The 5 best Fitbit trackers and smartwatches to improve your health and fitness

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • All of Fitbit’s fitness wearables track steps, workouts, and sleep patterns, often automatically.
  • Its devices also give insight into stress levels, health habits, and routines.
  • We compared every current Fitbit for the best in the lineup, from smartwatches to basic trackers.
  • Our top pick, the Versa 3, has all the smartwatch basics plus built-in GPS, a huge display, and a long battery life.

A fitness tracker or smartwatch is an incredible tool to help you pay more attention to patterns in your health, get serious about fitness training, or even just increase your daily step count.

One of the brands at the forefront of the industry is Fitbit, a company whose wearables track everything from daily steps and workout pace, to sleep patterns and stress levels. A Fitbit can help you better understand when you to push yourself more in a workout, when your stress levels are too high and you need to take a moment to decompress, or when that fatigue or irritability you feel is actually the result of poor sleep quality.

As an avid runner, personal trainer, and fitness journalist, I’ve tested more fitness trackers than I can count, even before they became a staple on most people’s wrists. My first tracker, the Fitbit Flex, would light up with just a few red dots to notify me that I’d hit my step goal for the day. At the time, this was revolutionary information – and I loved it. Since, I’ve tried countless smartwatches and fitness trackers from brands like Apple, Garmin, and Polar.

Over the past several months, I’ve tested out the latest in Fitbit’s current lineup. My experience using them on runs, hikes, running errands around town, and even sleeping can hopefully help you decide what fits best with your lifestyle and which may be able to help you reach your own fitness and health goals.

At the bottom of this guide, I’ve also included some helpful insight into how to shop for a Fitbit, as well as the testing methodology I used for narrowing down which models ultimately made the cut.

If you’re deciding which is the best Fitbit to buy, here’s a quick breakdown of the most mainstream contenders:

Fitbit Versa 3

Fitbit Versa 2

Fitbit Inspire 2

Our review

Best overall

Best budget smartwatch

Best for the basics

Average price

$230

$180

$100

Battery Life

6 days

6 days

10 days

Features

  • Automatic activity tracking
  • 20 exercise modes
  • Sleep tracking
  • Water-resistant up to 50m
  • Built-in GPS
  • Built-in music storage
  • Large display for mindful minutes
  • Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant connection
  • Automatic activity tracking
  • 15 exercise modes
  • Sleep tracking
  • Water-resistant up to 50m
  • Large display for mindful minutes
  • Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant connection
  • Automatic activity tracking
  • 20 exercise modes
  • Sleep tracking
  • Water-resistant up to 50m

Drawbacks

  • Watch band can stick
  • Phone sync can take time
  • No built-in GPS or music storage
  • Slightly less modern display compared to Versa 3
  • No built-in GPS or music storage
  • Smaller screen

Still have questions about which Fitbit you should buy? Check out the more in-depth reviews below, along with a few other options for different needs.

Which is the best Fitbit to buy?

Best Fitbit overall

Fitbit Versa

With automatic activity tracking and a huge screen for both mid-run stats and the relax app, the Versa 3 has nearly all the perks of the Fitbit line at a not-totally-absurd price point and with a stylish design. 

Pros: Automatic activity and sleep tracking, in-depth exercise and sleep stats, 24/7 heart rate tracking, heart rate zones, built-in GPS, water resistant up to 50 meters, oxygen saturation reading, mindful minutes, battery life

Cons: Occasionally uncomfortable, sometimes needs to be manually synced

The Versa 3 stands out for its bright, colorful face and big display that clearly shows any stats. There are a lot of pros to this watch:

During a run or bike ride, the large display is especially great for quick glances at your pace in real time as you move. You can also easily check other stats — total time, average pace, heart rate zones — just by tapping the watch face, even mid-activity. The device buzzes to let you know when you’ve switched between fat burn, cardio, or peak zones. 

In the Fitbit app, you can see the complete overview of your cardio numbers, including time spent in those various heart rate zones, active zone minutes, average, minimum, and maximum heart rate, calories burned, and steps taken. With all this data, the Fitbit also determines your VO2max, the top marker of fitness level.

The Versa 3 has built-in GPS, so you can also go for a run or walk without your phone, which I particularly love to unplug and focus on your steps without losing the data behind how many I got in today.

The Versa 3 also has automatic activity tracking, which is such a nice feature when you forget to hit start on your runs. In addition to straight cardio workouts, you also have easy shortcuts to tracking bootcamp, Pilates, yoga, circuit training, and weight workouts. 

The sleep tracking on the Versa 3 also stands out among other devices in the line, as it reveals your time awake, in REM, deep sleep, and light sleep, plus the percent of time you spend below resting heart rate (aka “restoration”). All these stats lead to an overall sleep score that makes it easy to see the quality of your sleep.

You also get health-promoting tips based on sleep and activity, like when the watch told me I spend more minutes in deep sleep on days my step count hits more than 11,000 (fascinating!).

The final thing worth mentioning about Fitbit, in general, is the Relax app. This comes on each watch, but it’s best on the Versa 3 because you just have to press play and it gives you a pretty visual the Versa’s large screen. You then just follow along for deep inhales and exhales. You can check the mindfulness tap on the Fitbit phone app to see what your starting and ending heart rate is, as well as log how you’re feeling from very calm to very stressed.

The Versa 3 (as well as the Sense) will connect to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to help you check off errands or set reminders, without your computer or phone. You can even pay through the watch.

Lastly, you can control music from Spotify, Pandora, or Deezer, and even answer calls right on the watch face. If you have an Android, you can send voice-to-text responses, too. 

The only big downfall to the Versa (and the Sense) is that sometimes the watch band stuck to my skin — especially at night or when I didn’t dry it off after a workout. I do have sensitive skin, but it left a mark at one point, which went away quickly.

Also, because I close all the apps on my phone pretty often, sometimes I’d need to manually sync the watch to the phone app to see my full list of stats. This sometimes took longer than I wanted it to, especially after software updates.

Lastly, this is certainly not the cheapest watch on our list, but it still comes in below competitor models like the Apple Watch.

Best for monitoring health

Fitbit Sense

The Sense smartwatch has a ton of added features, focusing on heart health and stress management, giving you a more holistic look at your well-being. 

Pros: Automatic activity and sleep tracking, in-depth exercise and sleep stats, 24/7 heart rate tracking, heart rate zones, built-in GPS, water resistant up to 50 meters, oxygen saturation reading, mindful minutes, EDA scan, ECG readings, stress management score

Cons: Expensive

The Sense offers a more complete picture of your health, tracking not just your physical activity but also your mental state. 

For starters, the Sense offers automatic exercise and sleep tracking, and the stats that come with those readings. 

More excitingly, this smartwatch offers electrodermal activity (EDA) readings. This is a measurement of tiny electrical changes on the skin which is meant to indicate your stress levels. To get a reading, you open the EDA scan app on the watch, hold your palm on the screen, and then do a mindfulness session as it reads your EDA. After, the watch will tell you how many EDA responses it calculated (fewer means you were calm), plus your starting and ending heart rate. It gives you an option to log how you’re feeling (calm or stressed), too. 

Using those EDA readings, heart rate data, sleep patterns, and your exercise for the day, the Sense will also give you a stress management score. I was surprised by how low my score was when I actually felt stressed, but I chalk that up to a balance of physical activity and healthy amount of sleep. 

Lastly, the Sense also reads your blood oxygen levels at night and can act as an electrocardiogram (ECG) reader with the accompanying app. This means with the touch of the screen, the watch analyzes your heart rate and looks for atrial fibrillation (or AFib, which shows an irregular heart contraction and can signal a major health issue).  

The less flashy but super useful features including the ability to answer calls via Bluetooth, sync your calendar, pair the watch with Alexa or Google Assistant, and pay through your watch.

To get all these features, you do have to pay a rather hefty price, and it can take some time to add things like EDA scanning to your regular health routine. But if you’re trying to seriously clean up your overall health or want accountability to stay on track, the Sense’s many features are worth the price.

Best for tracking fitness

Fitbit Charge 4

The Charge 4 hits a budget-friendly price point while offering stellar activity tracking in a smaller footprint than a smartwatch. 

Pros: Automatic activity and sleep tracking, in-depth exercise and sleep stats, 24/7 heart rate tracking, heart rate zones, built-in GPS, water resistant up to 50 meters, mindful minutes, slim design, long battery life

Cons: Black-and-white display, smaller screen, no music storage

If you want a tracker to record your workouts and daily movement with a few nice-to-haves, but you don’t care about fancy features like a big, colorful screen; answering calls via your watch; or connecting with Alexa or Google Assistant, then the Charge 4 is your match. 

This tracker records and displays you all the stats you want from your workout: current and average exercise pace, distance, heart rate zones, total time, steps taken, and calories burned. Within the Fitbit app, you can also see a map of your run, complete with intensity zones showing where your heart rate climbed highest and dipped lowest. 

The Charge 4 has built-in GPS, so you can run without your smartphone if you want your hands free or the battery is low, which is rarer for a tracker this small.

You also still have the option to sync your calendar and get alerts on events, plus you can read text messages and see when you’re getting calls. The Charge 4 also comes with access to the Relax app for two minutes of deep breathing with dots to follow for each inhale and exhale instead of a video. This device also has Fitbit’s in-depth sleep tracking.

The battery life on the Charge 4 is longer than either Versas or the Sense. The design is smaller and takes up less space around your wrist, which is nice for more petite people. 

However, that also makes the screen smaller for reading and navigating, which can be a huge drawback for some. 

Best budget Fitbit

Fitbit Inspire 2

If you want a straightforward activity tracker to tell you how much you’ve moved today and how good of a workout you got, the Inspire 2 offers the best of Fitbit’s basic features at under $100.

Pros: Automatic activity and sleep tracking, in-depth exercise and sleep stats, 24/7 heart rate tracking, heart rate zones, water resistant up to 50 meters, mindful minutes, slim design, battery life

Cons: No built-in GPS, smaller screen

This mini-sized watch has the best of Fitbit’s signature features, including automatic sleep and activity tracking, constant heart rate tracking, and mindfulness encouragement via the Relax app. Better yet, it has the longest battery life of all the Fitbits — and it’s under $100. 

On the Inspire 2, you can get smartphone notifications like calendar alerts, texts, and calls (though you can’t answer the phone on the watch).

The slim design is nice for people who aren’t used to something on their wrist, and the minimalist display, while small and harder to read for some people, makes it easy to see what’s important without being inundated with stats and info.

The biggest downfall is that you need your phone every time you head out for a walk or run in order to track mileage and other stats. But that’s not even a huge concession for most people.

Best budget smartwatch

Fitbit Versa 2

If you want the bigger screen of the Versa 3 and the Sense but don’t need to answer calls from your watch or have a built-in GPS, the Versa 2 is a fabulous option to save a little money ($50).

Pros: Cheaper than the Versa 3 or Sense, automatic activity and sleep tracking, in-depth exercise and sleep stats, 24/7 heart rate tracking, heart rate zones, water resistant up to 50 meters, mindful minutes, long battery life

Cons: no built-in GPS, music storage only works with Deezer and Pandora’s premium service

The Versa 2 has the big, bright screen of Fitbit’s leading smartwatch models (i.g., Versa 3 and Sense), albeit with a little less modern-looking display (though the clock face and straps are all customizable).

It automatically tracks activity and sleep, offers a sleep score, has 24/7 heart rate tracking, and offers guided breathing exercises. It displays real-time pace and distance when you’re on the move. The Versa 2 has 15 exercise modes to record, which is 5 less than the newer models, but still includes all the biggies like running, biking, hiking, swimming, weights, and bootcamp. 

You can connect the watch to Amazon Alexa and control music via apps like Spotify. You also get phone notifications like texts and calls (you can’t answer calls through the watch, though you can use voice replies to texts) and can pay with the watch.

The major thing you’re giving up by opting for the older model is built-in GPS. That means you’ll need your phone with you when you go out for a run, walk, bike ride, or hike. But realistically, most of us take our phones with us running for safety or communication, so this might not be as big of a deal-breaker as it sounds. Plus, built-in GPS drains your battery faster, so you’ll score a longer battery life.

What we’re looking forward to testing

Fitbit Luxe: Fitbit recently announced a new fashion-forward fitness tracker to its lineup, the Luxe. The device is about the size of the Charge 4, but with sleek metal finishes and luxe wrist bands, and the more advanced features of the Versa 3. The device is currently on pre-order and will ship this spring. Our tech team will be testing the device, so check back for updates on how it compares to its predescessors.

How to shop for a Fitbit

Fitbit was one of the first brands in the fitness tracking-space when it came out with its step counter. Since then, its devices have evolved with the needs of its customer base, allowing it to maintain one of the top spots in a growing market of fitness trackers and smartwatches. There are good options from other brands like Suunto, Apple, and Garmin but Fitbit continues to deliver high-quality products that excel in a few key areas:

User-friendly features

Ease-of-use is everything when it comes to any technology, but especially a device you intend to use every day. Fitbit’s found success as a brand thanks to its easy-to-use interfaces and superior activity and sleep tracking. 

What makes Fitbit such a successful brand — and one worth the money — is that all its devices, no matter the price point or type (tracker versus smartwatch), come with all the foundational features you want in a health and fitness tracker. This includes the ability to automatically track sleep and activity, which is the best thing about the brand, in my opinion.

Then, all the models track pace, distance, and calories burned during your workouts, and calculate your heart rate training zones, including fat burn, cardio, and peak. For sleep, you not only get the total hours you slept, but the time you spent in deep and REM sleep, plus the percentage of time you spent below your resting heart rate. 

With some models, these stats are easier to access than others — namely, the Sense, Versa 2, and Versa and 3 because their larger screens are easier to read at a glance. But even with the smaller, more narrow faces of the Charge 4, the numbers are very large which is really nice to have. The Inspire 2 is definitely the hardest to glace stats quickly off of.

The Fitbit app itself, accessed via your phone, is easy to navigate and clearly displays steps, miles, active zone minutes, daily calorie burn, mindfulness days, exercise, and activity per hour. It also reminders you to take 250 steps per hour. Additionally, you can track your menstrual cycle, food and water intake, and weight (though these require more manual entries). 

Easy-access add-on features

Fitbit now also offers a Premium membership, through which you get access to guided meditations, video workouts, goal setting and challenges, and more in-depth health insights, particularly for your blood oxygen level readings, heart rate variability, and breathing rate. 

All of these features are accessed through the Fitbit app, so this is mostly just a plus for Fitbit as a brand. However, most of the new Fitbit devices come with a complimentary free trial, after which it’s $10/month or $80/year, and the upgrade unlocks special features for some devices. The Sense, for example, includes a six-month free trial of Premium, which also offers special mindfulness and mediation features through the watch’s special electrodermal activity sensor. The Inspire 2 comes with a year-long free trial. The Versa 3, Versa 2, and Charge 4 all come with a 3-month free trial.

Superior battery life

Each Fitbit in the line has top-notch battery life, lasting days even with auto-activity and auto-sleep tracking turned on, so you don’t have to worry about charging it every night. 

Officially, the battery for all Fitbits featured last from six days up to 10 days, depending on the device and your usage. In my experience, the Versa 2, Versa 3, and Sense last an average of six days on one charge, the Charge 4 for seven days, and the Inspire 2 a whopping 10 days.

Versatile customization options

For starters, there’s the devices themselves: the Fitbit line is a range of smartwatches and other wearables, all with different features and price points, so you can choose the one that best fits your style and health goals. 

Then, Fitbit offers plenty of options to customize the look of your device. Each watch or tracker comes with a basic band, but all have different colors and material bands you can purchase for customization, from stainless steel mesh for a professional look to expressive prints to more breathable sports bands. The only watch on our list that doesn’t offer a sport-specific band is the Inspire 2.

You can also customize the watch faces, both for aesthetics and readability, and to personalize shortcuts on the devices and what’s displayed on the main app page. The Sense and Versa 3 have the most options for watch faces; you can even download third-party designs or use your own photos, which you can’t do with the other models.

How I tested

In addition to testing past iterations of Fitbit trackers and smartwatches when they were launched, I tested each on the list below for several days (some weeks, even) wearing them 24/7 in most cases. I wore each during different types of workouts, from runs and walks to strength sets and yoga. I also wore the trackers to bed and for mindfulness sessions. Here are the key features I looked for when testing:

Workout tracking

To successfully record stats during a workout and easily check these as you go, it’s important that a watch clearly displays numbers, and quickly and continuously connects to the GPS, particularly if it’s built into the watch. I judged the trackers and watches on whether I could easily see my current pace, distance, and time, and if I had quick access to see other metrics like average pace and heart rate. 

Additionally, I ran another fitness tracking app on my phone to test the accuracy of the watch’s distance and pace. For every Fitbit featured, the numbers were always relatively close (and within the normal range you’d find if you compared almost any other fitness tracker). 

Because Fitbit offers automatic tracking, I also did a few workouts without manually pressing the start button to confirm that it picked up my movement, which it almost always did. 

Tracking and comfort while sleeping

I wore each of these watches and trackers to bed to test the automatic sleep tracking. I checked these stats in the morning to make sure it recorded my time in bed and wake-up times throughout the night. I also wore the devices when occasionally taking naps throughout the day, which they also picked up on. 

The devices needed to be comfortable enough to wear all night in order to get those stats, too. While the bands occasionally stuck to my skin if I got sweaty at night, it never disturbed my sleep — I only ever noticed this after waking up. 

Battery life

I tested the battery life of each Fitbit by charging it to 100% battery and wearing it through workouts, nights of sleep, and throughout the day to see how long each would last. They all surprised me, too — the life lasted even after several workouts, including those using the built-in GPS (which typically drains batteries quickly). The Inspire 2 was the most impressive for battery life. 

App usability

One huge perk of Fitbit is the built-in stress-reducing apps, so how easy these were to use was a key part of testing. I tried Fitbit’s mindfulness program, the Relax app, on all devices, and the EDA scan app on the Sense, which contributes to stress management numbers. I looked for ease of use, visuals, and the stats provided after recording a mindfulness session, like changes in heart rate. 

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This $2,200 rowing machine is poised to be the Peloton of at-home rowers – here’s why it’s worth the investment

Rower_Model_838_r2 copy

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Hydrow is an at-home rowing machine that offers live and on-demand workout classes, not unlike Peloton.
  • Though expensive at $2,245, it’s a durable rower that delivers an engaging, full-body cardio workout.
  • I tried Hydrow and was impressed at everything it offered and how motivating and fun it was to use.

The popularity of interactive at-home workout machines continues to grow with brands like Peloton and NordicTrack leading the charge. Though similar at-home products have been around for years, advancements in the space have allowed these machines to be highly effective workout tools and more widely accessible.

Take the above-mentioned Peloton, for example. What started as a simple group cycling class seven years ago has since expanded into an at-home stationary bike outfit with highly interactive videos and classes. Put plainly, it’s revolutionized our relationship with the stationary bike – and the startup is now estimated to be worth $4 billion.

But one nitpick some have with these bikes is how the machines tend to neglect your upper body. This is where the Hydrow Rowing Machine comes in, an at-home rower poised to become the Peloton of rowing.

Unlike cycling, rowing is said to engage 86% of your muscles. With this $2,200 at-home unit, you can participate in live or on-demand rowing classes led by world-class athletes, all in the comfort of your living room.

Curious about its benefits, I tried Hydrow for a month. Here’s what I thought of the experience and if the $2,245 price tag is worth the investment.

Specs

Hydrow 4

The Hydrow is an 86-inch-long by 25-inch-wide rowing machine featuring an easily accessible 22-inch HD touchscreen mounted on the front. The monitor is sweatproof and features Hi-Fi speakers, a two-megapixel camera, a built-in microphone, USB 2.0 connection, and both Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities.

Here are a few other important specs:

  • Aluminum and steel frame with a flat anthracite polymer body
  • Soft rubberized feet to protect floors
  • Low-stress handle grip with ergonomic design
  • 1920 by 1080 Full HD screen resolution
  • Over 500 pre-recorded river and studio rowing sessions
  • Four types of rowing videos: Live Rowing, Rows on Demand, Serene River Rowing, Whole Body Fitness
  • Quiet, electromagnetic resistance that adjusts 240 times per second
  • Heart rate monitoring
  • 10-roller seat roller system facilitating a smooth operation
  • 25-degree monitor pivot in each direction
  • 18-month labor warranty; 2-year warranty on wear items, screen, and other electronics; and a 6-year structural frame warranty

A recurring $38 monthly membership is required to experience the full functionality of the Hydrow (i.e. the classes). This includes live virtual outdoor rows with instructors and athletes (including a selection from the U.S. National Rowing Team), access to a live leaderboard during classes, Hydrow’s full on-demand library, and other exclusive off-machine fitness content.

The setup process

My setup experience was slightly different than what should be expected as Hydrow coordinated both the delivery and setup with a team of its own. The rower was fully assembled when it arrived, so the brand’s technician just needed to screw the screen onto the frame, plug in the machine, and connect it to my Wi-Fi.

Once complete, the technician walked me through how to use the machine before he left and even showed me how to access the rowing tutorials – all of which I found really helpful.

If purchased via Best Buy, there is a white-glove treatment available for anyone who wants a complete setup done for them. Best Buy offers a delivery and installation option just about everywhere in the US for $249.99. There’s also a flat $69.99 delivery charge but that gets waived if you go with the delivery and installation option – something Best Buy strongly encourages. You may even qualify for free installation and delivery if you reach out to customer service.

If you go the full installation route, a Geek Squad member delivers and sets up your Hydrow wherever you want it in your apartment or home. They’ll also connect it to your Wi-Fi and ensure the rower is workout-ready before leaving.

A motivating library of classes

To get the most out of my month of testing the Hydrow, I challenged my wife to see who could put in the most mileage. My wife is fairly sedentary while I’m very active, yet the spirit of competition and ease of use motivated her to

I often loaded up a pre-recorded video class first thing in the morning to hit the digital water, due mainly to the fact the trainers all had upbeat attitudes. This helped to guide my workouts and started my day off on the right foot – thankfully, they weren’t annoyingly positive. Their encouragement got me to push a little harder while focusing on my form.

Rower_Model_909_r1 copy

There are several levels of intensity to choose from and it took a bit of experimentation to figure out which level and workout length were ideal for my exercise needs. I felt the Warm-Up, Breathe, and Sweat videos were fairly light and didn’t get my heart rate going as much as I wanted. Instead, I was more into the Push videos. The first 20-minute, Push interval session I did really worked out my body.

I also enjoyed the real-time leaderboard that appears on the right side of the screen a Live Rowing session. It compares your distance to the distances rowed by other users at each point of the video. I found it to be an incredibly useful motivating tool – my wife also noted how it often pushed her to row harder.

Although I preferred the interactive classes, some of my wife’s favorite sessions didn’t have live instructors. She liked the Serene River Rowing in which you go through beautiful natural areas and hear nothing but the water. There’s still a leaderboard but no one is pushing you, so you’re more likely to go at your own pace.

Another impressive aspect was the video streaming quality. There’s nothing worse than having a video freeze in the middle of a guided workout, especially when you’re challenging for the top of the leaderboard. During my testing, the screen froze just once – something my wife experience as well, at the same point in the same video. If this happens, you’re able to just press the help icon on the screen and instantly send feedback to Hydrow, who was responsive.

A few nitpicks

Perhaps the Hydrow’s biggest drawback is how big its 15-square-foot size is. I kept it in my living room for the short term but in the long term, you’d want a dedicated workout area.

You can, however, store the Hydrow vertically if you want to free up space. When stored vertically, it only takes up a 33-inch by 25-inch patch of space. I did this a few times and with the front wheels, it was easy enough for me to move and stand up the 145-pound machine on my own.

hydrow

To the Hydrow’s credit, the machine is incredibly quiet, which is certainly nice if you live in an apartment with paper-thin walls, or just don’t want to make too much of a racket.

The only time it wasn’t quiet, though, was when I had the resistance cranked up to 100% and was trying to do a high stroke rate. I’d hear a knocking sound where the foot pedals met the machine. My wife never experienced this but I weigh 250 pounds, which is 80 pounds more than her, so it might’ve just been a weight issue. Either way, I brought it up to Hydrow who told me that they’d fixed it in subsequent versions of the machine.

The price might also give you a bit of sticker shock. At $2,245, it’s definitely not cheap but considering a Peloton bike costs $1,895, I’d say it’s comparable. You’re also getting a full-body workout as opposed to only cardio.

Hydrow’s base price doesn’t include the $38 monthly membership fee, which does make the final price a bit higher than what’s advertised. Depending on how often you’d use the machine, an ongoing subscription might be an unnecessary and sunk cost – or a financial motivator.

Should you buy it?

Yes. At a comparable price to the Peloton, the Hydrow gives you a full-body workout. Plus, with its software updates, a new app, and constant improvements, Hydrow has demonstrated that it’s committed to producing a top-quality experience.

If you can afford it and are looking for a way to stay motivated with a fun and challenging full-body exercise, I strongly recommend giving Hydrow a try.

What are your alternatives?

Though there’s a variety of at-home workout equipment like stationary bikes or treadmills, interactive at-home rowers are relatively new (outside of the traditional, analog water rowers or stationary, screen-less row machines).

The closest alternative would be the Ergatta rower. Like Hydrow, the Ergatta rower features an onboard screen that displays workouts, leaderboards, and pre-recorded classes. The rower itself is even in the style of a water rower in that it uses water flywheel technology to produce a smooth row experience.

The bottom line

Overall, I loved Hydrow. So much so that I was sad when the technicians came to take it away. On my humble freelance writer wages, I’d likely be unable to buy it at its current price of $2,245 (plus membership fees). I just can’t afford it. But if I had $2,245 to put toward my physical fitness, or was willing to part with $61 per month with Best Buy’s financing payment, I’d buy the Hydrow today.

Pros: More than 500 on-demand videos of varying lengths and intensities, live broadcasts with live leaderboards, full-body workout, durable construction, quiet and precise electromagnetic resistance

Cons: Expensive, requires membership for access to all of the features, takes up a lot of space

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What is Calm? How to use the meditation and mental fitness app featuring celebrity ‘sleep stories’

A woman using a meditation app
The Calm app features meditations, masterclasses, sleep stories, and more.

  • Calm is a mental fitness app featuring stories, meditations, and music to help users sleep better, lessen anxiety, and become more mindful.
  • Calm offers premium memberships worth $14.99 per month or $69.99 per year or a free version with limited options.
  • The Calm app is popular among mental fitness advocates and for its celebrity sleep stories featuring the voices of Harry Styles, Kate Winslet, and Idris Elba.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Mental health is essential, and one of the best ways to practice self-care is to take a few moments to yourself for a day. Meditation practice is a good way to do that, with many benefits, including decreased stress and negative emotions, increasing self-awareness, and general feelings of relaxation.

For those looking for guidance on beginning a meditation practice, the Calm app can help. Downloaded more than 100 million times since it was released back in 2012, it’s available on iOS and Android as well as on the web.

Calm can be a positive part of your self-care practice, whether you’ve never tried meditation before or you’re a seasoned pro.

What is Calm?

Calm is a meditation and mental fitness app that features a variety of media designed to help users relax, sleep, or become more mindful.

Calm 3
You can find sleep stories narrated by your favorite celebrities on the Calm app.

One of Calm’s biggest draws for many is their collaborations with popular celebrities featured on the app as the readers of Sleep Stories. This tool is meant to help listeners have a more restful night through a growing library of famous narrators including LeBron James, Scottie Pippen, Matthew McConaughey, Laura Dern, Lucy Liu, and Kelly Rowland. Calm also features relaxing remixes of songs and albums by stars, including Ellie Goulding, Moby, and John Legend.

Calm 2
The Calm app lets you select a sleep remix of top songs from your favorite musicians.

In addition to bedtime stories and relaxing music options, Calm offers mood tracking, breathing exercises, guided and unguided meditations, customizable audio and video content, masterclasses held by leading experts in the field, and regularly updated content. That includes Daily Calms to help users maximize the effectiveness of their practice. There’s even a Calm Body section that features small movement and stretching segments to help your physical health and mental health.

Calm 1
The Calm app has a whole library of offerings geared towards children.

Calms users with children can also use the dedicated offerings for kids – from Sleep Stories of classics like “Peter Pan” and “The Velveteen Rabbit” to meditations with popular children’s characters like Thomas the Tank Engine.

Calm Free versus Calm Premium

Illutration of the Calm App
Calm features “sleep stories” recited by celebrities.

Calm currently offers a free version and Calm Premium, a subscription-based model that costs $14.99 per month or $69.99 per year. In addition, the app offers a 7-day free trial of their Premium service for users to try before they commit.

The free version may be good for casual users, as it offers several useful features without cost, including:

  • Timed meditations
  • Day 1 of all multi-day meditation programs
  • A sleep story called “Blue Gold”
  • Access to Calm’s Breathe Bubble breathing exercise
  • Several free scenes and nature sounds
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Calm Premium unlocks a series of Masterclasses on varying topics.

Calm Premium includes everything the free version does but also unlocks the rest of Calm’s content. That includes more than 120 Sleep Stories, hundreds of meditations focusing on everything from anxiety to relationships, specially curated music, masterclasses, and more.

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