- Battery life
- Loads of data
- Daily goals
- Syncing (sometimes)
- Need to open phone app for some data
When I was sent the Fitbit Blaze a couple of months ago, my first impressions of the product were very positive. But how does it stack up after two months of regular use in the real world?
In my experience, extremely well.
No Magic Bullets
The first thing I want people to understand about the Fitbit Blaze, or any fitness product for that matter, is that it is not magically going to make you fitter. There is no substitute for a bit of hard work, especially when it comes to fitness.
I’ve seen the general complaints about fitness trackers and read the articles about them being discarded in the back of drawers after a month, and I bet you have too. But those seem to have been written by people who think that buying a fitness tracker and strapping it on their wrist will automatically make them… fit!
The Fitbit Blaze is a tool It is a (particularly excellent) guide and motivator to a fitter, healthier life, but there is still a requirement of the end user to act on it. If you are looking for a magic fitness bullet, don’t buy the Fitbit Blaze (or any other fitness product, for that matter). If you are serious about making a few changes and want an excellent tool to help you along the way, then the Fitbit Blaze is a very attractive option.
A Sensible Approach to Improved Fitness
One of the things I noticed very early on with the Fitbit Blaze and accompanying mobile app is the wealth of information that you can get from the device. At first that can seem a little overwhelming and there is the temptation to try and use every aspect of it fully.
I decided to make little changes at a time. I focussed on the key areas that I most wanted to improve, then I moved on to exploring other features of the Fitbit Blaze and accompanying mobile app once I was comfortable. This has worked for me. The Fitbit Blaze is now an integral part of my overall fitness plan and daily routine. Even after two months of use, I still have not fully explored everything the Fitbit Blaze has to offer.
I think that is great – I have upped my fitness levels substantially, but I still have room to expand that when the time it right. It speaks volumes of the versatility and depth of the device.
One of the fundamental uses of a fitness tracker is to count steps. The Fitbit Blaze does this well. I feel that the numbers returned are a fairly accurate reflection of my activity each day.
There are some customisable features to add a little extra incentive to get up and walk. There is a programmable reminder to be active every hour – mine is set to the default 250 steps. My goal is to do that for 11 hours each day. While I rarely achieve that goal (there always seems to be a pesky missed hour or two somewhere in the middle of the day) I do find it great motivation to get up and be more active regularly. It’s also a great wake-up call to be reminded I still have 250 steps to take with ten minutes to go in an hour – more often than not it encourages me to get up and take a few steps.
The second goal that you can set is a daily step goal. Mine is set to 10000 steps. I achieve this goal fairly regularly. On several occasions over the past two months I have run around the house like a lunatic to make the let few hundred steps! The celebration screen makes it worth it.
Run (and other exercise) Tracking
This is one of my favourite features of the Fitbit Blaze. It has undoubtedly helped me to make some significant improvements to my running.
I ran before I had the Blaze, but not very well. I had a vague idea that I was running about two kilometres (it was actually far less) and I had no idea of my pace.
Of course, there are mobile apps that do similar things, but I never really got into them. With the Fitbit Blaze, the added convenience of having the real-time data strapped to my wrist while running seems to make it more practical. It also provides a greater insight into the nature of the run, with heart rate data integrated. Finally, I like that my running data is a part of my broader fitness tracking. All of those factors combined make using the Fitbit Blaze for run tracking a pleasant experience.
While the information about my runs from the Fitbit Blaze is good, I would like to see it expanded even further in future updates. I love data, the more the better! I would love to know things like peak speed, and speed at specific points in my run, rather than just the average speed per kilometre.
The impact of the Fitbit Blaze run tracking is evident in my results. I have used the Fitbit data to increase my average speed and distance run by setting small goals for improvement. When I started tracking with the Fitbit, I was running about two kilometres at about 6 minutes per kilometre. It was a start, but it was not good.
I set a small goal – run a kilometre in under 5 minutes. I then increased my distance to three kilometres. When I was comfortable with that, I added another kilometre to my run.
My next goal is to run all four kilometres in under twenty minutes consistently, then I will move on to five kilometres.
This part of the Fitbit Blaze also has tracking options for a whole bunch of other exercise types. They include: walk, weights, bike, treadmill, elliptical and workout. As someone who has a terrible aversion to gyms, I have only tried the run and walk tracking. They have worked really well – the “walk” tracking has automatically detected my activity on several occasions and added it to my fitness tracking – a great feature!
Sleep tracking was one of the applications of the Fitbit Blaze that I was most interested in when it first arrived. I find it fascinating to see my sleep patterns, especially when the data is presented in such an attractive and easy-to-understand graph.
While I enjoy looking at my data (my fairly consistent lack of deep sleep explains why I sometimes feel lethargic even after a long sleep), I’ll admit that I haven’t done much to improve this aspect of my fitness.
I do have a handy reminder that goes off each night to tell me that it’s time to prepare for bed, but the realities of a busy life mean that I often ignore it and stay up way too late. I shouldn’t, and I know I shouldn’t.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that I would be a far more productive person if I concentrated on getting a good night’s sleep. Maybe 2018 will be the year I get this under control. Maybe.
It isn’t exactly part of the sleep tracking, but the silent alarm is a nice feature to have. It helps me to get up at 5 am each morning without waking the rest of the family. A vibration on my wrist is easily enough to wake me from my slumber.
The “Today” Screen
One of the things I love about the Fitbit Blaze is the large, colour screen. It makes it easy to read the clock-face, notifications, running stats and any other data you choose to have displayed. It also allows for fun little animations that play when you achieve a daily goal.
From the clock-face, you can swipe right to access some other screens. The first one is the “Today” screen.
This is a really handy screen for gaining an overview of your day’s progress. It tells you how many steps you have done, your real-time and resting heart rate, the number of steps you have taken in the hour (or the number of hours you have reached your step goal), kilometres walked, calories burned, the flights of stairs you have walked up and the number of minutes you have been active.
It is a very handy screen to have. In a glance you can get an idea of how you are going with achieving your daily goals. If you are serious about those 10,000 steps in a day, a quick glance at your wrist during your lunch break can tell you if you need to pick up the pace a bit in the afternoon.
My only minor annoyance with this screen is that you can’t drill down into the data. I would love to be able to click on some of those sections and gain a bit more information. For example, it would be great to be able to click on the heart rate section and get a chart of the past hour. On the “steps this hour” section, I would love to be able to click on it and see how many hours I have successfully completed. It’s not a big problem (especially as all that data can be accessed via the mobile app), and it was probably more annoying in the start when I intuitively tried to click on those sections, but it would be nice to have.
Heart Rate Monitor
I don’t really spend a lot of time looking at this part of my Fitbit Blaze, because I have never had any concerns about my heart rate. I do, on occasion find it interesting to look at.
My (limited) experience is that the heart rate monitor appears to be fairly accurate. It goes up when I expect it to go up, and down when I expect it to be down. That’s not exactly a scientific analysis, but it suits me fine.
I find the heart rate data on my running days particularly interesting. It shows that I could probably push a little harder, even when I’m telling myself that it is hard work.
I didn’t realise how valuable this could be until I spent a week trying to pass a kidney stone. Seriously people, water is important!
When I first started using the Fitbit app to track my water intake, it was obvious I wasn’t drinking enough. I began to increase my intake, but I still struggled to get anywhere near two litres a day. I just didn’t like drinking water much.
Then I had the kidney stone – the most excruciating experience of my life. The doctor’s message was simple, cut back on junk food and DRINK WATER.
Since that time, I have had no trouble exceeding my daily intake target. I’m now at the point where I don’t bother to track it every day, just every now and then to calibrate and make sure I’m still on track.
Now that I have had the kidney stone experience, I genuinely think the water tracking is one of the most useful and underrated features to have. I highly recommend you give it a go, and if you find that you are not drinking enough, drink some more. Kidney stones just aren’t worth it.
I can’t say much about this because I haven’t really used it. I’m fortunate enough to not have to worry about weight loss. For those who need it, the food tracking component of the app appears simple enough to use.
From the brief play around that I had, I could see some clever features. It remembers your most frequent meals, so after a little bit of use it should be fairly quick to add most of your regular foods. The Fitbit Blaze is prepopulated with many common Australian foods, which makes it easier to add new foods. It also has a handy barcode scanner to pull information from packets. I’m not sure how well that works, I haven’t tried it yet.
I find it hard to fault the Fitbit Blaze, but if there is one area in which I sometimes have issues, it’s syncing. Part of it comes down to my reluctance to have Bluetooth constantly on. I tend to turn Bluetooth off on my phone when I’m not actively using it.
There’s no doubt that syncing the Fitbit Blaze works best when Bluetooth is always on. I imagine that is to do with feeding a constant trickle of data, rather than trying to download a few days’ worth of data at a time. I understand that, which is why it doesn’t overly bother me when it takes a few minutes to sync upon connecting to my phone.
The other time that I sometimes have a syncing issue is when trying to change the clock face. For some reason, particular clock faces seem to have trouble loading. The Chronograph face, for example, just doesn’t want to appear on my Blaze! It’s not a big issue, just a minor quirk. It is easily fixed by switching to a different clock face – there are plenty to choose from.
This is area in which the Fitbit Blaze excels. The battery lasts for days a days (although there is some variation depending on how heavily you use it). It is fairly common for me to go four or five days between charges. The Fitbit Blaze takes about three hours to fully charge, but I have found that 20 minutes on charge while I shower and get ready is enough to get it through a day (if I need to).
I find that kind of battery performance from a fitness watch with a decent-sized colour screen remarkable. It is part of what makes it so effective as a sleep tracker – if the battery only lasted a day, I would be taking it off each night to charge it. With the Fitbit Blaze, the watch stays on my wrist all night, every night.
The Fitbit Blaze is a fitness tracker with smart functions. The functions are rudimentary, but I actually like that. I really don’t need to be able to reply to emails from my wrist, but it is nice to be notified that they have arrived. It means I don’t need to stick my hand into my pocket every time my phone vibrates. With the Fitbit Blaze, I can check if the message is important first.
If you are after even more smart functionality, the Fitbit Ionic may well be worth checking out. With extras such as built-in GPS, NFC payments, and the ability to store and play music, the Ionic is the ultimate premium fitness watch.
The Fitbit Blaze may not be magic, but it is an excellent motivating and fitness tracking device. It is able to do just about everything I would want a fitness tracker to do, and it does it well. The Fitbit Blaze looks stylish, has excellent functionality and is very hard to fault. If you are serious about getting fit, the Fitbit Blaze is an excellent place to start.
Disclosure – Fitbit provided Blog Of Dad with a Fitbit Blaze free of charge, for the purpose of review. The views expressed in this post are entirely my own views, based on my extended experience with the Fitbit Blaze. For further information, please visit my disclosure page.