By Adam Drake
It’s hard to walk two blocks in New York City and not see someone wearing a fitness band. Millions of steps are being counted everyday, and the number grows exponentially as consumers begin to realize the value of monitoring fitness. But if you’re new to the wearables game, where do you start? Which band is right for you? We’ve taken a look at three of the most popular to help get you started.
I was on the fence about the FitBit until they recently updated their product line. The bands were monolithic rectangles that sat on your wrist. This all changed with the release of their Surge and Charge bands. The Surge in particular has everything I was looking for in a fitness band. It’ll count your steps, but it also records your heart rate, and uses a GPS to track your runs. This all-in-one band has a digital readout so you can monitor your workouts on-the-go, or simply tell the time while sitting at your desk. The only downfall of the FitBit is its app. I find Nike+ and Jawbone to offer better user interaction with their apps, and they’re more aesthetically pleasing.
Small, simple, but powerful. The Jawbone Up and Up 24 had a bumpy start, but they’ve since fixed the bugs and released exceptional fitness bands. The Up will monitor your steps as well as your sleep, and will help you input your food consumption and caffeine intake throughout the day. Aside from the small form factor, what really helps the Up stand out is its sleep monitoring. I find this extremely helpful in getting me to regulate my sleep pattern and how it relates to my daily activity. Their app is my personal favorite, as it’s simple to use, well designed, and full of useful information and tips that elevate your fitness. The Up 24 model also syncs wirelessly with the app, so you aren’t required to plug it in each day. The next step for Jawbone would be to add a heart rate feature as well as a GPS, to compete with the FitBit.
There’s a certain joy in running with my iPhone using the Nike+ app. I can monitor my running pace, elevation, and map in real time. But pairing it with a fitness band seems like overkill. The Apple Watch is set to be the all-in-one device for fitness, as well as optimal for syncing with your phone. However, there are some distinct problems with the device. First, the design leaves a lot to be desired. Coming from Apple and their creative genius, Jony Ive, I expected a lot more. This large and chunky watch seems to be a big misstep in the beautiful design they’ve released in the past. Second, the Apple Health app is good — but not great. It’s great at taking in information, but the data isn’t displayed as plainly as the Jawbone Up app. This is the first generation for both the watch and the app, so I expect the following versions to greatly improve on this foundation.
Quick buying guide:
FitBit: Great for active runners looking to monitor cardio and their running routes.
Jawbone Up: Perfect for more casual runners or those wanting to monitor both their daily steps and sleep.
Apple Watch: Wait on the purchase of this. They haven’t been officially released and we haven’t taken them for a spin, but we feel the form factor can be improved both in the hardware and software.
Adam Drake is Creative Director for the Sweat Life, a former four-year varsity rower for the University of Miami, and currently rows for the Maritime Rowing Club. He is the co-founder of Kayak for a Cause, a charity event based in Connecticut. As a writer, Adam has developed television shows for Comedy Central, Bad Boy Worldwide, and Sky, written ad campaigns for clients such as Bacardi, Starbucks, Dove Men+Care, and HBO, and was a contributor to the pop culture site YesButNoButYes. In his spare time, he enjoys skiing, boating, and working on his tremendous collection of unfinished novels.