Exercise, am I right? Whether you’re reading this because you genuinely love working out or because Instagram models and your love for pizza force you to exercise, one thing’s for sure: A fitness tracker that fits your needs is a necessity.
One problem: The wearable fitness market grows by the month. No longer are hardcore athletes the only ones keeping up with their calories and mileage — these babies continue to take over the lives of us regular folk more and more by the year.
And with this surge to the everyday consumer, it seems like not a day goes by without a new wearable fitness tracker hitting the market. Oh, there’s a new Fitbit (again)? There’s a fancy ring that tracks your steps and calories? Because of course, why wouldn’t there be?
We’re not complaining, though.
We all have those days where we need an extra sprinkle of motivation to get up and get going — even the biggest fitness junkies wanna stay on the couch sometimes. Plus, when you can’t tell how much working out or running is actually helping, it’s kind of hard to stay excited about the whole fitness thing.
Good news: Nothing says motivation like the perfect fitness tracker. Fitness trackers can help you slay your personal goals and prove to yourself that your hard work is actually paying off.
Fitness trackers aren’t just for fitness junkies. Tracking your calories, steps, sleep, and heart rate are features that most trackers have, and these are seriously handy when it comes to keeping track of your general health.
Our top pick for the best fitness tracker right now is the Fitbit Charge 2: No, we didn’t just pick it because it’s the name everyone knows — it’s genuinely a top-tier piece of arm candy. While Fitbit has a ton of high quality models, the Charge 2 is absolutely the best bang for your buck. It’s not the cheapest of the lot (priced at $149.95 or $119.95 on sale), but its slim, stylish look, OLED color screen, and personal cardio fitness scores on top of the traditional features make it a steal for the price. There’s a reason it’s Fitbit’s #1 best-seller, y’all.
Don’t worry, newbies — there are fitness trackers for every skill level, most of which are super simple to use without a steep learning curve. Check out our list of what’s on the market and the basics of different trackers, as well as combination fitness trackers and smartwatches.
Affordable • Real-time audio coach • Phenomenal battery life • Range of colors
No GPS • Cheap-looking design • No smartphone notifications
A perfectly low maintenance tracker to ease you into the world of exercising.
1. Moov Now
Made for training, Moov Now also shows you how to work out in proper intervals for the fastest, safest #gains. The only thing it doesn’t have is GPS — but it is waterproof with a battery life of six months, so we’ll let the GPS slide. Choose from eight colors and get yours for $59.99 .
Move reminders • Automatic workout recognition • Interchangeable bands • Range of colors
No screen • No GPS
A great general purpose tracker with virtually no learning curve.
2. Fitbit Flex 2
It tracks the usual steps, calories, and sleep, and will remind you to move if you’ve been sitting for too long, but the stand-out feature is that it’s Fitbit’s first swim-proof tracker. (It can also get call and text notifications like a smartwatch would.) Though it does benefit from SmartTrack for automatic workout recognition, it doesn’t have a screen (only uses an app) and is much less advanced than its siblings, making it a perfect first Fitbit or a tracker for kids or people who don’t want to squint to see a small screen. Get the Flex for $76.99 .
Personalized fitness scores • Heart rate monitor • Large OLED touchscreen
No GPS • Not waterproof
The mother of all Fitbits, the Charge 2 combines rare health and fitness features that we usually only see in smart watches.
3. Fitbit Charge 2
For those who have trouble staying motivated, the Charge 2’s personalized fitness score is the perfect way to track your progress and see how much you’re improving without the confusing doctor language. Plus, the battery lasts up to five days on one charge, so you’re set for a week of workouts without worrying about charging. If you want the best of all worlds, get the Charge 2 for $149.95 . (The Charge 3 has a few minor upgrades and will officially be released in October 2018 — preorder it here.)
All-day stress tracking • Always-on touchscreen • Smartphone notifications and weather updates • Decent price for all it does
No GPS • Could be more user-friendly
If you don’t care about GPS, the Vivosmart 3 offers comforting stress tracking and fitness scores for those who get pysched out easily.
4. Garmin Vivosmart 3
The Vivosmart 3 also gives a VO2 max fitness score, your fitness “age,” monitors strength training by tracking sets, reps, and rest times that can be reviewed on the app — a feature that many trackers don’t have. The Vivosmart 3 automatically syncs to your phone and uses Move IQ to know when you’ve started a workout, making the process pretty seamless. You’ll see all of that on a gorgeous color touch screen, which is always a bonus. Get the Vivosport 3 for $79 here or wait a few weeks and get the classy Vivosmart 4 here. (For runners really itching for that built-in GPS, you can snag the Vivosmart HR+ for $95.99 here.)
Phone-free music • GPS • Impressive battery life • Comes with waterproof headphones
Limited color options • No smartphone notifications
Built-in music, GPS, and stellar battery life let you leave your phone at home and exercise in peace.
5. TomTom Spark 3
Music can be stored locally on the tracker or paired via Bluetooth if you do bring your phone — except you can also set up smartphone notifications on your TomTom, so a phone is seriously not necessary. Aside from the cool built-in stuff, the TomTom Spark 3 tracks your distance, speed, calories, sleep, swimming, and can differentiate between indoor and outdoor workouts. The bundle also comes with a pair of Bluetooth headphones, because TomTom is nice like that. Get it for $234.99 here.
Unique fitted ring design • Multi-day battery life • Stores data without phone syncing • Works with Alexa
Not Android compatible • Only two colors
Complete with Alexa compatibility, the Motiv Ring is the fitness tracker for people who hate wearing fitness trackers.
6. Motiv Ring
We’re really not kidding about the 24/7 thing, by the way. Aside from being waterproof, you can pretty much ensure that your ring won’t fall off or slip and slide around during high movement activities. Before you receive your actual ring, Motiv will send you a sizing set to find your size, allowing you to choose the finger that would be most comfortable for your ring to sit on. It is slightly larger than a traditional ring, but if you’re used to wearing a ring every day anyway, you probably won’t even notice that it’s there — and it’s certainly less noticeable than an arm band fitness tracker. Get your Motiv Ring for $199.99 .
Fitness trackers that double as actual smart watches
Looking for something a little more all-encompassing? These smartwatches have all of the fitness tracking features you’re looking for, plus all of the connected capabilities of smart tech, such as phone and social media notifications.
Indoor and outdoor settings • GPS and GLONASS mapping • Intense focus on running
Pricey • Occasional confusing app navigation
Garmin has truly outdone themselves with the new-and-improved 235, featuring ultra-accurate GPS and four running settings.
7. Garmin Forerunner 235
Aside from running settings, this Amazon’s Choice tracker acts like a traditional activity tracker by counting calories, steps, and sleep, and also reminds you to move if it senses that you’ve been sitting for over an hour. Get the Forerunner 235 for $249.99 .
(Hardcore runners who are easily bothered by extra accessories on their arms should check out the : A tracker that hangs onto your shoelace and through tracking cadence, stride length, ground contact, foot strike, rate of impact, leg swing, and total shoe mileage in addition to the more traditional wearable metrics like pace, steps, and calories burned.)
Super lightweight • Spotify built in • Tracks calories eaten and burned • Personal fitness coach
Limited color options • Crappy for iPhone users • No LTE like the S3
Enjoy fitness tracking and diet tracking features as well as Spotify playback, control of smart devices, and more.
8. Samsung Gear Sport
The powerful device also falls into the smartwatch category: Enjoy receiving and responding to calls and texts, Spotify playback, real-time control of compatible smart devices like appliances, locks, and lights, and access to all of your favorite apps like Twitter or the Pear personal coaching app. This is all compiled into a compact device that actually looks like a classic round watch, and it weighs next to nothing. Get it for $249.99 .
Guided runs and in-ear coaching • LTE support • Calling and texting
Extremely pricey • Limited color options • Paid LTE gets expensive
Apples blows the competition out of the water thanks to calling, texting, in-ear coaching, and more. We’d expect nothing less from Apple.
9. Apple Watch Series 3
Though the Apple Watch does not automatically recognize that you’ve started an exercise, you can simply launch the workout app (or any other third-party app). The expected GPS, water resistance, and distance tracking are also present, and there’s actually a slightly less expensive version of this Apple Watch Series 3 that is GPS only (no LTE) . Get the Apple Watch with Nike+ for $429 .
Listen, the fact that you’re even reading this is a step in the right direction to a healthy lifestyle. These trackers won’t do the work for you, but they can at least take the “I can’t even tell if it’s working,” doubts that a lot of us having about our progress. When you can see your results paying off in the numbers and how you’re improving week to week, you’ll be more inspired than ever to crush the hell out of your fitness goals.