Being an active sportsman and sports tech enthusiast, I am a huge fan of fitness trackers. The craze for these gadgets have started a while ago and is reaching the maturity stage, with all the major brands (from Nike to Garmin and Apple) coming up with new models every month.
However, it hasn’t always been like this. In the beginning, many people doubted the accuracy and purpose of fitness trackers. Experts in the sports industry were laughing at people advocating their usefulness. I am not ashamed to admit that I was one of them.
A few years back, I was still a young student with no concerns in life, being lucky enough to grow in a family of Singaporean athletes that always provided me everything(freedom & $$$) I asked for when it was comes down to sports. Every week, I could run a few miles, go out and drink with my friends, play tennis and basketball at my condo… all this while keeping a pretty irregular nutritional regime (because deep inside, we all love McDonald’s :) )
However, as the years passed and I grew older, I started working in a startup, which took up most of my free time off and I moved out of my parents’ house to relocate permanently with my girlfriend near the CBD area.
Due to the fact that I was not training and eating unhealthily at this stage of my life (20s - early 30s) it created an impact on my physique and health. That’s when I started to look at fitness trackers with a different eye, the eye of the person who needs to optimize as much as possible the little time he has left for sports and wants at the same time to perform at the best of his capabilities in his career.
I still wanted to complete a marathon, participate in a triathlon competition and keep enough flexibility and strength in my muscles to be able to beat the other player on the basketball court.
Essentially, I saw that fitness trackers was the best way to try to cheat over the younger folks who had the luxury of time on their side. :)
That’s how I came up with the conclusion that different range of fitness trackers can produce different type of results I was looking to get. In every piece of technology, I was looking for the quality of its hardware (especially in terms of accuracy and movement detection) and its design.
It is essential that you wear your fitness tracker 24/7 in order for it to work as it is supposed to. Hence, comfort plays a big part in the selection process. Usually, fitness trackers are connected to your smartphones, so those with connectivity issues are a big no-no and not included in this list.
Finally, in the era of open source software, it is crucial for a good fitness tracker to be compatible with as many apps as possible, such as MyFitnessPal.
Having said that, here’re some of the fitness trackers that I have tried and used for quite a long time and concluded that they are among the best that the market can offer today.
Let’s start with the Fitbit Charge 2, which sets itself apart from being more than just a fitness tracker since it takes calls, text messages and calendar alerts. Its accuracy is pretty decent and won’t miss any step you log every day while walking to the office or running at the beach. One disadvantage is that it’s not swim-proof, so don’t forget to take it off if you want to dive into the pool after a gym session.
Another interesting device is the Nokia Steel (AKA Withings Activité Steel). At first glance, the Nokia Steel might seem an ordinary smartwatch, however, it tracks all your movements, from running to swimming. With the support of the Health Mate app, the Nokia Steel also allows you to keep your diet under check and is able to sync with the Nokia’s smart scale . The battery is extremely long lasting, up to 8 months. Therefore, charging it wouldn’t be one of your main concerns.
For those who don’t like to carry their phone around while running, then the TomTom Spark 3 has enough memory storage (3GB) to put all the Jay-z tracks you need to motivate yourself at every step of the road. Something very cool that this little one has is the breadcrumb feature, which comes very helpful at those times that your adventure in unfamiliar places and you can’t find your way back.
A popular alternative for runners is the Garmin Forerunner 15. It's very affordable, sold at only $139, and it works without your phone. It works as a great coach as well, thanks to its inactivity alert that that informs you every time you have been sitting for too long at your desk. After trying it, I can understand why this is one of most appreciated fitness trackers in the market.
Within the Garmin family, we can finally find two more products that are worth to mention. The Vivomove HR hybrid smartwatch and the Vivosport.
The Vivomove HR can be yours for just $200 and will serve you as an analog watch as well as a fitness tracker. It’s waterproof with a battery life of 5 days on a single charge.
The Vivosport cost $200 as well, with a 7 days battery life and all the basic features a fitness tracker needs to have. It’s extremely accurate and can log all the activities on a web page that you can share them with your family and friends, in case they wondered where you end up running too. :)