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Sloane Applebaum

Product Review: Fitbit Flex

January 5, 2015

I've never been one to take any interest in fitness trends, but this past August, I gave in and purchased a Fitbit Flex. Truthfully, I purchased it because I had an $100 Apple Store gift card and saw it as a freebie.  Also, Tory Burch had just announced her line of jewelry that would be compatible with the Fitbit Flex, and as a TB employee, I felt it would be a good product to own. The Flex comes in 10 different colors, and I obviously chose pink because, well, why not?

Image Source: Ox Gadgets 

 

Before I go into my review of this product, I want to clarify what it actually is.  The Fitbit Flex is a tiny black device.  It has a thin screen that responds when it is tapped by showing 1 to 5 lights. The lights indicate your progress toward your goal, whether it be 10,000 steps daily, 3,000 calories burnt, or 45 active minutes.  When you initially buy a Fitbit Flex, you are given this black device, a colored bracelet of your choice (the package comes with both a small and a large bracelet), a computer doggle (which allows you to sync your Flex with your computer if you're not a smartphone user), and a charger.  I think it also includes an instruction manual but seriously, who reads those?

Here is an example of a Fitbit Flex "Starter Pack"

 Image Source: Lesterchan.net

 

Fitbit also sells the silicone bracelets separately, so you can add more colors to your collection.  I just recently purchased a pack of three bracelets that included navy, teal, and orange.  These packs retail at $30.  

Image Source: Pinterest

 

When I first purchased my Flex, I didn't know much about the device's capabilities.  I discovered most of the features as I went along, and while I'm sure there's still more I haven't taken advantage of yet, the Flex accomplishes the following tasks:

 

  • Daily Step Counter (essentially, it is a pedometer, and it also converts your steps into how many miles you have walked)

 

  • Active Minute Counter (based on your heart rate, the Flex can tell when you are being "active," and it counts how many minutes your activity lasts)

  • Calorie Counter/Water Intake Tracker

  • Sleep Tracker/Silent Alarm

  • Exercise Tracker

 

 

The last three of these tasks require additional effort by you, the wearer.  The Flex syncs with the Fitbit App, which can be downloaded on your mobile device.  It also syncs with Fitbit.com on your desktop computer if you use the computer doggle, but it's much easier to just do it through your phone.  Using this app, you can input your calorie intake by searching food products, scanning barcodes, or guesstimating how much you are eating on a daily basis.  I used the feature every single day before I left for college, but now it's nearly impossible to guess how many calories I eat at the dining halls, so I've basically given up on that feature.  You can also input how much water you drink daily, which is kinda fun.

 

 

The sleep tracker is one of my favorite features that comes with the Flex, and it can be used in two ways.  The first option is to put your Flex into "Sleep Mode" before you fall asleep at night by tapping the screen for two seconds.  The Flex vibrates and then goes into a tracking mode that marks the time you tapped it as the beginning of your sleep.  Then when you wake up the next morning, you tap the screen for two seconds to "wake up" your Flex, and after syncing it with your mobile app, you can see data from how you slept the night before.  It shows how long you actually slept, how many minutes you were restless, and how many minutes you spent awake. I've never used this data for anything useful, but I just think it's really cool.  The Flex also has a silent alarm, which you can set from your phone, and the alarm causes the Flex to vibrate, so it wakes you up without making loud noises.  This is great for college living, because if I have to wake up at 7AM but my roommate doesn't have to wake up until 9AM, I can use my silent alarm without disturbing her.

 

 

Finally, the Flex is, of course, an exercise tracker, and it also provides two ways of tracking your workouts.  Basically, you can either "track" or "log" your workouts.  Tracking means the fitbit takes data as the workout is happening.  This is really only useful if you're running outside.  It uses a GPS to observe your location as you run, and it gives encouraging cues (some find "2 more miles to go!" encouraging; I find it nauseating).  The other option, which I use much more often, is logging your workouts.  This is better for people like me who go to the gym on a daily basis.  I typically will do an eliptical or spin workout, and after my workout is complete, I take the data the machine gives me and input it in my Fitbit app.  The Flex still tracks your steps while you workout, but logging your workouts allows you to keep track of the calories you burn, as well   

 

The Fitbit Flex is a pretty cool product.  Since I've purchased it in August, I've noticed it has become increasingly popular.  Having a Flex is almost like being a part of this cool, exclusive club. You automatically have a bond with other Flex users because they know the struggle you've faced when deciding whether it's worth eating that slice of cake, knowing you'll have to calculate the calories later.  People with the Flex just really like talking to other people who also have the Flex ("Like, OMG, I was gonna run around Beebee Lake because I'm like 5,000 steps away from my daily goal, but then I was like, no I'll just go to the gym and watch The OC on an elliptical.") We understand each other.  It's a Flex thing.  I've already indoctrinated two of my friends, Katrina and Kineret, into the Flex cult. It's a really fun device, but it is even more fun if you have friends who also use it, because you can compete against them in different challenges to see who can walk the most in a day.  This is an especially great feature for someone with a competitve edge, like me, because it encourages me to walk home from the library instead of taking a bus because even if my ears are frozen and my feet are sore, victory is worth it.  

 

I definetly like the Flex. It was working 100% perfectly until 2 weeks ago when out of nowhere, it just stopped responding, stopped charging, and basically broke my heart.  Fortunately, Fitbit has a 1 year warranty on the Flex, so I was able to exchange it for a new one.  Fitbit was surprisingly accomodating, and my new Flex is already on it's way (they also included a new bracelet, too!). I really appreciated that they didn't give me a hard time with the warranty like some brands!

 

My only caution to future Flex users is to purchase either the black or navy silicone band.  The colored ones get REALLY DIRTY so quickly. Like I honeslty don't know where all this dirt comes from because it's not like I'm rolling in mud on a daily basis.  But my pink Flex was grey in about a month.  And they're like impossible to clean.  Just save yourself the trouble; stick to a dark color. 

 

So, overall YES, I would recommend this product to a friend.  It's fun, techy, and user-friendly. Do I feel healthier since I started using it?  Not in a major, life changing, way.  But, yes, on a small scale, I would say my lifestyle is healthier now.  I'm more aware of the calories I'm eating, I choose to walk rather than take a bus, and I go to the gym more frequently.  The great thing about the Flex is that you don't have to be a fitness-crazy olympic athlete to enjoy it.  It is a simple device that is really easy to use and makes fitness (somewhat) fun!

 

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