How Can Fitbit’s Fitness Trackers Improve Your Workout Performance?

A Short Review of Fitbit’s Charge HR Fitness Tracker

Here at the 12Rockets Studio we often have the opportunity to test different wearable and connected devices. Some of them are clients’ devices that are not yet established and some are well-known devices that you can buy. One of the devices I recently tested and decided to continue using is the Fitbit Charge HR.

Charge HR, which is available on Fitbit’s website for $149.95, is a fitness tracker displaying everything from the time through your activities throughout the day and your heart rate. Charge HR uses Bluetooth to automatically sync your stats with your computer or smartphone. On its OLED display, you can see your data directly or access them inside of your iOS, Android, Windows Phone or Web app to track your progress via detailed charts and graphs.

Charge HR Specifications:

  • OLED Display – it won’t drain your battery as quickly as an LCD screen.
  • Lithium-polymer battery lasts up to 5 days and the charge time is only one to two hours.
  • Optical heart rate monitor, 3-axis accelerometer, altimeter, vibration motor.
  • Syncing to mobile devices requires both a Bluetooth and an Internet connection.
  • Syncing to computers requires the Internet connection and a USB port.
  • Call notifications via Bluetooth 4.0.

Competition in this market is huge, but Fitbit certainly handles it well. With the Fitbit Charge HR and the Fitbit Surge, both of which can track your heart rate, they made the right call.

“With Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge, features like heart rate tracking are made simpler by being continuous and automatic so the technology works no matter what you’re doing and the experience is seamless yet powerful, giving users valuable all day health insights” 

James Park, CEO and Co-Founder of Fitbit.

The only thing I don’t like about Fitbit in comparison with the Nike+ FuelBand SE or the Razer Nabu is their design. The Charge HR is made of a durable elastomer material similar to that used in many sports watches and (for now) it is only available in black. Fitbit recently announced however, that soon the black band will be joined by a new purple option. Another possibility for the Charge HR would be to partner with a famous fashion designer to develop a line of more high fashion wearables like they did with Tory Burch and the Fitbit Flex.

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How does the Fitbit Charge HR work?

To track your activity, all you need to do is wear the device. It tracks workouts, heart rate, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, sleeps and steps. You can also set a silent alarm so you won’t be stressed out every time your alarm rings. The silent alarm wakes you up gently by vibrating a few times. The alarm will snooze by itself and vibrate again after a few minutes. The Caller ID functions more like an additional feature for those who often miss calls.

The HR option is an advantage compared to the Fitbit Charge as it helps you to check your heart rate with the press of a button. They use PurePuld LED lights that reflect off the skin to detect contractions in your capillaries.  If you turn on the HR option, the device will measure your heart rate automatically and continuously.

Why does every wearable need a mobile app?

This is not just for wearable devices, it is also for all connected devices, especially those with a small display. On the small display, you can check your current stats but not your progress. That’s why the apps are essential parts of these products. Fitbit, like other similar devices, has an app that helps you to optimize your health with charts and graphs by analyzing your activity over time.

When you enter the mobile app, the first thing you see is a dashboard with an overview of all your activities. By clicking on each option, you can see a detailed account of your activity. Each activity has a few different graphs that will help you perform a better analysis. For example, the heart rate option has 4 graphs plus a daily resting heart rate value. Click through the mockup below to see how it works.

You can set a target rate zone to ensure you are pushing yourself hard enough. After each exercise, you can review how much time you spent in each heart rate zone. You can customize your zone range or use the three pre-defined zones. Zones are calculated based on a maximum heart rate of 220bpm. Those zones are low, medium and high or fat burn, cardio, and peak as they are called in the app.

badgesThe Fat burn zone is a good place to start for those new to exercise. Here you use 50-69% of your maximum heart rate.  It’s called the fat burn zone because a higher percentage of calories are burned from fat, but the total calorie burn rate is lower.
The Cardio zone is the medium to high-intensity exercise zone and good zone to focus on. Here you use from 70 to 84% of your maximum heart rate.
Peak is the high-intensity zone and if you practice in this zone in short sessions it could improve your overall performance and speed. In this zone, your heart rate is greater than 85% of maximum heart rate.

While some fitness apps connect you to a community of people who cheer you on and send their support, others motivate you through competition. I like the gamification built into Fitbit’s app. It allows you to take a challenge and earn a badge. Each challenge has its own rules. For example, the point of the Goal Day challenge is to see who can hit their personal goal in a day. It runs for a single day and can be a different day for certain participants depending on their time zone. Up to ten people can participate. You can invite friends to join you and they can invite their friends. Badges are designed to reward your step-based activities for your daily step counts and lifetime distance traveled. Badges are only recorded while you wear your Fitbit tracker.

Fitbit Charger HR + the Fitbit app is a great solution for your fitness tracking. I would definitely recommend it to all active people who care about their health. The value of the device is obtained in full by using the app. That’s why every manufacturer of connected devices should be prepared to develop an app.