About two years ago, I was looking for a GPS watch option. I was working a full time job and wanted something to hold me accountable and give me an accurate snapshot of my activity level. I had been very active all my life, so I found that this new, slower pace made it very difficult for me to manage and maintain my weight. I was given a FitBit Blaze (which I chose) as a gift and it really was a game changer. I realized that there were some days where I was only walking 500 steps (tell me about it). It quickly made me get off my booty and helped me make certain choices to enable a healthier lifestyle all around – but that comes with most GPS watches that measure your steps, heart rate and calories. Before we get to the reasoning behind my Garmin decision, I want to cover a few topics about the FitBit.
Why did I choose a FitBit Blaze?
To be completely honest, it’s because it looked pretty and because of the interchangeable wristbands. I also read that it was a pretty good watch for every day use and it had many customizable options. Is it sleek? Yes. Can you customize it to look less like a “sports watch” and more like a lifestyle watch? Yes. I wanted something I could wear at a business meeting without looking like I just finished a 10K. I have also always been into running and have always wanted a GPS watch to be able to run without my phone and not have to run a set course.
Did I like it?
Hell yes. This was my first ever GPS watch, so by all means I was astounded at the fact that I could know my resting heart rate, the amount of calories that I burnt and the number of steps that I took just by looking at my wrist. At the time, I also had no idea what I should've been eating. I used the FitBit and My Fitness Pal Apps for a while to check out what my consumption should look like on a regular day, and once I got a better idea about what I should be eating, I stopped logging so frequently. I always ran with my phone, shorter distances and wasn’t too worried about hitting exact mileage. I just wanted to get a good workout in.
What features did I actually use?
I guess we can start first by talking about the features I didn’t use. I never used the “relax” meditation feature. I never used the “FitStar” workout guides on the watch. I used all of the “exercise” workout recording features regularly, as well as the countdown and timer. I looked regularly at my heart rate and sleeping patterns, along with the calories I burnt for the day and the steps I took. I also really liked that it gives you active goals per hour per week and sends you a report of what your month looked like versus the last one.
What made me start looking for a new watch?
If I would forget to start my watch while doing a workout, it would never accurately record the amount of calories that I was spending. Even if it was a crazy, intense spinning class where I knew I exerted a minimum of 300 calories (normally I burn 400-500), it would read 150. In addition to this, the GPS really stopped working for me because I realized how inaccurate it was. I started running again and met with a friend who had a FitBit as well. Her watch was even more off. We would run with our phones on and my Strava app open in order to see if they were actually accurate. Mine was about half a mile off (if you are a runner, you know how torturous an extra half a mile could be), and hers was like 1.5 miles off. When trying to hit a specific pace, you can only imagine how frustrating this can be. I can say it was more accurate when I was running with my phone on me and the FitBit app open and connected, but sometimes I didn’t want to run with my huge phone on me… especially not when I wanted to go fast.
I started to do tempo runs at set paces (Vague example – running 5 miles with a 2 minute push at 7:00 pace at the start of the mile). When I would flick my wrist up to check my pace, my watch would not turn on; I had to reach over while running fast to get it to show me my stats. The FitBit only shows you one interface at a time with one measurement. This means you can only either see your total run time, total mileage, split time, current time, calories, etc. Only one measurement at a time. That means that while you are running you have to physically reach over and click down multiple times to find what you are looking for over and over again. As you can imagine, running fast with no hands really slows you down. Not to mention that I do not have too much finger control while trying to run fast, so I would obviously click an extra time and pass what I was looking for causing me to have to click another like 5-6 times to get it back, all while trying to hit a pace.
What finally did it for me was the “current pace” option. It was beyond off, so lagged, with phone on or without. It would tell me I was running at 9:50 pace when I was legitimately sprinting with all my might and was clearly under 7:30 pace. That’s a big difference and it was completely torturous and mentally draining to have to try to do such challenging workouts and working so hard to not see what I was actually running. So I invested.
Why did I choose the Garmin Forerunner 235?
Because it was highly recommended by every runner I spoke to. I also read multiple reviews and sites stating that it was “the best running watch to date; ” I was honestly sold. I mean, at this point, as long as the GPS was accurate, showed an accurate “current pace” option, measured my heart rate, and recorded the amount of calories I burned in a day, I was going for it. I was always against Garmins because every single watch I had seen in the past looked ugly in my opinion. I don’t like bright colors on my watches and, like I said, I wanted something sleek. I saw the Garmin Forerunner 235 in black and gray, and was like “I could do that.” The face is actually very large and modern, and the band is comfortable, sleek, and interchangeable. I haven’t dabbled too much into the band options, but I saw a few “fake leather” or flat band options that looked very nice and could easily transform it into a lifestyle watch.
I first ordered a certified refurbished watch for $200.00 on Amazon Prime, but the delivery date was incorrect when I ordered it and the site said it would not arrive for a month. Since I was on a time crunch for my marathon training, I decided to purchase a new one instead from the Military Exchange since it was tax-free and price matched to the lowest price. I paid around $300.00 and walked away with my watch. Yes it was an investment, but it was the best investment that I have made in a while. This watch cost about $120.00 more than the FitBit, but if you can find it certified refurbished from Amazon, then it would only be a $20.00 difference for a bomb watch.
Why did I love it?
It is so accurate, surprisingly sleek and easy to read. I no longer have to worry about having my phone on me. It is strictly a running watch; it’s as accurate as a daily GPS watch is going to get. It syncs and is ready to go within seconds. I can upload my workouts on the connect app before my training and no longer have to worry about counting when I run. The watch actually beeps to notify me when to start my push, when my recovery starts, when my recover is over, when my pace is too fast, and when I finish. It’s like a running coach on your arm. The current pace option is so accurate, and I can look at that option without having to click through my watch 6 times and print all at once. While running the watch is so easy to read and hyper sensitive; when I flip my wrist, I can actually see without having to bring my other arm around – life changing. It also detects when I teach my Flywheel classes and uploads the calories I burnt as “active calories.” I can still control my music when I run, even though it is less accessible, I have access to my heart rate, daily steps, calories, etc.
The only thing I do like better about the FitBit is the readability of the app. The Garmin Connect app is a bit less user friendly than the FitBit app. I’m guessing I may get more used to navigating this in the future and be able to access it better, but the FitBit app does feel more like a lifestyle app whereas the Garmin Connect app is more of a performance focused app.
I ditched my FitBit Blaze for a Garmin Forerunner 235, and I am the happiest girl about it. Don’t get me wrong: I loved the Blaze as a starter watch. It served it’s purpose to get me moving, and I would recommend it for people who are not too active. But if you care about the accuracy of your training and watch, the Forerunner 235 is the way to go.