I’m not sure if I’m cut out for a fitness tracker. In the last six months, I’ve tried the Amazfit and the MIO Slice, and both left me feeling stupid and lazy. Stupid because I couldn’t get either to work right, and lazy because neither wanted to give me much credit for my activities. Am I mentally deficient and slothful? Or is my experience due to mechanical or software deficiency on their part? How much time should I spend staring at my wrist and phone, trying to get a fitness tracker to work? These are important questions for our technological age.
Personal Activity Intelligence
I was very excited to receive the Slice for review, especially since I’d had a positive experience with another MIO product, the MIO Alpha. I wore the Slice for a week straight without taking it off. Yep, it’s waterproof, so this was okay. But the Slice frustrated me endlessly, mostly by failing to detect my activities. I’d get annoyed and take it off for a few days, then, like a bad relationship, decide to give it one more chance. I did this for at least a month. When I contacted the support desk, it just sent me some info I’d already read on the website about correctly pairing the Slice with my phone.
The Slice uses a metric called PAI, or Personal Activity Intelligence. As it says on the website, “Rather than just using steps, PAI’s revolutionary algorithm makes sense of your personal heart rate data, giving you a simple number that shows how much activity you need to live a longer, healthier life.” It records how many minutes you spend in three heart rate zones, then assigns a numerical value. The goal is to get 100 points per week. This is a nice idea, since some days are more active than others, and why beat yourself up for not getting enough exercise on Tuesday when you were planning to make up for it on Wednesday.
The problem was, the Slice was extremely unimpressed by my efforts, usually proclaiming them worth zero points. The ladies in my boot camp class got sick of the Slice pretty fast, as after every ten minutes of jumping jacks, pushups and shoulder presses I’d check my wrist and curse that it had failed to register any activity at all. A couple of times, it gave me two points. I got slightly more acclaim for my elliptical workouts, sometimes garnering 8 or 9 points. But walking the dog? Nope, the Slice thought I might as well be catatonic. Since you need an average of 15 points a day to make the 100 target for the week, I was way behind in no time.
Fitness trackers mess with my mind. Instead of exercising for the sake of my health, I start to feel like I’m trying to satisfy this thing on my wrist. And when it remains unmoved, I start to think screw it, I might as well lay on the couch and eat vegan cheetos.
The only day I got more than 10 points was when I was in Colorado, snowshoeing at more than 8,000 feet. The activity would not have been difficult except for the elevation. My heart palpitations resulted in 71 PAI points. I wonder if the Slice can call 911?
The MIO Slice also measures sleep. Again, not always accurately. Really, I slept 10 hours, 50 minutes with 100 percent sleep efficiency last night? I don’t think so. And it’s not good for your self-confidence when the Slice can’t tell if you’re sleeping or having sex. Really, Slice, you’ve got to stop dissing me or you’re going to the Goodwill.
Also, the Slice doesn’t look that big, but it seemed to grow bulkier when I went to bed. I woke up with impressive and uncomfortable sleep indentations all the way around my wrist.
Please, not more phone!
Does anybody else feel like they don’t need one more reason to stare at their phone? I spent so much time with my head bent over the Slice app on my phone, watching the thing try to sync and then reporting that no data was available. Then I’d check the settings to make sure it was still paired. Yep. Then back to the app. Still nothing. What a bother! For me, this is the opposite of health and wellness.
So, what’s the verdict? Am I too dumb to successfully use a fitness tracker? Or am I too sedentary to need one? Who knows? I think it’s back to the old-fashioned perceived exertion scale for me.