FITNESS

This fitness smartwatch lets you be in competition with yourself

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Called by Fitbit itself their “most versatile smartwatch yet,” the Versa 3 is an upgrade from the Versa 2 that includes new fitness and lifestyle features.

Getting fit (and staying there) often feels like being a lawyer and defending yourself against yourself. There can be so much compromise involved over what to eat for lunch or how often to workout in a week. Do the calories in a donut count if the sight of said donut makes your heart race, thereby making you burn calories anyway? Objection, your honor. She’s reaching.

In the last few months of the community quarantine, I made the conscious decision to become healthier. This is reflective of how most of the world has behaved in the long months on lockdown: although gyms and fitness studios had been forced to stay closed (today they are allowed to operate in the country at lowered capacity), downloads of health and fitness apps grew by 46% worldwide. These apps also saw a rise in daily active users, which meant that we were no longer downloading them for show, but we were actually using these apps to help us stay healthy in isolation. YouTube fitness creator Chloe Ting is one of the most followed on the platform with almost 18 million subscribers; her “Get Abs in 2 Weeks” workout challenge video has been viewed 307 million times since she uploaded it last year.

Fitness wasn’t always a priority for me, because it was hard to imagine a routine that I would enjoy. Perhaps it helped that I was stuck at home without much else to do in terms of stress and anxiety relief, and the baby steps I took eventually grew into a proper fitness routine. But they call it working out and “playing out” for a reason — it has to feel laborious somehow. While I committed to the terms I imposed, I still sought out a means to gamify the fitness experience to satiate my need for competition. Basically, I needed it to feel fun, even if it meant that I would mostly be in competition with myself.

The Fitbit Versa 3, about ₱14,790 on Lazada, came to me at a time when I was about to hit a plateau. I’m still far-off my fitness goals, but I realized that I was starting to hit a wall. Called by Fitbit itself their “most versatile smartwatch yet,” the Versa 3 is an upgrade from the Versa 2 that includes new fitness and lifestyle features.

You can also subscribe to a premium Fitbit account and get workout routines and even healthy recipe videos.

They function pretty much the same way, with similar battery lives (six days or more). The Versa 3 takes note of all your Active Zone Minutes, a term Fitbit uses to describe activities that burn three times as many calories as you do while at rest. They’re also both water resistant up to 50 meters and have the same activity trackers: calories burned, floors climbed, steps taken. The difference in the two models is that the Versa 3 now measures your pace and distance with built-in GPS, so after your walk, for example, the Fitbit app will show you your trail.

Most notable of the upgrades is the fast charging feature, which I can personally attest to. I made a habit of removing the Versa 3 whenever I’m in the shower, and by the time I’m done, it’s already fully charged. You can also take Bluetooth calls from the Versa 3, although in the few times I received calls from my smartwatch, the audio output still comes from my mobile phone.

That’s pretty much the long and short of what you will be getting from the Fitbit Versa 3. As a first time smartwatch user, it helped me define my fitness goals a little better, and push myself to do even more. I was asked to set my goals on the phone app, and showed me trends as far as my weight, calories burned, and even steps taken are throughout the week. I learned that I actually just sleep for an average of five hours a day (the app rates your breathing quality as well while you sleep.) I became more attuned to my water consumption, and I was conscious about standing up and walking every hour. (You can set your Fitbit to remind you to take a few steps throughout the day.)

When it came to working out, I gained better insights into what kind of workouts benefit me the most. The Versa 3 allows you to measure a number of exercises (from running, biking, circuit training, and more) to see if you are able to raise your heart rate in order to burn fat and actually hit peak cardio exertion. You can also subscribe to a premium Fitbit account and get workout routines and even healthy recipe videos. I found myself obsessively checking it throughout my workouts to see if I was, in fact, working out properly. If there’s anything I didn’t like, it’s that the device doesn’t have options for dance workouts. What’s up with that, Fitbit? You have golf but no zumba? (I ended up using the generic “workout” option for these kinds of tita-friendly exercises.)

What is perhaps my favorite feature in the Versa 3 is the mindfulness feature. I can sit down or lie back and allow the app to guide me through my breathing. It gently vibrates on my wrist to set the pace of my breathing, and I am able to pretend that I am a totally zen person for two minutes a day.

This is where the negotiations and competition of fitness end for me, the guarantee that I’m doing things that will ultimately make me feel better. The truth is that I actually gained weight in the week I started using the Versa 3, but when I used to be so unforgiving of myself, I studied the data on my app and remembered how much work I put out in the process. Wearing a smartwatch may not have been the precursor to these healthier habits, but it certainly helped me stay on track. It cannot, however, tell me if the donut in my hand is worth the calories. The jury’s still out, but I’ll eat it anyway.