there is no point in buying a FitBit if all you primarily are going to use it for is a step counter. It will do that – but these devices offer A LOT more – and usually at a cost. There are cheaper options out there that will achieve the same goal if you only need it to count steps. Perhaps, however, your answer to this question is “I want to become more active.” This is an ok answer and if you’re new to the Fitness-Tech world, it is a common answer – but be specific – what activities are you looking at? Running? Walking? Swimming? Cycling? Weight Lifting? Be specific. This will help when you are looking for key features.
Second, write down “What is my budget?” Now be reasonable and put a $$ amount. The sky’s the limit when you are shopping for technology. Some runners would be happy with a $70-100 wrist counter that does the basics. Others, look for something like the Garmin ForeRunner 620 which can run northwards of $300!….. Or maybe money is no object and you simply want the best of the best. Unfortunately, you and I don’t operate in the same stratosphere. Don’t worry though – there are lots of people out there like that who will gladly give you their recommendations.
Lastly, ask yourself “What else would I like it to do.” Notice I said “LIKE.” The reason for this is because the watch actually does other things beyond just tracking your fitness — like tell time. If the watch interface is important – write that down. It’s a selling feature. Do you want it to be waterproof? How about colour? What about size? What about build materials? Customizable or fixed interface? Before I purchased my first Fitness/Smart Watch, I actually looked at about a dozen and give up on about half because I didn’t like the actual watch interface. You might think that it’s not important, but you might end up using the device outside of your dedicated “work-out” times – like a Smart Watch which gives notifications and tracks daily steps. Look around and find out features. Write down the ones you like and keep them in mind.
**A quick side note about Heart Rate Monitors: There is a vast difference between watches that have integrated HR Monitors on board and ones that communicate with a chest band. Chest bands tend to be more accurate overall. I strongly suggest that if you want a heart-rate monitor, you consider looking more into this technology. It will change over time, but watches like the Apple Watch tend to have difficulty when moisture get between you and the watch – which will happen while working out. If you’re working out and you’re not sweating…. you’re doing it wrong.
Ok, now time for the research. It’s really easy to find the big name companies that are into this technology field. Simply go to Google.com and type in “Activity Tracker for under $$”, putting in your budgeted amount. Start looking at different models – but be sure to head over to CNET or Amazon for reviews and price comparisons. It is unlikely that the best price for these devices will be found in-store – but it’s possible. Most sales are online, because it’s much cheaper to stock and ship these items around the globe than it is to keep them in the store where one person MIGHT want one.
What did I go with? I chose the Garmin VivoActive, Gen 1. It’s a great device. First off, it’s got several of the activities I do already programmed in. Running, Walking, Cycling and Indoor Cycling. It also has an external Heart Rate Monitor (see ** above for details) and a built-in GPS – which is great for leaving the phone at home and hitting the road. It also shows notifications from my iPhone 6+ and even allows me to accept or hang up on calls before taking the phone out of my pocket (amazing for meetings). I bought it when it first came out, so it was in the $250 neighbourhood, but now you can find it under $200. Also does come in White, if Black isn’t your thing. It’s a touch screen and works well – giving me up to the second data on my heart rate, calorie burn and workout time. Battery life is good (about a week’s worth) – as long as you don’t leave the GPS on (then it’s about 7 hours). Also has a “Find my Phone” option that will ring your lost phone – as long as it’s connected via Bluetooth. Pretty slick and has helped me out several times. The Connect App is alright – not amazing, but works with MyFitnessPal if you track calories.
I really like my VivoActive.
There are lots of options out there – be sure to ask those three questions and you’ll be sure to find something that can hit 85% of your needs and wants.
Good luck, eh?