27 January 2014


    Witness the fitness

    NAFISA AKABOR takes a look at the fitness trackers that are available for you to try or buy right now in South Africa.

    looks like 2014 is gearing up to be all about wearable tech, more specifically fitness or activity trackers. You may have heard the term ‘quantified self’, which is all about using technology to monitor aspects of your daily life – diet, activity or even financial tracking – also known as lifelogging. 

    These gadgets were big news at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014, where announcements were dominated by wearables. Companies such as LG, Sony, Razer, Garmin, Polar, LifeTrak and Epson all unveiled their offerings, wanting a piece of what leaders of the pack Fitbit, Jawbone and Nike+ already have. 

    This trend hit our shores last year when Fitbit officially became available in South Africa. A lineup of fitness trackers were launched in the middle of 2013, which came in a variety of options to suit everyone.

    Wellness expert and media personality Lisa Raleigh says that the industry has undergone a revolution in the form of fitness gadgets and trackers, and users only stand to gain from this process. “Fitness gadgets are not only encouraging the user to get proactive about tracking their fitness, but they’re putting the power of managing one’s health back into the hands of the individual.” The more users there are documenting their health and fitness stats and behaviour, the more valuable data there is being generated, she adds.

    We take a look what fitness tracking devices are currently available in South Africa.


    The Fitbit range of activity trackers include the One, Zip and Flex, all which sync through Bluetooth with an Android or iPhone via the Fitbit app. The Zip is discreet, clip-on and battery operated, and tracks activity only. The One is slightly bigger, clip-on, requires a charge every few days, and tracks activity as well as sleep. The Flex is a wristband that requires a charge, and tracks activity and sleep.

    Price: From R899 at the iStore 

    Nike+ FuelBand

    The Nike+ Fuelband is not officially available from Nike South Africa, but there are sites that import and sell them here. The band looks very unassuming, and when worn, tracks the steps you take and calories burned. It has LED indicators from red to green which let you know if you’ve reached your goal, or how close you are to reaching it based on the colour of the indicator. It syncs with your smartphone, requires a charge and comes in three different sizes.

    Price: R4 543 (import) from WantItAll

    Jawbone UP

    The Jawbone UP fitness band tracks your movements, sleep, calories burned, and diet. Use the accompanying app for Android or iOS to monitor your progress. Set goals for yourself and check daily to see if you’ve met them. Upload pictures of your food to keep track of what you’re eating or search nutritional information.

    Price: R1 520 from Xpansys 

    If you haven’t reached the level of commitment required for the above-mentioned gadgets, you may have a smartphone that already supports fitness tracking. The iPhone 5s has a dedicated M7 processor for this, all you need is the right app. The Galaxy S4 has its own S Health app which uses the phone’s sensors to track your movements. If you have a Galaxy Note 3 with accompanying Gear, you could also start tracking your movements. The Sony SmartWatch with the Endomondo app tracks your walks, runs or cycling, and it’s also splash-proof if you find yourself caught up in the rain.