Just over a week ago, Fitbit sent me their Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch as an early Christmas present (look out for it in the upcoming Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide for Australian Dads). After having the Blaze on my wrist for the past week, what do I think so far?
A Man With a Plan
I like to have a plan when I start using something like the Fitbit Blaze. The reason is that I think it’s important to gather some baseline data before implementing any changes, so that I can gain a good understanding of the impact of the changes. The Fitbit Blaze, as I see it, is primarily a tool for capturing and analysing data about my current levels of fitness, then actioning a series of small changes to make gradual, but ultimately profound, improvements.
It’s not easy. As soon as the Fitbit Blaze is strapped to my wrist the data begins to flow. My immediate impulse is to push myself a little harder to see if I can meet the benchmarks that it sets for me. But I do my best to wait. I really want to know where I am at before I begin to make changes, so that I can then really understand their impact over time.
A Mountain of Data From One Tiny Watch
As I said above, the first thing that stands out about the Fitbit Blaze is the mountain of data that it generates. In conjunction with the Fitbit smartphone app, the Blaze is able to provide me with a pretty comprehensive snapshot of my overall health and fitness.
Some of the data that the Fitbit Blaze has returned over the past week has merely confirmed what I thought already. But some of the data has made me rethink what I thought I knew about my health and lifestyle.
After taking the time to gather some baseline data, I can already see areas for small tweaks to my daily routine that will hopefully lead to me feeling healthier and more energetic as the weeks progress. Two areas for improvement are immediately apparent – I don’t drink enough water and I need to move more.
The amount of data that the Fitbit Blaze and mobile app are able to generate can be a little overwhelming. I started off by trying to use it all, but quickly realised that I was better off focusing on a few key areas. My plan now is to get into the habit of regularly using a few key metrics, then slowly expanding over time to include some of the others. Calorie tracking, for example, is not a high priority for me right now.
Exercise Tracking – Fitbit Blaze
Work, parenting and this blog all keep me pretty busy. While I like to exercise (in theory), the reality is that fitness time is normally the first thing to fall by the wayside when life gets too busy.
The exercise tracking component of the Fitbit Blaze has given me that extra little bit of motivation to get back on track. There’s something exciting about collecting data on my morning runs and being able to see improvements. I feel more eager when I wake up at 5 am, as I now have an extremely easy way of recording and tracking my progress. All I need to do is simply tap the Run button on the Fitbit Blaze and it begins recording the data.
I ran (on and off) before I had the Fitbit Blaze, but now my runs feel a bit more purposeful. Now I have baseline data about both my current pace and distance, and I’ve set myself some small targets for improvements. I’m convinced that’s the way to get the best out of my Fitbit Blaze – to set regular, small targets for improvement.
Using the Fitbit Blaze in conjunction with the GPS on my phone has already told me one thing – I was short-changing myself on distance. I had used Google Maps to map out an approximate 2km route, but by the time I had walked then slow-jogged to warm up, the reality was I only ran about 1.5km. Expanding my route was one of the first changes I have made.
Sleep Tracking – Fitbit Blaze
This is a big one for me. I love my sleep and (thanks to a child who also loves her sleep) I have access to plenty of it. In my mind I had always got around 8 hours a night, but in reality I had allowed my bed time to slowly creep later and later as I tried to pack everything I could into each day.
The result? Fitbit tells me I get between 6 and 6-and-a-half hours sleep each night. Not bad, but not as much as I should be having. The Fitbit Blaze and smartphone app are here to help with that. The app allows me to set the parameters for my ideal night’s sleep, then gently encourages me to wind down at the right time in the evening.
The other interesting thing with the Fitbit Blaze is the data it returns about my sleep. Although I spend a reasonable amount of time in bed, the quality of the sleep that I am getting is not great. In particular, I only average 10% of my time in the deep sleep range, which is below the typical range of 12-23%. That makes sense, I’ve always described myself as an active sleeper (that’s code for chronic sleep-walker/talker… ask Emma, it drives her insane).
All of this data explains why I sometimes feel exhausted even when I first wake up. It shows me that the minutes I steal in the evening in the name of productivity (…or clowning about on Twitter) are having an impact on the way I feel each day. Fixing the time spent in bed shouldn’t be a big problem. Then all I will need to do is figure out how to get more deep sleep…
Heart Rate Monitoring – Fitbit Blaze
I have never had any cause for concern over my heartrate, but I have surprisingly found the constant heartrate monitoring of the Fitbit Blaze to be very interesting over the past week.
The first thing that I have found interesting is that the Blaze seems to be (in my amateur opinion) remarkably accurate. My heartrate goes up when I think it should be going up and stays down when I think it should be down. I acknowledge that that isn’t a very scientific observation. However, my observations were backed up by review after review that stated a similar thing – as far as wrist-based heartrate monitoring goes, the Fitbit Blaze is more accurate than most.
The data that I have collected over the past week calculates my resting heartrate in the mid-50s That’s pretty good for a man of my age. What is really interesting is how quickly it changes. Almost any kind of movement sends it to about the mid-70s, as does drinking a cup of coffee. It’s all very interesting, but not at all concerning as the Fitbit app has crunched all my data so far to generate a Cardio Fitness score in the excellent range.
I can imagine that this kind of data would be invaluable for anyone who needs to keep an eye on their cardio health.
Fashion and Customisability – Fitbit Blaze
Once upon a time, people wore a watch so that they could tell the time. Ridiculous, I know!
Of course, the Fitbit Blaze does so much more, but it’s still pretty vital to be able to glance at your wrist and tell the time. The Blaze has that covered with a range of different clock faces. I find that I switch clock faces fairly regularly, depending on the environment I’m in. The Ace face offers a subtle analogue look for business-wear, while the Moment face is great for quick glances when at home with the family.
Speaking of glances, the Fitbit Blaze spends most of the time with its face turned off. That is part of the reason why it achieves such great battery life – up to five days between charges! Turning the screen on is easy. It lights up when you move your wrist up to look at it. I find that it works well most of the time, but if for some reason it doesn’t light up, a tap of the back button also does the trick.
The face isn’t the only customisable aspect of the Fitbit Blaze. Fitbit also offer a range of different bands to suit individual tastes. I wanted something subtle that was suitable for wearing with a business shirt, so Fitbit sent me their special edition Black with Gunmetal Stainless Steel frame. It works really well for me – have a look at the Fitbit website and I’m sure you will find the perfect combination for you.
Reminders to move – Fitbit Blaze
One thing I quite like about the Fitbit Blaze are the occasional reminders to get up and move. They aren’t obtrusive or overly demanding, just a little reminder to get active for a few minutes each hour. The Blaze can also be programmed via the mobile app to provide other notifications, such as when it’s time to unwind for the evening and prepare for bed. My favourite notifications are the little celebration animations when you reach a daily fitness goal! They are strangely satisfying and a great little motivator to push a little harder each day.
You can customise these notifications, so if you prefer not to be interrupted by your watch turn them off and do things your way. For me, I have found them to be useful little reminders to squeeze a little more activity into my day. I probably still need to get better at paying attention to the sleep reminder.
The Fitbit Blaze is a fitness watch with smart capabilities. It can connect to your phone via Bluetooth to deliver notifications to your wrist. There is no way to respond to those notifications from the Blaze – you will have to take your phone out if you want to reply – but I found it useful to be able to tell at a glance whether the message was something that needed immediate attention or if it could wait.
You can control which apps send messages to your Fitbit Blaze. Some, such as emails, display the headline and some of the text, but not the full body of the message. Texts can be expanded to read the full message, although pictures are obviously not displayed. Viber messages show up fairly well.
The Fitbit Blaze also offers music control when paired with your smartphone. I haven’t used that functionality a great deal, but it seems to offer basic pause and skip functions with Spotify Premium.
The Fitbit Blaze is a compelling proposition for anyone looking for a premium fitness watch. It does more than I expected a fitness watch to do, and it does it all well. The smartwatch features are handy to have, but for me not the primary reason for such a device.
The Fitbit Blaze is not magic – it won’t automatically make you into a fitness machine. However, it will provide data and guidance for anyone who is seeking to improve their levels of fitness and is willing to implement small, regular changes. Time will tell, but right now I’m convinced that the Fitbit Blaze will have a positive impact on my overall levels of fitness.
I’ll be back with a full review after I have thoroughly put the Fitbit Blaze through its paces. Remember to look out for the Fitbit Blaze in the Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide for Australian Dads. It would make a great Christmas present!
Disclosure – Fitbit provided Blog Of Dad with the Fitbit Blaze free of charge, for the purpose of review and inclusion on the Ultimate Gift Guide for Australian Dads 2017 . The views expressed in this post are entirely my own views, based on my experiences with the Fitbit Blaze. For further information, please visit my disclosure statement.