My Garmin Vivofit – the Good, the Bad and Lessons from a Challenge


As I’ve written about before (here , here, here, here and here)   I’ve used a number of tracking devices and apps including the Fitbit flex, Basis watch, Google Glass and the Actiped.  I lost my Fitbit when backpacking, apparently my trekking pole caught it and it fell off.  Although I looked for it, I was unable to find it, even though I knew where it fell off. Lesson one, if you do outdoor activities like I do, get one that is bright-colored so you can find it, this one was black.  Apparently I didn’t learn, keep reading…

At the Lake Nona Impact Forum February 2015, Garmin graciously had a step challenge and was giving away free Vivofits as part of it, I thought that was a great idea and got one. The challenge would be a month-long and everyone who wanted to enter was required to register with the online group.  I did and decided I would try to win this one.  More on that later as this was one lesson in how not to have a step challenge and a few other issues with Garmin.

Anyhow I found that the good points for the Vivofit were its battery, its supposed to last for a year, well longer than the few days of the Fitbitflex. That I liked.  I also liked the clasp which I thought was better than the Fitbit Flex, which has a propensity to fall off.  BUT….. this morning when mowing the lawn I caught the Vivofit on a tree branch and noticed a few mowing rows later that it was gone.  After finishing the lawn it took me about 10 minutes to find it. Fortunately it had not been run over but was sitting in a cleared area.  Lesson one, get one that is bright-colored so you can find it! This one was grey, oops guess I didn’t learn from my Fitbit.

Issues with the Vivofit

  1. It’s not very accurate. I counted off steps and the Vivofit was always lower, except,
  2. It reacts to shaking, using a fork (someone at dinner with me noticed it was counting my fork movement), it counts shaving, washing your hair, drying off with a towel, bumps in the road. The point is you can really cheat with this thing if you wanted, so I took it off when doing these types of activities.
  3. It does not count steps when mowing the lawn with a power mower. The only way to count steps is to remove your hand from the lawnmower and be sure to swing your arm as you walk. The Fitbit Flex was much better, even counting steps when using a big DR 13 horsepower mower working the Florida Trail.
  4. You can’t read it in the dark.
  5. It does fall off.

Anyhow, let’s get back to the challenge. I decided that it would take 20,000 steps per day to win, so I altered my work out and went completely aerobic, walking, running and elliptical which by the way caused me to gain weight.  I put myself easily into first place by doing two sessions a day and oftentimes lunch and cruised along. With a week to go I was still in first, but did not realize that one person registered but was not sharing their steps. Turns out at the end they somehow caught me.  Even though by my calculations they would have had to do about 6 days of 40,000 steps each (the last report was with about a week to go and the second place person, who was reporting their steps, was about 100,000 behind me).

Not reporting your data is like playing a basketball game and not knowing how many points the other team has.  Do you go to a four corners office and stall because you are in the lead or crank up the scoring in an effort to catch up?  As an organization, never allow someone to do this, I did write to Garmin and provide them with my thoughts.  But imagine the thinking of the other employees (teammates supposedly) who have to work with the guy or gal who did this and wins in the end by in effect manipulating the game? That’s sure to be an interesting work environment. So when running a challenge like this be sure all participants fairly and consistently report their activity throughout the challenge.  It sure taught me something about this unknown person.

So I finished second and won something.  The reason I say something is that Garmin informed me that my prize was backordered and should be shipped in a few weeks.  They got my address and told me they would send it once it came.  Almost six months later it’s still not here. I’m sure whoever ran the challenge long ago forgot about it.  I could write to them, but it’s not worth the hassle as I’m moving on from the Garmin Vivofit and pre-ordered a Moov.

So far the Fitbit’s the best for tracking except for falling off, but we’ll see what the Moov has to offer when it arrives in a few months.

As far as Apps, I still use Bodbot, and really like it.

 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “My Garmin Vivofit – the Good, the Bad and Lessons from a Challenge

  1. Pingback: Fitness Trackers, Not so Accurate After All | Accountable Health

  2. Pingback: Me and My Apple Watch | Accountable Health

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