Four months with Fitbit Health Coaching: Guidance, encouragement, and accountability

Beatrice J. Doty
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My review of the Fibit Sense was published in September and it’s an extremely capable health-focused fitness watch. Fitbit offered up a few months of its new Health Coaching service so I have been working with a coach for several months.

The Health Coaching membership is priced at $54.99/month and includes the Fitbit Premium services. The Health Coaching membership offers 1-on-1 coaching service with unlimited in-app messaging, and personal action plans based on key data collected by your Fitbit and synced to your account. All coaches are certified coaches and during this global pandemic when most gyms and facilities are closed it is a perfect time to communicate regularly with a coach who helps guide you to success and hold you accountable.

See also: Fitbit Sense review: Advanced health and wellness tracking, GPS, and coaching

Health Coaching experiences

As a mobile tech reviewer, I test out a lot of different gear and over the past couple of months there have been an abundance of wearables so I often had to put aside the Fitbit Sense and Versa 3 to test out other watches. Thus, the effectiveness of the Health Coaching experience was impacted a bit by me switching watches so often and that is my only regret with testing the service.

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The coach assigned to me, Shantel S, was fantastic and even when I let her down by jumping off the platform for a week or two at a time she continued to communicate with me and even show some understanding of my situation. When I was focused on using a Fitbit device and the service, Shantel was fantastic. She asked me about my goals and desires for health and fitness and then setup my plan. Check boxes for my plan appeared right in the Fitbit app inside the Health Coaching section so I could tap to record completion of the various steps of my plan.

I am primarily interested in losing weight, reducing stress, and exercising more regularly. Thanks in large part to the excellent Fitbit app, I did well in logging my food intake on a regular basis. This has always been a struggle for me, but I think the combination of having a coach check in on me and working from home daily helped me stay consistent in logging my food intake. This in turn gave me a better idea of my caloric intake and measure it against my calorie burning with exercise.

My coach was very personable and seemed to genuinely care for my health and well-being. One of the best functions of a dedicated coach is accountability and now when people are more secluded than they were before it is important to have someone checking in on you for motivation. My coach held me accountable while also showing empathy, unlike some folks in my previous days in the military.

See also: Fitbit updates Sense and Versa 3: Google Assistant, answer phone calls, and more

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Your Fitbit coach has access to your demographic info, messages you share with your coach, Fitbit data, and your action plan completion rate. The coaches use this data to help guide you to creation of action plans designed to address areas where you need to improve. Shantel did a great job of asking me questions to have me drive the path ahead while also providing honest feedback since she knows a lot more about health and fitness than I do. It’s truly a professional, and non-threatening, service so don’t be scared to open up to your coach and work to achieve success.

In the past I never meditated or used breathing exercises, but the EDA scanning feature on the Fitbit Sense and guidance from my coach has opened me up to using some of these techniques to reducing stress and helping me handle this crazy world.

The Fitbit Health Coaching service was developed in part from Fitbit’s acquisition of Twine Health and in my few months of use I am convinced it is a valuable service to help you achieve your goals and improve your health. My trial service expires soon and I am seriously considering a Fitbit Health Coaching membership, but just need to focus in on using one or two wearables instead of switching every week or two.

Health Metrics dashboard

As discussed in the Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa 3 reviews, users had to subscribe to Premium services to see all of the data collected by their Fitbit devices. Fitbit now provides a free seven-day view of Health Metrics to all Fitbit Sense and Versa 3 owners.

The Health Metrics dashboard provides access to heart rate variability, breathing rate, oxygen saturation, and skin temperature variation. For people who are not Premium subscribers, the Health Metrics will appear as a new tile on the today view of your Fitbit app. The definition of each metric is shown below:

  • Breathing rate (average breaths per minute): Significant changes in your trends can help you understand your wellness. A lower breathing rate can be linked to good cardiovascular health, while short-term increases may indicate your body is under stress.
  • Heart rate variability (HRV) (variation of time between each heartbeat): A major decrease in HRV can help you understand if your body is showing potential signs of stress, illness or fatigue.
  • Oxygen saturation (SpO2) (level of oxygen in your blood): Keep an eye on your SpO2 to notice your trends and how they may connect to your other habits as multiple factors can contribute to changes (including altitude, caffeine, respiratory issues, weight lifting, running).
  • Skin temperature variation: See how your skin temperature varies to help you uncover changes to your wellbeing. Factors that may cause skin temperature to vary nightly include changes in room temperature, bedding, circadian rhythm, menstrual cycle or the onset of a fever or illness. If you notice significant variations, you may want to consider taking and logging your core temperature.
  • Resting heart rate (RHR) (important indicator of cardiovascular health, fitness level, sleep quality and recovery): Increases in your RHR could be due to stress, illness, fatigue, or the consumption of alcohol or caffeine. Exercise, meditation and changes in diet can lower your resting heart rate.

Findings from Fitbit’s COVID-19 study show that breathing rate, resting heart rate, and HRV are useful metrics that may indicate an oncoming illness.

There is also a new Get Fit Puzzle app available for Premium subscribers to play on your smartphone. It is designed to encourage step and sleep goal achievement in a fun way.

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