Fitbit Review and a Giveaway


Lately I’ve been thinking lots about gamification and using game strategies to achieve goals, particularly those related to health and fitness. I’m the sort of person who responds well to numbers and data, and quite like the idea of attaching rewards to data-driven results.

So last December I decided I wanted to buy a pedometer to help motivate me to stay active while visiting Chicago over the holidays. A little research and some chatter with my sister, Stephanie, quickly saw my $12 pedometer lust balloon into something more sophisticated. And so we found the Fitbit One, a $90 gadget that tracks steps, distance, calories burned, stairs climbed and sleep. We both bought one (go Team!).

Fitbit - After

In the four months since owning the Fitbit, I find I’ve become – quite literally – attached to the thing.

It’s not just about the device – it’s the whole Fitbit website / web app package that syncs up with it. The app lets you set goals for various parameters (steps / miles walked, floors climbed, weight, etc) and then tracks your progress towards those goals on a daily basis. Feeling good is very much a one-day-at-a-time thing, and the Fitbit really does make the whole fit and active thing a lot more interesting. Who doesn’t like a good chart?

Fitbit Dashboard

The Fitbit features I like the most:

  • Good apps: The Fitbit web and iPhone apps allow you to track other things besides data recorded by the Fitbit, including weight, activities (handy for swimmers like me – the Fitbit is NOT waterproof!), and food. In fact I’ve even read on some of the Fitbit forums that there are people using the apps without actually owning the Fitbit – the food, weight and exercise tracking is good enough to use even without the Fitbit.
  • iPhone friendly: And speaking of the app, I especially like the iPhone app, which is almost exclusively what I use. Even the Calorie counting aspect is better than most I’ve seen.
  • Social: The web app lets you follow friends who have Fitbits, which I love because my sister has a Fitbit, too. Go Team Shaw!
  • Motivating: I guess this is the most important thing of all. The Fitbit really does motivate me to walk more and reach my daily target (currently set at 10,000 steps). What really shocks me is when I wear it on a day out in London and I realise how LITTLE I walk now that I don’t live in the City. Not that I’d give up the country idyl and working from home, but it’s a much needed reminder to get off my duff once in a while and go for a stroll.
  • Gamifying: Steps walked, floors climbed, calories burned, they’re all “points” in the game of getting fit, and Fitbit “rewards” you with various badges for different achievements (e.g. walking 40,000 steps in a day, getting to 100 total lifetime miles, and so on). I’d like to come up with a system for attaching these achievements to more interesting goals – it’d be nice if I could define my rewards in Fitbit, so it could tell me when I’ve earned, for example, something off of my Amazon wishlist, or a pint at the pub (though having said that, one of my goals in using the Fitbit is to find non-food / non-alcohol motivators, so I better stick with Amazon, or tattoos, or original art).
  • Hackable: The Fitbit API lets you program your Fitbit to trigger events. For example, one guy hacked his Fitbit to turn off the power to his fridge if he didn’t walk enough. You could do the same to turn off your TV, computer, Internet, etc. Hardcore, though I’d be more apt to use the API for good (reward) verses evil (punishment). This would, of course, require me to be a mad elite computer programmer, which I’m not. So I hope someone else will step up to the plate for me.

The Fitbit isn’t perfect, however…

  • It’s really easy to lose, but on the plus side, Fitbit has a very responsive and understanding customer support team.
  • In order to track sleep, you’re supposed to wear their Fitbit on your wrist using a velcro wrist strap thing. It’s kind of uncomfortable and is prone to fall off in the middle of the night.

My sister, who presents a slightly different use case, adds…

  • Android syncing only works with two phones: Samsung Galaxy S III and Samsung Galaxy Note II.  This is just crazy given there are over 70+ models available in the US alone.  Yes, iOS is more popular, but the Android share can’t be ignored! [You can read Fitbit’s reason for developing their apps this way on their blog.]
  • The Fitbit really should come with some kind of a security clip to attach to a belt loop…anything to secure it better. [Amen.]
  • I can’t track specific workouts unless I enter them manually. It means I often don’t enter them at all.  
  • Some activities produce false step counts.  Horse back riding, for example: it says I did x amount of steps, but obviously I didn’t.  Yes I burned calories, but it’s just not calculated right.  I have to remove the Fitbit if I want to keep my step count accurate.
  • It doesn’t track my average speed.


The Fitbit has a few flaws but what gadget doesn’t? I’m addicted to thing, which is really a testament to its worthiness as a great life hacking tool. Or maybe it’s just evidence of my geekiness? Either way, I do believe I’m actually fitter for owning a Fitbit. Or at least, I’m more motivated to keep my activity levels up, and motivation is often the hardest part. And looking at my monthly step average since owning the Fitbit, it seems to be working (this is why I love data):

Fitbit Dashboard - Yearly Steps

And for the record, Fitbit didn’t ask me to say any of this. But they did give me something groovy to give away. Read on.

Giveaway time…

The folks at Fitbit kindly gave me one of their Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker to give away. This is much like my Fitbit One but it doesn’t have the sleep tracking capabilities. You can read all about the Fitbit Zip on the Fitbit website. And as you can see, it gets great reviews on Amazon!

Bonus fitbit! I love this uber pedometer, & this one's destined for one lucky @smarterfitter reader. Thanks @fitbituk!


To enter, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below (disclaimer: I’ve never used Rafflecopter so I hope it all works smoothly, but if you have any troubles just let me know).  There is one main way to enter and various ways to get bonus entries (which I will verify so please be honest).

This giveaway is open to everyone (fortunately the Zip is lightweight so I don’t mind shipping it overseas – Fitbits for all!). Entries close on May 21, 2013. The winner will be chosen randomly using Rafflecopter and notified by email.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

37 thoughts on “Fitbit Review and a Giveaway

  1. Eileen

    Such a useful tool! 🙂 If you want even more inspiration to stick to your goals, you should check out my friends’ company Beeminder. They have an integration with FitBit and everything! Win win.

  2. Philippa

    I’ve been hearing about these at the running retreat I was at on the weekend – heaps of ladies had a FitBit…..I want in 😀 thanks for hosting such a cool giveaway! x

  3. Toddy Peters

    I’ve been using a pedometer that connects wirelessly to 2 Nintendo “games” and.find them helpful but limited. This gadget looks like a nice step up…

  4. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef

    I’ve recently started walking agan and yesterday I walked 1 1/2 hrs and an hour today and came back and said, “I wonder how far I walked and how many calories I burned?” to John and he said, ‘look it up on the interwebs.” Your fitbit would have done it with no effort. Clever.

  5. stephanie

    I have gym friends that wear the fitbit, and it would be great motivation to make a competition of it all, in sharing our results.

  6. Maggie Hill

    I’d love a fitbit cos I’m really curious to know how much walking around I actually do (I have 4 kids!!) – and I’d love to be able to see progress on activity levels x

  7. Chaundra

    I’ve been looking at getting one of these so your review is really timely! Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it syncs with my electronic scale (withings) which is kind of sad making, but I’d be interested to give it a try. Goodness knows my fitness of late has falled through the work shaped chasms in my life.

    1. Monica Post author

      Interesting you mention the scale thing… Fitbit does have a wifi scale that I lust after but it’s >£100 which seems like a lot of money for something that is may actually be de-motivating. 🙂

  8. Caitlin Allbright

    Two reasons – I think it will inspire me, and 2 I am really curious how active I really am.

  9. Caitlin Allbright

    From everything I have read, and Monica’s endorsement, I think in sounds like a great product. I have been looking for this tool for quite some time, and the Fitbit sounds like it’s just what I am looking for.

  10. Bunny R

    Cool! I’ve been using a Nike plus but am convinced its not as accurate as I’d like. Would love to do my own experiment between the two!

  11. Karen Magno

    I have one of the original fitbits and it has really motivated me. If I win one I would give this to my sister.

  12. Stefanie Gladden

    I’ve heard they are a lot of help, and I need a lot of help to lose my weight and get back in shape! i know the fitbit will keep me on track!!!

  13. Leggs

    My sister who has no interest in fitness but really wants to loose weight asked me about pedometers. My research began but even before I started I thought a pedometer sounded boring…and that was when I discovered the fitbit.

    Let me explain I am also a bit of a geek, I love gadgets and love graphs, but unlike Monica I come from a design perspective. Information graphics can be beautiful. Data and design. The fitbit offered a stylish dashboard and an app. I bought a fitbit for my sister and for myself, plus the scales. Yes I was sold!

    The verdict. The fitbit is like having a little friend. It is attached to me day and night (the one also monitors your sleep) and wakes me up. It has a personality (this can be turned off in settings, but why would you do that?)

    The downside… if you really want the fitbit to calculate everything, you must input a lot of data manually. It is time consuming. Now each day I record my weight the data is streamed via the Aria, I input my hrs asleep and my meal plan. I have to admit that I had the ‘one’ for many months before I decided to input most data and the only reason that I am now adding a lot of data is because I have just started a 10 week fitness plan.

    I would suggest to fitbit to team up with the top 5 fitness programs so that as a user I could just select the program and all the data is there. All I need to do is input my statistics.

    Monicas sister mentioned removing the fitbit during horse riding…I wouldn’t! So the fitbit calls them steps they don’t have to be steps – its exercise. I am relatively fit but I know about horse riding and if you think the horse is doing all the work think again horse riding is hardcore!

    Before I had the fitbit I used the nike app (never buy nike trainers unless they can record) The great thing about the fitbit is that the fitbit records my activities 24/7.

    Just for fun I put my sisters fitbit on Tiger (the dog) an experiment and for every 1 mile I did Tiger did 3.5. (rounded) I used my sisters fitbit I did not want to skew my data, she didn’t mind plus I also needed to record my own distance.

    Get a fitbit it gets you motivated.

    1. Monica Post author

      “I would suggest to fitbit to team up with the top 5 fitness programs so that as a user I could just select the program and all the data is there.” This is an awesome idea.

      And I love that both of us use our fitbit with our sisters. I feel like there’s a marketing lesson in this somewhere.

  14. Vikki Roberts

    I’m pretty active but my Garmin only tracks running and cycling so it would be great to have something that records other activities and adds some additional fun to my routines!

  15. Amber

    They sound awesome – I hear they’re releasing a new wristband version, which might be good for sleeping?

  16. Bunny

    Fun giveaway! I’d be interested to see how many steps I take chasing kiddos around everyday.

    Side note: Now I really want some wild garlic pesto!

    1. Bunny

      As a side note, I’m so sleep deprived I literally don’t even remember commenting earlier. My bad!

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