Fitness Tracker for a Not Very Athletic Person
February 14, 2017 5:11 PM   Subscribe

I've broken my second Fitbit Charge HR, and I've had it. What I need to track: steps and exercise time for non-step activities (swimming, yoga). It's okay if I need to enter non-step activities manually on the phone. Other features I'd like: pair with phone for call alerts; provide a vibrate alarm to wake me in the morning. Compatibility with iPhone 5s required, Windows 10 PC nice-to-have. Around $100, more or less. I prefer something that goes on my wrist to a clip-on.

I had a clip on pedometer and it was a giant pain. Kept coming unclipped, falling on the floor, etc. I should mention I can be a bit of a klutz so something relatively tough (i.e., can handle getting dropped) would be good.

Trackers I'm considering: Fitbit Flex 2, Misfit Ray, and ??? I'd prefer not to get a $30 no-name brand thingy that will fall apart in 6 months. I've fallen into the rabbit hole of Amazon reviews and it is not pretty. Help!
posted by tuesdayschild to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I got a Fitbit Flex 2 in November and I think it ticks all your criteria. It's nice that it's water proof. I like its small size. My only complaint is that its battery life is shorter than I'd like - it has to be charged at least twice a week.
posted by Kriesa at 5:56 PM on February 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure if I follow all your secondary requirements but you can use the preinstalled Health app (the pink heart) on an iPhone to track steps and you can also manually add additional data. You have to carry your phone around with you. I personally prefer the slight under reporting than over reporting though.
posted by raccoon409 at 6:52 PM on February 14, 2017

I've only my Flex 2 for about a month but I agree with Kriesa's assessment, both pro and con. From the reviews I've seen it does seem like the main complaint is the battery life.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:45 PM on February 14, 2017

My Garmin Vivoactive is almost two years old, but I still like it, and haven't had any technical problems. I've replaced the band a couple of times (I have a white one that turned purple from a the dye in a purple sweater - only in the band though, which is cheap and easy to replace). But it functions like new.

It tracks steps, is waterproof so you can wear it swimming and track that as an activity. You can also enter activities manually on your phone if you so choose. It has settings where it will vibrate when you get a call or text (and shows on screen, but I found that annoying and turned it off), and an alarm app you can download for free (or maybe it comes already installed, I can't quite remember). The vivoactive costs a bit more than your range ($150 now on Amazon), but the quality is great and it looks like it meets all your needs. I use the GPS function when I run, which lasts about 9-10 hours. Without using GPS, it can go without a charge for 10-14 days or so.

This is the 1st generation version I have, and there is also a newer, more expensive heartrate version.
posted by raztaj at 4:40 AM on February 15, 2017

Personally, I'm a big fan of Pebble. The Pebble 2 HR is the newest version, about $100 to $120, lasts anywhere from 3 to 7 days depending on how you use it, and is great with notifications. I wouldn't recommend the original Pebble (~$30) for fitness tracking since it's not very accurate, but all of them do count steps, can do sleep tracking, and are water resistant (to varying degrees depending on model).

Massive, massive caveat: Pebble just got bought by Fitbit and is no more. So you might find really good deals, and the apps (for phone and for the pebble itself) are still accessible. But support will go away eventually (2018?) and if you buy one and it breaks, you'll probably be SOL.
posted by Baethan at 6:07 AM on February 15, 2017

I love my Misfit tracker. It tracks walking, running, etc. steps, but it also has different exercise modes that include swimming. It is fully submersible in water, very simple to use, attractive, can be worn on the wrist or clipped, and tracks both movement and sleep. I think if anything on it breaks, it will be the rubbery watch band before the actual device. Power is via a button cell battery that isn't rechargeable, which is one of the few downsides.

The tracking is reasonably accurate, though it auto-classifies vigorous floor-mopping as moderate swimming, which I think is hilarious. You can correct the mode in the app, which works on my 5s. My only requirements were 1)tracks swimming and is waterproof, 2)Has a watch function, 3) Does not function as a smartwatch with phone alerts, and 3) Not gigantic. I think one of the more complex versions of the Misfit, like the Shine 2, would work well for you.

My version (I think the Shine 1?) was around $100, but it doesn't do a wake-up alarm. There is another version that has a vibrating alarm and it costs a little more, and I believe there is a smartwatch version that will pair with the phone.
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:44 AM on February 15, 2017

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