I’ve never been a big fan of fitness trackers, so I never paid much attention to what appears to be an already established market for these devices. But I guess I’m a stubborn old man who has been missing quite a lot from the technology that these little gadgets offer. I recently worked with Jawbone and Merlin to get a feel of how their bracelets would fit into my exercise regimen, and I must say, these trackers are quite handy!
The idea is simple. Depending on your fitness goals, you want to have an idea of how many calories you’re expending so you can plan your nutrition accordingly. If you’re cutting, you want to have a daily calorie deficit, and the reverse applies if you’re bulking. The fitness community has gotten pretty obsessive about reading nutrition fact labels on everything they eat and tracking their consumption down to the last gram of protein, but knowing exactly how calories you have burn during workouts plus going about your everyday life – breathing, sitting in the office, sleeping – is where it gets tricky. This is where fitness trackers come in.
“The data acquired from fitness trackers could give users and health specialists an overview on a person’s activity level or health status. Such devices can guide users in monitoring their health parameters, daily activities and their food consumption. If used correctly, they can be a brilliant aid for motivation. Simply, it is a useful tool that helps us in observing our body’s performance,” Dr. Ahmad Fakhri Al Himairi, specialist cardiologist from the Canadian Specialist Hospital, explained.
The Jawbone UP2 is a minimalist and stylish bracelet. The design is elegant and subdued, and dressing up with it shouldn’t be a problem. Without an LCD screen, it delivers all the information you need via the mobile app.
As for functionality, the UP2 is a terrific all-rounder, featuring sleep tracking, smart coaching and daily activity tracking. It tracks your sleep automatically, measuring Awake, Light and Sound sleep, and gives you tips to help you get a better night’s rest. However, that means you will need to wear this when you go to bed, which can take some people a bit of getting used to.
The Smart Coach encourages you to make informed healthy choices and helps you celebrate along the way. And the more you wear it, the more personalized your advice will become. It’s like the device gets to know how to push your buttons to keep you on track for your fitness goals.
Lastly, theUP2’s activity tracking is the device’s intelligent way to let you know how much you’re walking and moving. It is the foundation to understanding your desired calorie burn for maintaining, building muscle or losing fat. You can even add friends for little activity competitions so you can stay motivated until you achieve your desired physique.
Between these two trackers, the ActiFit by local tech company Merlin Digital is the more gadget-geek oriented. Apart from the typical functions a fitness tracker should have, it also offers a number of other nifty features. It figures, the inclusion of an LCD screen in the design allows the device to have the extended functionality. The ActiFit displays call and social media notifications from your phone as well as the time with a few simple wrist gestures.
Actually, it really is more of a smart watch with fitness tracking capabilities. You can even use it as a remote to take selfies or even find your phone whenever you can’t find it. And for those who like sleeping in even on weekdays, you can set the ActiFit to wake you up with a silent vibrating alarm – no disturbing other people if you want to get up at 5am for an early morning walk!
Both the Jawbone UP2 (AED 479 at Virgin Megastores) and Merlin ActiFit (AED 195) are waterproof and weather resistant, so you can wear them 24/7 without worrying about damage. Charging the batteries is not as big a pain as wearing an Apple Watch; the UP2 lasts for 10 days while the ActiFit lasts for seven.