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Fitbit Charge HR: A Fitness Tracker Designed For Gym Workouts

The Fitbit Charge HR is a win for the gym rat. But serious athletes may want to look elsewhere.

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Last updated: October 19, 2016

Pros: Three sizes for a comfortable fit, called ID, minimalist design, easily readable display, accurate heart rate monitor and best for gym workouts

Cons: Not fully waterproof and can irritate sensitive skin during workouts

The Fitbit Charge HR ($130) is one of the best and most well-rounded wearable fitness devices on the market. If you are looking for something to track visits to the gym, daily steps and runs, the Charge HR is a home run. If you are looking to track anything else, there might be something better on the market.

Fitbit has outfitted the Charge HR with an optical heart rate monitor, one of the biggest differences between it and the Fitbit Charge ($129) other than a standard watch band for a tighter fit. The snugness is necessary to get a good heart rate reading, but can make the Charge HR somewhat uncomfortable if you are not used to wearing a watch.

People with sensitive skin can also experience some irritation. My skin is relatively sensitive, and I found the Charge HR to become slightly uncomfortable during a workout. But I did not find it uncomfortable to sleep in.

There are also better sleep trackers out there, like the Withings Activité, but the Charge HR sufficed. Plus the device has a vibrating motor, which can help wake you up alongside a smartphone alarm.

The Fitbit Charge HR also contains a 3-axis accelerometer that gives a relatively accurate reading of your steps during your daily routine, as well as during gym workouts and runs. Because it lacks GPS tracking, it may turn off many serious runners looking to track their route without a smartphone. However, if you are used to bringing a phone along anyways, then the Charge HR can utilize your smartphone's GPS. Still, if you want GPS-accuracy in your runs, consider either the Fitbit Surge and Garmin Vivoactive.

The display is sharp and easy to read — and clear in direct sunlight — but small and only takes up a small strip of the band. There's also one button to cycle through different screens like the time and total steps.

The Fitbit Charge HR features a basic caller ID function, but not other smartphone notifications. However, it can help you determine whether a call is important enough to pause your workout, but that can become annoying if your phone rings a lot during the workday.

Unfortunately, while the Fitbit Charge is splash resistant and safe to take in the shower, the device will not survive a swim like the lower-priced Misfit Shine.

Although not perfect for cyclists, swimmers and serious runners, but is the best tracker out there for gym work. It accurately tracks different exercises and allows you to classify what you were doing within the easy-to-use mobile app. The heart rate sensor also can help you maximize a workout by ensuring that you are not working out too hard (or too little) and is well worth the $20 upcharge from the Fitbit Charge ($129).

To learn more about how to buy the right fitness tracker, check out Fitness Trackers: What You Need To Know Before You Buy.


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