Living with a Fitbit Charge 2

Yes, it felt like I’d invited someone in my life when I purchased the Charge 2. I’m not into naming things so it remained “Le Fitbit” but it nonetheless displayed its own personality.

I’d bought it to record my heart rate throughout the day and see if there were any arrhythmias. With use, I discovered that, as other activity trackers on the market, it’s not perfect for that because it records my mean heart rate over a 5 minute period. I can’t really go back and look at my stats to detect anything. It does however provide a “on the spot” reading of my heart rate so I could always check it if I felt that something was not quite right.

Following that disappointing piece of information, the heart rate monitoring is totally fine when I’m being sporty (like running or cycling). Not only does it detects the activity involved (no faffing with buttons to let it know I’m about to run or cycle) but it also keeps an accurate and constant record of my heart rate. Undue spikes or other weird heart rate behaviour will be detected during these activities…

This is what’s inside the box, and that’s all you need!

A few fantastic Fitbit features

It’s the first activity tracker I use so it’s all new to me… Here are few of what I like the most about Le Fitbit:

  • being informed of how much energy I use throughout the day and night and therefore being able decide if I really should indulge in that third banana…
  • trusting that the “energy out” figures are accurate thanks to the heart monitor rather than estimated from my weight and height;
  • resting heart rate. How great is it that I don’t need to remember to measure my heart rate in the morning? Le Fitbit does it for me, reliably and even provides me with a graph showing the evolution of said heart rate.
  • the automatic detection of activities. Not only is it fun, because you feel like the machine is a life partner but it also saves a lot of time
  • the vibrating alarm. I hate waking up to noisy alarms so I’m really happy about this option, which I find a lot less stressful than even a quiet and low tone on my phone;
  • the bluetooth alerts to incoming phone calls or text messages. Now, I really didn’t expect this to matter at all. I don’t rate being accessible all the time as important and still loathe mobile phones, which I see as a necessary evil. However, Le Fitbit is discreet and gently alerts me to calls or messages that I would otherwise not have noticed. So far, it’s proved a really useful feature.
  • the time to wind down for bed option. What a great to way to encourage me to get the required sleep time.

Comfort. I wore the thing day and night for around two months and can vouch for its comfort. At first I used to get a mark where the heart sensor touches (used to dig in) the skin but then I worked out that you can switch wrists at night and voilà. No more issues.

Oh and wrists… I like that I can inform Le Fitbit of the wrist I’ll be wearing it on…

And finally, it looks pretty cool in teal blue!

Funny-weird Fitbit features

Sleep tracking. Well yes, what about it? I don’t feel the need for a third party to inform me of whether or not I’ve slept and if I’ve slept well. I’m invariably the first person to know that I’m awake. It’s nice to think that I can share this with Le Fitbit but… so what really? According to the machine though, I appear to sleep like a log, so the use of that feature might be clearer if my nights were more agitated.

Talking of nights! Wearing Le Fitbit at night is definitely an acquired skill. Not so much because it’s bulky or restrictive but because, occasionally, I seem to replicate the movement that turns on the display and the watch face lights up right in my face, which wakes me up. So much for a good night’s sleep!

The step counting! It seems accurate enough, most of the time. But then it’s also turned on by dishwashing and clapping. I once caught Le Fitbit in the act of adding steps at an incredible pace while I was standing and clapping on the spot during a 1/2 marathon. At 18,000 steps, that day remained my all time best for a while! More worryingly I’ve also had it explode for joy at reaching 10000 steps when I had been standing behind the sink for a while, doing nothing more exciting than scrubbing pans. I’m not far off from concluding that it is an active attempt at encouraging females in the kitchen.

The battery life is excellent although it would be good if the Fitbit was more proactive when it’s running low on gas. At the moment it only notifies me by email and then much much later, when it’s too late really I get a shy and almost apologetic notification on the device itself. What? Who even checks emails from Fitbits? Why can’t the watch itself be pushy and warn me about this? No need for constant reminders but a short and sharp message along the lines of “if you don’t charge me, I’ll shut down in two hours” would  be great. After all, we can all understand a pre-bonk tantrum.

Great design and love the teal colour!

I can’t read the display when I’m wearing polarised sunglasses, which is slightly annoying.

I’ve since gone back to a more sports specific activity tracker/gps, namely a Polar M400. I miss Le Fitbit’s easy interactiveness and great app but with all its nordic bluntness I find that the Polar was a better choice when I knew I could go back to training. Its main advantages are the GPS, yes Le Fitbit Charge 2 can highjack a phone’s GPS system and track accurately the wearer’s movements but I don’t always take my phone training as I find it bulky. Also the heart rate monitoring, although not constant is very accurate, I compared both at the start and found there was quite a big difference. When exercising with Le FitbitI also found annoying that I had to do an exaggerated wrist movement in order to read my pulse. The M400 has a nice big display that shows me everything. The nice big display is unfortunately also a downfall of the M400: it’s a pretty ugly piece of equipment compared to the stylish Fitbit but I guess that’s a trade off I can live with.

To conclude, I would thoroughly recommend the Fitbit Charge 2 to anyone who wants to track their activity (it works a treat for all the sports it’s aimed at) but you’ll be better served looking elsewhere if you’re looking for a digital partner that will help you optimise your training and performance.


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