Whether you’re trying out an Apple watch, Fitbit, Whoop strap or chest strap Heart Rate Monitor, I believe the best fitness tracker is the one that you use, consistently.
- Apple watch has all of the additional gadgets built into it, with tracking, email, phone, music; The fitness tracking is just an added perk!
- Fitbit is a solid fitness tracker that started the craze of getting your steps in. For many people, they just need a reminder to be active, to move, to get your steps in.
- The Whoop strap being the latest and greatest, giving specific goals and real time strain coaching for each modality of workout; great for the competitive or performance-based mind.
- Garmin took GPS tracking to the next level, making it a favorite in the running community.
- Of course, you also have your traditional heart rate monitor chest straps, like MyZone and Polar, which some may argue is the most accurate of all heart rate tracking.
Caley Crawford, Row House Master Coach says "I’ve tried two generations of the apple watch, two generations of the Fitbit and a chest strap MyZone Heart Rate Monitor. I’ve come to realize that a fitness tracker is only effective for me if I can be consistent with it. I never could stay on top of charging my watches and the steps never quite motivated me. I started wearing the MyZone heart rate monitor chest strap when I workout, and for the first time I was able to have a clear visibility of what my heart rate was doing minute by minute in my workout and gain a little bit of control over my aerobic and anaerobic training. Row House (where I do most of my workouts) recently integrated with MyZone and being able to see my rowing stats combined with my heart rate stats has completely shifted my mindset and approach to my workouts. I’ve come to realize that I don’t need wearables to ‘motivate’, I want wearables that give me data that’s truly measurable and enhances my workouts and physical performance. Perhaps I should give the Whoop strap ago…."
What features should someone look at when selecting the best fitness trackers?
Caley: I think the biggest question is ‘what are you looking to get out of it’? Are you a runner? Rower? Swimmer? Casual gym goer? Someone just looking to be a little more active? Just looking to track your sleep habits?
The best fitness tracker for you is the one you’ll use consistently. If you don’t like things on your wrist (like me), then avoid a watch or wrist strap. If you need a visual, something to see and talk with you and vibrate when it wants you to do something, then don’t get a Whoop strap, or a Polar or MyZone chest strap. Some track sleep, some don’t. Some require charging frequently, some don’t. What compliments your lifestyle and modality of fitness best?
What are 5-7 of the best ways to put your fitness tracker to optimal use (so it won't end up sitting in a drawer)? For example, how can we use it for goal setting, step-tracking, fitness class progression, etc?
A few ways you can stay motivated in using your tracker:
- Download the app that likely goes with it. Many of them have apps that they connect to that give extra stats and information.
- Keep it charged! For any wearable that needs charge; buy two chargers! One for your home, and one for work.
- Make sure you like what it looks like! Get a color or style you love and you’re more likely to stick with it.
- Connect with friends. Many of the fitness trackers and apps have a social aspect that allows you to connect with friends. Getting involved in a community will help keep you motivated.
- Find a boutique studio that keeps you accountable for working out, and wear your tracker there to track your progress. At Row House, we track your progress for you, and the wearable is an added benefit!
- Take the time to learn all about your tracker. The ins and outs. If you know everything it’s capable of doing and really understand the stats it’s giving you, you’ll feel more motivated to keep using it.
- Turn your push notifications and reminders on to help you stay on track!
What features do YOU find yourself using most often on your fitness tracker?
Caley: For me, the tracking that’s been most successful has been a wearable that ties in with my fitness classes. The MyZone chest strap connects to my Concept2 rowing machine at Row House, so I can see my rowing stats in real time, as well as my heart rate in real time on my monitor. After class, I get an email that summarizes my heart rate activity as well as the work done on the rower (meters rowed, best split, avg. split). I enjoy connecting what I’m feeling in class with the real time validation afterwards; In a way, the stats say “Yes, you did work as hard as you felt”.
As a fitness coach myself, I find the tracking tied to a workout being vital to demonstrating to clients how they’ve improved over time. Rowing is incredibly measurable, similar to running. Being able to track both your rowing metrics and heart rate metrics over time is incredible for achieving goals like weightloss, heart health, increasing aerobic capacity, etc.
To summarize, if there is a fitness tracker out there that corresponds or integrates with your main source of activity, that might be the best one for you!
What are some of the most common useful aspects of a fitness tracker we might
overlook? (i.e. heart arrhythmia notifications, social network connections, etc)
- Sleep tracking
- Hydration and water tracker
- Social connection
- Integration with Apple health
- The ability to personalize (so it’s tracking YOU and not a generic average human that’s not you)
- Gamification (if you need a little extra FUN)
- Altimeter (if tracking altitude and elevation is important to you)