If a new Fitbit fitness tracker topped your wishlist this Christmas and Santa duly obliged, you’re going to want to grab your glass of Buck’s Fizz and take yourself to a quiet corner for half an hour to set up the device. To make sure you get the most outr of your new device from the off, here are the first steps you should take if you’ve been given a Fitbit Versa 2 or Charge 3. The Versa 2 smartwatch has a few more tricks up its sleeve than the Charge 3, so we’ve marked out the Versa 2-only options.
1. Set Your Primary Activity Goal
An activity target is only useful if it’s achievable and something you actually care about. If 10,000 steps isn’t doing it for you, change your goal in the Fitbit app. If you’re a cyclist, for instance, active minutes may be a better goal, because it’s tough to rack up big step counts when you’re pedalling. You can also increase the step target, or indeed decrease it, which might be a smart move for one day at least – getting 10,000 steps in on Christmas Day isn’t always easy.
2. Pick Your Watch Face
You’re going to see this a lot, so pick something good to adorn the watch face of your Versa 2 (or your Charge 3, although the options are more limited). On the Versa, you can opt for one laden with stats that gives you all the info on your daily activity, or something more enjoyable like a virtual pet, which lets you feed sunglasses-wearing dog Titan (pictured below, on the Versa 2) treats via your step count. Head to the Fitbit app Clock Faces section to make your choice.
3. Add Your Favourite Exercises
You can have up to seven sports modes readily available on the Charge 3, but you don’t have to stick with the default septet the device comes loaded with. Swap out one of the standard options and you’ll be able to add other modes such as Martial Arts, Pilates or Circuit Training. For its part, the Versa 2 can hold 20 exercise modes on the watch, so no picking and choosing required.
4. Sort Your Notifications
Both the Versa 2 and the Charge 3 will get calls, texts and calendar events automatically, but for notifications from specific apps you need to set them up in the Fitbit app. On day one, though, you may find that there are no apps to choose. That’s because they won’t appear until you’ve set up your device and then received a notification from that app on your phone. Sure, it’s a bit of a faff – but at least now you know, so you won’t spend Christmas Day sulking because your Versa 2 doesn’t work.
5. Download Some Apps (Versa 2)
Fitbit’s third-party app market is not especially well developed (yet), but it’s getting better. For starters, we recommend transferring over the GOLD’S AMP app, which will bring to the device a slew of free workouts from American gym chain Gold’s Gym that you can follow from your wrist.
6. Pick Your Intervals
The Interval sports mode on the Versa 2 and Charge 3 is fit for any kind of activity (running, cycling, jumping jacks) – you just have to set the times you work and rest for, then the device will buzz at you to keep you on track during the session. You can’t do this on the device itself, though – only through the Fitbit app on your phone. To avoid disappointment in the gym when your phone’s in your locker, we recommend you set it to the Tabata protocol: 20 seconds of work followed by ten seconds of rest, repeated eight times. While you’re at it, turn vibrations up to strong in the settings menu because if you’re doing Tabata properly and going all out you might miss a milder buzz telling you to rest.
One of Fitbit’s great strengths is its massive user base, and the chances are a few of your friends and family will also be getting a Fitbit this Christmas to join the many others who already have one. Add them in the Friends section of the app and you can compete to see who is the most active – it’s great motivation to stay moving.
8. Race Around Yosemite
Check out the Challenges tab of the Fitbit app and you can sign up to race against your friends over two virtual courses set in Yosemite National Park – 35,800 steps on Valley Loop and 62,500 steps along the Pohono Trail. Keep checking back in to check on your progress and unlock the panoramas of Yosemite.
9. Configure Your Activity Screens (Versa 2)
The default screen for activities like running shows three stats: two that are fixed (at the top and bottom) and one in the middle that you can flick through to show different info. You can adjust which are your fixed stats and also what info shows in the middle – if you just want heart rate, current pace and average pace for running, for example, then you can get rid of other stats like calories so you don’t have to swipe endlessly through the whole lot to find out what you want. On the watch, find the start screen for the exercise you want to edit and click the cog in the top left corner.
10. Have A Chat With Alexa (Versa 2)
The biggest new feature on the Versa 2 is the addition of Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa. Hold the button on the watch to activate Alexa, then fire away with whatever questions you have. The replies will come in text form on the Versa 2 for privacy reasons, but you can hold up the watch to show the answer to your family and prove you were right in whatever petty argument arises over the dinner table.
11. Decide How Relaxed You Want To Be
It’s worth using Relax – Fitbit’s guided breathing sessions app – once in a while or even every day, because it’s a time-honoured method of chilling out. Before you do, click the settings cog in the app and pick how long you want your session to be.
12. Transfer Some Tunes (Versa 2)
You’ll need to plug the Versa into your computer and download the Fitbit desktop app to add music and podcasts. It takes a little time to sort it all out, so schedule in an extra half an hour on Christmas Day afternoon to add your favourite workout tunes while everyone else snoozes off lunch.
If you’re not already a member of this music-streaming service and rival to Spotify and Apple Music, sign up pronto because Deezer is well integrated with the Versa and you get a free three-month trial of its premium service. Then start clicking around and favouriting tracks you like, they’ll sync over to the watch automatically when the device has a Wi-Fi connection. You may well wonder why we’re not recommending using the Spotify app, and that’s because you can’t move playlists over to the device to listen to offline – the app just acts as a remote for Spotify on your phone. Deezer is the smart choice.
14. Sync Up Your MyFitnessPal And Strava
Fitbit’s a lover, not a hater. It’s accepting of other fitness apps, such as RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal and Strava, and is more than happy to sync up and share info with them, thus creating one big happy fitness family. For a full list of apps it’ll buddy up with, see Fitbit UK’s partnerships page.
15. Try Fitbit Premium
Fitbit’s subscription service Fitbit Premium costs £79.99 a year if Versa 2 owners want it on their wrists (although there are three free guided workouts to try) but you can get a free week’s trial, or even three months for free if you’ve been given the Fitbit Versa 2 special edition. Fitbit Premium unlocks more in-depth sleep tracking and a host of workouts and training plans.
16. Start A Food Plan
You’ll know the score if you’ve dabbled with MyFitnessPal, but if not, Fitbit’s food plan will let you set a date to hit a target weight and then offer guidance on how many calories to eat every day. You can check your progress each day on the Versa’s “Fitbit Today” screen. To start, you’ll need to know your current weight and decide on your target weight and “plan intensity” (the more intense, the bigger the reduction in calorie intake).
17. Customise Your Dashboard
Hit Edit in the top left corner of the app and hide any data that you’re not fussed about seeing to make your Fitbit experience as streamlined as possible. Then drag the metrics around until you’re happy with the order. A five-minute job, but a satisfying one.