In the last couple of weeks, I have become aware of the popularity of fitness trackers. Specifically, SMART fitness trackers. The big rivalry being primarily between the Jawbone UP and the FitBit. I’m lucky I got my hands on a Jawbone UP to review but I have not used the FitBit (and have no accessibility to one in the near future) so this review is based on my experience with the UP.
I’m no stranger to fitness tracking and in a big coincidence, the gadget I used to use (and still own) was acquired recently by Jawbone. So as I’m doing this review, I’m thinking to myself how similar everything was to my old tracker, the BodyMedia FIT. The BodyMedia FIT was (possibly is? I’m not up to date) used on the Biggest Loser. I really liked it but fell out of the habit of using it for a few reasons: It was not as easy as you’d think to hide it, it wasn’t always comfortable, my closure on the arm band broke, there was a monthly fee for the tracking software, and lastly, I had to connect it to a computer to download my information.
The Jawbone UP seems to have taken everything I didn’t like about my BodyMedia FIT and made the perfect tracker for me. But you’ll see by the end of this review that some other negatives cropped up that may have convinced me to wait on purchasing my own UP.
Let’s break out different aspects for the review –
Right out of the box, the UP had me intrigued. It’s a really simple band with overlapping ends; one being an audio jack, the other being a button. The button is used to switch between day and night mode as well as a few extra features like setting for a power nap or the stop watch function which I’ll explain in more detail below.
The Jawbone UP was very comfortable to wear. They do have 3 different sizes which is a great option, but with the open ended design, sizing is very forgiving. Sleeping with the band felt a little odd at first but quickly became natural and I barely noticed the band. I didn’t feel awkward wearing it in public like I did with my BodyMedia FIT. And it was very easy to get on and off.
A great feature was that it is water resistant. That doesn’t mean you can swim with it, but taking a shower is no problem. For someone that often forgot to put the BodyMedia FIT back on after a shower, this was great. You could pretty much never forget it! Have I mentioned the insane “Mommy Brain” moments I’m having? Yeah, this is definitely helpful for me!
Now, I don’t know if it was the band I was reviewing which had previous use or if it’s the way it is, but I had to physically hold the band in when plugging the audio jack into my phone. It wouldn’t just insert and connect, it would pop out a little and disconnect from the app. It wasn’t a huge inconvenience but it’s something that just shouldn’t happen.
I really liked the app. Like I said, it reminded me of the software used for the BodyMedia FIT. There was a lot of information listed: battery information and estimated time left, sleep time, number of steps, a record of how you felt on any given day (you input that yourself with this cute smiley graphic you can change with a slide of your finger), food/calories, and more!
I chose not to record what I ate during the review but was so excited about the feature that allows you to scan bar codes of packaged foods which then inputs their nutrition information into the app. I know I would use that constantly if I had the UP. You can also just simply take pictures of your meals and generally track what you ate that way. I like the idea of at the very least seeing everything you’ve eaten if you don’t want to track every calorie.
I could see how my toddler was affecting my sleep, sometimes getting less than 6 hours of actual sleep even if I was “in bed” for 8 hours. The band tracks deep sleep, light sleep, and waking up. I set a smart alarm to wake me if it’s past 8 am and I have been in a light sleep phase for more than 20 minutes. It was nice waking up and not feeling too groggy. I didn’t try the “Power Nap” function (I never take a nap with 2 active boys), but it’s similar to the smart alarm in that it wakes you once you’ve slept a good amount for you, again with the goal of not feeling groggy.
Another aspect I didn’t try but know I would love, is the integration with 3rd party apps like “My Fitness Pal”. And if others also have a Jawbone UP, you can team up and compete or cheer each other on. These are definitely things that make me want my own UP.
Here’s where I was surprised by how the UP performed vs. my BodyMedia FIT. While everything I did with the BodyMedia FIT seemed to be accurately tracked just by wearing the band, there seems to be a lot of user inputting with the UP.
The UP did a great job of making me realize I am WAY too sedentary and this kick started my effort to do more and do it efficiently. I asked my husband to make me a desk for my treadmill so I could work and walk at the same time. Since the treadmill is in a dormer, he simply attached a board to the walls above the treadmill and I had a desk! I’ve been walking 3-4 miles a few times a week while getting a lot of work done and love it. I have the goal of walking Disney World distances each day before getting my daily P90X3 workouts in. Hopefully, I can update with some amazing results sometime this year.
The frustrating part was that my Jawbone UP really didn’t track my walks all that well. From the data, I appeared to basically be sitting at a desk with occasionally getting up for something. This was very disappointing for me. When I looked this up, it has apparently been stated by Jawbone that the UP does in fact do this and it wasn’t some fluke from my review one. A way to actually log the activity is to either manually input it in the app or, a little more accurately, use the “stop watch” function which times your activity for you and then you input the details of the workout in the app. Unfortunately, I also didn’t try this before ending my review but it seems pretty straight forward.
I appreciated the “Idle Alert” in which the band would buzz on my arm if I have been sedentary for longer than the time I set in the app. So after an hour sitting at my computer, I was alerted that it had been that long and I got up to walk around.
Overall, I really liked the Jawbone UP. I think there’s room for improvement but the benefits outweigh the downsides. Having owned the BodyMedia FIT though, I’m more aware of the differences than someone new to fitness trackers. I’m still really struggling with the decision on whether to get an UP or not. I may wait a bit and give my BodyMedia FIT another try, even with the things I don’t like about it.
If the negatives don’t bother you and you’re in the market for a fitness tracker, I think the Jawbone UP is a sound investment. From comparison reviews, it seems to be at the top of everyone’s list.
We were provided a Jawbone UP to try out and return to facilitate this review. The Jawbone UP were provided by Verizon Wireless, home of Verizon’s 4G LTE network. No compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.
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