Will Fitbit Premium help you exercise more?
Paying for the upgrade could help you get more out of your Fitbit.
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For most people, purchasing a Fitbit is an investment in improving their health in some way—maybe by walking more, hitting the gym more, sleeping more, or some combination of all of the above. The device is full of fancy sensors that record your activity from your wrist, including steps taken in a day, minutes spent in an elevated heart rate zone, and hours slept at night. From there, you can set goals to walk more, sweat more, go to bed earlier, and see the effects of your efforts as your Fitbit records them. For some, that’s more than enough. But for others, the hardware and its incentives may only go so far without additional guidance. That’s where Fitbit Premium comes in, an additional subscription service that promises to help you get the most out of your Fitbit with exercise programs and even more in-depth fitness and sleep analytics.
I tried Fitbit Premium on a Fitbit Sense for a few weeks. As Reviewed’s health and fitness editor, my main goal was to evaluate its exercise programming. (Reviewed’s sleep writer, Lindsey Vickers, took a separate look at Fitbit Premium’s sleep and meditation features in her review.) Here’s what you should know about Fitbit Premium from the fitness perspective.
What is Fitbit Premium?
Fitbit Premium is a paid service that supplements the free Fitbit app with programming to enhance your experience of your device. It also provides a deeper dive into the health data that a Fitbit’s sensors record, to offer additional insights into the quality of your daily activities. According to Fitbit, these features can help users stay active, sleep better, and manage stress more effectively than they would with the Fitbit alone. It costs $9.99 a month or $79.99 a year and you can use it with any Fitbit, though its features are most robust when used with one of the smartwatches, the Sense or Versa 3, which contain additional sensors for capturing body temperature and blood-oxygen fluctuations.
How does Fitbit Premium work?
When you get a new Fitbit, it prompts you to sign up for a free Premium trial during setup—many new Fitbits, including the Sense, the Charge 5, and the Luxe, tout a six-month free trial. You can also sign up for a three-month free trial if you already have a Fitbit and have never tried Premium. Fitbit Premium offers several features that you won't get with just the Fitbit alone, but my priorities were to pay attention to its health and fitness programming, which is primarily composed of workout videos.
Like other workout apps, Fitbit offers a variety of exercise classes to choose from. The workout videos live in a tab on the regular Fitbit app and are designed to be used on a whim rather than in a sequence. They come from a wide range of fitness platforms you’ve probably heard of—Daily Burn, Aaptiv (one of our favorite workout apps), Popsugar, and Les Mills—as well as some Fitbit-produced content.
To help you choose from all these options, Fitbit Premium’s algorithm spits out a “readiness score." The app takes your measured stress levels, sleep quality, and recent activity from your companion Fitbit tracker and gives you a score from one to 100 that indicates how much movement or rest you should aim to get that day—the higher the score, the more you should move. To give you some insight into this number, Fitbit summarizes your recent activity levels, sleep, and heart rate variability in the readiness tab so you can see how it arrived at your score.
It takes 14 days for Fitbit to fully recognize your typical daily patterns and give its best readiness score. Reviewed’s health and fitness writer, Esther Bell, “tested” the accuracy of Fitbit’s readiness scores by taking notes about how rested she felt first thing in the morning and how much energy she had to exercise and compared that to Fitbit’s assessment.
One or two days during the initial two-week adjustment period she felt the scores weren’t quite on par with how she was feeling—both times she was much more tired than her high readiness score would have you believe—but other than that, Fitbit’s score almost always reflected her natural energy levels. To make it easy to find workouts that jive with your motivation or energy levels on any given day, Fitbit recommends a range of how many “active zone minutes” (time spent working out) you should get that day and suggests Fitbit workout classes to get you there.
In addition to the fitness programming, meditation sessions (which our sleep writer reviewed separately), and readiness scores, your membership allows you to request a wellness report after using Premium for 30 days. This gives you a monthly recap on your trends in resting heart rate, activity (including steps taken and how much time you spend in a certain heart rate zones), and average sleep time. You can also see your weight trends if you record your weight manually or pair the app with a Fitbit smart scale, and your menstrual cycles if you track them with the app yourself. I got a wellness report and thought the data was cool, but it wasn’t much more than a novelty for me. It could, however, be very useful for some people with health conditions and provide an extra piece of documentation to discuss with a doctor.
What are Fitbit’s workout videos like?
Fitbit Premium’s workout videos aren’t much different than what you’d find on any other workout apps, except that the videos are all from different brands. Some of the Premium workout videos are from Fitbit, but many more come from Daily Burn, Popsugar, and Aaptiv, among others. The number of available workouts vary between brands, but each one appeared to have at least five videos. It’s a cool way to get acquainted with different popular brands, and the videos encompass a nice range of workouts—strength, HIIT, yoga, barre, cardio, and the like. Premium also has some audio workouts, which include runs, jogs, walks, and walking meditations.
The classes I took were great. But overall, the effect of the workout video section is a little scattershot. It isn’t immediately clear whether the workouts from different brands are specifically for Fitbit, or are simply a bunch of workout videos Fitbit was able to access and amass on its platform (most likely, it’s a mix of both). The only non-Fitbit, name-brand workout video I watched that mentioned Fitbit by name was one from Obé, where the instructor called out her own Fitbit (a Charge) and talked about how she was excited for it to track her heartbeat (which, unfortunately, in our testing, we haven’t found to be all that accurate or reliable). Others seem to be totally isolated in time and completely separate from Fitbit.
The classes also aren’t organized by brand. Instead, they’re sorted into categories such as “Under 15 Minutes” (all short workouts, including ab classes and express kickboxing), “No Equipment Needed,” and an entire section devoted to content from Fitbit celebrity partners like Will Smith, who at the time of publishing has a Premium-exclusive workout series. The videos often crop up in more than one category, which is fine, but can sometimes make it feel like you have more options than you really do (I'd say there are currently less than 500). The app also doesn’t mark the videos as completed when you finish them, which makes the chances of accidentally retaking a class pretty high, unless you have a photographic memory (I don't).
What is Fitbit Premium’s fitness content like overall?
My main point of comparison for Fitbit Premium’s fitness programming is my experience with Apple Fitness+, Apple’s workout app that connects with Apple Watches. When I tried Fitness+, one of my favorite things was the seamless integration between the app and the wearable—when you start a workout on the app, the Apple Watch automatically starts recording it and displays your stats on the watch face and on the screen where you’re streaming your workout. Fitbit Premium doesn’t do anything like this. Fitbit workouts feel more akin to watching a YouTube workout. Though it does prompt you to log your workout when you finish the video so you can see your stats recorded in the app, the integration of the video and device doesn’t feel as seamless as Apple Fitness+.
It also doesn’t display anything on the watch when you’re working out, and you must check out your activity tab after you’re done to see how many calories you burned (a rough estimate, of course, but something I could see at a glance on the Apple Watch). If you want to see real-time stats on your wrist, you can start a workout manually from the menu on your Fitbit when you press play on the app—by doing this, the workout will show up in your activity log twice, but you get the same amount of “credit” in your day for the session either way.
Overall, wearing a Fitbit makes me feel more motivated to move than when I don't, and using Premium gave me extra resources to work out when I wanted to. I also loved having access to workout videos from different brands in one spot. But I still think the whole thing could've been better synergized.
Is Fitbit Premium worth it?
From my perspective, Fitbit Premium fits in with Fitbit’s prevailing raison d'être—to motivate users to keep active—even if it doesn’t revolutionize it. If you’re already following a fitness program that you like, using it with a Fitbit will benefit you more than switching to Fitbit Premium.
But if you aren’t working out much right now, and you own a Fitbit already or were thinking of getting one, and you’re feeling adrift in the multitudinous array of available workout programs, Premium is worth a try. The extra resources themselves aren’t as important as the fact that most of them live on the Fitbit app, which makes it much easier to remember to actually use them.
This, combined with its additional sleep features, should make Fitbit Premium worth it for anyone who knows they want to work on their overall health in some way but aren’t quite sure where to start. But you don’t just have to take my word for it—if you already have a Fitbit, you can get a three-month free trial, and if you’re buying a new Fitbit, you’ll be able to access up to six months of the app for free. If it makes sense to keep in your life after that much time, Fitbit Premium is for you.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.