Tech Review: Working on That Fitness (For Real) With the Garmin Venu Smartwatch
How this multisport gadget is designed for getting––and staying––active regardless of fitness level
In the relentless pursuit to get fit, healthy or simply make better lifestyle choices, consistency is key. Which is why a number of tech giants have taken up the torch to find out how they can keep increasingly busy people on track without giving them yet another thing to busy themselves with. And isn’t that, in part, what’s tough about the “consistency, consistency, consistency” mantra? How does one ensure that a solitary good streak or good day at the gym truly does turn into a good run and, eventually, a lifelong change for the better?
Garmin answered this question once before with the vivosmart® 4 in 2018. Setting the bar high with the feature-packed and fitness-focused smartwatch, the only way for this to meet its match is if Garmin went on a mission to outdo itself. And that it did with the Venu GPS fitness smartwatch.
Striking Visuals, A Simple End Goal
As Garmin’s first GPS smartwatch decked out with a beautiful AMOLED display, the first to steal focus, unsurprisingly, are the super crisp and vibrant visuals. On its considerable 1.2-inch diameter touchscreen display, graphics are in high-resolution, making user experience easy and navigation quite enjoyable. But the true beauty of the Garmin Venu lies in the fact that it doesn’t overexert itself trying to be an extension of your smartphone or tablet or any other gadget you frequently use. It exists for the sole purpose of keeping you attuned to your body so you can get to work on whatever fitness or wellness goals you have. (If you’re the type that’s easily turned off by the unnecessary hyper-connectedness of things, I can already see the many ways this can appeal to you.)
“It exists for the sole purpose of keeping you attuned to your body so you can get to work on whatever fitness or wellness goals you have.”
The Garmin Venu is essentially a personal trainer on your wrist. But what makes it deserving of being called the “ultimate workout companion” is really its special monitoring features (moving time, average heart rate, calories burned, estimated sweat loss). These eerily accurate trackers keep tabs on and assess your performance when you work out and then keep a 24/7 watch on your general health. So while it may appear as though the Venu is built for pros and athletes, anyone, in fact, with the intent get fit or invest in their overall wellness can gain something from the Garmin Venu. (Who wouldn’t appreciate getting a full picture of their health?)
A Dedication to Fitness (With Venu as Witness)
Taking all the best bits and pieces of its predecessor, the Venu is still a full-on but smarter immersion into the world of fitness (if you could imagine a smartwatch doing that for you).
I experienced this firsthand when I took the Garmin Venu out for a spin on three workouts: an indoor run on a treadmill, Pilates and then a spin class. Without any prior experience with a Garmin smartwatch, I was able to get a hang of navigation and, without a hitch, see how I could make the most out of the features for each workout.
As in-depth as the tracking capabilities are, the Venu keeps everything else simple. It has just two other buttons to go with the touchscreen: an action button at the top-right side that switches on the device, triggers the beginning or end of an activity and reveals the control menu. The back button on the lower-right side of the face takes you back to the previous screen (save for when there’s an ongoing activity that the Venu is tracking). During a workout, meanwhile, the back button works to mark a new lap, begin a new set or move on to the next stage of a given workout.
The rest is set up nicely for you: You can take your pick from a list of activities (ranging from running, cycling, pool swimming and golfing) or choose from over 40 guided workouts, where you are given easy-to-follow, step-by-step guides for things like strength training, yoga and Pilates. Think of the Venu as a digital rolodex of workouts where there’s something for every type of fitness buff––equipment or no equipment––and every type of fitness level.
What’s for sure, regardless of the workout, is that the Venu empowers you to keep moving. The summaries of your activities are presented in neat visuals and infographics that tell you on the spot all you need to know as you’re working out. Then again, it offers an in-depth analysis for later on should you need them, too. The big picture is: you get to set the tone and pace for yourself, get a comprehensive look at the kind of shape you’re in, see what kind of goals you can realistically set for yourself and then keep up the work by, well, putting in the work.
The In-Betweens of Your Workouts Are Covered, Too
I remember the first time the Venu randomly vibrated and buzzed out of nowhere (I had no workout in place or activity lined up) to tell me to move.
The text “MOVE!” literally flashes on the screen when the Venu detects that you’ve been stationary for too long. It serves as a friendly reminder to go for a quick walk, if anything, to kick the sedentary lifestyle in the rear. Come to think of it: If I’m not knocked out of busywork by a reminder like this, it would be entirely possible that I spend seven of the nine working hours seated. So this, in a way, certainly addresses the silent perils of working a nine-to-six desk job (because, newsflash, sitting too long can kill you even if you exercise).
Once this reminder to move is accepted on your end, a marker around the bezel appears onscreen to count you down as you take a stroll. This minimum-effort, light activity easily accomplished in a few short minutes goes to show that even the in-betweens of wellness are covered with the Garmin Venu. And its ability to look into your health and wellbeing beyond this is pretty extensive, too.
The Garmin Venu’s sensors also monitor respiration and pulse rate for things like sleep tracking, stress management and energy management (potentially putting to bed questions like “Why do I wake up tired even if I’ve gotten eight hours of sleep?”). In addition, it comes with a step counter, a water intake log and, for the ladies, a period tracker. To stay on track, you have to keep track and Garmin gets this all done seamlessly.
Unique to the Garmin lineup of smartwatches, a noteworthy wellness feature that needs to be talked about is the Body Battery™ energy monitor. Analyzing your physical activity, stress levels, rest and quality of sleep, this reports back an impressive breakdown of your body’s energy levels. Which activities are draining your body battery? Did you know that mental health has a lot to do with this equation? Have you, in reality, been running on empty? The Garmin Venu sets it all straight so you can find out what your stress triggers are and where you can improve.
Body? Check. Mind? Check, too.
In the Smartwatch Arena, the Venu Holds Its Own
Save for a few misses (the step counter logging subtle movements as steps while I’m seated in a moving vehicle or tricky encounters with the touchscreen when the device inevitably gets wet with water or perspiration), the Garmin Venu is in a league of its own.
For one, it’s in the hustle and bustle of the workout where its AMOLED display shines: Since everything is vibrant and in high-resolution, the Venu offers easy readability regardless of the weather condition or environment you have your workout in.
The syncing capabilities are ideal. It can send you smart notifications (on emails, texts and other social media alerts) when paired with a compatible smartphone and you can easily download songs (including playlists!) from Spotify so you can help yourself to some choice workout tracks. That’s really as far as the Venu goes in terms of augmenting your smartphone experience.
The point anyway is not to migrate your entire digital life into one wristwatch. The Garmin Venu, being decked-out in these remarkable monitoring features, implies that it is meant to serve a specific purpose that it fulfills beautifully. In the name of fitness, the Garmin Venu goes above and beyond, making it an ideal smartwatch candidate for those serious about getting––and staying––in shape.
Shop Garmin online at Kinetic, Lazada, Shopee and Zalora. The Garmin Venu retails for ₱23,595 and is available in Garmin stores (Glorietta 5, SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, Uptown Bonifacio, Alabang Town Center, SM Aura Premier, SM North Edsa, The Podium, Ayala Malls Vertis North, SM City Pampanga, Shangri-la Mall, SM City Cebu, SM Lanang, Festive Walk) and department and retail stores (Rustan’s Makati, Rustan’s Shangri-la, Rustan’s Alabang).
Art Alexandra Lara