Over the past 2 months, I have poured over countless reviews on two devices: the UP from Jawbone and FitBit’s Flex bracelet.  A third contender in this market segment, the Nike Fuel Band, crossed my mind but is not as feature-rich as the two I previously mentioned.  The price point for the FitBit Flex was very tempting, costing only $90 shipped during a sale on Brookstone.com.  One of the major deterrents for that sale was the fact that it wasn’t going to ship out of Brookstone’s warehouse for nearly 2 months!  The price of the Jawbone Up on eBay ran me around $130 shipped.  This $40 difference is pretty substantial, but after reading over the reviews, the Jawbone won me over.  I believe the added price was worth it, but let’s see how I feel after using this thing for 6 weeks.

Wearable technology is all the rage these days.  From Google’s Glass project (which is still in its infancy) to the much speculated Apple iWatch.  Even Citizen makes a watch that uses Bluetooth to communicate with the iPhone and remind the wearer of calendar appointments, e-mails, text messages and phone calls.  This is nothing new though; I got my first digital pedometer as a birthday gift in 1999 (I will admit I used to be an avid distance runner before strength training captured my heart).  The technology is way more awesome in 2013!

The UP plugs into your smartphone (either an iPhone or an Android phone running Ice Cream Sandwich or later) through the headphone port.  It charges with your computer’s USB port.  Upon connecting the device and running the app, it uploads a plethora of data, which I will detail for you.

There are a lot of great things that the UP does.  My favorite is tracking sleep.  If you are one of my clients, and I hope you are, you know how much I preach the value of sleep to fight disease, promote muscle growth, burn fat and positively impact mood.  The UP actually tracks the quality of your sleep and reports it to the app on the iPhone (or Android if you so choose).  The best part of it is that you can set an alarm using the app on your phone and when the bracelet detects you are in a state of light sleep during a 30-minute window prior to your wake up time, it begins to vibrate and wake you up.  This will leave you feeling more refreshed and can positively affect GH and cortisol levels.  Besides that, who here hates being risen from bed by the sound of a loud, obnoxious alarm clock (or iPhone in my case)?

The UP is smart.  It tracks how many steps you take.  It lets you add in your workouts with the app and figures out how many calories you have burned.  Tracking activity is huge and this does it well.  I am curious how well the Nike Fuel Band does this, but I’m certain the Jawbone can hang.

In addition to tracking sleep and activity, the app allows you track what you eat, using Jawbone’s extensive database of foods.  It even scans barcodes and can take a picture of your plate and figure out what you ate from there.  I haven’t tried photographing a meal, but this is only day one.  I am curious about the accuracy of this feature and am determined to report on it later.

There is one thing that the UP does that Jawbone doesn’t tell you in their marketing material: consciousness.  By seeing how much you move, logging what you eat and understanding you actual sleep patterns, you are becoming more and more aware of the choices you make that impact your fitness.  As a trainer I am constantly encouraging my clients to get a handle on these things.  The first step to achieving control of these choices and patterns is to understand them and have solid knowledge of them.  This bracelet triggers this.  I love it!

I hope when I update you on my experience with the Jawbone UP in 6 weeks time that my review will be positive.  This is a great device and is, so far, worth every penny I paid for it.