I first reviewed my impressions of the BodyMedia FIT in July 2010 and I have gotten quite a few messages recently asking for an update. So here she goes!
Disclaimer: BodyMedia FIT supplied me with the armband plus display device. I have been paying the monthly subscription fee after the first month they set me up with. All opinions are strictly my own. No sell out here!
For those who don’t know how this device works:
- You place the monitor on your upper left arm and wear it all day (even when you sleep- it track that also)
- The sensors on the device record your activity throughout the day, including duration of moderate and vigorous activity, calories burned, steps walked, etc
- You plug in the device to your computer and download the data onto the BodyMedia membership site, where it gives you charts and all the data you could want about your activity.
- You can also track your food in the BodyMedia system online (or on your iPhone or Android device if you have the app). If done so, it will tell you your calorie deficit (or overage) for the desired time period. Using this information, you should be able to tell if you’re on track for a weight loss (a calorie deficit of 3500 calories equals 1 pound lost).
Here’s a quick example:
Yesterday I missed my morning workout due to quite possibly the worst nights of sleep in my life (just restless, plus I'm an insomniac). When I got home from work, it was dark and freezing out, so I decided to hop on hubs' recumbent bike and see if I could get 30 minutes knocked out so I could say I did SOMETHING of a workout.
I wasn't wearing the BodyMedia FIT all day yesterday (see bullet 1 on my “con” list below), but I wanted to see how the device would read especially as compared to what my Polar heart rate monitor was saying my exertion level was (due to bullet point 2 below on the “con” list).
It took me a while to get in a groove on the bike. Maybe 5 minutes for my heart rate to get up? But then we were off to the races for a while.
When I finished at 30 minutes, I felt like I had a good workout, but didn't really know how well I did. I was sweaty though!
I plugged the sucker in my computer to see what the results were:
- I’m a geek and it’s a neat techie device.
- It calculates my calories burned based on a number of factors, making it more accurate than the generic calorie read-outs on a piece of gym equipment (that doesn’t know my weight, etc)
- I love wearing it when I try a new workout program, class, or routine. It’s really interesting to plug it in and see the data of how my calorie burn doing that activity varies with what I normally do. For example, I used it to calculate my spinning calories and my Just Dance 2 calories burned.
- The BodyMedia support team is very responsive and helpful if you think you have an issue.
- They now have an iPhone and Android app that lets you see your data and input your food. They also have a new BodyMedia FIT device that is Bluetooth-enabled so you can view your stats while you’re wearing your device (this kind of makes me geek out)
- I forget to wear it. All the time. It is pretty visible with a lot of work clothes, and it’s old after a while to stop trying to convince people it’s not a SCRAM bracelet
- I had some trouble getting it to properly calculate my time while doing lower impact gym activities where my arms are pretty fixed, including spinning, the arc trainer, elliptical and recumbent bike. I always use my Polar heart rate monitor to make sure I’m exercising in my proper heart rate zone, so when I would plug in the device when I got home to have it tell me I only did 40 minutes of cardio instead of 70, I would get huffy. There are some tricks such as lowering the armband closer to the elbow on lower impact activities, that help with the monitoring. (Hence why I did my heart rate monitor/BodyMedia experiment above yesterday- that turned out pretty accurate though, yay!)
- Even if you do all of your activity and eat the right things to get the recommended calorie deficit to lose X pounds per week, it still doesn't always happen. The body is funny like that. Just don’t take it too seriously (like me) and get mad.
Bottom line: The BodyMedia FIT is a tool. It helps you gain better awareness of what activities you do and how active you are. If you use the calorie tracker also, it will calculate the calorie overage or deficit to continue on your weight loss goals. These are great. However, it is just a tool. The tool is only as good as the person wielding it. It can’t do the work for you. If you like data, however, and think this tool will help keep you accountable with your exercise, then by all means, pick it up (affiliate link). I think for many, it is a really great way to find out what their body is really doing. Coupled with the nutrition tracker, it provides a complete snapshot of your wellness initiatives. On the other hand, if you’re starting out a fitness plan and have limited resources, you might want to just start off by investing in a pair of good shoes to get you going, or a heart rate monitor (if you’re doing heart-rate based training- HIIT) instead of running off to buy this device.