Shopping File: The Best Sports Watches and Fitness Trackers

Last week I shared my thoughts on my running watch, the Garmin Forerunner 235, and this week I have three friends sharing their thoughts on the devices they use and why they like them. Stay tuned as I have compiled a list of sports watches and fitness trackers for every budget (coming up soon!). Hope you find this helpful, and if you have any questions just leave a comment!

FITBIT: My friend Sarah, a mother of two who is super fit and active swears by the Fitbit and loves it. In her own words:
“For starters, I use it everyday and feel lost without it. I like that’s simple and the app is easy to use; you can do challenges with friends which is pretty fun and motivating. The sleep function is interesting, and there are also water, food, and weight functions, but I don’t use them. I like to get a certain number of steps and if I’m low, it definitely makes me get off my bum and do something.
I would recommend it to someone who wants an overall view of their activeness but not for super sporty types or particular training. Basically it’s good for your average person or someone starting out to exercise.”

TOMTOM RUNNER: My hairstylist pal Aylin used to have this watch and now has converted to Garmin. Here are her thoughts on it:
“For someone who is not tech savvy, like myself, it was the best purchase I made after years of running without a watch. It was very easy to use, for everything I wanted in a watch. I used it for about 4 years. It had great GPS, you could read pace, time, and distance as you run, like any other watch out there, but I think that what I liked the most was that it synced with other running apps out there.”

GARMIN 230: Here are Aylin’s thoughts on using this watch after ditching the TomTom:
“After four years with my TomTom, I wanted and knew I needed a new watch for a couple of reasons. First, I started changing and adding more to my daily fitness routines. And secondly, I wanted a watch that could do more, like count my steps (for some reason I love knowing that), record my other activities such as trail running, hiking and swimming to name a few. I switched over to the Garmin 230 and have been loving it so far! The reason why I got the 230 vs other ones out there was because I’m not doing such intense training that I need a heart rate monitor. I’ve never really kept track of HR for a number of years now. I love that it can track your daily activity, whatever you do/works for you. For me, new running gear always motivates me to keep going so when I got the new watch I started swimming, biking, hiking, and running a lot more. I also like that this watch reminds me to move! We all need a little push and this watch definitely makes me stay active”.

I also have Lauren who is a pro-triathlete sharing her thoughts on the Garmin 230. In Lauren’s words:
“I’ve had my watch for just over a year now. Although I don’t wear it as often as Gaby, you can usually find it on my wrist 🙂 I purchased my watch as a triathlon training companion and it has certainly served it’s purpose while training for sprint, Olympic, and half IronMan distances. The version I have has capabilities to connect to a chest strap heart rate monitor (not included).

I had anticipated using the watch while swimming both in the pool and open water, to give me an accurate read on my distance and speed per 100 m. I wouldn’t say it is accurate in open water at all, same as in the pool as I would have to hit lap every time I turn around to get an accurate reading. It uses GPS and that unfortunately doesn’t work too well with swimming for some reason. If I needed to get more technical for swimming I will likely upgrade the watch for this reason only. I do use the timer for swimming to give a general idea of how long it takes me but that’s where it stops with swimming.

The watch is fantastic for biking. It keeps a very accurate read of my distance, speed, and time using GPS. A great feature is the auto pause for when riding in the city so that I can exclude the many stoplight pauses in my ride. I would definitely recommend updating your watch by plugging it into your computer, as well as upgrading your Garmin app frequently to ensure GPS accuracy. Another great feature for biking (I also use this for running) is the reminder/alarm feature. For bike rides that are longer than an hour and sometimes up to four hours long, I have an alarm reminder that goes off every 15 minutes to remind me to take in nutrition and water. It’s funny how 15 minutes can go by so fast! I love this feature during a race as it keeps me on schedule when the nerves are up.

As Gaby has probably mentioned, it’s hard to run without your Garmin once you know what it can do. This watch has accelerated my training in many ways. Aside from the obvious keeping track of your pace, distance, time while running, I connect to a heart rate monitor and do most of my run training in heart rate zones. This is a whole other matter, but the watch works by tracking your HR to keep your running in the range that you need to to accelerate your training. Speed work is another thing that this watch is helpful for. You can use the lap setting to keep track of each lap when doing speed work, regardless if your track is an actual track or a distance that you are repeating. There are even settings in the training mode to alert you when you need to change your pace if doing an interval run or fartlek run.”

For my thoughts on the Garmin 235 just head here. Big thanks to Sarah, Aylin and Lauren for sharing their thoughts 🙂