Choosing Wearable Tech: Fitbit vs. Garmin

Around the world, sports teams and individual pros are taking advantage of wearable technology in order to optimize their training and recovery programs. The average sports fan, by association, has also found themselves confronting more sports data than ever.

Usually, these data points are announced in a live game broadcast or displayed on-screen to augment the live game. Since visual data application has become more standardized, more fans have developed an interest in tallying performance stats.

Typically, performance stats are the domain of professional sports leagues and the pundits that cover them. For the most part, a sports fan will interact with hard stats only when they’re interested in winning a fantasy league or taking advantage of free bets from top sportsbooks.

In the case of fantasy leagues, knowing RBI and BA stats for pitchers like Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw will help a fan make lean decisions when building their roster. In the case of free bets, analyzing historical data could help a bettor win big on a dark horse, like the Suns in this year’s NBA Finals.

As such, sports fans have turned their eye toward data points to make predictions—but those who are also athletes don’t just want to apply probabilities when building a fantasy league or placing a money line bet. They want to test themselves and see what hard data can tell them about their own fitness readiness.

A smartwatch is a great compromise on the pricey performance analytics equipment in use by top franchises, while also delivering similar stats. But when it comes to wearable technology for the everyday exerciser, which company has produced the best product — Garmin or Fitbit?

Fitbit the Early Winner in Wearable Tech

In 2014, Fitbit was one of the very first commercial wearable tech devices available to the public. The original product was rudimentary compared to modern smartwatches; they tracked activity, synced to other devices, and had an associated program that allowed wearers to track their movements and diet, as well as compare these to other Fitbit users.

Over the years, the Fitbit evolved to incorporate other features that allowed users to track their overall wellbeing. This includes details like levels of water intake and quantity of sleep. The success of the watch attracted attention from major brands, such as Adidas, which released an Ionic edition in 2018.

Garmin Delivers on Tracking

Though Fitbit became a hit with casual fitness buffs and those looking to kickstart their exercise routine, Garmin originally released its first ‘Forerunner’ tracking watch in 2003, with extensive improvements coming three years later. 

Garmin, a recognized brand in GPS directions, used its platform to launch wristwatch tracking devices that could be used to gauge distance in relation to fitness goals. Products like the Vivofit and Vivosmart allowed users to track heart rate, steps, stairs, sleep, and other hard data 

Later editions, such as the Fenix watches, were designed with rugged sports in mind. Those comparing Fitbit to Garmin visually will notice Garmin is industrial and utilitarian, while Fitbit blends in with most outfits. 

Outdoors-friendly editions like the Fenix adapts their data acquisition techniques according to what sport an athlete is competing in. For example, someone completing a triathlon with a Garmin product will have tailored information related to their running, swimming, and cycling performances.

Variations in Usage

The profiles above highlight the main difference between Fitbit and Garmin products: the goals of the users. Neither is ‘better’ than the other (though it could be argued that Garmin products use more advanced technology); instead, they serve different purposes.

Fitbit is ideal for those beginning an exercise journey with health in mind. The product pairs with a software program that lets users track their fitness and develop overarching wellness goals. There are social functions, as well, that let users work with other Fitbit wearers.

Garmin products, on the other hand, are incredibly robust and provide a wide range of data points that athletes can work through. There are around thirty sports watches available for consumers, each of which is tailored for a unique and adventurous athlete. 

A Fitbit covers the basics and lets someone build out their fitness goals, while Garmin will help the seasoned athlete take their training to the next level. With its range of functions, Garmin requires a bit more battery life, while Fitbits are easier to charge throughout the day and don’t experience quite as much wear and tear.

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