And all the calories I burned just by breathing
My fitness level—depending on what variable we’re measuring, power strength, endurance, etc.—is maybe a little above average. I eat in moderation, exercise when I can and when I can’t, I try to stay active by walking to my next destination. Unlike my partner or the personal trainers I follow on the ‘gram, I don’t measure my calories and generally avoid cardio workouts. My fitness goals focus only on being able to do one thing: unassisted pull ups. So, when 0917 lent us wearable tech in the form of the Fitbit Versa, I had zero expectations.
First, the facts
The Fitbit Versa is a health and fitness smartwatch that track most of your all-day activities: steps, heart rate, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, hourly activity and stationary time. Female Health and Guided Breathing Sessions are among the unique features I personally liked. Style and design-wise, it's comfortable, nondescript and pretty versatile. Some say it looks like the more affordable cousin of an Apple Watch, but if you’d rather pay attention to what’s happening on the display rather than around it, then it shouldn’t matter. Meanwhile, if you’re the type to get bored with seeing the same thing on your wrist, the Versa is Fitbit’s most customizable wearable; you can easily switch between straps depending on your mood or occasion.
As for battery life, it’s decent and true-to-claim. Basic use (no playing music, checking phone notifs) can last about four days before needing to charge it again with the included cradle for about an hour or two.
Run With It
I first wore the Fitbit Versa to a plogging event. I juiced it up, downloaded the app and synced it to the watch, and took note of its basic functions, as well as its three physical buttons; one on the left and two on the right. They’re used for navigating through the watch’s interface and act as shortcuts to apps. But you can also just use the touchscreen display to scroll.
My first mistake was to assume that the Versa automatically tracks steps and that I didn’t need to log the day’s workout. Fortunately, swiping here and there led me to the SmartTrack feature mid-way through my run. All I had to do was choose the type of workout, from running to biking and more, and hit the play button before I start and it’ll automatically record (distance for running, laps for swimming) my activity.
The results were appalling but unsurprising: my average running pace is 18 minutes 55 seconds for 1.5 kilometers. This means it took me 40 minutes to complete a 3km run (also because at some point, I decided to just brisk walk it). So maybe I’m a little above average in overall fitness level but specific to endurance, it’s likely that I am less than average. Anyway, the Versa comes in handy if you want to compare past and present performance to see how much you’ve improved in terms of pace.
Burn Baby Burn
The most surprising insight I got from the Fitbit Versa is this: I can burn calories just by breathing. Generally, Fitbit devices estimate calorie burn based on age, sex, height, weight and heart rate. What’s more, according to the FAQs, “the value you see on your device when you wake up in the morning is your estimated calorie burn for the day so far. You still burn calories even if you are sedentary or sleeping.”
The data above is from June 10, Monday. I deliberately decided not to work out and just logged my meals for the day. So if my food intake for the day was about 1.1k calories I burned 1.4 calories—more than what I put in—walking to three meetings within our floor and likely, stressing myself out. I can’t claim the latter to be fact as I’ve yet to consult with a doctor.
Fitbit Versa was also able to show me when I’ve eaten a little over than what I was willing to burn in a day:
Data is King
From a non-tech expert perspective, I enjoyed using the Fibit Versa because of its easy interface and the data I gathered about my health and fitness habits. It ticks all the boxes of a fitness tracker or at least my requirements. It’s great, too, that it’s compatible with both Android and iOS, and that it doesn’t have too many features or apps that might overwhelm the user. Bummer it doesn’t have Spotify, and only supports Deezer and Pandora at the moment. But if the primary goal is to form healthier habits—work-life integration be damned cause seriously, sometimes you just gotta tune out—the Fitbit Versa will more than meet your expectations as it did mine. And it’s made me re-think my perceived fitness level; this time I based it on actual data.
Art Alexandra Lara