Ah, fitness trackers. The ever-popular tiny tool that's designed to help you determine if your life is, well, on track. Are you moving enough? Walking enough? Are you fitness-ing enough?
I've utilized such devices in the past, from bare-bones iPhone apps that logged workouts to clunky pedometers that rattled when I so much as sneezed. The information they've provided me has always been interesting — I'm kind of a big fitness fan, so anything I can learn about my workouts is invaluable — so when the opportunity came to wear a slick Jawbone UP2 fitness tracker from the POPSUGAR Must Have Box for a week and discuss my feelings about it, I was reasonably curious: What could this tell me?
Well, a lot it seems. Here's how I felt after wearing the wireless activity and sleep tracker.
I was surprised by how lightweight it was
Not that I was expecting it to feel like a dumbbell, but I was pleasantly relieved to learn it was thin and unfussy.
It wasn't distracting
I'm very much aware that I have a lot of devices. I have phones and iPads, and enough tangled cords and wires to knit a sweater, albeit an electric sweater (someone should do this, yes?). The last thing I need is another time suck to turn me into a zombie. But the UP2 tracker wasn't distracting in the least. There's a simple band with three indicator lights, and that's it. Everything you need to know is sent directly to the UP app. So while you have to download an app and open it up to learn anything, the flow feels seamless. It was really nice not having to train myself to pay attention to my arm. I just wore the band and forgot about it.
I ran like a champ
My high school track coach used to tell me to run like I was holding potato chips. Not a bag of potato chips, but a single chip in each hand. The idea was that they were fragile, and if my hands were tense I'd smash the chip. I'm still an avid runner — not an impressive one by any means — and my routine sessions are pretty by-the-book: three miles on flat road, maybe with a few intervals in there if I'm feeling good.
In the week that I wore the UP2 tracker, I went on two jogs, and both times I noticed that my potato chip-carrying form had drastically improved. My shoulders were back, my stride was loose, and the proverbial greasy chips were unharmed. Something about catching the UP2 tracker in my peripheral as I ran made me feel — okay, this is going to sound dorky — like an athlete. So I ran like one.
I failed to track other workouts correctly
In addition to my two runs, I took a bootcamp class and two cycling classes, and went to an electronic concert where I jumped my butt off because that's what dancing looks like when you're in your 30s, and I'm not sure that my performance was tracked appropriately. In the case of the workout classes, I didn't log onto the UP app to tell it that I was cycling, so the disparity in logged steps is most likely due to user error. But that's who I am. I can be lazy with these things.
Sleep tracking is the new everything and I never want to stop
I've never tracked total sleep or sleep quality before, so this offering blew my mind. Again, I didn't have to tell UP that I was going to bed; the motion sensor embedded inside of it knew by my lack of movement that I was snoozing. But here's where it was really cool: it didn't start my sleep cycle when I laid down to watch Netflix — it actually started when I fell asleep. What? I know. And it gets better. In the morning the app displayed a handy graph of my entire cycle, including heavy sleep vs. light. While I was only privy to a week's worth of data, I saw a huge connection between the amount of time I spent in "light sleep" and my alertness the following day. This feature was enough to hook me.
I never charged it
In a world where literally nothing lasts, I could not believe the heart on this thing — it never gave out. Even as I'm typing this it has some juice left, which is just wildly impressive. Also, and this connects to one of my points above, there's no long rope of charging cords. It's a small 3-inch plug that connects to your USB port.