As February slowly ebbs away, my fitness and fitness tracker reviews are still some of my most popular posts. Here is a list of all of them to make them easier for you to find.
As February slowly ebbs away, my fitness and fitness tracker reviews are still some of my most popular posts. Here is a list of all of them to make them easier for you to find.
When you think of the original GPS units, one of the first names you think of is Garmin. It only makes sense that a pioneer in that market would move into the fitness tracking wearable market. The Garmin vivofit is actually just one of their ventures into wearables.
Unlike most of the other wrist band based fitness trackers available now, the vivofit comes with a battery that lasts over a year so you don’t have to worry about charging it every few days. For many folks, that’s a definite plus.
Because of that battery, the display is on all the time which means you can easily look at your wrist to see your exact step count or by changing the display, the time. This was one of my favorite features since it means that the vivofit can replace my watch. There are six different screens available to display: time, date, steps, steps goal (seen above), miles, and calories burned.
In addition, the elongated red arrow at the top of the display is a reminder to the user to move. The long main arrow means it’s been an hour. Each little arrow in front of the long one means that another fifteen minutes has passed.
Another plus is that Garmin makes XL bands easily available unlike FitBit. I wish they sold you just one instead of three in a pack, but at least you can get them without jumping through hopes.
Like the FitBit and some of the other fitness trackers, the Garmin vivofit will track your sleep though the results on the phone app aren’t as detailed as the FitBit. Holding the button on the band takes you to the sync mode, then sleep (seen above) and finally pairing mode which is only used infrequently.
The Garmin Connect Mobile app is used with several different Garmin devices and I think that’s part of its downfall. I had problems pairing it to the vivofit at first, but discovered by dumb luck that being out of wifi range seemed to solve the problem. As I mentioned before, the detail available could be better, but to be honest, I’ve seen first.
Also, with the current version of the vivofit, the device does not automatically sync with the app. You have to open the app, put the vivofit in sync mode and then make the app sync.
Another problem is if you want to track your food intake with the Garmin Connect Mobile app, the only way you can do it is by using the My Fitness Pal app. As a long time user of SparkPeople, that’s a problem for me and from what I’ve read, it’s a problem for other people.
While researching this review, I discovered that the vivofit 2 is coming some time this first quarter. With it comes the ability to auto sync and it appears to have a way to more securely attach the band to your wrist. While you may want to wait for the vivofit 2, you can get a really great price on the current vivofit model right now.
My husband has had three FitBit units die on him so we’ve been looking for an alternative fitness trackers for him. After testing the Garmin vivofit, I think we may have found it.
Check out this Disney travel blog post that I wrote for The Magic For Less Travel blog. If you are looking for a great time to visit Walt Disney World, consider waiting until after the holiday season is over. There are lots of advantages to traveling then as long as you keep a few things in mind.
Interested in visiting the Mouse and Florida? Contact me for a free, no obligations travel quote for your Disney vacation!
With the number of Android phones coming out each month, sometimes it’s hard to know which one to even look at when you’re shopping for a new phone. I’ll give you a hint: You need to check out the new HTC One (M8).
Also available for Windows Mobile, this latest offering from HTC is something to behold. The brushed aluminum design feels great in your hand and looks good too.
The 5-inch full HD display is really crisp and clear. I love both the size and look of the screen. Photos really popped on the screen.
HTC One (M8) also comes with a Duo Camera with UltraPixel. What’s UltraPixel you ask? It’s a feature of the Duo Camera which “lets you add 3D-style depth and change focus after snapping a photo.”
One thing that I really noticed was different from other phones were the dual front speakers. These give you much better sound than you can get from a single front speaker. It really made a difference when listening to music with wide variations in volume like classical music.
The thing I liked least about the HTC One (M8)? The name. Hard to remember and I’ve noticed that many consumers just say they have an HTC One without realizing that there are several models of the HTC One.
The HTC One (M8) is available now at your local Verizon Wireless store for $149.99 with a two-year contract.
I knew I could do the five kilometer length because I had done it before (soon after I wrote this post about my training). But one of the best things was that I also had my best pace of this training. In fact, my 18:40 min/mi pace was much better than my previous best of 19:03. And it felt good. That truly was the best part.
If you just did the math on when I started and when I finished, you may have noticed that it was longer than eight weeks. I ended up having to stop for over a month due to injury. Nothing serious, but I tried some different shoes that once again tore up my heels badly. In fact, six weeks later, I’m still having to cover my heels with large band-aids in order to be able to wear any walking shoes.
So, along with the red Fit-Bit wristband I treated myself to after completing the training, I’m also going to finally get some new walking shoes. I’ve got a recommendation for Tri-State Running in Edgewood, KY and hope to go there soon. I plan to take the two old pairs of shoes I’m currently using to show how shoes wear when I walk in them. Hopefully, they will have a solution to my heel issue. This keeps happening far too often.
I’ve purchased the regular Zombies Run! app and I was happy to see that all of my 5K training “runs” (I’m still walking) carried over to this app. I’m looking forward to starting this new program and hearing more about the adventures in Abel Township as they fight off the zombies.
Runner Five reporting for duty!
One of the highest compliment a reviewer can give a product is an acknowledgement that they liked the product so much that they bought one. An even higher compliment is when a reviewer buys more than one. The Belkin WeMo is one of those products for us.
The Belkin WeMo line of products are home automation devices that also can help with home security. The Verizon Wireless store has three different WeMo products available. All of these WeMo products work with your existing Wi-Fi network and let you control your lights or home electronics anywhere that your smart phone or tablet has an Internet connection (3G or 4G LTE).
The WeMo Switch ($49.98) plugs into a wall outlet so you can control home electronics or lamps from your mobile device. Using the WeMo app, you can set schedules with your Android or iOS smart phone that can help reduce energy costs in your home.
The Belkin WeMo Light Switch ($49.99) lets you to turn lights on and off from anywhere you happen to go. Unlike the regular WeMo switch, the WeMo Light Switch replaces a wall light switch so some DIY skills are needed.
If you want to know more about the energy use of an appliance or piece of home electronics, the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch ($59.99) is the one you want. Trying to figure out which appliance is sucking the most electrity? Plug each one in a WeMo Insight Switch and you can get quick access to how much energy each device is using.
We had a WeMo Switch test unit to try out recently. We’ve always had a floor lamp in our living room that was on a timer. The timers got more advanced over the years, but it was still just a timer set to come on at the same time each day. And anyone watching our house would notice that the time the light went on and off was always the same.
The scheduling available with the WeMo is so much better. Instead of coming on at the same time each day, you can set the WeMo to turn on the lamp at an hour before sunset. Then it automatically adjusts as sunset times change throughout the year.
We usually have the lamp in the living room set to go off at a set time too. But some times, you want to go to bed earlier and the light is still on. Or you go to bed and forget to turn off the lamp. With the WeMo smartphone app, two clicks on your smartphone and the light is off. And it won’t change the schedule for future days.
We loved how the WeMo switch worked for us so much that we ordered two of them before we returned our review unit. The second one is on a floor lamp downstairs that comes on weekdays during regular working hours. It’s been working great and now I’m wondering what we can use a third WeMo for next!
Due to a bit of slacking off this weekend, I finished the fifth week of my Zombies Run! 5K training this morning. After my review of the app last week, I wanted to add a few more observations on using it as a walker.
1. I solved the problem I had with the app pausing over and over. Turns out the issue wasn’t the Mophie Juice Pack at all, but rather the juice pack headphone adapter. I ordered two replacement ones and they work like a pro. The old one has been pitched.
2. Because of my Chondromalacia patella, I am never going to be a runner. Even walking must be done carefully and usually combined with water aerobics.
Last year, when I was trying to use the Ease Into 5K app, I would try to walk faster when the disembodied voice told me to run. The problem was that I used up so much energy in those fast walks that trying to complete the entire workout was really difficult. One day, when the voice said to run, I said nope. And getting through the workout didn’t make me not to ever work out again.
With the Zombies Run! 5K, there are weeks where you are instructed to do heel lifts or leg lifts. While I ignored any run commands, I tried the lifts at first. But, I would lose my momentum and my pace suffered too. That’s when I realized what I really wanted to do was to build up my endurance and slowly pick up my pace.
3. So about my pace… Back when I was doing the training for Half Pig in 2009, my starting pace was about 18 min/mile and I was down about 16 min/mile after eight weeks of training. That’s when that nasty chest cold hit me hard and the few walks I had the next month were in the 17 min/mile range.
When I started doing Zombies Run! 5K, I was in the 21 min/mile range. This past week for the first time, I was under 20 min/mile for the entire week. That feels pretty good.
4. Before today’s workout, I got looking ahead to some of the future workouts. I’ve been averaging 2.66 miles in the 50-52 minutes allocated to the most recent workouts. I knew the last workout was a 5K so I wondered how much time was set for that. 51 minutes. Ouch. That means about a 16 min/mile pace. I don’t see me getting to that pace in three weeks.
But it did inspire me. Today, I concentrated on keeping my momentum up while adding on as many little side trips to me route to see how off 5K really is. Plus, when the workout was finished, I just kept walking. And I came really close. 2.98 miles or 4.8 kilometers. I can do this! Add another loop or two and I’ve got it.
So Wednesday’s workout goal is to reach 5K. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I think that’s it for now. And I’ve glad to get this written down. Even if no one else reads it, I have something to refer back to later in my training.
And if someone else does this? Hey, thanks!
Last year, I tried out an app called Ease Into 5K. While it worked okay at the time, there were some things that I didn’t care for and I decided I wanted to try something else. A friend on Facebook recommended the Zombies Run! 5K app and I’m so glad she did.
The idea behind Zombies Run! 5K is that it puts you in the middle of a science fiction zombies story. You are being trained as one of the runners used by a post zombie apocalypse settlement in England to retrieve needed items like medicine, food and so on. The program is eight weeks long with three workouts scheduled each week. There is also an intro workout that provides you much of the exposition for the story plot. And the British accents just add to the fun for an Anglophile like me.
Within the app, each workout is represented by a notecard pinned on a cork board. Before you do that workout, you can see what it will involve. After you finish it, the card shows a summary of what happened during that workout and the date you completed it.
Tapping on the workout card gives you even more information. When there is an exercise in the workout, you are shown instructions on how to do it correctly. Then, you tap on the “Start Workout” area at the bottom and go to one more screen before starting.
This was one of the things I liked better than Ease Into 5K. You have the option of changing your playlist each workout instead of having to go to the Settings for the app to change it. The Shuffle option is really nice too. You can even choose no music if you prefer. I also appreciate the GPS check before starting.
After you complete the workout, you can click on the workout to see the log and story update. For more detail, synchronize your data with the Zombies Run! web site using Zombie Link. There is also information there on the more substantial training program you can use after finishing the 5K version.
The only problems I’ve had using Zombies Run 5K were caused by issues other than the app. As you can see above, the app kept pausing on me one day. Turned out that the problem was with the ear buds adapter I have to use when my iPhone is in the Mophie Juice Pack Plus case. By switching to another case that doesn’t require the adapter, the problem was solved.
This morning, I finished Week Five Workout One. Once I got really going with the system, I haven’t missed a single workout. The story keeps me interested and I keep walking. And that’s what really matters.
It turns out that there are lots and lots of folks looking for Twist App alternatives just like me. I’ve been trying several possible replacements out, but each has its own problems.
1. cursor42 was mentioned by its developer in a comment on my original post noting that Twist had shut down. In this app, you set up meets or you can join an existing meet. The problem is that you are tell the app when you are going to arrive. That can be a big problem if you hit unexpected traffic or other delays. After you create the meet, you have to share an invite code “to allow others to join your meet”. You can text it, email it or a few other options. Sending it to someone else’s cursor42 app is not an option. And, if you don’t upgrade to the premium version, the code can only be used by one person. There are also ads on the free version. Sorry, Chris. Just can’t recommend this one.
2. en route was the next app we tried out. The user interface is… odd. It draws from your calendar and the receiver has to accept or nothing happens. All in all, it’s just too many steps and if old routes aren’t deleted, they can cause problems. We had planned on writing a more in-depth review, but Tom got so frustrated with en route’s weirdness that he deleted it from his phone.
3. beebump was another one mentioned. One look at it and all I have to say is “no”. I couldn’t even bring myself to install it to get screen shots of it.
4. Glympse – And we’re back where we started. It was the location sharing app that we used before we found Twist. It’s been updating several times since I reviewed it last year and it works even better now. While it’s not as slick as Twist was, it’s still the best alternative out there for now.
For the last couple of months, I’ve been blogging from time to time about ArtsWave and what it means to the Cincinnati area community. On April 22nd, they will be wrapping up their 2014 Community Campaign. As you can see in the message I received from them yesterday, they are very close to their goal. So they’re asking if you and I can give just $10 more. $10… that’s less than two craft beers at your favorite better beer location. Less than two glasses of wine too. I just gave $10 more. How about joining me in that $10 gift?
In just six days, ArtsWave will announce the results of the 2014 Community Campaign.
Here’s some insider information… we are SO CLOSE to our goal of $12 million. Thanks to friends like you, we are almost there – the biggest campaign we’ve ever had.
BUT… we’re not there yet. And we need one last effort by everyone to make it.
We know many of you have already made your gift – THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Would you consider giving just $10 more? And asking 10 people to give $10 too? Your actions could create a wave of giving at the last moment that makes all the difference.
If everyone receiving this message gives just $10 more, we’ll make our goal. The beauty of this community campaign has always been that it is made up of tens of thousands of people – just like you – giving what they can to make our community an amazing place to live.
Your extra $10 helps connect neighbors at their local arts centers. $100 from ten of your friends brings arts into schools to help students succeed. It all adds up to $12 million invested in more than 100 arts organizations across the Greater Cincinnati region.
To sweeten the deal, if you give online between now and Monday, April 21st at Noon, you’ll be entered into a raffle drawing for either 2 tickets to the Cincinnati Ballet OR 4 tickets to a Cincinnati Symphony Lollipops Concert.
Please, if you believe in the impact of the arts in our community, click here to give $10 today. And then, please forward this email to 10 people and ask them to join you.
Thanks for believing in the power of the arts to change our community.
Your Determined Wave-Catchers and Friends at ArtsWave