Four months ago I decided to monitor getting fit and bought myself the new FitBit Blaze. Four months on we will see whether it is any good, and whether I have lost any weight. I might not have the money to spend on lots of gadgets, but when I do it is to make myself realise it it worth it.
A Quick Recap
So 4 months ago I went on a bit of a rant while I was reviewing the unboxing of my new fitness watch; proprietary chargers and all that. I also wrote that post entirely on the WordPress App for Android, which was apparently a pain in the derriere as well! The original review of my FitBit Blaze is still on my blog if you want to read that first (not that you really need to).
So over the last 4 months I have been using my FitBit Blaze as my normal daily driver of a watch and wearing it for most of my tasks including my recent endeavour into working out with resistance weight machines in the gym.
I also have not been blogging about my work with the Hospital Broadcasting Association for a while, so we will get back to that soon as well. Like any really bad blogger, I let all my bits and pieces blend together in one big mess, usually with lots of digression and tangent.
A Solid Watch
So from a build quality, my Blaze is actually still soundly built. The actual watch unit of the Blaze is a separate sealed (but not waterproof) unit which you click into and out of a separate strap.
I had thought that by now I would be having problems as the clipping in and out causes wear and tear, but there has been none. What probably helps is that you secure and remove the watch unit on the inside of the strap, you have to take the watch off to do it, so that means that it would be tight against your arm; but I was still expecting some play.
A Scratch Free Watch
Despite me taking a bit of extra case with £160 of watch, you know as well as I do that things are going to get knocked. The watch still has not got any more than a single more on the face though, I am not sure how it even happened but it is the smallest mark that you hardly notice it and it actually looks like a small shard of paper trapped in the watch bezel. I may at some point find a very fine needle and see if it is something that can be hooked out.
I opted for the standard wrist strap to go with my Blaze as well. You have three FitBit options including leather and metal (and other third party accessories are of course on the market) – but although my rubber basic strap rubs on my wrist and occasionally causes dry skin, it is not uncomfortable or causing any damage that I can tell of.
Working Out with Blaze
Working out in the gym with the FitBit Blaze is not too bad. To get the best readings I usually loosen it off one notch on the trap and push it so it is about two finger widths from my wrist – although FitBit recommends three.
Depending on how regiment you are to changing the type of workout you can opt to record each element of your exercise individually… my forgetfulness meant that I just set it to “workout” and off I go; a combination of cardio and resistance weights for 90 minutes.
Problem 1: Once You Pop – You Can’t Stop
Yes – So I try to avoid Pringles like the plague to lose weight – nothing like subliminal advertising
This is the first problem that I have encountered with the FitBit Blaze; once you press the start button to exercise, it locks you in so you can only see details about the exercise.
This is not just about not being able to read notifications though. Usually you can of course read text messages and see any incoming calls when you are paired with your mobile phone and okay, so you might not want them to disturb you.
The other problem is that your Blaze also connects to your phones media player and if you don’t like the track that you are listening you can’t change the track until you have finished your exercise. I am quite happy to do that on most accounts, but there are those times when you get a really bad Beyonce track or something from S Club 7 pop up in the middle of a good playlist on Spotify.
So working out my watch is okay. I can’t do everything that I want to do with it, but it (apparently accurately) tells me I burn around 1000 calories in my 90 minute workout and tells me my peak heart rate is around 150 to 160. Although the watch comes with a small summary of your workout when you tell it you are finished; you can find much more information on your FitBit app (or web interface) including lots’s of pretty graphs.
Like a normal watch, once you have spent some time with the watch it feels almost natural that you should have it on; except that it keeps lighting up when you don’t want it to.
Problem 2: It Tries To Keep You Up
This is because of a feature that you can use during the day called Quick View and means that the screen wakes up if it thinks that you have lifted your wrist to look at it. This is great during the day when you are running on the treadmill and you want to see what your heart rate is, but when you are asleep and restless, the last thing that you need is a big bright light drawing your semi-conscious attention.
Problem 3: and then it doesn’t GET you up
There is one other flawed feature as well, which might be because of the Quick View or just general, in that the FitBit silent alarm either does not wake you up each time, or it it really easy to turn off in your sleep. Now for a bit of an admission…. I have 4 alarms to get me up if I need to be up at 4am: my Galaxy Note 4 smart phone at 03:57, my FitBit watch at 04:00 and at 05:00 and my very loud clock at 05:30. I also have the watch set to 06:00 which is a reminder to leave the computer alone and go to work.
The watch rarely wakes me up, despite being on 7 days a week. I don’t even need to get up at 4am more than 7 days a month.
Sleep recording on my FitBit Blaze also gets recorded on the apps in terms of how much you have slept and how restless you were. as you can see I have had a few bad nights (or days, if I was working nights) over the last month, but I also get to aim for a target, which by default is 8 hours. This screenshot is from the Windows 10 “Trusted Windows App” available as a free download on the Windows Store.
You can also go into more detail on each days sleep, FitBit tells you where it thinks you were restless and where you were awake,all based on the movements that you have and your heart rates recorded on your watch. I have mine set on the standard mode (it also includes a sensitive mode) and it tells me I usually have some restless periods during my REM sleep, which explains some of my tiredness during the day; but it also accurately records the times of when I have to get up and … erm … answer the call of nature.
The Android App
This is where I find most of the FitBit information works for me. I read a lot of information on my Android version of the App but I also have it installed on my Windows 10 laptop.
I find the dashboard, which loads first when you open it up, is the place where I generally where I find all the updates I need during the day, seeing how my steps and calorie balances are coming on, etc. The app does take a while to update itself though and anything other than the steps will sometimes need a bit of a poke with the virtual stick so that it updates but that is probably my impatience.
Detailed FitBit Information
If you want to see detailed information on the move using your smartphone then the FitBit app is actually quite good.
As you can see I have been to the gym as I have had a reasonable cardio session. Knowing my workout routine I can tell you that I had a warm-up at that first mid-range spike, three HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sets on the rowing machine and reached a heart rate of 163 on the last of those, and I was doing resistance weights in between….
Yes – I am not very fit – I know.
Connecting with MyFitnessPal
If you are calorie counting with MyFitnessPal already then you can connect the two together and you will see the calorie counting and the times of day you eat going one way, and your step count and calorie adjustment going the other. The only thing to be aware of though is that FitBit by default does not take into account any planned deficiencies you have programmed into MyFitnessPal, meaning I have a 2000 calorie target on one and 2500 on the other.
If you like graphics then the app also uses traffic lights to tell you whether you are on target or under/over.
Would I Still Buy the FitBit Blaze?
I would like to say that I am entirely happy with the product, but actually I am not completely satisfied.
- I would have liked the ability to juggle the music tracks while I am working out, without having to reach across onto my arm, unlock the phone and going to Spotify; but maybe I should actually try and build a playlist I like better.
- I would have liked for the watch to wake me up with vibrations at 4am and not have to wake up the wife – albeit she is awake a lot at the moment being 34 weeks pregnant.
- I would like something more standard as a charger.
The thing is though that the FitBit Blaze is actually quite good at most of what it does. When I compare the heart rate during a workout to what it says on the cardio machine; it’s accurate. When I record what I eat in MyFitnessPal the FitBit keeps up and also keeps a track of my weight.
I really want to use it to lose weight and get fit. I am not really losing much weight, but the FitBit Blaze seems to want to help.
You can buy your FitBit Blaze on Amazon, and my next fitness purchase…. probably an Aria bluetooth scales to go with it.