Ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation where you’re all pumped up for a run or workout only to discover that your phone just isn’t juiced up enough to deliver the upbeat or hardcore tunes you can hardly train without? For fitness enthusiasts who just can’t get into the groove without some good rhythm blasting in their ears, there’s almost nothing worse than enduring the training grind in silence. That’s where a fitness tracker with onboard music comes into play. Yes, as in leaving your phone at home!
Fitbit’s Ionic, Ionic Adidas and Versa store up to 300 songs, which you can transfer from a media library such as iTunes directly to these wearables via a desktop computer or laptop and the complimentary Fitbit app. Don’t own a lot of music because you’re into streaming instead? These same wearables also sync to Pandora, allowing you to stream your top 3 stations directly from the unit with a paid Pandora subscription.
If you’re addicted to an alternative music streaming service, the Ionic, Ionic Adidas and Versa, along with Garmin’s vîvomove HR, vîvoactive 3 and vîvosport, all give you the option to control your music from your wrist so you can keep your phone tucked away even while switching up tracks and adjusting volume. A built-in Bluetooth connection allows you to listen through wireless speakers, forever eliminating the irksome headphone cords—second only to chest straps when it comes to annoying fitness accessories!
If running is your go-to source for staying in shape, a fitness tracker with a built-in GPS or accelerometer is your best bet if you want to track pace, distance and even your routes. The Polar M200 tracks all three with the tap of a button, and Polar’s online platform and app, Polar Flow, gives you customized 9-week-plus running plans, tips and daily guided training in preparation for races or personalized goals, based on five different running workouts including easy jog, medium run, long run, tempo run and interval. The M200 also monitors your running economy and performance, synthesizing this info to make personalized plan recommendations every 4 weeks.
The Fitbit Ionic Adidas helps better prep your body for runs with its Dynamic Warm Up feature, designed to safely increase your core body temperature and safely transition you into injury-free runs. Once you’re off and running, use Power Pace to amp up your power for better running efficiency.
Fitbit Versa and Charge 2 also includes a connected GPS, with pace and distance on display during your workout and a post-workout map of your run in the Fitbit smartphone app. Suunto’s 3 Fitness watch doesn’t have a GPS, but the built-in accelerometer delivers pace, speed, distance and mapping. Finally, Garmin’s vîvosport displays your pace, distance and heart rate, plus an on-screen map of your run, ride or walking path.
Most modern fitness trackers feature interchangeable bands that allow you to swap out colors or styles to match your outfit, mood or agenda, but we love the extra schnazz factor of the following wearables:
Fitbit Ionic: The already sleek-looking Ionic gets even more suave with cognac, navy and pink leather bands.
Fitbit Versa: Change your original black, peach/rose gold, gray silver aluminum, lavender or charcoal woven band for a swank leather band, available in cognac, lavender, midnight blue and saddle stitch, go more modern with the silver or stainless steel mesh options, or look office savvy in the black or stainless steel link options—all in addition to Fitbit Versa’s periwinkle and white band flavors.
Fitbit Alta HR: With Brown, indigo and lavender leather, plus stainless steel and 22K gold plate options, this sleek interchangeable wearable is certainly NOT your average-looking tracker!
Garmin vîvomove HR: If you pine for a classic-looking timepiece with the competitive edge of a fitness watch smartphone, vîvomove HR Hybrid Smartwatch is your perfect wearable, with four sharp silicone or leather options to choose from including black, black silver, gold and rose gold.
Some people run, bike or swim. If you prefer strength training, gym classes or a combination of workouts, you’ll benefit best from a fitness tracker that delivers on-screen coaching and customized workouts, like the Suunto 3 Fitness, which takes removes the guesswork from your fitness agenda with a guided 7-day workout plan based on your current fitness needs.
Fitbit’s Ionic and Versa also feature on-screen personalized workouts that move you through a workout much like a wrist-based personal trainer, while the Ionic Adidas adds six additional workouts compliments of Adidas Train—plus a Metabolic feature that gives you HIIT-style interval workouts that make your workouts much more efficient, so you get great fat-burning cardio workout in a shorter period of time.
You can also create your own workouts on Garmin’s Garmin Connect app, which allows you to adjust reps, sets and rest times for an impressive variety of strength training and cardio activities that you can then send to any Garmin fitness tracker of your choosing. The vîvoactive 3 also includes a more than 15 preloaded sports apps, strength training, yoga, swimming and more to more accurately track the activity you choose for the day, while vîvosmart 3 counts reps if adding strength training to your workout mix.
You Need Extra Motivation
For many of us, the promises of a healthier you that were made on Sunday quickly drop off by mid-week as the reality of work-life balance and the breakroom goodies (that seem to be SHOUTING rather than calling your name) set in. Fitness trackers such as the Fitbit Charge 2, Ionic and Ionic Adidas all go the extra mile with hourly “get moving” reminders, plus a cardio fitness score so you can see how well you’re improving with more meaningful measurements aside from the dreaded scale. Fitbit Versa adds hydration and sleep updates, and if you truly want to stay accountable, all Fitbit wearables sync to the Fitbit Aria scale to accurately track your weight over time.
Garmin’s vîvomove HR, vîvofit 4, vîvoactive 3, vîvosport and vîvosmart 3 also send move alerts so you’re never sitting for too long, automatically adjusting these goals as you meet them so you never find yourself plateauing with the same old daily steps and active minutes agenda. These wearables also not only sync to Garmin’s Index Smart Scale to carefully track your BMI, Body Fat percentage, Body Water percentage, Muscle Mass, and Bone Mass over time, but they also measure your V02 Max—an important metric that indicates how efficiently your body uses oxygen and one of the most cutting-edge markers for how fit you are. With the ability to track this key metric, you’ll be able to monitor how this number improves over time with each new step you take.
Finally, vîvofit 4 ups the ante with Toe-to-Toe™ step challenges that let you compete against other vîvofit 4-wearing friends or family members, or kiddos who use Vîvofit Junior 2.
If you swim or love pool-based cardio, you’ll definitely want a fitness tracker made for the water—and while most wearables are splash proof, they aren’t exactly built to be submerged in water or track laps, duration and calories. These fitness trackers do:
Suunto 3. Suunto 3 Fitness is water safe up to 30M (98 feet) in both pools AND open water, tracking pace and distance. You can also track your underwater heart rate, since the Fitness 3 is compatible with the Suunto Smart Sensor heart rate chest strap.
Vivoactive 3. Once you select pool swimming, followed by the pool size, vîvoactive 3 will automatically track your time and distance. Post swim or in rest mode, you’ll be able to see your most recent lap distance and time.
If you’re always on the run—even when you’re not on the track or trail—a fitness tracker that doubles as a credit card to let you pay for things you need without the need for your wallet is invaluable—and Fitbit Ionic, Ionic Adidas and Garmin’s vîvoactive 3 all feature NFC chips, allowing you to pay for items wherever Google Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay is accepted.
Stress can cause a lot of mayhem, threatening to negate all the good we’ve done through workouts, extra steps and sleep. Several wearables including Fitbit’s Charge 2, Ionic, Ionic Adidas and Versa—along with Garmin’s vîvosport, vîvomove HR, vîvoactive 3—watch for elevated stress levels via your heart rate, providing you with guided breathing exercises, short in duration, but effective in bringing you back to a calmer state of mind so you don’t overeat, skip workouts or miss much-needed sleep from anxiety you may not even be aware of.
Speaking of unnecessary stress, while the Suunto 3 Fitness doesn’t feature onboard meditation guides, it will use your sleep and heart rate patterns to make workout suggestions so you don’t overdo it when your body needs the rest, which can lead to inflammation and internal stress. The durable stainless steel bezel provides a scratch-resistant barrier if your on-the-go lifestyle also causes you to trip or bump into things more than you care to admit.
A traditional fitness tracker doesn’t always fit into everyone’s lifestyle, especially if you work in an office environment, meet with clients or just prefer the look of a watch. If you’re nodding in agreement, a tracker/smartwatch hybrid is more your style, and you’ll find this favorable combo in the following hybrids:
- Fitbit Ionic
- Fitbit Ionic Adidas Addition
- Fitbit Versa
- Suunto 3 Fitness Watch
- Garmin vîvomove HR
- Garmin vîvoactive 3
The slim design and automatic exercise recognition of the Fitbit Alta HR makes this a no-fuss fitness tracking tool that’s perfect for people at the beginning of their health journey who want simple, tried-and-true options without paying for a ton of bells and whistles they’ll never use. On sale for just $119.95, Alta HR pushes you to get 250 steps in per hour with on-screen reminders, plus all-day calorie tracking. You’ll also workout more efficiently with the on-display heart rate zones that show you whether you’re working out too casually or too intensely for your goals and fitness level.
The vîvofit 4, priced at just $79.99 is also a nice option. It doesn’t track heart rate, but it will display your steps, distance and calories, remind you to move and let you compete in Toe-To-Toe™ step challenges against friends or family who also wear vîvofit 4 or vîvofit Jr 2.