The world of wearable fitness has seriously blown up. No longer are hardcore athletes the only ones keeping up with there calories and mileage — these babies have been taking over our lives year by year. And with this surge to the everyday consumer, it seems like not a day goes buy where a new brand or version of wearable fitness trackers are thrown at us.
We all need a little motivation to get up and get going, right? And nothing says motivation like the perfect fitness tracker that helps you meet your specific personal goals. Check out our list of what’s on the market and the basics of different trackers, just in time for the holidays.
The fitness tracking world doesn’t have to be intimidating — the award winning Moov Now makes everything simple. Though the lowest priced tracker on our list, the number of things it does is amazing: aside from the expected step and sleep tracking, it also acts as a personal fitness coach, with real-time audio feedback and running, cycling, swimming and boxing data. Made for training, Moov Now also shows you how to work out in proper intervals for the fastest, safest #gains. The only thing it doesn’t have is GPS. Get it on sale for $40.20 here.
Kate Spade New York is a designer brand that makes chic jewelry. The brand also has a super elegant fitness tracker disguised as chic jewelry. The mother-of-pearl bangle looks just like a regular bracelet, but links with an app to track steps, sleep, and fitness goals. The tracker alerts you with vibration notifications and lets you control music and take selfies as well. If you or someone you’re gifting wants to track their activity without sporting a rubbery fitness band, the Kate Spade bangle tracker is the one. Choose from silver, gold, or rose gold and get it for under $50 here.
If you’re set on getting a Fitbit but aren’t sure where to start, the Fitbit Flex 2 is a good place to begin. Designed as a more general-purpose tracker, the Flex 2 is thin, light, and subtle. It tracks the usual steps, calories, etc., as well as sleep, but the stand-out feature is that it’s Fitbit’s first swim-proof tracker. Though it does benefit from SmartTrack for automatic workout recognition, it’s much less advanced than its siblings, making it a perfect first Fitbit. Get it on sale for $59.90 here.
Fitbit has taken the fitness tracking world by storm and it might seem impossible to keep up with the latest from the brand. If you’re set on a Fitbit and want the best of all features combined, the Fitbit Charge 2 is your device. Including the usual step, calories, and sleep tracking, the Charge 2 uses PurePulse to monitor your heart rate and rate VO2 Max (a scientific gauge of fitness) and a personalized cardio fitness score. If you want the best of all worlds, get the Charge 2 on sale for $129.99 here.
If you (or the person you’re gifting to) constantly complains about the world’s smartphone addiction, the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro could be their best friend. This tracker is one of the only ones with built-in GPS and Spotify streaming, meaning you can listen and track where you go without connecting to the app, meaning that extra device can be left at home. Don’t worry — it still lets you keep track of phone notifications and respond to calls and texts right from your wrist. Get it for $149.99 here.
The Garmin Vivosmart 3 is the thinnest of the brand’s line, but there’s a lot packed into this little device that makes it helpful for people who aren’t runners or gym-goers. The Vivosmart 3 isn’t just a fitness tracker, but a stress tracker as well. The heart rate monitor measures your heart rate while it’s resting to give you a stress score, with a guided breathing feature designed to lower stress when the score is too high. The Vivosmart 3 also monitors strength training by tracking sets, reps, and rest times that can be reviewed on the app — a feature that many trackers don’t have. Get it for $139.99 here.
Music is a must have during a workout, and though you could carry around an extra device for your tunes, it’d be nice to have everything in one place. The TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music can store music locally on the tracker and be paired via bluetooth. You can also set up smartphone notifications and the GPS will tell you how to get back if you get lost. Get it on sale for $190.99 here.
Looking for something a little more all-encompassing? These smartwatches have all of the fitness tracking features you’re looking for, plus all of the connected capabilities of smart tech.
If running is your thing (or the thing of the person you’re gifting to) the Garmin Forerunner 235 could be the fitness tracker to go with. This tracker has impressively fast GPS with four customizable running settings, including settings for indoor and outdoor running as well as phone notifications to be turned on or off. The heart rate monitor on the 235 is also notable to track workout intensity. Get it for $299 here.
If you’re looking for something more than a fitness tracker but less intense than an Apple watch, the new Samsung Gear Sport may be for you. It features water resistance up to 50 meters, built-in GPS, automatic workout recognition, activity and calorie tracking (eaten and burned) and acts as a personal fitness coach on your wrist. The powerful device also falls into the smartwatch category: Enjoy receiving and responding to calls and texts, Spotify playback, real-time control of compatible smart devices like appliances, locks, and lights, and access to all of your favorite apps. This is all compiled into a compact device that looks like a classic round watch, and it weighs next to nothing. Get it for $249.99 here.
The new Apple Watch Series 3 with Nike+ is pretty much the ultimate combo of smartwatch and fitness tracker. It sports a sleek, rectangle design and looks less like a traditional round watch, with smartwatch features like LTE support, calls and texts, music streaming, and phone notifications. As a fitness tracker, the Series 3 has a super accurate heart rate monitor and alerts you of any abnormalities. Nike+ takes running to the next level with guided runs, motivational notifications, and in-ear coaching. Though the Apple Watch does not automatically recognize that you’ve started an exercise, you can simply launch the workout app (or any other third-party app). The expected GPS, water resistance, and distance tracking are also present, and there’s actually a slightly less expensive version of this Apple Watch Series 3 that is GPS only (no LTE). Get the Apple Watch with Nike+ for $549 here.
The original idea behind the VirZoom was brilliant: a stationary bike that lets you exercise while cycling through various virtual reality environments.
The problem is that the number of people with the high-end VR headsets needed to use the VirZoom bike is still fairly small compared to the smartphone market.
The solution? Bring the VR biking system to mobile.
The new version of the VirZoom system pairs a removable sensor that can be attached to the peddle crank arm of any traditional stationary bike, and uses a Samsung Gear VR headset and a free mobile version of the VirZoom app to allow users to peddle their way through different VR environments. Like the high-end version, the VirZoom app gamifies biking, encouraging you to bike toward various targets and achievements.
The small, lightweight VZ Sensor contains an accelerometer that allows it to track the user’s peddling motions, while the new Samsung Gear VR handheld controller can be used with the VirZoom app to aim and shoot at targets in the app while riding. When you want to turn the bike in a certain direction, you simply lean your head (while wearing the Gear VR) in the desired direction.
I had a chance to test the system out last week, and it not only works, it was far more fun (thanks to the immersive VR landscapes) than a normal session of spinning.
But the biggest reason the VZ Sensor and VirZoom mobile app has me excited is related to price. With the original system, you first needed to buy a PlayStation VR headset (and console), an Oculus Rift, or an HTC Vive headset, and the VR-ready computer required to use the latter two headsets. Depending on configurations, some of those options could cost you up to $1,500.
But the $99 VZ Sensor, when paired with the Gear VR and controller at $130, and a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+, makes peddling in VR immediately affordable. And because the sensor is easily removable using a slip-on strap, you don’t even need to buy a regular stationary bike — yep, you can take the VZ Sensor to the gym and attach it to any stationary bike you want.
Sweating into your pricey Oculus or Vive VR headset may be okay when it comes to light gaming, but when it comes to serious spinning, it’s a bit more comforting know that if you drench your wearable VR headset in sweat and something goes wrong, using the VZ Sensor and Gear VR, you haven’t suddenly ruined an $800 VR headset.
The only downside off all this is that, as of today, it’s only available for pre-order and won’t actually start shipping until October. Still, as a tool for turning your spinning workout into a distracting trip through effort-rewarding games in virtual landscapes as you burn off calories, this is a mobile device worth waiting for.