Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

All the fitness that fits

Latest wearable activity monitor puts a whole lot of info at your fingertips... er, around your wrist

  • Print

The main drawback to Fitbit's wearable activity monitors may be how unobtrusive they are. To hear users tell it, their trackers have taken more unplanned trips through the washing machine than a crumpled tissue.

Meet the new Flex, which for the first time puts Fitbit's technology into a wristband. Even simpler than the already uncomplicated clip-on versions, the band is also more powerful, and there's much less danger of forgetting it's there.

The $100 Flex joins an increasingly crowded field of devices jostling for wrist-share, including Jawbone's UP and the Nike+ Fuelband. But it's the best of the bunch.

The Flex package includes the wristband itself, a comfortably light, rubberized strap slightly thicker on one side, and the sensor, which lives in the band except when you pop it into its USB-powered charging bracket every five days or so.

If you have an iPhone or compatible Android phone, you'll most likely use Fitbit's excellent free app, available in the Apple App Store and from Google Play, to sync your data. (There's also a Bluetooth adapter for use with a personal computer.)

Wireless syncing is one of the Flex's big advantages over the UP, which requires you to remove a small, eminently losable tip in order to physically connect the band with your phone's audio port.

Another Flex advantage is that it makes a complete loop around your wrist, unlike the UP's overlapping ends, which get caught more easily on sleeves.

Then again, I had a devil of a time with the Flex's clasp, which holds it securely but requires a significant amount of fiddling and pressure to close properly. (The company says it's working on tweaking the design.)

Like its clip-on Fitbit siblings, the Flex is primarily focused on how many steps you take. The default goal is 10,000 a day, which experts say is a pretty good yardstick for moderate, healthy activity.

But unlike other Fitbits, as well as most other step-counters, the Flex can recognize and give you credit for some non-walking activities. In my case, the band recognized time I spent on a stationary bike and translated it into an equivalent number of steps to help me meet my daily goal.

That was a big deal for me, providing what felt like a much more accurate picture of my general activity.

The Flex is an almost 24-hour-a-day companion. At night, if you tell it you're going to bed by tapping it, it tracks your sleep patterns. It also includes a silent alarm that vibrates to rouse you.

It's sufficiently water-resistant that I wore it in the shower repeatedly with no ill effects, though the company does recommend removing it while swimming.

The Flex doesn't provide you with a lot of information at a glance. Its entire display, visible only when you tap it, consists of five tiny lights that illuminate based on how far you've progressed toward your daily goal; two lights, for instance, means you're 40 per cent of the way there.

I missed being able to get more information directly from the Flex, but it wasn't far away. All I had to do was pull out my phone and access the app, which uses low-energy Bluetooth technology to minimize the battery drain.

More than just a display for the Flex, the app can be used to set goals and to log your food, water consumption, weight and activities the Flex can't track, such as yoga. And for a little mutual reinforcement, you can connect with friends to compare step totals.

Order at

-- Bloomberg News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 18, 2013 E2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Total Body Tune-Up: Farmer's Carry

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Two baby tigers were unveiled at the Assiniboine Park Zoo this morning, October 3rd, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.

View More Gallery Photos


Do you think the Jets will win Game 4 on Wednesday?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google