Why health tracker subscriptions are a rip-off

Why health tracker subscriptions are a rip-off

There is a cut up on the planet of health trackers with regards to your entry to the information they acquire. Some firms cost a month-to-month subscription for full entry to the accompanying platform, whereas others embody the whole lot in the price of the gadget alone.

From a enterprise perspective, subscriptions make sense. They lock individuals in, encourage future {hardware} purchases, and generate regular earnings after the preliminary gadget sale. However from a client perspective, these are both inconsequential or unfavourable traits. Committing to 1 platform shouldn’t be solely limiting, however whenever you look extra rigorously, you don’t get a lot that is not obtainable totally free elsewhere.

Your subscription selections

Let’s begin with a have a look at a number of the completely different subscription providers. Fitbit Premium prices $10 monthly. It provides varied options and knowledge monitoring factors to the usual free plan included with the Fitbit gadget. It additionally units the tone for many different examples. Amazon expenses $4 monthly for its Halo platform, and Oura expenses $6 monthly for its sensible ring membership plan. Whoop provides you the health band totally free, however it’s ineffective except you pay $30 monthly.

Fitbit Sense

Many of the further options embody full entry to the information you generate, better insights into that knowledge, and niceties like guided exercises and meditation classes. A wonderful instance is Fitbit’s newest Sleep Profile function, a month-to-month metric designed to provide you a extra in-depth, long-term look into your sleep patterns. It is the best Fitbit Premium function as a result of it leverages knowledge collected anyway, you have to use it for a lot of weeks to see the profit, and by piling knowledge upon knowledge with the promise of additional perception, Premium seems extra worthwhile.

All of the subscription platforms are comparable, and none of them are unhealthy due to it. However there are a variety of different platforms that present comparable, typically higher choices for monitoring your well being, exercise, and sleep. For nothing. Whenever you see what is obtainable totally free and put in a while to know what you need from a health platform and a wearable, paying to see and profit from the information you are offering looks like a waste of cash.

To pay or to not pay

What do you want from a health tracker? Everybody’s necessities will probably be completely different as well being/exercise ranges and objectives differ wildly. Each wearable comes with fundamental exercise, exercise, and sleep monitoring within the worth, however it’s what you need past this that is necessary — particularly when contemplating whether or not to pay a month-to-month subscription or not. There are numerous options I actually like which can be usually hidden behind a paywall, however are additionally obtainable totally free on different wearables.

Oura ring generation 3.
Oura Ring third era Andy Boxall/Digital Developments

One function I discover very informative and useful is a every day “rating,” which makes use of knowledge collected from my exercise, sleep, biometrics, and different factors to provide me an thought of ​​how prepared my physique is for the day. Fitbit calls it Each day Readiness, Oura calls it the Oura Rating, and Whoop calls it Pressure and Sleep Coach, whereas Garmin calls it Physique Battery. Completely different names, however all variations on the identical theme.

Each day Readiness is a part of Fitbit’s Premium service, and Oura Rating will disappear behind Oura’s Membership plan as soon as the six-month free interval is up. Nevertheless, Garmin’s Physique Battery is a part of its app and is obtainable at no further value. It provides a dynamic, simple-to-understand 1-to-100 rating based mostly on my estimated power obtainable for the day. It is questionable whether or not you want a lot else.

I like monitoring my sleep, ideally past simply the period of time I’ve spent in dreamland. Ideally, I need to see a breakdown of sleep phases, coronary heart price, and listen to price variability (HRV) knowledge (plus blood oxygen and pores and skin temperature knowledge, too, if the gadget permits). The Oura Ring gives most of this as a part of its Oura Membership plan, as does Fitbit Premium, whereas Amazon’s Halo bundle provides a sleep rating and phases to the fundamentals.

Huawei’s TruSleep function is complete, free, and obtainable on an in depth vary of wearables. Withings Well being Mate app, which provides a sleep rating and a breakdown of sleep phases, can also be free and could be accessed utilizing a wearable or an under-mattress gadget. However Garmin’s new Superior Sleep Monitoring is the winner, offering plenty of knowledge for HRV, sleep phases, and an general rating — all totally free and on a variety of merchandise.

Options aren’t at all times distinctive

What if you would like extra? Once more, you do not have to pay. Guided exercises, or ones the place you comply with alongside, are a giant a part of subscription packages. Exercise movies can be found to Fitbit Premium members as a part of the $10-per-month plan. Apple’s Health+ plan can also be $10 monthly and gives comparable movies, however neatly integrates with the Apple Watch’s sensors for a “dwell” expertise, considerably justifying the worth.


The comfort of getting guided exercises and customized plans inside one app is engaging, and one hopes that every firm curates them nicely sufficient so the standard of the plans stays excessive. Nevertheless, relying in your private health objectives, YouTube is crammed with guided exercises for almost any self-discipline. My favourite is HasFit, which fits my health degree and objectives, together with my overwhelming want to not be patronized by irritating, high-energy, muscle-bound motivators.

My Apple Watch Collection 7 tracks all these exercises with out fault, and the ensuing knowledge and the way in which it is introduced is genuinely motivational for no further value exterior the gadget itself. Suppose I used to be a hardcore runner or coaching for a triathlon. In that case, each Garmin and Polar present a wealth of associated knowledge totally free, plus they each join you to different like-minded individuals to assist with motivation and embody customized plans to spice up your skill. Fitbit’s Premium Challenges are a part of its Premium subscription bundle, Whoop makes an effort to attach you to the broader neighborhood, whereas Oura would not embody such a function in any respect.

What concerning the wearables?

Perhaps you may argue that firms with subscription packages make a wider selection of wearables, and due to their giant portfolio, cost much less for them? Not likely. Whoop would not cost something for his health band, however it’s hardly a stunner. Amazon’s Halo and Halo View are terribly atypical. The Oura Ring is a unbelievable piece of {hardware}, however it has a steep $300 asking worth, and the $6 monthly cost stings due to it. Fitbit has an honest vary of wearables, however is not identified for top-quality designs.

Garmin Vivomove Sport screen off.
Garmin Vivomove Sport Andy Boxall/Digital Developments

These firms providing free platforms are much more various. Garmin has a variety of health bands and smartwatches, all with designs that enchantment to completely different individuals (the Vivomove Sport is a private favourite). Withings’ ScanWatch is a wonderful well being tracker with an important free platform, and Polar’s new Pacer and Pacer Professional smartwatches convey the model’s wonderful running-focused app to the plenty. Huawei’s Watch GT 3 Professional and Honor’s Watch GS 3 use Huawei Well being, which is a reliable, detailed, straightforward to make use of, and free health-tracking app.

Too many subscriptions

There will probably be individuals who get respectable worth from Fitbit Premium and different comparable subscriptions. And there is nothing shady about an organization providing such a service. When you pay for one among these subscriptions and revel in it, that is nice. However an Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch 4, or Withings ScanWatch Horizon are fairly critical investments too — and do not require a month-to-month charge.

When you’re not already caught within the web, sit down and have a look at what you need from a health platform earlier than shopping for a wearable with a subscription bundle. The overwhelming majority of options could be discovered elsewhere totally free and with no distinction in high quality. Additionally, think about whether or not you need to pay for the privilege of inspecting the information you are already offering to an organization after paying them for the gadget that tracks it within the first place. All of us pay for a lot of subscriptions already, and the choice so as to add one other when free, equally competent choices ought to be taken very severely.

There is not a one-size-fits-all method to well being and health, and just like the variation in options above exhibits, there isn’t any single excellent wearable gadget or platform for monitoring it both. Nevertheless, it frustrates me that some firms are taking the subscription path to lock individuals into an ecosystem and parading options which can be obtainable totally free elsewhere.

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