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Review: Fitbit Alta Meeting Step Goals and Increasing Productivity

On a recent trip to Quebec City, I lost my Fitbit Charge, and I was devastated. Figures it was during a trip where I walked at least 20,000 steps a day! After some unpleasant and frustrating back and forth with Fitbit customer support, they were unable to track it and unfortunately they could not replace it either. Fitbit’s customer support is no longer what we have come to expect…more on this later.

The Fitbit charge was a disappointment to me. Personally, it had to be replaced by Fitbit due to electronic glitches two times within the first year of owning it. After I lost it, Fitbit didn’t return it as they used to do with lost trackers but offered me a 25% discount on an online purchase of a new Fitbit tracker. I knew I did not want another Fitbit Charge so not to lose the momentum of my healthy goals I bought the Fitbit Flex from my local Weight Watchers meeting for $99 so I can continue pushing my step goals and keep up with my Fitbit style of life. It was a natural choice to buy a lower model for the short term, with a new flashy Fitbit Alta on the horizon just a few months away.

Fitbit Alta Review

For a while I convinced myself I was not going to spend money on another Fitbit, but this past week on my birthday I decided to start a new tradition in my life. I used to go out to some crazy bakery in Toronto and just buy myself a huge piece of cake that was a million calories and tell myself that it’s OK cause it is my birthday and I deserve a treat. What you don’t know is that I also ate cake on all the dinners I had with my friends and family to celebrate my birthday. Sadly this was the old me, me before I lost 50+ pounds and changed my entire approach to living!

This year I decided to make a break from my old bad habits and birthday tradition. My gift to myself was cashing in some of my RBC Avion rewards and gifting myself with a brand new Fitbit Alta!

Fitbit Alta hourly move reminders

Fitbit Alta™ – What’s New

Like the Fitbit models before it the Alta tracks steps, sleep and shows you your progress throughout the day. You can still set up silent alarms to wake you up, track your exercise, distance and calories burned, however, there are some new features that many of you may find appealing.

Reminders to Move

You may have noticed your Fitbit apps and dashboards have asked you set up a new goal. The goal is to move at least 250 steps each hour throughout your day, and Fitbit Alta will even give you a little buzz at 10 minutes before the hour is up if you haven’t accumulated 250 steps in that hour.

For me, this has been, so life-changing. When I’m not travelling, I’m home working as a graphic designer in my small apartment in mid-town Toronto. Since moving to a condo and a full-time job to a self-employed freelancer my steps per day have dropped considerably. I found that there were days when I was sitting so long working on my writing or graphic design that I barely had 2000 steps.

Since putting on my Fitbit Alta, I have received reminder jolts to move, and I’m happy to report that meeting my step goal of 7,500 steps per day became easy. I get the little buzz on my wrist and start doing laps around my condo until I get another buzz which tells me I’ve reached my 250 steps. Within days of getting my Alta, I raised my daily step limit to 10,000 and had met that goal daily!

Reminders to Move also Boost Productivity

So moving more is a bonus, but I also find that this reminder each hour has improved my work productivity. It is like having a built-in Pomodoro timer reminding me to take breaks. The Pomodoro technique is simple, you set an egg timer for 25 minutes and then for that 25 minute period you focus on one task. When the timer goes off – you take a five-minute break and then if you need more time you set the timer again and repeat. I always found the 25 minutes wasn’t enough time and I gave up on using this technique altogether. But with Fitbit Alta, I work on a task for 50 minutes take a little walk around my condo and drink some water while I’m doing it.

So not only am I getting more work done but I’m also improving my water intake each day!

Fitbit Alta Sleep Tracker

Fitbit Alta™ – Smart Track (It’s not so smart)

Smart Track is supposed to automatically recognize and record selected exercises like Walking, Running, Outdoor biking and Elliptical workouts. It should also know when you are participating in a sport or aerobic workout where there is continuous moment over a period. The feature is available on Fitbit Alta™, Fitbit Blaze™, Fitbit Surge™, and Fitbit Charge HR™.

A note about Smart Track – in my experience it only sometimes tracks my elliptical workouts accurately. It is pretty good at tracking walks automatically, but after posting concern on the Fitbit Community boards, it appears I am not the only one experiencing problems with this technology. Fitbit has some work to do on Smart Track.

Fitbit Alta™ – Alerts Now Include Texts and Calendar

The Fitbit Alta also includes Text message alerts where band vibrates, and the person texting you and a brief snippet of the text appears on the watch face of the tracker. Calendar alerts also set off the tracker.

Fitbit Alta™ – Stylish Accessories

One thing I hated about my Fitbit Charge was that I couldn’t swap out the wristbands. The Fitbit Alta™ is a slim, smart watch which also includes accessory bands in metal and leather. Now you can dress up your Fitbit when you’re in your fashionable duds or going out to a special event. The plastic bands are great for workouts, but if you want to style up for day-to-day wear, it’s as easy as pushing down on the clasp and unhooking the strap from the Fitbit tracker.

Fitbit Alta™ Review: Stylish fitness tracker and smart watch increases motivation to move more with some great new features.

Fitbit Customer Service – Frustration and Disappointments

It is an epic fail in my opinion that their Customer Support has gone downhill so fast. Customer service was once the differentiator that made Fitbit stand out from the pack. In the early days when you lost a tracker, they would work to help you get a new one as quickly as possible. This does not seem to be the case anymore. I had so many back and forth emails with their customer support – every time I answered an email thinking it was resolved I learned I was misinformed and the resolution changed.

Between my technical problems with the Charge, losing my charge and wanting to replace my Fitbit using their 25% offered discount – it was so frustrating – 20+ emails in the past year and 5+ phone calls.

Phone support is not much better. They often send you an email and ask you to respond through that system and that is where the support fails. This is my fourth Fitbit tracker and I’m thinking as Smart Watches go down in price – this could very well be my last.

For now I will enjoy the features on my Alta that work, perhaps invest in some stylish bands and see how long it lasts. I’m enjoying my renewed love for steps each day and my more productive days – hopefully I won’t have to make a call to their customer support team any time soon.

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