Apple Watch for Fitness?

Fitness trackers have been around a looooooooong time. But, as much as they seem to get better they also really just stay the same. Ironically, the best tracker I ever used is also the oldest one I’ve had. But, I think Apple has a handle on things and are going to force fitness tracking to finally move to the next level. Here’s why.

Above all, customization…
I’ve used damn near every fitness tracker on the market since 2010. They all have one thing in common, you get what you get. Any customization or updates come to an app or web portal, but the device itself largely stays the same. This is a problem, one the Apple Watch will be able to fix. So far I think my Nike+ SE has been the best. It alerts me when I need to move, tells me my steps, my daily Fuel, when I hit my goal. I can tell it what I want to display and what I don’t care about. But if I want to go back a day, look at a report of my total week, or change any of my fitness targets I have to go to the app (which is often buggy). The Apple Watch not only promises on-device adjustments, but Apple will be able to push updates directly to the device.
Data…
Hands down the best, most accurate tracker I’ve ever used was the Bodybugg. If you remember those funny bands they all wore on the Biggest Loser, or in the Turbo Fire fitness videos, it was a small box you wore on your tricep. It had sensors that connected to the skin to detect muscle contraction, sweat, heat, and an accelerometer for movement (ironically, no heart rate). Since then most trackers rely on one source of input, acceleration. Granted, they’re accurate as hell but still, sit on your butt eating potato chips fast enough and your little device will think you’re running a marathon. Not great for people that need a device to push them. The Apple Watch has sensors that sit on your wrist that are able to detect heart rate right out of the box. Sources estimate it will be able to detect moisture soon, as well a dedicated app for weight lifting. It’s also got an accelerometer built in and can access your phone’s GPS for added data. That’s pretty damn good. My main concern is going to be contact to the skin. I hate a tight watch, so this is going to be a trial and error thing for sure.
Motivation…
One feature I really love is how you can interact with others wearing an Apple Watch. You can “force touch” to send your heartbeat to someone, and that’s going to kick ass when you’re really working up a sweat. Think about sitting at your desk, giving your excuses, when you suddenly feel your success partner’s heartbeat on your wrist as they kick butt and work up a sweat! Motivation is the main reason I’ve worn the Nike+ SE for almost two years. I’m someone that needs a reminder to get off my ass. Oh, I workout. Every day like clockwork. But after that? I am perfectly content sitting on my couch and binging Netflix. The Fuelband alerted me if I haven’t moved enough in an hour. The Apple Watch will do the same, but again it’ll be killer to get that notice and send a pulse to my wife to let her know “Hey, let’s go for a jog” or “I need another beer” :p
Integration…
Finally, Apple promises to really lock down integration. This is one reason I love the Apple products (say what you will). All of my devices just work together. Heck, I wrote this blog on three seperate devices all over the course of the day seamlessly. While some of the smart watches on the market can already integrate, it’ll be nice to step on my scale and see my stats sent right to my wrist, then to my fitness tracker (MyFitnessPal). I’ve actually already set up the Health app to sync my workouts to MFP so I can keep track of the calories burned on my nutrition target. I’m really excited to see how this works with the Skulpt AIM device. It’d be awesome to see real time stats on my wrist.
On the integration note, I hate running with my phone. It’s bulky and tends to kill the battery having the screen going, especially on my longer runs. The last half marathon I ran I had to bring a batter pack just to make sure my music and GPS would stick it out for three hours. I’m super excited to be able to put my phone in my sport pouch and control everything from my wrist. One downside is the watch doesn’t have a headphone port, so I’ll need bluetooth headphones, and you can’t actually use it as a phone through the headphones. But, that last one should be easy to fix in an update (again, why I think this will change the fitness tracking industry).
If you’ve read this far, yay! But that means you’re also genuinely curious. And you probably know that such a watch already exists, and is made by Microsoft. I’ve seen it. I’ve played with it. I wanted to buy it. It’s not available any longer. Rumor has it they released version 1 as sort of a market beta test, and they plan to release a second version on the heels of the Apple Watch. I hope so, because having two of these on the market is really, really going to up some game.
So you really have to ask yourself if this is something worth $350. My Bodybugg was about $200. My Fuelband $150. I’ve spent about $300 in Fitbits. When putting things into perspective, given all the features and how much I use my tech, it’s definitely a worthy investment. I do hate going with first gen anything, but from what I’ve seen this should be solid enough to last me through a few iterations. Now, if the next version can get over the 24 hour battery life hump, that’d be priceless.

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