By Rebecca Warriner
Confession: I am not a gadget-eer (however, I do like to look cute while I train!). My name is Rebecca, I am a triathlete and I don’t own a Garmin, GPS, or scale. My modus operandi is to train ‘naked’— no watch, no computer; I listen to my body and adjust accordingly. It works for me.
Until I wore the Flex2 I couldn’t tell you how far I walked or ran during a day, how many calories I burned, or how many hours I slept. If you want hard numbers, I’m not your person. However, I have been a little curious about fitness trackers and Fitbits.
The Fitbit Flex 2 is a great entry-level device that relies heavily on the use of a phone or laptop to get the data. I gave it a 1-month test drive and am happy to share my results with you!
Movement & Training
The most talked about fitness tracker feature is step count. I’ve used old-style, clip-on pedometers and as I tend to have some wiggle in my walk, one step for me would track 2 or 3 steps but not on my Flex2! With the Flex2 you specify wearing it on your dominant or non-dominant hand and it uses the swinging arm movement to capture your steps. In an effort to keep you on track, the Flex2 has a silent vibration reminder to get up and move through the day. Just a subtle, one-time vibration if 250 steps in an hour has not been achieved. As you go about your day tap the wrist unit and a progress indicator shows you how close you are to your step goal. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that I did become a bit of a step junkie until the newness wore off… one night as I got in bed and checked my app I had taken 19,640 steps. Seriously! So I got out of bed and walked around my house to get it to 20,000. I see how this could be fascinating to track!
It does capture running easily; however, if you run with a jogger (which I do about half the time) it won’t capture the steps as accurately unless you never change your grip and keep the same hand on your jogger. It depends on that swinging arm movement. But on runs without my jogger, it did an excellent job capturing distance and steps! It was nice to get those 10,000 steps in before 11am!
The Flex2 also tracks swimming. After 5 or 10 minutes (you set the time) of consistent swimming it picks up the motion and begins tracking. Kicking doesn’t count so if you have a kicking set it will assume you are done and will start a new workout for you. The swimming isn’t as accurate but that’s ok as I can always tell you exactly how far I swam.
Now for the number junkies, if you cycle it will not register as your arms are stationary; there is a work around for that. During a few spin classes I put the tracker inside my shoe and it registered the workout as an “elliptical” run. So it didn’t give me the same mileage but it did track the effort of a continuous 1-hour workout.
We have 2 snoring dogs, 2 cats who insist on taking turns sleeping beside me, and a 4-year old who sometimes needs to get in my bed at 2am because he is lonely— sleep doesn’t always happen super soundly for anyone but my teenagers who sleep through everything. BUT the show goes on— training alarms sound at 4:30am and the backup alarm at 4:45. With the Flex2, I can now get a silent vibration on my wrist tracker to wake me up! What a treat to have a silent alarm that actually wakes me up nicely without waking my husband. Each day I look at my iPhone app and see how I slept that night. It starts my “sleep” time when I get in bed and sit still reading a book; shows me times during the night when I was restless; and when my 4-year old is lonely it shows me when I awaken to comfort him. I don’t do a lot with that data but on a more tired day it helps me understand if I see that I had 10 restless moments during a 6 hour sleep session.
Eating & Drinking
Are you a food logger? That takes some real discipline but the Flex2 makes it easy with a built-in barcode scanner! I am not a food logger but wanted to give this little gadget a full test run so I logged my food for a week. And wow – it was surprisingly easy. Eat a granola bar, scan it. Eat a yogurt, scan it. Eat a banana, click 1 banana. And my homemade, sort-of-healthy chicken-n-dumplings? Yep – that was in their food list too (don’t judge, it was delicious!)
The battery in the wrist unit lasts me about 4-5 days and then takes about 2 hours to charge. It charges in my car when I’m driving for longer periods of time, during the afternoon kid pickup/dropoff, or when I’m sitting at my desk working.
At a price point of under $100 – this is a huge win! Oh and remember when I mentioned that I like to look cute when I train… well the Flex 2 looks like just another bracelet so it’s not totally in the way (ahem you monster Garmin wearers). Cute? Check! Affordable? Check! Functional? Check!
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Rebecca Warriner is a mom, wife, triathlete, Race Director, and Mary Kay lady (she runs, her mascara doesn’t). She has been doing endurance events since 1997 and still loves a good long race. In her ‘free time’ she organizes races in Wake Forest, NC at MilesIntoSmiles.com.