A fitness tracker with a twist. {Runtastic Orbit review}

Once upon a time – like last year or something – a friend of mine got a fitness tracker. And then another friend got one. And another. They were becoming so popular and I had to find out more; I’m a big fan of gadgets especially if they are health related. Just before I purchased my Garmin, I did some research and concluded that the wearables my friends were using weren’t the right fit for me. The sleep tracking and calorie counting functions were cool, but I wanted something that would specifically record my runs.

Over the past year it seems like everyone has been throwing their hats into the fitness tracking ring including the folks over at Runtastic. Runtastic has a great smart phone app that tracks any sort of activity you do from a run around your neighborhood to spin class to yoga to strength training to swimming. There is a basic version of the app that is free, or you can pay a small one-time fee and get a lot of cool upgrades, such as voice coaching, route mapping, fitness challenges, training plans, and music and story running options (including power songs when you need them!). Their new wearable, the Runtastic Orbit, is sleek, stylish, and has all features that originally piqued my interest, but with a very cool twist that would have probably made all the difference in my decision last June… it can sync up with the Runtastic app and act as a running watch. I can toggle between time, pace, calories burned, and distance traveled with the press of a button. For someone like me that never leaves home without their phone, it was the perfect scenario. In test runs with the Orbit on one wrist and my Garmin on the other they matched up pretty well except for when I was running in Charles Street 12 and the Runtastic voice coach announced mile 11 when I was only at 10.5. I won’t hold a grudge though because downtown Baltimore has the tendency to do terrible things to your GPS.

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Notice up there how I mentioned “swimming”? This thing is so waterproof that it’s not even funny. To the depth of 100 meters to be exact so whenever I sweat a lot or hop in the shower or the pool for a few laps or head out on one of my deep sea diving excursions, my fitness tracking won’t miss a beat.

In addition to the Runtastic app, there is an additional app that you gain access to as an Orbit owner; the Runtastic Me. Runtastic Me automatically syncs to the Orbit via Bluetooth and displays a weeks worth of your stats, including steps taken, active minutes, calories burned, distance traveled in miles, and the infamous sleep tracking that I was really nervous to experiment with. I figured I would only be getting bad news in that department. You just set your step and active minute goal at the start of each day and get moving!

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When you touch any of the options on the screen, all your information is shown on handy graphs. Below you can see where my most active times of day were – including the icons where my watch was synced for a run and also for a Body Pump class – and those little smiling faces? With a double click on the Orbit’s main button, you add a little smiling face to your chart. More gimmicky than useful, but I think it’s pretty cute. Notice what time it was when I hit those smilies. Wine was probably involved.

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Much as I suspected, my sleep needs work. However, I was surprised to find that I do not mind wearing the Orbit around my wrist at night. 

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I will say that since I started wearing the Orbit I’m much more aware of what time I’m going to bed at night. On that particular night I got 7.5 hours and I was pretty darn efficient about it. The green is deep sleep, the yellow is light, and the red is awake. You can totally tell when I had to get up to use the bathroom. When you touch the color segments on the screen it displays the amount of time that you were in each part of the sleep cycle. 

One night decided to test it and see what happened if I just set it up for sleep and didn’t wear the watch. When I checked it in the morning it showed a solid block of red all night so obviously it is doing something while I’m wearing it!

Another feature of the Orbit that I particularly love is the fact that you can set it to buzz your wrist and remind you to get up and move around if you’ve been idle for too long. I have a desk job and this is especially useful. I could go an entire 8 hour shift only getting out of my chair once or twice if I was working on a really involved project! Doing a couple quick laps around the office each hour has done wonders for the lower back ache I would sometimes get from extended sitting.

Unlike other fitness trackers, the Runtastic Orbit includes two different wristband color options (blue and basic black) and a clip if you would rather wear it on a sports bra or waistband. If the blue or black don’t do anything for you, you can purchase additional bands in sets of three. There is one set in particular that has a red, orange, and yellow band that I think I need in my life. It also comes with a charger and I’ve found that this thing charges really quickly even when the battery life is completely drained.

Overall I really love this wearable and my test run with it has been a joyous experience, but there are a few not-so-great things about it that I will share because I always like to be honest in my reviews:

For one thing, the GPS watch function will only work if you plan on running with your phone. This is not a problem for me because I always run with my phone, but I know that not everyone does.

I’m going to chalk this up to the fact that this is a new product and the technology is still being worked on, but occasionally the Runtastic Me app will drop all my information. Like I’ll scroll back a couple days and it will have all my totals reset to 0. I’ve been annoyed/frustrated by this more than once so far, but I won’t hold a grudge. I had one of the first iPhones and that thing was buggy too.

And finally…not a big fan of the fact that you can only access data in a one week time period. Like after tonight at midnight my stats from last Monday will have disappeared into thin air. Maybe in the future they might consider changing this.

All minor complaints aside, I’ve had a fun month with the Orbit. There are still some features that I haven’t had a chance to play around with yet and I’m excited to see what else this thing can do. Because POWER SONGS.

If you are in the market for a fitness tracker I would urge you to add this one to your list. It retails for a reasonable-ish $120 which is a small price to pay to learn that you are 95% sleep efficient.

Do you have a fitness tracker? Which one? How many hours of sleep a night do you normally get?

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday weekend filled with good runs, good friends, and good food. I definitely overdid it in the good food department today. Not enough steps in the entire world could make up for all the cake I ate at my nephew’s birthday party.

xo,

Salt

I was provided with a Runtastic Orbit for review as part of my Sweatpink Ambassadorship. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own!

OMG. {As seen on my run.}

I love reading stories about funny or crazy things that people see while they are out on a run. I even have a couple to share of my own like the time I ran past a flock of vultures gathered around some large dead thing on the side of the road – and looking at me like I might be next – and the insane woman I encountered during another early Saturday morning long run. The vultures were amusing, if not a little ironic considering how much I was struggling at that point in my run.

The crazy lady…well she was the most disturbing thing I had ever come across until this morning.

I was planning to do 5 miles and my alarm was set for 6am. It went off and I thought about it for a minute before saying “NOPE!” and gave myself an extra half hour. I just didn’t have the energy yet and my bed was so comfy.

I was laying there half asleep when I heard sirens very close to my house. I wondered if they were coming into my neighborhood, but then figured they were probably just on the highway which is down the hill from where I live. I looked at the clock again and it was nearly 6:30. I almost threw in the towel completely and reset it for 7, but then I figured I might as well get the run out of the way early rather than struggle to fit it in later. I got up, dressed quickly, and headed outside.

Everything started off as my new normal with a slow first mile as I tried to get my foot loosened up. I ran past a lot of kids outside waiting for their buses to take them to school. Since when do kids go to school before 7am? Anyway, I was just about to get into my third mile and was trying to decide whether I wanted to tackle this one monster of a hill or bypass it when I saw some flashing police lights. I also noticed that the sidewalk up ahead appeared to be blocked by something large and dark right at the corner where a side street intersected with the road I was on. I couldn’t tell what it was, but I could tell that it was too big for me to get around. I checked for traffic and crossed over to run on the opposite shoulder.

I’m pretty blind when it comes to seeing things that are far away so it took me a few moments to get close enough to get an idea of what was going on. And even as I got close enough, my brain still didn’t believe what I was seeing. It was an accident.

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The massive dark thing that was blocking the sidewalk was a silver car up on its side and leaning against a telephone pole. I had been looking at the undercarriage of it before crossing the street. I can’t even begin to imagine what the driver had been doing in order to get the car into that position. Maybe trying to take that corner WAY too fast? There are a lot of deer around here and maybe they swerved to avoid one? Who knows. The top of the car was gone and I couldn’t tell if that was because it was a convertible or if they had to remove it to get someone out. The interior was a mess of shattered glass and metal and the airbags were deployed.

The nearby sirens I had heard after my alarm went off had to have been for this accident. Whoever had been involved in it had already been taken away and they were just waiting on the clean up crew. There was another police car parked next to the wreck and two officers were standing there chatting. One of them smiled at me.

As I ran by on the opposite side of the road I’m pretty sure my mouth was hanging wide open. I was kind of in shock thinking about the person or people who had been involved and hoping that they were okay. And then a chill went up my spine as I realized that if I had actually gotten up with my 6 o’clock alarm and went out for my run, I would have been right there when this happened or seen a much more gruesome scene than what I was looking at just then.

I finished up my run – where I did decide to tackle the big hill…I had a lot of weird pent-up energy after what I had just seen  – and before getting ready for work checked some online news to see if I could find any information on what had happened. I didn’t which I will take as a good sign. Usually the messiest accidents get reported right away and I can’t imagine a police officer would be smiling at random runners going by if something really tragic had just happened.

Still though…so uncool.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy day today!

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever seen while you were out on a run?

xo,

Salt

 

 

Pump pump pump it up. {My first BodyPump class!}

I am WAY late to the BodyPump party. So late that even though I have wonderful friends who are BodyPump instructors (Sara and Jenna!), up until last Friday I didn’t even really know what it was. Or who Les Mills was. Honestly I still don’t even know who he is.

He’s a “he”, right?

Anyway all I knew was that it involves a barbell and I could spend a ton of money and buy it for home or I could find a class at a gym somewhere. My old gym didn’t have anything like this, but guess what!? My awesome new gym DOES. So last Friday I headed on over there at 10:30am for my very first BodyPump class.

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I used to get really nervous before group exercise classes, but ever since I took Zumba a few years ago I figured there’s no way I could make a bigger fool of myself. I waited with a group of women (and one guy) outside the doors of Studio One for our instructor to arrive. Once we were inside I picked a spot near the back and watched everyone else to determine what sort of equipment I would need. This was the only confusing part of the experience because it was way more props than I’m used to.

I took a barbell off the rack with the little plastic ends you snap on to make sure your weights don’t slide off. Then I chose a variety of weights; having never taken the class before I had no idea what I would be comfortable with and I wanted options. I also grabbed a set of hand weights, a step with two risers, and a yoga mat and set my things up according to how other people had arranged them.

Then of course the instructor asked if anyone was new and even though the class was packed I was the only one who had never been there before. As I said…late to the party. She gave me the usual first timer speech about taking it easy and listening to my body, etc, and then she joked about not being able to walk up the stairs the next day. I hoped she was kidding because I had my long run scheduled. All joking aside, she was nice and I liked her immediately. She also had really great taste in music.

Even for a newcomer, the class was very easy to follow except for a couple times when I was laying on my back on the step and had to turn my head to see what other people were doing around me. At first the weight was very manageable, but after doing SO. MANY. REPS. my arms were on fire. I could tell I was getting an incredible workout. With all the squats and lunges we were doing I started to think maybe the instructor wasn’t joking about the stairs thing. In the end my legs were fine, but I am still feeling it in my arms several days later!

We rounded up the class with some core work and stretching and I was shocked at how fast the time had gone. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun! The instructor applauded me for hanging in with the rest of the class, which made me feel pretty great about myself even though I’m sure she has to say that to all her new people. Everyone there was really pleasant as well; lots of smiles and no big, obnoxious egos.

Because I have off this Friday I’ll be going back again and then once the new job starts I will have to find other ways to fit it in. Luckily new gym has lots of options. :)

Have you taken BodyPump before? If so, do you love it? If not, do you want to? What other types of strength training do you incorporate into your routine?

Happy Tuesday to you all!

xo,

Salt