Review: Garmin Vivofit







One of the biggest changes in the fitness industry in the last five years has been the explosion of options in wearable fitness tracking technology.  The number of companies in the market– and all of the options each of those companies offers– is really quite mind-boggling.

More than a decade ago, I was an early adopter of a wearable heart-rate monitor for running.  I used it on and off for several years, but I never felt like it was truly reliable. But now that more options have come on the market recently, I thought I might start trying some of them out so I can give better advice to my personal training clients.

Many of my clients need basic feedback, so I thought I’d start with a Garmin Vivofit.  Garmin is well-known in the fitness technology industry for making reliable, easy-to-use products.   My experience has shown this to be true.  While the Vivofit may not be super fancy, it does everything an entry-level device should do:

  • tracks steps, calories burned, and total distance travelled
  • adjusts daily goal based on previous days’ activity
  • water resistant
  • 1-year battery life
  • transfers data wirelessly to Garmin Connect
  • can pair with a heart rate monitor (sold separately) for even more feedback

The set-up for the Vivofit is simple.  (And if I’m saying that, it’s really super easy!)  Just enter your sex, age, weight, and height, and you’re ready to go.  Synching data to the Garmin Connect site (or to the app on your mobile phone) is as easy as pushing a button.  You can customize what you do with that data to your liking, using it to set goals or plan new fitness milestones.  I admit that I don’t use all the features of the Garmin Connect site.  Personally, I don’t find the social share site approach motivating, but I know millions of people do— and the software itself has useful, user-friendly features.


I do, however, find the “move bar” quite motivating– it’s a little red bar that appears after a period of inactivity, and this visual cue is surprisingly effective at getting me up and moving again.  It has been a really useful tool in illuminating patterns of inactivity that creep up over the course of my day.  Regardless of the personalized goal number of steps, moving more throughout the day is good for anyone.

Some of the shortfalls of the Vivofit are: 1) it doesn’t always track steps if my arms aren’t moving (think of pushing a shopping cart through the grocery store), 2) it tracks distance based on step count, so when I run and have a longer stride, the distance covered reading is inaccurate, 3) it has no backlight so is impossible to read the time when I wake up in the middle of the night, 4) it has no seconds indicator or stopwatch feature, so I still need another watch or timing device when I run or am training clients.  None of these issues is a deal breaker, especially for the entry-level market, but it does mean that the Vivofit isn’t a great fit for all of my needs.

In the end, if you’re interested in purchasing a piece of wearable fitness technology, do your research.  Make sure the item your considering has all of the features you like.  For someone transitioning to a more fit lifestyle who wants basic metrics and an easy-to-use interface, Garmin Vivofit fits the bill.

This post is the first in a summer series in which I will review fitness-related products.  I have not be compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.  If you have a product you’d like me to review, please contact me:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s