Why I Purchased A Fitbit Flex

I’d heard about Fitbit, the activity tracking devices that are used to promote health and track exercise, but I didn’t really know much about them until a few weeks ago.  I work for a health care organization, and they worked out some deal where employees could buy one for half price.  Intrigued, I did a little digging online and talked to a friend of the family that I had heard used one, and decided to make the purchase.

Choosing My Fitbit Model

I looked at the various options and decided to go with the Fitbit Flex. The Flex is a device that is wearable, in that it goes on your wrist, similar to a wristwatch.  This is fine for me because I stopped wearing my watch regularly a few months ago after getting tired of how fast the battery wore out, and realizing that I didn’t really use it anymore, something that I’m sure many smartphone users realize.

They have other options, both more and less expensive.  The more affordable models seemed to require the device to be clipped on to your clothing somewhere, which I did not like at all.  I knew that I would either regularly forget to clip it on, or eventually lose it…and realistically, probably both would eventually happen.  The more expensive options have additional tracking options that the Flex doesn’t have, but as I was really looking for something just to track activity, none of them stood out enough to warrant spending extra.

My Cost

The retail cost of a Flex is $99.  When I looked around, the typical cost seemed to be around $95.  I was able to purchase mine for $53.  I believe they factor in shipping costs, which is why it’s slightly over the 50% advertised price.  Still, it’s a great deal that I could not find anywhere.

Fitbit Flex Features

The Flex has a few features that are noteworthy.

  • Step Tracking – The main point of a Fitbit is to track your activity, and that’s my main usage as well.  I did not default from the standard goal of 10,000 steps.  By tapping the device, it will show you dots corresponding to 20% increments of reaching your goal, and when you hit your goal, it will buzz to let you know you’ve reached it.
  • Sleep Tracking – You can tap your Fitbit a few times before you go to sleep and again in the morning to let it know that you’re sleeping, and it will track your movements to let you know how often you woke up and how often you had restless sleep.  If you forget to tap it to let it know you’re sleeping or have woken up, you can enter your sleep time manually on the dashboard.
  • Dashboard – Speaking of the dashboard, this is where you interface on a computer to see your progress.  There’s a small USB dongle that you plug in, and just have to the software to sync your device when you’re nearby, after which you can log in to see your steps and sleep information.  You can also manually enter what you’ve eaten and drank to have it calculate your total net calories based on eating and exercise, though I have not taken advantage of this yet.
  • Mobile Sync – Your Fitbit can sync with your phone or tablet with a free app that can be downloaded.  You just need to enable Bluetooth, and your device will sync on a regular basis, or when you tell it to.  It’s cool to have the app running and walk around and see your step count update in real time.
  • Accuracy – I’ve seen varying reports on the accuracy of the Fitbit.  My intention is to use it for high level information, and I don’t expect that the usage is anywhere near 100%.  Still, when I watch it real time during a live phone sync or just look at the activities I’ve done during the day and the corresponding steps, my gut feel tells me that it’s definitely in the range to add value and provide good information.
  • Battery Charging – The Fitbit I have is advertised as holding a charge for five days. If you have it synced to a phone, you’ll get an alert when the battery is low.  It takes about 2-3 hours plugged into a USB port to recharge the device.
  • Waterproof – The device is advertised as waterproof.  So far I’ve only taken it off to charge it, and it’s had no issues.
  • Skin Compatibility – Fitbit has had issues with some devices causing reported skin rashes.  I worried about this, as I suffer from eczema and certain areas do seem prone to getting rashes more if something is touching them, but so far there have not been any changes to my wrist or surrounding areas.

Fitbit Flex Results

I’ve been getting in some good workouts at the gym, and I pretty much exclusively run on the treadmill for my workouts.  As such, I’ve been routinely hitting my 10,000 step daily goal which is the default.  In fact, if I get a good workout, and I workout first thing in the morning (which I often do), I can count on getting my Fitbit completion buzz as early as 7:00am or so.  That’s a nice start to the day!mb-2015-01-treadmill

So far, I’m very pleased with my Fitbit purchase.  I especially love it because of the great deal that I was able to get through my employer.  If I had to pay the going price, I’m not sure it’d be on my wrist right now, but if you feel the price is worth it, I would have no problems at all recommending the Fitbit Flex.

Readers, do you have any wearable technology such as a fitness tracker, Smart Watch, or otherwise? Do you have any plans to bring this technology to your life?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Switching Gyms

I’ve been doing pretty well with my exercise.  It’s been about six months since I joined a gym.  I pretty much stick to cardio and I don’t do anything that intense.  I’m not in it to get ripped or run a marathon.  I just want to stay in shape, keep my weight at a comfortable level, and stay active.

Which is why I’m thinking about switching gyms.

I joined my gym as it was one of the only ones around that fit some of my needs: Cardio, Reasonable Price, Good Location, Early Morning Hours.

I’ve been happy where I’m at, but I just found out that a new gym is opening that I think will meet my needs even more.  Planet Fitness is coming.  Yes, they of the “I lift things up and put them down” hilarious commercials.

Looking at my list


I do a mix of cardio machines.  The treadmill, the elliptical, and the bike are my big three, though I’ll do a stair machine every once in a while.  My current gym has 31 total machines.  I can always get on any kind that I want, though at least 10% of the machines seem to be ‘out of order’ at any one time.

Planet Fitness is opening and will have around 100 machines.  I stopped into the sales Find the right gym and right exercise program for you.office and while the gym space is under construction, they have aisles of cardio.  It’s their main focus, so it would be good.  I’ve read reviews of other locations all part of the same franchise, and everybody is happy with the quality and durability.  It seems like it’d be a step up to go Planet Fitness.

Reasonable Price

Right now, I’m a little over halfway through a $99 for 6 months deal, which works out to $16.50 per month.  There are no signup or annual fees.  My current gym changes their promos all the time, so if I were to renew when my membership expires, I’d probably pay $75 for another four months, or $18.75.

Planet Fitness is pretty slick.  They charge $10 per month.  There is normally a $29 startup fee, but they are knocking it down to $1 as part of the pre-grand opening.  They also charge $29 per year as an administrative fee, but they’re not charging that until June 2015, as they’d waive the first year.  Even with the $29 fee, a year averages to just under $11 per month.  So, I’d be saving money.


My current gym is a 2 mile drive from my house.  Planet Fitness would be 2.5 miles.  An extra mile round trip per day? I think I could stomach that.


I get up and am there at opening time, which is 5:30.  With Planet Fitness, that would never happen, as it’s open 24 hours a day.  Other locations show that they may cut this back, but even when they do, they usually stay open 24 hours on the weekdays and scale back on the weekends, which is fine.  I’m an early bird and I like the 24 hour thing.  There are times where if I wake up early, I’d love get up and go.  With Planet Fitness, I could.

Am I Going To Do It?

I think I’m going to do it.  The only thing holding me back is that I’m paid up until July, so if I signed up, I’d have about 6-8 weeks of overlapping membership, as I have to sign up by April 30 to take advantage of the cost breaks I outlined above.  Still, I think that it would pay for itself with the cost savings it would present.

I think a gym like Planet Fitness is great.  They cater to people who are looking to get in shape, not bodybuilders or those looking for advanced workouts.  That pretty much defines my goals and objectives to a tee, and if I can get that and save a few bucks a month, it seems like a no-brainer.

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Nurturing Competitive Discipline

Men seldom claim to be emotional, yet they make no bones about making similar claims about being competitive. The truth is, it’s hard to have one without the other.

Take the 2006 Soccer World Cup Final between France and Italy. It was the final game in a French shirt for one of France’s greatest ever players, Zinedine Zidane. He was a calm and reflective midfield general with skill in abundance. The stage was set for Zidane to end mb-201403workouthis career clutching the World Cup in triumph. Instead, he ended it walking from the field of play, dismissed by the referee for, of all things, head-butting an Italian defender, Marco Materazzi. Just for one moment Zidane, normally the most level-headed of players, let the competitive nature of the fixture get to him and his discipline evaporated. The result – disaster. France lost and Zidane’s golden career ended beneath a blackened cloud.

Stay Competitive – Stay Disciplined

The greatest talents in sports know how to maintain their discipline, even if it means they are perceived as boring. Take Ray Allen, for example, of the NBA’s Miami Heat. He’s perceived as a metronome of a player – reliable, solid and unspectacular. So dull in fact, he’s the all-time NBA leader in three-pointers and a 10-time All-Star. Allen never lets emotion get the better of him.

Injuries can also influence an athlete psychologically. After facing a serious injury, it can be difficult to return to the same form as before getting hurt. For this reason, many athletes now work with physical therapists when rehabbing an injury, as this gives them the confidence to return as strong as ever. If you are recovering from a serious injury, remember to focus on what you can control. You have control over your own body, so you can take few risks while competing. By having this discipline, you can potentially avoid additional injuries in the future.

Sport Psychology is seen as a huge deal these days. It’s not just about having the talent – it’s also about having the mental strength to apply it.

You can use discipline to give yourself a competitive advantage in your own competitive endeavors. If you’re not the sports type, why not give online poker a try?

Poker is a game of skill and managing probabilities with a little fortune thrown in. Here are a few tips that should help you maintain your competitive discipline whilst playing:

  • Focus on what you can control, not on what you can’t. In poker, this is your bankroll. Work out a monthly amount that you can afford to lose, and stick to it. Only ever gamble with ten percent of your bankroll at any one time. Never play with money you can’t afford to lose.
  • Stay relaxed. If you feel that your emotions are beginning to influence your decision-making, walk away from the table and do something else. Come back when you feel calmer.
  • Develop routines. Play at the same time each day where you’re likely to remain undisturbed. External annoyances will always threaten your concentration.

Developing focus takes time, effort and discipline. A disciplined mind will always make the least irrational decisions. Dedicating time to developing your focus and discipline will bring its own rewards, and help you in many walks of life, including some avenues you would not have previously thought of.

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My First Two Weeks At The Gym

Several weeks ago, I wrote about how I was considering a gym membership.  Well, I decided to take the plunge and have been going for two weeks now.  The first week was on a trial membership, and last week was my first full week on the paid membership that I purchased.

Here are a few things that went into the decision to purchase and how it’s gone so far:


I checked around and after immediately eliminating the high priced options (up to $50 per month, yikes) I was left with two different pricing plans.

  1. Higher monthly cost, no activation fee – The gym I was looking at has a current price of $90 for four months, or $22.50 per month.  There are no setup or activation fees.  After four months, I can sign up again at that price.  Or better.  If the price at that time is better, I can sign up at a better rate.  I can also add on months to my current membership if they decide to offer a better deal at any point in between (and the lady tipped me off that they have some pretty sweet Black Friday deals).
  2. Lower monthly cost, but activation fees – The other gym I looked at can be joined for $15 per month, which seems pretty good, except that you have to pay $79 up front to activate your membership.  If you average this cost out over a year, you end up paying roughly $21.50 per month, which is pretty much the same price.  But, the activation fee is unappealing to me for two reasons.  First, that’s a lot to pay up front.  Second, it just annoys me.  The reason they have activation fees is because if you decide to stop your membership at any point, you’ll be on the hook to pay the activation fee if you ever decide to re-join.  I’m guessing that gyms use this as a way to keep people from quitting.  It just annoys me.

mb-201309treadmillSo, I chose the first option. I think that the $22.50 per month that I’m paying is pretty good and I have a feeling that I can get better pricing down the line.  And, as a follow-up to another post I did where I was hoping to get last month’s price of $75, I asked politely and was politely told that they could not give me that price.  So, for the difference of less than $4 per month, I was not too worried.  It was worth a shot!


I set some goals as to what I wanted to accomplish:

  1. Reverse some weight gain – Over the course of a couple of years, I made some small changes that led me to lose 18 pounds.  This was awesome, but after hitting that low weight, I started adding a little bit here and there, until I’d cut into my progress by half.  I simply want to reverse the decline and closer to the weight I was at before I added the nine pounds back in.
  2. Improve my cholesterol – Since they started measuring, I’ve always had borderline high cholesterol.  The last time I went my LDL (bad cholesterol) was higher than it should be and my HDL (good cholesterol) was technically acceptable, but at the low end of the acceptable range.  I’d like to improve both of these numbers and exercise is believed to help this.
  3. Spillover into better health – If I’m exercising I tend to make better choices.  If I’m reaching for a snack and it’s on a day that I’ve exercised, I’ll tend to think twice about it, often either deciding against it or at least taking a smaller portion.  So, I figure that even on days when I burn off 300-400 calories, I might avoid 200 or so more just in making better decisions.  This helps with both goals above.
  4. Feel better – I end up feeling better throughout the day, and also I’d like to just feel in better shape.
  5. Rest better – Even though I am getting the same or maybe even slightly less sleep (see the routine section below), I find that I rest much better.  If I wake up, I can normally fall right back asleep, and I just feel more rested, as I’m guessing that my body is doing a better job at resting after being worn out.


My prior routine had me getting up around 5:40, going downstairs to feed the cat, go back up to shave, shower, and get ready.  I’d generally leave the house around 6:20 and end up at work about 6:30.  Since my normal start time is around 7:00 (I’m not on a fixed schedule), I was actually giving my employer quite a bit of extra time.

So, the new schedule has me getting up earlier, about 5:05 (this is actually closer to the time I was getting up until a couple of months ago when I had to wake up to give the other cat–now deceased–some medicine.  So this wasn’t much of an adjustment).  I shave, go downstairs, feed the cat, stretch, and leave around 5:25.  The gym opens at 5:30 and that’s around when I get there.  I exercise for about 45 minutes, collect my stuff and stretch, and I’m back at home around 6:25.  I shower and get dressed, then hop back to work, and I’m still there no later than 6:50.

So far, it’s worked.


Right now, I’m doing three days a week on the treadmill (around 25-30 minutes at 5.0-5.2 MPH with warm up and cool down on either side), and two days a week on a weight circuit, where I do one set on 12 different machines one after another with little rest in between, then go back and do another set, with a few minutes walking on the treadmill before, in between sets, and after.  The idea is basically to keep your body working on a low level for the entire time.


I’m still working on getting my stretching done right.  Last Friday was the first day that I didn’t feel tightness in my calves after working out, so I think I got the stretching right for that.  I do have to keep tabs on my knees, as I’ve had joint pain in the past when I’ve used the treadmill, plus I have a family history of knee problems.  If that returns and is prohibitive, I might have to switch to the elliptical, but I like the treadmill the best, and I’m hoping to be able to stick with that as my primary cardio machine for now.


So far, I’ve lost 2 pounds from before I started.  I know that weight flucuates, so I’m really going to look at this by month, but I still track it weekly just to get some inputs on progress.  Going the right direction at the beginning is great.


My only regret is not starting up sooner when I had initially started kicking the idea around.  Actually what prompted me was a Groupon deal at another gym, and once I started thinking about it, I realized that I really wanted to get back in an exercise routine.

Next Steps

The plan is to post regular updates, with the thought process being that I’ll hold myself accountable.  My biggest risk is falling out of the routine, and I know that can happen after missing even one day, so the challenge will be after I inevitably get sick or something and miss time, to get right back into it.

How is your exercise routine going?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.