Jawbone Up Move Review

My Fitbit broke last week so I went to Best Buy to order a Jawbone Up Move.  In the car in the parking lot I was able to open up the container and get it tracking my steps.  Getting it to connect to my phone was another issue.  At home I was able to get it to connect to my Nexus 6, for 10 minutes that is.  Then I had to restart the phone to sync.

After suffering through a day of that I called customer service and they had me go through a series of steps to connect the watch better to my phone.  But the support specialist did let me know that the Nexus 6 is not a compatible device.  Nowhere on the box for the Jawbone Move Up could I find a list of compatible devices.  Going to their website I found that there were in fact, very few officially supported devices.  So few that you could fit them on the box.

The lights on the Jawbone Up Move are great for tracking the percentage of your goal complete during the day but they aren’t great for the time or for knowing the exact number of steps.  If you want the number of steps or the exact time, you are going to have to pull your phone out.  I haven’t used the app much besides to sync my steps but the interface is a little simpler than Fitbits, enabling you to more easily track your steps at a glance.

What I like the most about the Jawbone Up Move is that you have the choice to wear it on your wrist or on your belt and you can change out the bands.  You can get a wide variety of colors and there are some unofficial bands on Ebay that come with designs.  Its hard to get bored with a fitness tracker that you can change based on your mood.

Jawbone Up Move Pros:

  • Simple design with a loose strap
  • Recognizes sleep and exercise automatically
  • You can change the color of your band/clip
  • Great phone support team

Jawbone Up Move Cons:

  • Limited phone syncing compatibility
  • Clock could use work to tell a more exact time

Would I Buy the Jawbone Up Move as a fitness tracker instead of a Fitbit?  No.  The limited compatibility is a big negative for me.  I would get it if I needed an affordable tracker quick, like I did.

Fitbit Connected App:Wokamon

Website | Android | Apple


 

NooDum, which I find suspiciously close to No Dumb, is an app company that created Wokamon, a Fitbit Connect App turned game.  The idea behind the game is that you have a collection of creatures that grow the more that you walk.  The more your creature grows, the more crystals you earn.  You can also get more creatures based on how much you walk.  These aren’t just normal creatures, that are the weirdest creatures you could think of.  Here are just a few of them:

Three Wokamon - Fitbit Connected App

You can also upgrade your Wokamon with clothes and accessories that are unique to each Wokamon.  Each Wokamon can have three different clothing items.

Spyke Clothes - Fitbit Connected App

As you can see each one of these accessories has a price in crystals below it.  Crystals are earned through drops of boxes but also through tapping the screen.  Whenever you buy one of these accessories it multiplies the amount of XP that you gain from walking, making it easier to level up.  There is also a star system that allows you to earn stars to unlock large amounts of crystals.  Stars can be earned through random drops and by unlocking in-app achievements.

You may be thinking, I don’t have a Fitbit so this app won’t do anything for me.  Wrong.  There are a variety of ways to log your steps for Wokamon.  You can use it as a Fitbit Connected App like I do, a MI Band, Google Fit, or your phone itself.  Of course, a fitness tracker is the more accurate way of tracking your steps but you can join in the fun as long as you have an Android or Apple phone.

What I Think of Wokamon The Fitbit Connected App Game

Rating: 5/5 Stars

I love Wokamon.  And once again, the reviews I do here are NOT paid.  Wokamon is the reason that I had over 28,000 steps on Saturday the 12th.  It is also the reason why I had over 17,000 steps yesterday.  In their press release Kit NooDum says that over 60% of users became more active when using Wokamon and I don’t doubt it.  Like many other apps out there it manages to hook you and make you want to level up.  The more you walk the more you can play.

The characters and accessories are also really inventive.  I enjoy seeing what I will get next.  So far each character has had fairly unique accessories, the only similarities that I have seen have been one has had an acoustic guitar while another has had an electric bass.  The only reason I noticed this was because I choose two characters that both happened to have guitars.

One big benefit that this app has: lack of pay-to-win.  There is the ability to buy stars but why would you do that when walking will help you level up and earn more crystals?  Buying stars isn’t required for the game in any way.

The only problem I was able to find with this game is that you don’t get credit for sharing the Wokamon like you are supposed to.  I don’t have much of an issue with this, although it would be nice.  Overall everything else works and I haven’t had any issues with the app crashing.  Much nicer than the other Fitbit Connected App game that I tried, FitRPG.  Stay tuned for more reviews of Fitbit Connected Apps and other informational content.

Weight Lifting Kettle Bell Review and Exercises

I have mentioned several times that I bought two kettlebells for weight lifting at the desk when I am at work and even when I am at home.  After doing some research, I found that the maximum weight that you should be continuously lifting if you are the “average” male is 10 lbs.  By continuously lifting I mean for use over a period of time, such as a shift, while sitting at your desk.

Starting last week I have been bringing one of kettlebells to work when I am sitting at a desk so that I can just pick it up randomly throughout the day and add a little bit of muscle building to my day.  The weight training, though at low poundage, has been making my arms sore because of the continuous nature and I feel like it has been working.  I guess it will take probably another couple months before I see serious results from it but I am going to keep my mind open.  Weight lifting are your desk is fun and can really help pass the boring days.

The Weight Lifting Kettlebells

I picked CAP Barbell Vinyl Coated Cement Kettlebell from Amazon as my tool for weight lifting.  The CAP Kettlebell is filled with cement which makes its form factor a little bit bigger than your average kettlebell which may be a problem for some.  I was not looking for a kettlebell for “extreme belling” as one reviewer called it.  Despite some negative reviews the CAP Kettlebell does have 4.2-stars on Amazon.  About 56% of the reviews are 5-star reviews, another 20% are 4-star reviews.  I also wasn’t looking for the most expensive or fancy weights on the market.  Maybe I should outline what I was looking for in my kettlebells:

  • Easy to transport
  • Very affordable in case they get damaged or lost at work
  • 10 lbs
  • Durable but they don’t need to be drop proof because I won’t be doing that at work

So far these kettlebells have met all of my needs really well.  I would give them a rating of 5-stars for my purposes.  Your average entry level weightlifter, who these are targeted at, won’t be looking for something for “extreme belling” right off the bat.

Weight Lifting Bicep Curl

The bicep curl is a pretty traditional exercise.  You can do it with kettlebells or dumbbells.  Start by gripping the weight with your palm facing inwards and then pull the weight up towards your shoulder.  If you are doing one arm at a time do 10-20 reps (depending on your comfortability) then switch arms.  Keep the upper arm straight and only lift the lower arm towards your shoulder.  Don’t forget to breathe!  This exercise will work out your upper arm muscles.

Weight Lifting Arm Raises

Okay, I’ll admit that this probably isn’t what this weight training exercise is actually named but I remember this one from when I was working out with various personal trainers.  With your arms at your sides take the kettlebell in your hand and your palms facing inward.  Lift the kettlebell with your arm straight so that your arm reaches the point of being parallel with the deck.  Let your arm slowly go back down to your side.  As with all weight lifting exercises you are going to want to move your arm slowly to increase the muscle use.  Don’t let your arm fall down fast than bounce back up, this will hinder your muscle building and calorie burning attempts.

Weight Lifting Strict Press

I didn’t know the name of this one or even have an idea of what to call it, maybe a mind blank or something, but I found the name “strict press” on Cube Dweller Fitness.  Start with your arm straight up, palm facing out.  As you lower your arm keep the kettlebell held high so that your arm bends.  You can even do this one sitting down if you have an office place that frowns on people standing up.  Although you should be standing up regularly because it is healthy to stand up and walk a little bit every hour.

Fitbit Cons – Three Things Fitbit Should Change

You probably saw my last post Fitbit Benefits – Three Things I Like About Fitbit and since you are reading this you are probably already aware that I am a big fan of Fitbit.  Fitbit isn’t perfect though and there are several things I wish to see from Fitbit or to see Fitbit improve upon, these are the Fitbit Cons.  Don’t let yourself be discouraged by these Fitbit Cons, the Fitbit is still a great device.  These just serve to let you know where Fibit could stand to improve.

Fitbit Cons #1 – Skin Irritation

The Fitbit Force, which is very similar in appearance to the Fitbit Charge HR, was pulled from shelves due to skin irritation.  Rereleasing their product under a new name didn’t fix the problem.  Big surprise.  The Fitbit Charge HR has a band that can still cause irritation to the skin.  The irritation caused by the fitness tracker can be annoying but isn’t permanent.  It is known as contact dermatitis.  The amount of irritation varies and seems to be mostly only if I sweat.

IMG_20150827_041734

Despite the fact that it looks like my Fitbit tracker was on too tight, it isn’t.  That redness is from irritation due to the tracker.  It doesn’t hurt though and as far as I can tell has no health impact so I put up with it.  I still can’t wait until Winter when this will stop happening.

Fitbit Cons #2 – Not Always On Display

In my opinion Fitbit would greatly benefit from an Always On Display.  This would allow users of the fitness tracker to see their progress.  I could care less with it providing me the time.  I want to see the progress bar whenever I look down at my Fitbit.  I don’t want to have to tap my Fitbit or hit the button every time I want to watch my progress.  As I have said before, I find progress bars very motivational because I feel like they are just begging to be filled in.

Fitbit has gotten this question before it seems and they have answered by stating that the always on display would eat up the battery life.  With battery life of around a week though it wouldn’t be that bad if you cut the battery life by 3/4 or even a half.  You would still have multiple days on the same charge.  Others may not agree but this is a feature that I would like to see implemented.  Fitbit could also set it up so that users could decide whether they wanted to have it always on or not.

Fitbit Cons #3 – No Get Up Reminder

This may be the biggest one of the Fitbit cons mentioned, simply because I am a forgetful person.  I would very much like it if the Fitbit tracker included a get up reminder that tells you if you have been sitting for too long.  Several other trackers have this feature.  Sitting for too long can be detrimental to your weight loss efforts because you aren’t giving your body the power it needs to process the intake of foods.  Studies have shown that getting up regularly can help you lose weight  and is better for your body than sitting at the computer for hours straight.

Now that you have seen my Fitbit cons list you probably are a little quizzical about buying a Fitbit.  I have to say, it is the best fitness investment that I have made so far.  I look down at it and feel motivated to make more out of myself.  Still wearing it despite the fact that I get negative reactions from the band should show you that I love my Fitbit.  If anyone knows of a fitness tracker that might be better, let us know and I will consider looking further into it.

Fitbit Benefits – Three Things I Like About Fitbit

Those who have read my posts probably have already guessed that I love my Fitbit.  Before I go any further it should be noted that I do not get paid for talking about my Fitbit or the Fitbit Benefits.  I truly believe that the Fitbit was an amazing invention with a lot of work put into it with room to grow even further.

I have the Fitbit Charge HR, the one that is capable of reading your heart rate throughout the day while being worn on the wrist.  Knowing your heart rate better allows it to calculate calories burned and helps me to determine what level of exercise I am getting when I am working out.  If I am running/jogging/walking on the treadmill I will keep the Fitbit app open and leave my phone propped open so I can see it.  This allows me to monitor steps, heart rate, and calories burned in real time.

Fitbit Benefits - Fitbit Charge HR

There are many Fitbit benefits out there.  Here are three of my favorite Fitbit Benefits.

Fitbit Benefits #1 – Simple, Motivational, Phone Interface

The phone interface for Fitbit is the first benefit that I truly enjoy.  There is no scrolling to find most of your stats, which is a huge plus.  Having to open the app and navigate to stats makes it less likely for me to want to use the app.  I don’t like having to look for things that should be displayed front and center.

Throughout your day the stats will be updated and if you leave the app open with the screen on your Fitbit will constantly update the page.  As you get closer to achieving your goal the color of the progress bars changes which is extremely helpful.  This allows you to see roughly how far you are at only a glance.  I also find this extremely motivational because with my ADHD I can’t just leave progress bars unfinished.  I have a craving to make the bar reach the end.  Some would say I am easily entertained…

Screenshot of Fitbit Stats - Fitbit Benefits

Fitbit Benefits #2 – Long Battery Life

I’ll be honest, I tend to forget to charge things, even my phone sometimes.  Most often my watch or Fitbit.  The Fitbit battery will last for up to a week sometimes but at the least I will get five days out of one charge.  This means that I don’t have to worry about plugging the device in every night and allows me to actually track my sleep.  Actually, I can get enough of a charge from plugging it in while I brush my teeth and shower that it will be good for the day.

Fitbit Benefits - Long Battery Life

Besides the Fitbit I also wear a Moto 360 that I have talked about before.  The Moto 360’s battery simply sucks.  It needs to be charged every night and often needs a boost during the day.  This is unacceptable.

Fitbit Benefits # 3 – Challenges

I love the Fitbit Challenges.  They are one of the best Fitbit benefits out there.  The challenges that are currently available are Goal Day, Weekend Warrior, Daily Showdown, and Workweek Hustle.  All of these challenges involve step counting in one form or another.  These challenges allow me (and other users) to pit my step count up against other people.  I like to think of it as trying to beat the high score on a video game.  Must get the best high score.

Fitbit Benefits - Fitbit Challenges

 

When it comes to challenges there are only four of them and they focus on step goals.  I wish that Fitbit would come out with more challenges.  Challenges targeted towards calories burned in one day or most weight lost in a month or something similar would be exciting and helpful.  With any product there is room for improvement and Fitbit takes that to heart.  Just today I got a notice about a Fitbit update.

 

If you are interested in getting a Fitbit look at Fitbit’s Website or Amazon.com.  I purchased my Fitbit through Amazon due to the fast shipping.  You can also find Fitbit at a lot of retailers now.  It would be fun to be able to challenge visitors of my blog on Fitbit!  On Thursday look out for my post on”Fitbit Cons – Three Things Fitbit Should Change”.

 

Fitness App Review: Pact – Commit To You

Apple Store | Google Play | Website


 

Pact is the fitness app that creates motivation in users through the bet that you will be able to workout (or eat healthy).  You set how many days you aim to work out each week and how much you are willing to lose for each of the days you don’t workout.  For example, I currently have it set to meet my step goal or work out five days a week.  For each day that I miss I would owe $5 to Pact.  If I meet my goal of five days of working out each week I get around $1.11 total for the week.

So far this week I am at one day met because it is only the second day of the week.  If I get in some 8,200 steps I will be able to meet my second day of the week and another circle will be filled in.

Current Pact Screenshot

This may not seem like a lot but think of it this way, I get money just for getting in better shape.  At first I was worried about being able to meet my goal five days a week, now that five dollars is on the line for each day that I miss I have been out and improving my step number every day.  So far I have yet to miss a day.  I have pushed it going on late walks in order to get my count in.

In order to detect my steps I had to connect my Pact account to my Fitbit account.  Every day I get 10,000 steps counts towards a completed workout pact day.  However you can choose to do 30 minutes of biking, jogging, or time at the gym.  You can sync other apps such as MapMyRun.

As of writing this I am thinking I will up my Pact requirement to six days a week.  This will give me one day to be under my requirements if needed but both up my fitness and increase the amount of money I can make from the fitness app each week.  The one key feature I have yet to try is payments, you need to make $10 before you can apply to have your Pact balance transferred to PayPal so that will be a key test of this fitness app.  Here is what a completed week looks like on the app screen.

Pact Fitness App Completed Week

 

I think it would be great if Pact would include a couple of features.  First, when you go to update your Pact it would be great if they would include a way to see what the difference in potential payout would be based on the changes you make.  Integrating a social aspect similar to Fitbit would also make this fitness app more motivational.  If your friends could regularly see your progress it would make you more likely to want to finish it.

One thing that all users need to realize before installing this fitness app is that the company is in it to make money.  If you get an injury or for some legitimate reason there is no option to pause a weekly pact once the week has started.  Similarly, stopping your weekly pact should you decide that you do not like this fitness app is not easy.

App Review: Google Fit

You can find Google Fit here on the Play Store:

Android Website


 

 

I was really excited to see Google Fit released.  For a while now I have been an Android user and was happy to see an exercise app that hopefully will become a native part of the phone.  Overall Google Fit does many things right.  It all starts with Google fit having a very simple and easy to read homepage that is still motivating.  The main thing that Google Fit tracks is time spent active each day and that time appears in a wheel and as you get closer to your goal the wheel fills up.  This is a great method of tracking your activity because I want to fill up the wheel and I don’t want to spend time trying to find the wheel.  I want it to be right there when I open the app.

Screenshot of the main page of Google Fit as viewed on a Google/Motorola Nexus 6.
Screenshot of the main page of Google Fit as viewed on a Google/Motorola Nexus 6.

Where the app starts to let me down is in the tracking.  I feel that most of my walking activity isn’t tracked by Google Fit.  It is always at least 2,000 steps or more less than my Fitbit and I have counted out steps then looked back down at my watch only to find that it hadn’t updated.

What is nice, though, is that different types of activity will show up differently on the wheel.  For example, if you run during the day it will appear purple and bike rides will appear blue.  I like this because it will help me determine what I should do more of and it helps me keep better track of what I have done that day.

Unfortunately, Google Fit will not display the wheel from past days.  Instead it displays lines of data that aren't as helpful.
Unfortunately, Google Fit will not display the wheel from past days. Instead, it displays lines of data that aren’t as helpful.

Another major issue that I have with Google Fit is its ability to sync with its own website.  As can be seen in the picture below the Google Fit website does not sync data continuously.  In the case of today, I can see yesterday’s data but there have been days where I haven’t been able to view data for the last couple of days via their website.  Google spent a lot of time making the app use as little battery power as possible, but I think that it isn’t unreasonable to ask it to sync every couple of hours at least.  It shouldn’t use too much battery and it would probably only use a small amount of data.  I am not a battery expert nor a network expert though so feel free to correct me on that.  I have yet to be able to find a way to force the app to sync with the website.  At the very least Google should provide its users with a force sync option so that you can choose when the app uploads information.

GoogleFitWebsite

 

Those who use an iOS device will have to settle with using their website to track activity or using a third party app with Google Fit.  According to Google’s developer website the API for Google Fit, is available for the iOS but without an Apple device I have no way of testing out apps that may work.  Apple is probably working against Google in this arena because Google Fit is a direct competitor to Apple’s Apple Health.

Instead of using my phone to record my steps with Google Fit I have a Moto 360 that I wear.  I will do a review on that at another time.

For the gripes that I may have with Google Fit the app is pretty good for only being several months old.  With more time, it will probably develop into something richer with improved accuracy and uploading.  It would also be great to see Google release a feature that allows users to compete or compare steps similar to that of Fitbit.  I will post an update should anything major change with the app, Google has a good start.

 

App Review: MoveUp! Sitting Alert

MoveUp! Sitting Alert
MoveUp Sitting Alert for Android Wear

 Google Play link


I downloaded this app because it promised to be an alert to remind me to stand up and take breaks from sitting at the desk working.  It looks nice but simple.  The app starts out with a simple screen that lets you turn on or off the detection features.  In order to access any of the settings you need to pay a fee.  Once you access settings you can change the time between alerts, what kind of alerts you get, and how frequently you are reminded.

MoveUp! Screenshot
Very plain layout with settings on a separate window despite the abundance of room on the front page.

When I first downloaded this app I was happy that I would have motion alerts on my Moto 360.  I set the alarms to go off every 45 minutes and sat down to write.  Nothing came after 45 minutes.  For two days no alarms.  I decided to reopen the app the next day and found that while the alarms were still enabled my premium status had disappeared.  I uninstalled the app and reinstalled it, my premium status was back.  Despite my premium status alarms still would not show up.

Going back onto Google Play I decided to look at the reviews (I hadn’t before because it was in the Google Play “What’s Hot” section) and there were more negative reviews than positive.  Most of the recent ones having to do with issues with my watch.  I emailed the developers asking for a refund because the app does not work.  I will update this once I hear back from the developers.

Update:

Three days after writing this review I decided to give MoveUp! another try, this time I was able to get the get up and move notifications on my Moto 360 but unfortunately I was not able to clear them. I would get up and move but the alarm would not go away.  Swiping it away would only temporarily get rid of the notification.  I would still not recommend this app as the developers have still not gotten back to me.

MyFitnessPal

You see that little weight tracker on the right sidebar of my website?  That is courtesy of MyFitnessPal.  When I started my journey with my Fitbit I found the food tracking options somewhat limited and felt that they could use a little boost.  That is when I tried out MyFitnessPal.  It had most of what I was looking for in one package.  It sets up a plan for me to lose weight and tracks my food intake and exercise.

What I really found joy in was the ability to sync Fitbit and MyFitnessPal.  Whenever I want to see how many extra calories I have earned to eat all I need to do is click the little sync wheel at the top of the widget (as can be seen in the below screen shot).  The Fitbit data is also used to calculate the calories you have burned more accurately in order to see if you are on track with your weight loss plan or not.  To get the most out of syncing your Fitbit you should enable negative calories in the settings menu.  This will subtract calories you can eat on lazy days and help motivate you to get up and get out more.  It also provides a more accurate level of data.

While I have yet to find it as motivating as the Fitbit friends feature I do enjoy the ability to log info straight from my home screen.  The large food database and barcode scanner also make it great.

Home Screen Screenshot
As you can see in this screenshot MyFitnessPal is located near the top of my home screen and right below that is Fitbit.