Motivated by a new FitBit One activity tracker, I ended my workday yesterday with a lovely walk around Mercer Island. It was a great time to be out walking: ideal temperature (<70°), golden late afternoon sunshine, blooming roses and aromatic lavender everywhere. My typical day features a yoga practice — beautiful in its own way, but lacking the outdoor sensory delights of warm sunshine and flowers blooming.
A Likeable First-Gen Device
There’s a lot to like about the FitBit One — that is, if your daily activities are the kinds of things it was designed to track. It’s great for active people who walk, hike, jog, climb stairs, etc.
I like the immediate feedback on the display — you don’t have to log in to a website just to see daily stats. The rechargeable battery lasts for several days.
It syncs wirelessly via a USB dongle attached to your computer, or via Bluetooth to iPhones, iPads, Android devices and so on. After syncing your tracker, you can go online to view fitness statistics displayed on your personal dashboard.
Here are some of my stats from yesterday’s walk. Nice, but not what you’d see from a serious athlete. Not too bad for someone with a deskbound job and long workdays…
Mercer Island features lake views, walking trails with staircases and lots of hills, so I earned a badge due to my hill climbs. The walk itself was less than 4 miles, so no badge… The people behind FitBit sent an “attaboy” email this morning, to encourage me to be more active.
Not Designed for Yoga Practitioners
For people like me, whose wellbeing or fitness régime centers on a daily yoga practice, the FitBit One is far from ideal.
When wearing yoga tops and tights, there’s no safe place for a fitness tracker. A well-rounded yoga practice is likely to involve balancing on most of the places where you might think to attach your tracker. It wouldn’t be smart to risk weight-bearing activities on a pocket containing a $99 device.
Wearing a tracker around your neck looks dorky. Plus, the tracker would be distracting if it flopped against your face or neck when you’re inverted. Hide it in your shelf bra? High risk that it would fall out during downward facing dog, headstand or shoulder stand…
Wear it in the wide wristband? Dorky. Maybe if you’re one of those guys who warms up (shows off?) with a bunch of Marine push-ups before yoga class, wearing the tracker on a wristband would be a plus. But for women decked out in Lululemon, there’s no good place to attach a fitness tracker.
The other day I enjoyed a 90-minute yoga class in a heated studio — a very vigorous practice — 2 pounds lost in 90 minutes. I chose not to wear the tracker to that class, so there was no record of my activity. Therefore my FitBit One logged that day as largely inactive… Not true, but there is no way for FitBit’s dashboard to display yoga practice activities.
I plan to experiment with my tracker during some home yoga practices, to see if I can stand it when doing yoga. Maybe I can overcome the dork factor…
There are other capabilities (such as tracking sleep patterns or the silent alarm) that I haven’t tried.
For now, my assessment is that the FitBit One is good at what it does, but not so good for tracking what I do… Despite those limitations wearing it is surprisingly addictive…
For amusement I sometimes put the FitBit in the wristband holder and wear it while practicing yoga at home. Despite a vigorous one-hour flow practice, it will measure just a few steps — nothing that’s close to representing the energy expended during that yoga practice. My conclusion: next-gen trackers may have more sophisticated motion sensors that work better for yoga, but the current options are limited.