Fitness trackers are everywhere. If you’re thinking about buying one, you might be pondering two key questions: “Can they actually help?” and “Is there one that’s right for me?”
Yes, they can help. Fitness trackers can tell you how many calories you’re burning, how many steps you’re taking, how far you’re running, how you’re sleeping at night and a lot more. Just know that the numbers they provide, which can vary in accuracy, are no substitute for an overall health assessment that you’d get from a doctor. And from a workout perspective, if you’ve worked with a Gold’s Gym coach or trainer and have a plan for reaching your health and fitness goals, you already know what you need to succeed — so a tracker would be a bonus.
Still, trackers are an excellent motivational tool. They can spur you on to meet a goal, show you the progress you’re making in real time and make competition with friends fun. (Come on — you can beat your co-workers, right?) Trackers just can’t do the work for you. Just as with any piece of exercise equipment, you need to commit. So to get the most out of a tracker, dedicate yourself to using the numbers to change your habits, whether it’s adding that walk after dinner or cutting out that bag of chips at lunch.
When it comes to picking the fitness tracker that’s right for you, the different options—look, price, battery life, ease of use—can make the process overwhelming. Consider this post only a starting point. Before you buy anything, read comprehensive reviews that involved some serious tire-kicking. There will be pros and cons to everything. Consumer Reports, Wirecutter, Wareable, Digital Trends and TechRadar are among the resources that can arm you with the information you need.
Models to consider
Here are a couple of trackers that have received consistently high overall marks. All the trackers mentioned in this post are compatible with the Gold’s Gym member app.
Fitbit Charge 3. Along with having the standard features (measuring steps, monitoring heart rate, counting calorie burn, tracking sleep), this tracker has been noted for its relative accuracy and ease of use. It also has female health tracking features.
Garmin Vivosport 4. It has a slim wristband, advanced sleep monitoring and a “body battery” that estimates how much energy you have left.
If you’re looking for trackers that fit your specific workout preference, check these out.
If you love: Running
Consider: Look for tracker features like distance, pace, lap time, total running time, GPS and a heart rate monitor. For heart rate monitors, remember that it helps to understand what the heart rate numbers mean.
Notable trackers: Garmin Vivosport, Garmin Forerunner 645, Polar M430
If you love: Swimming
Consider: Some trackers offer features such as stroke detection and can measure lap and distance. Look for trackers with a bright enough screen so you’ll be able to see in the water. You may see a feature about water resistance describing ATM. That’s a measurement of atmospheric pressure. For example, 5 ATM means the tracker is resistant up to five atmospheres (the standard pressure at sea level is 1 ATM) and should operate in the water under typical swimming conditions.
Notable trackers: Fitbit Ionic, Fitbit Versa, TomTom Spark 3
If you love: Cycling
Consider: You’ll want GPS, but keep in mind that the technology can vary in sophistication. Smart watch options will enable you to stream music while pedaling. And when considering battery life, be aware that the duration can be affected by other features you’re using.
Notable trackers: Garmin Forerunner 935, Garmin Vivoactive 3, TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch
See more health and fitness tips on our blog:
What to Know About Workout Supplements
3 Small Eating Changes Lead to Big Nutrition Wins