Through being connected with Run Reigate (I’m running their half marathon and blogging for them), I’ve been given a Fitbit Surge to help with my training as they’re one of the Run Reigate sponsors. So I thought I’d do a little review of how I’m finding it and what I think.
When the fitness trackers first started coming out I had an original Fitbit. It was fairly basic but it did what I wanted: counted my steps and monitored my sleep. Then when the Garmin Vivofit came out I decided to upgrade as I liked the idea of it also working as a watch (the original Fitbit didn’t have a screen) and I have a Garmin running watch so it seemed to make sense.
Now I have the Fitbit Surge. I was really excited about this because I liked the idea of having a heart rate monitor on all the time. I’m a geek and love all the stats so this really appealed to me. Plus I liked that it looks a lot more like a watch that the Vivofit. A few of my non-running friends often laughed at my Vivofit saying it looked like I was wearing a prison tag device on my wrist *sighs*.
So what are the features of the Surge?
It tracks steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, hourly activity and stationary time. And, using the Fitbit app, you can see cool graphs of your activities over the day and week:
And you can delve into this further to see when those steps were accumulated over the day:
This day had a run in the morning as you can see by the spikes at the beginning of the day.
Unlike the Vivofit, you can track an actual workout. There are different exercise groups you can choose from, such as hiking, weights and spinning.
This was a spinning session I did. It tracked my heart rate and calories burned. Not visible in the screenshot is, if you scroll down, it will tell you how many steps were taken during this workout and activity minutes – basically the “impact on your day”. So when I go to the gym and do weights I can see how many steps I take purely during that workout, which I think is quite interesting. And very handy as well with running as when you run it’s easy to get over 10,000 steps and maybe you want to hit 10,000 despite the run (basically not being an active couch potato ).
You can then see what you’ve been up to during the week in terms of activities (that Thursday run went a bit wrong as I was just getting used to how to use the watch!).
The handy part of the Surge is that you can use it as a running watch. It has GPS so you can track a run exactly as you would using a Garmin.
On the watch face you can choose what stats you see. So, average pace, heart rate and distance etc. It vibrates when you hit a mile (though you can change this to whatever increment and metric you like). I wore my Garmin watch with it as I still prefer my actual Garmin to run with but I liked that I could see my HR and the stats were very close between the two watches. If you were looking for a running watch and wanted an activity tracker then this would be ideal for you.
Interestingly even when I didn’t select the running functionality and just used my Garmin (but still wore the Surge) when I synced it later to my phone it had picked up I’d run anyway (though contained no map as the GPS hadn’t been engaged). I love this! It means that I can still partition my steps away from a run but not waste battery on using GPS. Very clever. And yes, it does connect to Strava.
Like other trackers, it monitors your sleep. You don’t have to click anything to say you’re going to sleep, you just sleep.
Like the steps, you can hone into the detail of each night’s sleep and it will give you a graph displaying when you were awake, restless or asleep and for how long.
It also picks up messages and incoming calls by gently vibrating and displaying it on the screen. You can read the messages on the screen which I think is quite handy. You can also control your music through your watch. This is amazing for me as when I go for a run and listen to music my phone will invariably be in a bag or armband and be tricky to get out. If a song comes on I don’t fancy it’s such an effort to get the phone out – but using my watch makes things a whole lot easier! The same goes for if I receive a message or a phone call – I can just click to read/answer it there and then.
This is what I really missed about my old Fitbit when I moved to the Vivofit. I loved that there was an alarm functionality which was basically a gentle vibration of the device and this is the same for the Surge.
This was the best part for me: seeing my heart rate through the day. Especially during marathon training, it’s important for me to monitor these things to make sure I can catch any early signs of illness or over-training. I check my heart rate in the morning as soon as I wake up (I always remember Steve Way telling us at the MT Run Camp that he checks his HR all the time and noticed that one morning he woke up and it was 10 beats higher than normal and felt a lot more tired and realised he was over-trained and needed a break before he crashed).
It’s fairly accurate I think as I had my heart rate taken my a proper HR machine thing a few years ago and it’s always been around 50, which I guess is below average (probably why I feel dizzy when I stand up too quickly!).
I love the app. I love the design of it, how easy it is to use and the sheer amount of data you can delve into. The Garmin Connect does have similar data but I just prefer the Fitbit app. It’s more intuitive and interesting.
It also syncs really quickly and easily to it. You can connect with other Fitbit wearers and do different challengers as well to gain different badges. All very cool.
Other functionality I really liked was that the screen is touch screen and it’s very fluid and smooth moving. You can go back and forth through the different bits very easily. I disliked the Vivofit as it involved clicking a physical button and you had to click all the way through to get back to the time… and if you clicked one too many times you had to cycle through them all again.
I also really like how it has a backlight. This means I can tell the time in the middle of the night without looking at my phone (being short-sighted is an issue at bedtime). I hate looking at my phone in the middle of the night as it can sometimes distract me – “ooh a new notification on Facebook or Instagram…”.
But the one thing that I really don’t like though is the battery life. The Vivofit didn’t need charging, whereas the Surge needs to be charged once a week. For someone who’s used to wearing a watch now all the time, it’s hard to remember!
All in all, I really love it. I won’t be going back to my Vivofit!
Do you wear an activity tracker?
How many steps do you do on average in a day?
Do you like to track your workouts?
**I was given the Fitbit Surge for free by Run Reigate in exchange for my participation and blogging in the Reigate Half Marathon. All opinions are my own honest owns.**