Reviewed by Sholain Govender-Bateman – Pretoria-based New Media journalism lecturer, former The Star and Pretoria News journalist & editor of magazines. She is mum to two gorgeous girls, Isobel and Aishwari, and wife to Barry Bateman. Twitter @sholain
As if being a full-time working mum of two young children wasn’t hectic enough, there’s also the added pressure to stay fit.
Problem – In an ideal world, I’d wake up at 5am and pop off for a session at the gym with my personal trainer whilst my live-in nanny prepped the kids for school. In real-life, I wake up with no moment to spare trying to ensure that everyone is dressed and ready to leave the house with bags, lunches and whatever other item/s needed for the day. After a full day at work, it’s homework, cooking, bathing, cleaning and then a teeny tiny gap somewhere between ‘tuck-tuck’ time and my own bedtime where I can sit quietly for a moment and read one page of the magazine I bought 3 weeks ago.
Solution – Get a fitness tracker for motivation and to keep track of how active you actually are.
I’m not a gadgety person and won’t rush out to get the latest trendy device, but I have been keen on fitness trackers for some time now. I doubt that a tracker is going to make a difference in terms of being fit if you have no motivation at all to get moving, but I loved testing out two popular devices because I love to have visible goals like the step counters provide. Here’s my review:
FitBit Charge HR
It’s a sleek-looking device which can easily pass for a watch. I did find it a
bit uncomfortable at first because of the feel of the straps and it was difficult to put on and take off easily between showers.
Cost – around R2 300
Highlights – the wake-up alarm vibrate alert is perfect when you don’t want to disturb your sleeping toddler who invaded your bed in the middle of the night.
The device is very easy to set-up and syncs automatically using your mobile devices and desktop computer.
If you’re very active, the built-in heart rate monitor is a huge bonus and the sleep tracker will help you prove to your partner that you were indeed the one whose sleep was disturbed most by the fussy baby.
Low lights – It’s not waterproof and you have to recharge the device weekly. In my view, the less upkeep needed, the better for a busy mum.
At first the FitBit Charge HR over counted my steps but after changing settings regarding dominant hand used on the dashboard of my online FitBit profile, it worked great. I also found that it was more accurate when the strap was snug on my wrist so you have to ensure that you have fitted it correctly.
Garmin Vivofit 2
Cost – around R2 000
Highlights – it’s waterproof so you don’t have to take it off when you shower/swim. In fact, the biggest bonus for me regarding this device is that the battery lasts one year so you literally don’t have to take it off if you don’t want to. Very convenient for a busy parent who might just forget to put the tracker back on once you get distracted doing ten other things.
The VivoFit 2 is also very easy to set-up and sync, however, I did have trouble with it not syncing automatically.
Step counts were very accurate and it had a move alert red bar as well as a sound alert if you’ve been sitting/inactive for too long. You also set your sleep times so that it tracks your sleep without disturbing you with move alerts.
Overall, I preferred the VivoFit 2 because it was comfy and I could easily view my goal steps for the day which is what kept me motivated to keep moving as I was busy with the kids and work. If you’re into more intensive workouts and running, the heart rate monitor on the Fitbit might be handy but both devices offer settings related to workouts, calorie count and the option to connect to others online so you can compare your activities and progress which will definitely make a difference to your activity levels. Even if you don’t have time to check on your profile and updates, the step counts and move alerts will give you that nudge to get moving a little more.
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