BodyMedia® FIT Review – First Impressions
Two weeks ago I wrote a “review” post about the BodyMedia® FIT armband device.
I titled the post “BodyMedia® Fit Review”, but really there was no review of the product there.
The reason there was no review there was because I was having a really hard time getting a hold of anyone at BodyMedia® about the possibly of either sending me one of their units for review, or at least to approve me for their affiliate program if I chose to buy one of the units myself.
Normally if a company ignores my attempts to contact them, I just move on without giving it a second thought, but I really wanted to try this device out. The premise behind it seems so cool, and I think it totally aligns with my weight loss philosophy.
So instead of just moving on, I decided to try one last thing. I wrote the “review” post and I did a bit of SEO work on it to get it ranked in the Top 10 on Google / Yahoo and Bing for the keyword “bodymedia fit review”.
I figured if that doesn’t get their attention, then nothing will.
Sure enough it worked.
This Monday I received an email from Aaron, from BodyMedia’s PR relations.
In the email he expressed his sincere apologies for what happened and stated that the breakdown in communication had nothing to do with my viewership or Blog statistics, but rather that there was a crack in their system which has now been fixed.
Aaron then told me that they would love to send out a BodyMedia FIT Armband for me to review if I was still interested.
Yaay, finally some progress.
I told Aaron that I would love to review the product, which is why I contacted them in the first place but I told him that I was leaving on a 3 week trip to eastern Canada this coming weekend so I might not be home to receive it if shipping takes about a week or so.
This afternoon I got home from a lunch meeting with a friend and I had this laying on my doorstep.
Aaron shipped the thing to me by Fedex so that I would get it in time before leaving on my trip. Now that’s what I call good PR!
I popped open the box, installed the software, got the thing charged up, put on the armband and started gathering data.
Now, I’ve only had a chance to play with this thing for about 6 hours so far, but here are my first impressions.
Setup and Installation
The setup and installation of the device was really easy.
All I had to do is go to BodyMedia’s website, sign in and it downloaded the software to my computer. Software installation took only a few seconds and then it asked me to plug in the arm band via USB cable. It then charged the band for about 30 minutes and I was ready to go.
The installation was a breeze.
How the BodyMedia® FIT Works
Well, essentially the “FIT” is a lightweight device about 2.5″x2.5″ in size that fits into an armband strap that you wear on your non-dominant arm above your bicep.
The device easily conceals behind a sleeved t-shirt and you can easily wear it under your clothes without anyone noticing.
The device monitors 9,000 data-points per minute through a combination of four different sensors – a 3-Axis Accelerometer, a Heat Flux Sensor, a Skin Temperature Sensor and a Galvanic Skin Response Sensor (GSR).
What does that mean?
Well, it simply means that this thing monitors what’s going on with your body and shows you an accurate picture of the type of activity you’re doing throughout the day, how many calories you’re burning and the quality of sleep you are getting.
Then, combined with the online meal/calorie tracking software (Activity Manager) the whole system helps you to lose weight by raising your awareness to things such as:
- Amount of Calories Burned
- Amount of Calories Consumed
- Calorie Balance
- Physical Activity
- Steps Taken
- Sleep Duration
- Weight / Waist Circumference
I’m a huge believer in raising your awareness as a tool to making progress in something.
You can’t manage something that you can’t measure. That’s why I think this thing is pretty ingenious. It tracks pretty much everything you need to know in order to lose weight effectively, without needlessly over-complicating things.
The battery lasts between 5-7 days under steady use, and it holds up to 14 days worth of collected data so you don’t need to sync it with your computer every day if you don’t want to, although I think it only makes sense to do that.
There are three versions of the BodyMedia® FIT packages on the market right now.
One of the packages simply comes with the armband which you sync up with the online Activity Manager.
The second package comes with the armband and a portable display unit which gives you a quick snapshot of the data in real-time without having to connect up to the computer. That way you can monitor how many calories you’re burning at any given point in the day, or how much activity you’ve done, or how many steps you’ve taken in between uploads to the computer.
The third package comes with the exact same device, except that it is Bluetooth® enabled so it can interface with your smart phone instead of the portable display unit.
The Bluetooth® version just came out this November, and I think it will eventually replace the other two versions – although it is a bit more expensive.
The Activity Manager
Ok, now that we’ve covered all the boring ( but still impressive ) stuff about the BodyMedia® FIT, let’s dive into what I think really makes this device useful – the Activity Manager.
The Activity Manager has a really sleek interface. Here’s a snapshot:
Pretty spiffy eh?
Actually, let me back up a few steps here. Before you even get to this stage, the Activity Manager first asks you to set some goals.
By going through the step-by-step process I created the following goals for myself:
So essentially I told the system that I wanted to lose 2 lbs / week and it calculated out that I need to burn 3,000 calories per day and consume 2,000 calories per day which will give me a 1,000/day calorie deficit. That means that in one week I will have a 7,000 calorie deficit and since there are 3,500 calories in 1lb of fat, technically speaking I should lose an average of 2lbs/week if I stick to these numbers.
For my activity I set a goal to do 30 minutes of moderate activity / day, plus 15 minutes of vigorous activity and to take 8,000 steps / day.
Although these goals are not easy, I think they are totally realistic and achievable.
Once you have your goals setup, there are only two more things you need to enter into the system:
- Your Daily Calories Consumed
- Your Daily (or weekly/monthly) Weight
Everything else is automatically measured, calculated and uploaded into the system by the armband.
Now if you don’t want to enter in your daily calories, then you can enter in an estimated amount or have the system estimate the amount per day based on your weight gain/loss, but I think the awareness gained from tracking your daily food intake is invaluable so I think it’s definitely worth the time to enter the data in.
I’m not going to do a detailed review of the rest of the Activity Manager in this post as I think it deserves a post of its own, and I also think it will be more useful if I do a post after I’ve gathered at least one full day’s worth of data.
But I will say that my first impressions of this device are very positive.
I’ve used the food log and it was pretty easy to enter in the foods so I’m happy with that part of it. I like the way it tracks calories, activity, steps and sleep duration/quality.
The band is comfortable to wear and it totally doesn’t feel like you’re wearing it after just a few minutes. Like right now I had to actually look down to see if I was wearing the thing because I can’t feel it on my arm.
I haven’t found any downsides to the device so far, except maybe for the fact that in the non-Bluetooth® version which I have, you need to take the device off of your arm in order to plug in the USB cable to the computer. It only takes a few seconds to sync up the data so it would have been cooler if you could just plug the cable in while still wearing it. But I guess the Bluetooth® version solves that problem anyways by sending the data wirelessly without the need to take off the band.
What that means is that the Activity Manager can be used on your smart phone.
Why is this important?
Mobile food tracking!
I’m so excited about this. I can now type in the foods that I’m eating right on my iPhone, before I eat them.
When I tried to do calorie tracking in the past, I would always have to write things down while I was in the kitchen or out at a restaurant and then try to enter them in at the end of the day.
Now I can enter things in as I go along. Yaay!
I haven’t played with the mobile version for too long yet, but I did get it installed and it’s cool to be able to see your data on your iPhone.
The only thing I can’t see is a real-time report of my calories, steps and activity as that requires the Bluetooth® enabled version. So what I see displayed there is my stats based on my last sync.
Still pretty cool, and the mobile meal tracking is going to be awesome.
Update: Just found out BodyMedia® is offering free shipping on all units until December 31, 2010.