You wouldn’t know it from how much we talk about cookies, but Birchbox staffers are a pretty healthy bunch. We love our veggies and mind-clearing workouts, and are always up to try the latest fitness class or nutrition bar. Which is why we have new regular column: Well-Balanced. Check back weekly for our latest wellness obsession.
Clockwise from top left: Hayley, Katia, and Mollie sporting their fitness trackers.
It all started when Katia got a Nike FuelBand and would randomly do jumping jacks in the office to hit her points goal. Then, Hayley showed up wearing a Jawbone UP, and suddenly she was showing off her sleep cycles and daily steps. Color me fitness-band envious! After reading a few head-to-head reviews, I decided to canvas fans on both sides and try one out for myself.
Basics: This bracelet-like rubber arm band tracks your daily activity in NikeFuel, a universal metric of activity, as well as in calories and steps. I like the FuelPoints because they remove calories from the equation and focus you on general activity levels—which is good if you’re just looking to be healthier overall. Added bonus? It syncs up wirelessly to your mobile device so you can track your progress and share with Facebook friends.
Great For: Anyone who’s motivated by competition or goals, and who does a range of activities. Brad, our new VP of Birchbox Man says, ”It’s fun for active couples. My partner and I have a little healthy competition on weekends. I find him doing jumping jacks in the bathroom or the closet when I’m not looking to try and surpass my Fuel Points!” Katia says it keeps her motivated to move even on the days when she can’t work out. “If I’m near my FuelPoints goal I’ll take the long way home or do some squats in my living room.”
Basics: A rubber cuff that’s embedded with motion sensor technology to track sleep, steps, active time, and idle time. It doesn’t log non-step activities (ie: yoga, cycling), but you can enter them in manually via smartphone app. You can also log your mood and your meals. The app illustrates your data over time and incorporates a feed of both your and your chosen friends’ activities. A few fun features: An Idle Alert that tells you when you’ve been sitting for too long, and a Smart Alarm that wakes you at the optimal point (within 30 minutes of your set alarm) in your sleep cycle.
Great For: Data geeks and people looking to change their daily eating or activity habits. The app has a sophisticated Trends function that lets you compare different aspects of your data, like total sleep versus workout time or, if you’re logging your food, calories burned against calories consumed. Hayley especially loves the Idle Alert. “It’s a great reminder to take the long way to the bathroom or an extra walk around the block when I break for lunch. It’s easy to get really sedentary during the work day and the UP reminds me to shake it up a bit.”
I opted for the Jawbone UP because I wanted to track my sleep in addition to my activity. After wearing it for a few weeks, I’ve become pretty addicted to hitting my steps goals every day. I also love the app—the interface is a cross between a modern design magazine and a sleek video game—and seeing my progress over time. The Trend function is also fascinating (as they say, “sexy data!”). It’s made me realize that first and foremost I don’t sleep enough, and that on the nights where I snooze less than seven hours, there’s much more my light sleep than deep sleep.
What I Wish It Had: Overall exertion points and not just total step counts, since I switch off between yoga, high-intensity interval classes, spinning, and running. It also seems a bit silly that I have to plug the band into my phone every time I want to sync it.
Now I’m thinking I need to convince someone to lend me their FuelBand for a week so I can cross-compare. Anyone want to swap?
Do you have a fitness tracker? What do you think?
My current breakfast obsession: a Birchbox Pink smoothie that is sweet and satisfying.