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The Great Fitness Tracker - Road Test

The Great Fitness Tracker - Road Test

With so many fitness tracking devices and motivational wearable tech on the market right now, it’s tough to decide which one is right for you. Just google ’fitness tracker’ and you will get literally hundreds of different options. There are a few especially well known brands, but lots of cheaper alternatives are now available too. If you are looking to jump onto the tracking device trend, the question is how do you choose? We want to find out, do you need to spend a lot or just a little? Are they motivational or demoralising? Easy to use or just a plain pain! Heads down in a huddle we decide...let’s ask our members! Read on to find out all about our ’Great Fitness Tracker Road Test.’

We have decided to conduct a special road test, with 6 different devices over 6 weeks with 6 very different individuals, who are willing (mostly) and enthusiastic (without exception) Fitness4Less gym members.

We asked for our road testers via email and social media posts and in just minutes we had a huge response - yay! Lots of enthusiasm for the task but for us a very tough selection process of finding a good cross section of people who were at different fitness levels and wanted to try the trackers for a range of goals and objectives. Eventually we got there and contacted each of the following volenteers. Now each one has been given a tracker and been asked to set a personal goal and to road test it for 6 weeks, they have agreed to report back on their experiences.

We’re going to ask them about, usabitliy, motivational effects, goal setting and tracking and value for money. Follow their progress over the coming weeks and find out what they think about each device but for now let’s meet the team.

Introducing Peter.

My name is Peter van der Sluijs – I’m in my fifties and run a small technology PR firm for a living. I have an active lifestyle - I walk rather than use the car wherever I can. I have set myself a new goal of finishing a half-marathon – I’m planning on entering the Reading half marathon next April which makes preparation nice and relaxed. Chris Boulton at Chesham Fitness4Less has created a new exercise routine for me, which includes two sessions of an hour or so for weights / cv at the gym and two runs a week starting at about 5 miles but building up the distance. My goal for the next six weeks is to achieve a measurable improvement in time over my ‘standard’ 5 mile run around Chesham. I’ve always had the attitude that I like to stay fit because that way I enjoy life more rather than have it as an end in itself. I’ve recently taken up scuba diving for example, which I’d have struggled to do if I wasn’t in reasonable shape. I’ve always liked walking, especially hill walking. I also enjoy gardening (up to a point!) reading, films, music, history and sightseeing. I play piano and go to church regularly.

Say Hi to Buky.

My name is Buky, I’m 31 (this month) and I’m London born and bred. I work in Human Resources (no I’m not boring, nor was i coerced into this field and yes I actually do like my job!) I, similar to many young and single gals love travelling! I’m approaching my 3rd holiday of the year in July as I look forward to the beauty that is Sri Lanka and Dubai. I’m not a drinker nor a smoker, however my diet isn’t the best as I have an aversion to anything green or vegetablely. It’s so bad I know! I’m not the biggest fan of exercising and fitness, but I do love to indulge in yoga and pilates every now and again. I’m one of those people (you know who you are!) who is in love with the thought and images of keeping fit, getting lean and effortlessly gliding into those favourite pair of jeans, but the reality of doing it is a totally different story... The thought alone of working out after a day at work is just painful! I’m not overweight and I’m loving and accepting of my ’Beyonce’ thighs, but as I’m now in my 30’s my metabolism is showing signs of slowing down. Regular exercise is now appearing to be the only thing that keeps the size 10-12 wardrobe dream alive! Don’t get me wrong, in 6 weeks I’m not hoping to have Jessica Ennis’ abs, but I do want to have made a sustainable difference to my fitness so that I’m consistently fit all year round and not just gym binging before a holiday looms.

Hello Helen!

My name is Helen, I’m 33 years old and a bit of a yoyo dieter. A few years ago, I swam the one-mile Great Salford Swim, and I was the fittest (and slimmest) I’ve been in my adult life. Sadly since then I’ve put back all the weight I lost and a bit more to boot, which I’m now working on losing. A couple of months ago I rashly signed up to do a Cancer Research mud run, in July! July is now just around the corner, and I’m so not ready! I have just under six weeks to be able to do a 5k, bring it on!

Meet Jessica..

My “fitness journey”, for lack of a better term, started back in school. I have the hand-eye co-ordination of a blind drunk hamster, so school sports were not my forte, to say the least. Also, I hate netball on principle. I was “anti-sports”, and proud. In Sixth Form, though, we got to swap out team sports for working out solo in the tiny sweatbox of a school gym. Now, this I could – somewhat miraculously - do. Even weirder: this was something I enjoyed an awful lot. Frequently, someone will say to me “but you don’t seem like someone who is into fitness”. Um, thanks? Yep, I read a lot of books and watch a lot of TV, and enjoy the finest cocktails money can buy, but I still also love the gym. I will never be someone who wants to go on an activity holiday (shudder): beach and books is what it’s all about. But, you can take the cross-trainer from my cold, dead hands. To me, the gym is a safe space. Working out lets me burn off stress, take time for myself, and do stuff that makes me feel good. It lets me connect with my body on a deeper level, shedding the superficial body-policing nonsense with which all women are bombarded. In the gym, I get to see what my body can actually do, rather than obsess over how it looks. I can all too easily slide into obsessing about how much I exercise (never enough) or eat (always too much), so I try to keep my gym-going focused on personal goals – more squats, faster cardio, longer runs.

I’m a little nervous about using a fitness tracker, as I don’t want to start feeling guilty for not doing enough, even on days when I am doing as well as I can. These days, I try to hit the gym three to five days a week. “Try” is the operative word here, though. I work from home, which means that I have to be seriously disciplined to make sure I move more than the 50 steps it takes me to do a circuit from bed to coffee maker to home office. My job is 90% project-based, which means there’s often no set routine for the shape or schedule of my day, nor is there a definite “clocking off” time when multiple tough deadlines hit. I can ace gym-going for, say, a few months and then life/work interrupts and the regime crumbles. My goal for these coming six weeks, with my shiny new fitness tracker, is to become more aware of my daily activity and make sure I move about more during the workday, hitting at least 5,000 steps per day by week 6. I want to create a healthier fitness-life balance, carve out non-negotiable gym-going time for myself, and track my exercise to maximize personal gains. All whilst being kind to myself and meeting my body where it is, of course. Easier said than done, I am sure, but here goes nothing.

Cheers Emma!

My name is Emma, I’m 21 and in my free time I love spending time with friends, baking, going for walks, cooking, reading, enjoying good food and being creative. Throughout my childhood I didn’t really do any exercise and found that only when I left home I started to enjoy experimenting and cooking healthy meals. I joined a gym in April 2014 and I now weigh over a stone less than I did before! My goals are to commit to regularly exercising - as I have a habit of either doing a lot, or nothing each week! Over the 6 weeks I want to go to the gym and take part in a class or workout that I’ve planned to do at least twice weekly. The picture I have attached is me at a cheese and wine tasting that I recently enjoyed with The Cheese and Wine Company in Hampton.

Hey Keelan!

Hey, my name is Keelan, I am male and in my late thirties. Over the past few years I have completely lost control of my fitness. Although this is due mostly to long working hours and little time to exercise, motivation has not been a friend of mine for several years. Cake and ice cream have been very fond of me however.

Once upon a time I was very fit and a keen sportsman and I even worked within the sports and exercise field. Today, my fitness goals for the next six weeks are quite simple: lose a stone (and more?) in weight, get rid of my belly/love handles, and enjoy a healthier lifestyle. Then, who knows? Is there a possible return to the exercise and fitness industry?

This will go hand in hand with being able to spend more quality time with my family, and in particular my four year old daughter. Family bike rides, surfing and kickabout football are the things I want to find time for. This fitness tracker review is the first step toward this. Please do not excuse the pun! Until next time, stay well.

So there we have it, we hope a very diverse group of testers, each with their own set of circumstances, exercise historys and goals for the future, eagerly looking forward to the shiny new wearable tech to arrive in the post. Discover in Part 2 of our road test which Fitness Tracker devices they have been allocated and how they have got on with setting them up and the first week of use.

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