I am writing this from the middle of Yosemite national park. I’m on the Valley Loop somewhere between the mountains. It’s growing dark and I’m a long way from the camp site. I hear a noise, crackling twigs. It’s growing cold and there are a lot of bears out here. I check my phone, but the Fitbit app says Sync Error. I’m stranded and there’s no way out.
Fitbit Alta HR
My family bought me a fitness tracker for my birthday. Well, let’s be clear about this, it is a Fitbit Alta HR which records your steps, heart rate and how well you sleep. Oh, and it also tells the time which means my watch has been consigned to my bedside cabinet for the time being.
I am ashamed to say that I basically do no exercise at all. In the past, I used to do loads of exercise – now I do NOTHING. I am not the sort of person who would go to a gym – I have to have exercise built into my normal daily life and unfortunately, at the moment, I have no option but to drive to work (there is no public transport) and the car park is only 140 steps from my office chair. Once in the office there is nowhere to walk to and no reason to walk anywhere. The office is on a main road so I can’t even walk anywhere at lunchtime. It’s also not advisable to walk alone and no-one will come out walking with me!
However, I am doing my best with the Fitbit’s help in the evenings and weekend. At 10 minutes to every hour it vibrates on my wrist like a small electric shock and I (and everyone else wearing a Fitbit) am expected to respond to the motivational message to try to achieve the goal of 250 steps an hour. If you reach your target it will vibrate again and tell you that you have ‘crushed it’ (or lately it has told me that I have ‘nailed it’). I imagine everyone across the world who wears a Fitbit suddenly jumping up at 10 to the hour – surely it could cause an earthquake?
The Fitbit is designed to synchronise with an app on your smartphone so that all the data collected can be displayed and you can marvel at your heart rate and see what time you woke up in the night. At least that’s the theory. My Fitbit was always slightly reluctant to sync with the app. It had to be cajoled and persuaded. I had to press the Sync instruction several times and sometimes leave the Fitbit next to the phone in the hope that it would come out of it’s sulk and condescend to sync. Then I had an upgrade to my Android phone and after that my Fitbit threw a massive tantrum and simply refused to engage with the phone. It obviously didn’t like change. I was bereft – I’d suddenly lost the ability to check my heart rate or find out how I’d slept! I was lost in the dark.
So, I immediately looked for help online and I stumbled across the helpboards and to my amazement I found lots of threads all written by people whose Fitbits refused to sync with their phones. It is a very common problem and as those Fitbits are not a cheap investment it causes a lot of angst.
After wasting a lot of time reading through everyone’s problems and solutions I got the nagging feeling that my phone was not actually on the Fitbit compatible list. I tried to ignore this and read on but time and time again I came across the remark that Fitbits and my particular phone just don’t get on! I looked up a list of compatible phones and my phone wasn’t on it. But my phone was under a year old…. so basically I had a Fitbit which could not be guaranteed to sync with my phone and therefore I would have no access to all the tracking features. So, I was left with a very expensive pedometer.
Do Fitbit give a clear list on the packaging and at the point of sale showing which phones are compatible or are you left to find this out by doing a lot of research before you buy the Fitbit? In my case, the Fitbit was a gift so I couldn’t expect the person who bought it to know which phone I had.
Still in compatibility denial mode, I requested an online help session from Fitbit which involved me sitting for hours at my computer going through all the trouble shooting steps (which I’d already tried before). The first time they ended up sending me another charger. The second time they actually sent me a new Fitbit lozenge. While all this was great and I cannot fault their customer service, I had to fix my problem by buying a wireless dongle. Now the Fitbit syncs with my tablet via the wireless dongle (apparently my tablet’s Bluetooth version is not compatible with the Fitbit either).
Now, happily I can report that I’ve made it out of Yosemite National Park without being eaten by a bear. My Fitbit syncs with the tablet and then the data shows up on my phone. True, my sleep pattern is recorded a day in advance and the phone adds an hour onto the sleep data, but if you read the frustrated posts on the Fitbit help forum, I’m just grateful for small mercies.
And the moral is……
Save yourself time and money and ALWAYS read Help Forums before you buy. Now, please excuse me, I’m off on the Pohono Trail now!
Exit, pursued by a bear……
If you want to get a Fitbit and see what you have been missing out on have a look at these:
© Michelle @5pmFriday