Fitbit Versa: a second opinion

Really am enjoying my Versa. It replaces my Charge 2 as well.

I like the size, the weight and I got the charcoal band, which I also prefer over the silicone one on my Charge 2. I don’t understand the criticism of the pin mechanism for the band. Seems to me that going to the standard watch pin system means that more bands are available for choice.

I am having to get used to finding things. I preferred the Charge 2 display which displayed the date, time, number of steps towards my hourly 250 step goal and my heart rate.

Right now, I can’t find a watch face with the hourly steps displayed. I have to scroll down to my Today screen and then scroll down to get my hourly steps. Too many steps (pardon the pun) to get to the info.

I also find a bit of lag in walking the steps and having the Versa catch up in displaying the count.

Apps are a bit of a hit and miss. Some don’t work. Others are quite good. Very sparse app store.

I do notice that the display brightness on mine tends to, well, swell for lack of a better word. It gets brighter and dimmer rhythmically, as if it were breathing.

Also, my first sleep analysis was a bit interesting. Setting up my watch in the afternoon, it added the rest of the afternoon to my previous night’s sleep. I know I have a sedentary job, but that might be a bit ridiculous.

And as to my full night’s sleep last night, it did a nice job of classifying my different levels of sleep, but it didn’t register any time. So I have a nice graph with a total of 0 minutes asleep. Never felt so rested for not getting any sleep.

The journey continues… Arnold

Some good thoughts by Arnold which I mostly agree with. The ‘0 minutes’ problem is a new software glitch on the Fitbit end affecting many users, no matter what device they own so is not a Versa problem as such. The strap system does work as it should- it is a little fiddly, but I find that I can use a variety of 22mm standard straps at very little cost which is a nice bonus.

The number of watch faces is almost too much and I kind of see where Arnold is coming from, but I don’t look at the 250 step goal which proves we all have different preferences.  I will add more in the next few days.

Buying the Fitbit Versa, twice

My wife and I are Fitbit converts. She used to wear an Apple Watch, but felt that the fitness aspect was too wooly to really benefit from and I am a (real) watch guy so have been happy to wear a Fitbit Charge 2 on my non-dominant wrist.

Since July last year my weight has moved from 285lbs to 205lbs and my wife’s has moved from 137lbs to 115lbs thanks to eating healthily, exercising every day and regular logging of everything from calorie intake and weight every other day using Fitbit products. In effect, together we have lost almost the equivalent of her entire weight between us in 9 months and we are chuffed with ourselves, we really are which is why I bang on about it… Life is easier when you are lighter and we can do much more than we ever did thanks to the change, and I credit Fitbit for helping us do that. There is something about the data on offer, and especially from the Aria scales, that helps keep the motivation high and so the Versa was always going to be considered.

Anyway, we wandered to the shops this morning. Yes, a real physical shop where you can buy things and see what they are like first. We spied one Fitbit Versa in gold in the cabinet and asked to look at it. The sales guy explained that they had received 10 this morning and that this was the last one left which was quite surprising. The shop opened at 8:30am and we were there at 9:15am which perhaps shows that there is some interest out there for the Versa. Actually, go to the UK Fitbit site and you are greeted with ‘On back-order. Ships in 2-3 weeks’.

We asked the sales guy to open the box so that my wife could try it on and he refused, politely. We asked why and he mumbled something about his manager saying that they could not be opened which was a shame as they had no display models. So I asked about the returns policy if it was opened and he said that they would give a full refund if she did not like it. I then explained that we would buy it, she would try it on in the store and if she did not like it we would ask for a refund. He opened the box.

She loved it immediately. The lightness was a real surprise and it fitted perfectly, the first Fitbit that my wife can wear without the lugs extending past either side of her rather small wrist. It was an instant sell and I really could not blame her. The oh so soft strap only added to the excitement as did the very bright screen with perhaps too large bezels for my liking, but she was happy and when she is happy so am I.

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Strangely, the first thing she said was “this is like the Apple Watch, but I prefer the design and it feels easier to use straight away.” We went for a coffee and she spent some time setting it up while I sipped on my cappuccino and her hot chocolate got cold. The process was not too long actually, much less hassle that when I first tried the Ionic, and her Charge 2 was dropped into her handbag to likely find its way to eBay in the future. Seriously, she was delighter with it and this is the first time I have seen her react to technology in such a way. Fitbit may have done something special here when it comes to females and fitness tracking.

But what about us guys? Surely we need the Ionic with its manly space age looks and angular form. No, actually we don’t because it’s pretty ugly and looks too much like a tracker and not enough like a watch to fit in to many people’s normal days.

I tried her Versa on in the coffee shop, the gold Versa with a pink strap, and I kind of liked it. I really did like it and was surprised at how quickly it felt right on my wrist, even in pink. It is so light and the strap so soft that it feels invisible on the wrist which is an advantage for a watch of any type. Being a watch guy, however, I would have to stick with the Charge 2 on my right wrist and my beloved vintage Bulova on the left.

Ten minutes later I bought a Fitbit Versa special edition from another store that also only had one left. To be continued…

Holding plank for a long time is pointless

According to Stuart McGill, emeritus professor of spine biometrics at the University of Waterloo in Canada, fitness fanatics will see greater gains from doing shorter holds more frequently.

He advises three bouts of 10 seconds as the ideal regime, and claims that classes which recommend minutes of planking are not useful… More at The Telegraph.

Well, he is a McGill so that adds weight to his argument, but it has made me think about this particularly activity because Fitbit Coach is making me do ever longer plank holds among many other weird and wonderful exercises.

One option for Fitbit’s survival

The fitness-tracker maker has had a good run but has failed in its efforts to innovate soon enough and diversify quickly enough into new, emerging markets. While Fitbit has cobbled together an impressive array of companies that could help change that dynamic, it increasingly looks like the best use of those technologies will be assisting a bigger competitor in exploiting them — through a buyout… More at The Motley Fool.

I had to replace my Charge 2 today because it simply stopped working and this is not the first time. Fitbit hardware has been, in my experience, poor at best and at times shocking in its ability to deal with normal usage.

The software is superb so one option would be to licence the sensor technology and software for use in smartwatches. At this time, most non-Apple smartwatches have poor fitness tracking and Fitbit’s are lacking in quality. This would solve problems, but I’m not convinced there would be enough money in it. It may, however, be the only option if the numbers continue to decline.

Fitness Trackers Don’t Help You Lose Weight

If you love your Fitbit, prepare yourself. This story might bring you down. A study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that fitness trackers don’t help you lose weight. Instead, they may impede your efforts. Researchers monitored the activity and weight loss of participants for 18 months to come to these conclusions… More here.

I kind of agree with this from my experience. I have used various fitness trackers over the past few years and at no point did any of them help me get fitter or lose weight. For some reason it all came together over the past 8 months with exactly the same device I had failed with in the past, and now it is integral to keeping the weight off and helping me to get fitter. Ultimately, it is all down to the individual, but I am also convinced that with the right mindset they can be very helpful for keeping the good behaviours going over long periods of time.

Forget walking 10,000 steps a day

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These days it is hard to walk the streets without running into someone who is anxiously looking at their wrist to see if they are on target to reach the magic 10,000 steps.

Is it really a goal worth striving for, or might there be something better?

And where did that figure come from?

You might be surprised to hear it was the result of a 1960s marketing campaign in Japan.

In the run-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, a company came up with a device which they started marketing to the health-conscious… More at The BBC.

Interesting stuff.

A Periodic Table of Stretching Exercises

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Stretching increases your joint range of motion, warms up your muscles, and aids in muscle recovery.   There are two different types of flexibility, static flexibility and dynamic flexibility.  Static Flexibility is the range of motion of a joint with very slow, controlled movement. Dynamic Flexibility is the range of motion of a joint with fast, explosive movement.  Your static flexibility is probably higher than your dynamic flexibility (perhaps you can do the splits, but can you jump and drop into the splits?), but dynamic flexibility is more important for most athletic activity… More at Strength Stack 52.

This could be more useful than you think.