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  • Bronwyn Tagg

Fitness Trackers: a digital solution for every athlete

Here at Parfournen we strive to be the backroom staff for the athlete in everyone, working digitally to help provide nutritional, strength and conditioning and coaching advice and plans for everyone. Our digital solution to becoming the best athlete you can be, largely relies of the collection of data, making fitness trackers as a whole ‘breed’ of technology, really important for our clients.

As well as this, having some sort of fitness tracker app or watch, has become every growing trend in the last decade. This has now created a fast-changing, competitive market of fitness technology. Whilst this is great for us athletes and coaches alike, it can make choosing a fitness tracker very difficult! So, we have put together an article of our favourites / some of the most popular to give you a good picture of what’s out there.



Apple Watch

Specifically: Series 6

Pros:

- As usual, the Apple Watch models look great with a suit when we (finally) go back to the office; an important factor for anyone wanting to look profession with a side of ‘athlete’. As usual, Apple successfully pride themselves on the user-friendly functioning of their watches.

- The Apple Watch’s Bluetooth feature links to you iPhone to help give simple graphs, as well as bringing you instant phone, messaging and email notification.

- In terms of health, the new WatchOS 7 software adds a handwashing countdown timer and sleep tracking – we all know how important these are at the moment! This watch has and addictive activity rings system, and blood oxygen saturation monitoring so you can take spot reading. Additionally, the ‘phone sleep scheduling’ feature can help you get a good night’s sleep.

- This watch has features to help track a lot of the common sports such as running, cycling, walking and your gym workouts.


Cons:

- GPS tracking isn’t great; is slightly better when linked up to the Strava app on your phone, but this is not an ideal watch for runners. Saying this, it has improved since the Series 4 and 5 models.

- In terms of battery life, the Series 6 has slightly improved from the Series 5, but for some people this may not be enough.

- It is a little on the expensive side!



Fitbit

Specifically: Charge 3

Pros

- Competing with friends is a definite pro of this watch! Especially in this time where you can’t gym or walk or run with friends, the Fitbit watches help keep you all motivated and fitter using the ‘leaderboard’ functioning.

- Easy to sleep in due to its sleek design. I don’t know about anyone else, but I hate waking up with a watch-shaped indent on my face when I wake from a deep sleep. With the Fitbit Charge 3, this doesn’t happen, and its comfortable design makes sleeping in it easy, resulting in easy sleep tracking. If you’ve read our previous article on how important good sleep is, you’ll know the benefits of tracking it! If you haven’t read it, check it out here. The Fitbit Charge 3 records time spent in light, deep and REM sleep stages too.

- The automatic rep counter in many of the Fitbit watches is great for any gym goes (even if that’s your living room floor!). Aided by the HR monitor, you can use this stat as an indicator of your fitness. As well as rep counting, the Charge 3 also accurately counts the calories you’ve burnt, with the choice of 15 different activities.

- The stress tracking feature on this watch helps you to look after your mental health as well as your physical progression.

- This Fitbit has a long battery life which takes the pressure off you for remembering to charge it overnight!

- This watch is swim-proof and waterproof up to 50 metres allowing you to wear it when you swim and when you shower.

- You can stay connected with this watch, due to it’s connectivity and display of weather, calls, text and app notifications.


Cons

- Not got suitable built-in GPS, meaning if you run, walk or cycle, this isn’t the most useful watch. However, upgrade to the Charge 4, and you’ll find this feature, as well as the ‘run detect’ feature meaning it automatically fires up when it senses you’re getting those miles in!

- This watch has a slightly smaller screen, which some may like, but if you’re one that likes to look at your stats during an activity, this watch isn’t for you.



Garmin Smartwatch

Specifically: Forerunner 735XT

Pros:

- This watch has the most powerful running feature set of all the watches in this list. It tracks cadence, ground contact time, vertical oscillation, and has the ability to estimate VO2 max values and race predictors. If you’re an avid runner who loves data, this is the watch for you! The data this watch collects can also be handy if you’re recovering from injury.

- This watch can track almost any sport under the sun, and its ability to track aerobic and anaerobic activities is sleek.

- Like any Garmin device, the Forerunner 735XT pairs with the Garmin Connect app on your phone, producing some great graphs and stats about your activities, as well as fatigue levels. Connect it to a Garmin HR monitor for even better results.

- This watch allows you to upload training programs as part of the Garmin Coach feature, which could help you stay on board with your training plan from one of our Parfournen coaches!

- Garmin watches are known for being solid and do not often fault, making them a trusty addition to your training kit. Its design is low-stress and user-friendly, ideal when you have your hands full with rowing blades, bike handling or heavy weights.

- In terms of battery life, this Forerunner can go up to 11 days without needing to be plugged in, even when you exercise in it, and wear it casually every day.


Cons

- This watch could be considered quite expensive for some athletes, so the Garmin Vivoactive 3 could be a better option (I’ve got it and it’s the best watch I’ve ever had – and as a triathlete, I’ve tried a few!).




Please note, numbers are not everything, and you won’t progress to your full potential by being coached but computerised technology such as fitness trackers. While this data can be important, it is also useful to have a human coach to talk about how it felt and to give advice. At Parfournen merge this digital accessibility, with human communication, to create training programs for over 300 clients all around the world, acting as the backroom staff for every athlete. So, if you need advice or just want to take your training to the next level, get in touch on social media or via email.


Because every athlete deserves a nutritional specialist, S&C, and sport specific coach to help towards their goals.



By Bronwyn



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