I was given one of the new Fitbit Charge 3 fitness trackers to try, and as we were going to Norway for half term and I planned to go swimming (the Charge 3 is waterproof). I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to test it out thoroughly.
The first thing you notice is the Charge 3 comes with both large and small bands so it fits any wrist size. I just changed one side and the large strap fitted me perfectly. It’s very neat and unobtrusive and if you had a favourite analogue watch you could easily wear that alongside.
The initial process of syncing it with your phone or in my case my iPad was truly a joy. I didn’t have to go online or look at YouTube videos to find out how to do it, it was completely intuitive and automatic. Once set, you just start wearing it. I was a bit concerned that the battery life would be irritating and the Charge 3 would need topped up every day or two (especially in the beginning when I was constantly fiddling and checking out the new features), but it was only after five days that I charged it for the first time. The next time it lasted seven days!
I had been struggling to shake off the lurgy that everyone at work has had, coughing and feeling rubbish, so I hadn’t done any kind of aerobic expertise for several weeks. The most important thing the Charge 3 helped me with, was tracking my sleep patterns. Because of the coughing I wasn’t sleeping very well but with a clear record of how often I had woken up each night and how much of the various different sleep stages I’d had, I could see that was gradually getting better all the time.
When in Norway we often walk and use bikes to get around and the Charge 3 automatically knows what you are doing, I’m not sure exactly how it does this but the good thing is you don’t have to fiddle with any buttons (in fact there are no buttons) you just get on with doing things.
The weather was turning colder and because I wasn’t feeling too well at the beginning, when I finally did decide I was happy to swim, the water was a bit parky!
Still I wanted to see how the Charge 3 handled open water swimming. Devices that can measure your distance in open water can cost several hundred pounds and so the Charge 3 seemed a very good value option.
I went down to a little marina nearby us and found all the boats had been taken out the water for the oncoming winter. Temperature-wise the water wasn’t exactly balmy (it had been 24C here in the summer!) but I’m made of stern stuff so I got changed and hopped in.
The Charge 3 is so neat and slim I could put on my wet-suit without removing it first and I have never had a watch I could that with before. OK it wasn’t exactly comfy in the water, and as I was pretty out of shape as I hadn’t done any exercise for five weeks, so I only spent a short while in the water. But I swam a little route that I know the distance of and the Charge 3 got the distance bang on!
The super thing is, although you have some limited information, the real picture of your entire day is so easy to see from the Fitbit dashboard (Android or iOS). I have included a few screen grabs from mine but this really is just the tip of the iceberg as you can drill down and really analyse any aspect of your day (sleep, exercise , diet, water consumption or activity) to obtain a fantastically clear picture of what’s been going on.
What’s really useful is you can compare that with your own 30 day average or a benchmark of someone of the same sex in your age bracket.
You can set yourself goals for your step count, sleep, food or water consumption and I was surprised as to how motivating it is to have a little reminder (in the form of a gentle buzz on your wrist) that you were only 200 steps away from you goal. It’s amazing how often we take a lift when we can be coaxed to take the stairs! I understand the principle of how the Charge 3 works but how the Charge 3 knows if you’re on a bike or walking up the stairs or swimming leaves me a bit bewildered, but that’s the beauty of it, you don’t need to know – you just do!
Another great feature of that ‘buzz’ on your wrist was the silent alarm. Much appreciated by my wife for my 5AM starts at work. It can also me a reminder to do things which comes in handy at my age. I was surprised that you could link apps to the Charge 3 and this was really useful for the weather. Nice to just tap your wrist and know whether or not to take a brolly (or a thick wet-suit for swimming!).
All in all I was very impressed with what the Fitbit Charge 3 can offer and the ease with which it is set up and more importantly, how little maintenance it takes each day. I will definitely continue to use mine and monitor aspects of my life and be encouraged by my Charge 3 to take that extra step and not take the lift at work.
I have had a great break over the half term and will be looking forward to returning to work on Wednesday not least of all to see the whole gang again but also because Wednesday’s Today Special Value offer is a Kitchen Aid that I spotted in the kitchen prep area before I went away….. and that means loads of cakes….yay! See ya then.