Fitness gadgets worth buying this holiday season
Gadgets designed to help people stay active and healthy are becoming more and more popular, and capable of doing some pretty cool things. Gone are the days of trying to keep track of how many calories you’ve eaten or how much exercise you’ve gotten in a day — now, as they say, “there’s an app for that.” Here are some of the best fitness gadgets out there making it easier than ever to get or stay in shape.
Buy this for the active person who is into more than just fitness
The Pebble 301BL Smart Watch is compatible with many fitness apps, including the super popular GPS-enabled RunKeeper which tracks your walking, running, and cycling activity. But Kickstarter’s most highly-funded project of all time does much more than act as an activity tracker — you can read text messages, get notifications from your smart phone and even control your music, all from your watch.
MSRP: $150 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $150
- Pros: Getting lots of great buzz, certainly better than most other smart watches currently on the market. As new software is released, even more fitness apps will be available.
- Cons: Smart watches in general are a new thing and have a lot of room for improvement; could save your money and wait until they’ve worked out some of the kinks.
Get this for the person who likes to stay active
The Fitbit Force Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband is similar to the previous Flex model but has added a few new updates, like an actual LED readout screen and an altimeter. The newest offering from the most well-known of the activity tracker brands out there, the Fitbit Force keeps track of calories eaten/burned, activity and even sleep.
MSRP: $130 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $95
- Pros: Fitbit has been around for awhile and they’ve had time to improve upon the Fitbit Flex model. The new readout screen makes it pretty close to smart watch territory.
- Cons: For the price, you could almost get an actual smart watch (like the Pebble) that does more than just fitness /activity tracking.
Buy this for the person serious about getting healthy
The Withings WS-50 WiFi Scale is a high-tech scale that measures weight, body fat, composition, heart rate, and even indoor air quality, and also allows you to automatically upload and track your progress (via Bluetooth/Wi-Fi) using the included Health Mate app. The older model (WS-30) has almost all of the same features if you want to save a bit of money.
MSRP: $150 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: N/A (the WS-30 model has been as low as $91)
- Pros: Reviews say it’s super simple and easy to use. It also works with many other fitness apps, such as Fitbit and RunKeeper, to give you a full picture of health. You can easily share your stats with anyone you choose (including your doctor).
- Cons: It’s a lot of money for a scale.
Buy this for the kid who spends too much time on the couch playing video games
The GeoPalz iBitz Pedometer is a small clip-on activity tracker that syncs with a game/app that requires kids to have to actually exercise and eat well to keep a virtual “pet” alive (sounds kind of like a real-life Tamagotchi — anyone else remember those things??). It also tracks your kids’ steps throughout the day and exchanges them for prizes, awards and online game time.
MSRP: $35 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: N/A
- Pros: Pretty clever way of encouraging kids to stay active, especially during the winter months where there’s less chance to play outside. Fairly inexpensive.
- Cons: Currently only compatible with iOS . Not a lot of reviews out there yet to attest to how well it actually works.
Buy this for the sporty person who likes to look cool
Just released last week, Nike+ Fuelband SE (otherwise known as Nike+ Fuelband 2) looks pretty similar to the original, but has added real-time syncing as well as some new features like the “Win the Hour” program which encourages frequent movement by notifying you if you aren’t moving enough. Like most things Nike, this activity tracker has the “cool factor” that other models may be lacking.
MSRP: $150 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: N/A (the original Fuelband has been as low as $130)
- Pros: It has more style than most activity trackers. The new model is designed to be more water-friendly so you can even shower with it on. NikeFuel points and better social media sharing are good for motivating you to achieve your fitness goals.
- Cons: According to some early reviews, there is nothing too revolutionary or different about this new model. You could save some money by going with the older version; watch for it to drop in price now that the new guy has officially been released.
Buy this for the person super serious about running
People who are into running can be, like, really into running. For these people, the Garmin Forerunner 620 GPS Watch w/ HRM-Run monitor1 is as technical a running watch as you’re going to get. This GPS watch, when used with the HRM heart rate monitor, tracks and calculates a ton of things that quite honestly, I’m not familiar with (vertical oscillation, recovery time and VO2 max estimate, to name a few) but I’m sure runners are. If you’re not as concerned with some of those things, you can get an older, less high-tech Garmin Forerunner GPS watch on sale for $100 to $150.
MSRP: $450 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: N/A
- Pros: This model has a touchscreen screen. Designed specifically for serious runners.
- Cons: Aside from the obvious (price), the fact that you have to buy the heartrate monitor separately (the watch on its own is $50 less) is kind of annoying since most of the best features rely on the monitor to work at all.