Fitbit made a name for itself through its activity trackers and smartwatches, and its app was always the window into the data it collected. That was until 2019 when the company chose to launch its Fitbit Premium subscription service to encourage health, fitness and wellness.
Fitbit Premium is an array of workout routines, training regimens, advanced sleep statistics, daily reminders and goal-oriented metrics. There is a lot to the service when digging into its various components, and it’s when you see the bigger picture that it becomes easier to decide whether it’s worth the money.
Since Premium is part of the app, and not something embedded in any particular Fitbit device, the service will essentially work with anything — as long as it’s a Fitbit tracker or watch. The Fitbit app is available as a free download on iOS and Android, so you can use it on a variety of phones and tablets.
When you create a Fitbit account, you don’t have to commit to a Premium subscription. You can make that choice later on.
If you’ve used Fitbit devices and the app already, you probably have a good idea what’s tracked. The basics, like steps, floors, distance, sleep time and resting heart rate are always front and centre. You can even dive deeper and look at some graphs and bundled stats to get some perspective on where you stand.
That perspective, however, is limited and lacks some context, which is what Premium is supposed to provide. Fitbit calls it “personalized guidance” whose focus is to add guided programs, video workouts, mindfulness sessions and advanced sleep analytics.
Initially, Fitbit offered a free 7-day trial to try out Premium, but changed that to 90 days in response to COVID-19 lockdowns. As of this review, that offer still stands. If you want to continue after that, it’s either $13.49/month or $106.99 for 12 months (a considerable savings over going monthly).
In the Fitbit app, the Discover section features guided programs tailored to your level (beginner, intermediate, etc.) and focus (cardio, HIIT, yoga, at-home workouts, etc.) and duration. These workouts are exclusive to subscribers, so you wouldn’t see them on the app otherwise.
They also aren’t necessarily ‘one-offs’ that you do once and leave behind afterward. Routines may have two or three-week commitments as a means to achieving a modest goal. There isn’t much of a graduated process, despite awards and badges to help encourage you to keep pressing on. For instance, many of the workouts will likely feel too basic and straightforward for already active people, which is why the platform is arguably more effective for those at beginner and intermediate levels.
To mix things up, Fitbit also adds programs for things like meditation and cooking. Ayesha Curry (yes, Stephen Curry’s wife) has a “Summer Series” of videos that are a mishmash of cooking and workouts, though other non-celebrity faces pop up routinely to help guide different workouts, too.
If you’ve been with Fitbit for a while now, you may have heard of Fitbit Coach at some point. That was the company’s first foray into subscription-based services, and its content has been thrown in to Premium as well. Not every single piece has made the move, though, so you may want to use the Coach app in tandem with Premium if you’re looking for more content.
The advanced sleep metrics can be really useful if you want greater insight into just how well you’re sleeping. Of course, you would need to wear your Fitbit tracker or watch while sleeping, and when you do, Premium lays out a more detailed sleep score. It notes the usual, like how long you slept, deep and REM sleep, and restoration.
Tapping each of those adds extra insight into what is ideal and what isn’t. At various points, Premium will also throw out notable points, like how exercise and sleep (or lack thereof) might impact one another. For example, going for longer runs may have helped lead to longer and more restful sleep in one particular week. You will also find guided programs for sleeping better based on your stats, too.
The mindfulness and meditation part of the equation is actually the kind of stuff you could easily find elsewhere online. But it is helpful when you find a routine that works well for you, and that’s what Fitbit hopes for with Premium.
The app’s Premium tab has a section called “Wellness report” and it’s a snapshot of your health data, including activity, heart monitoring and sleep quality. Fitbit sends it as a PDF that you could either email to your doctor or take with you as a printout to show in person. It does require a full 30 days of usage to come up with the cumulative details, however, so it’s not something you can do in a spur of the moment.
From Fitbit’s perspective, a Premium subscription is really more of an investment in your commitment to health and fitness. They’re not wrong for looking at it that way because if your commitment wanes, you don’t get your money’s worth. As I noted, beginners and intermediates will feel there’s always something new to do, but I suspect more advanced and serious users will feel underwhelmed.
It will be up to Fitbit to continuously improve the overall package available here. Google’s oversight (and money) could certainly help with that, but only time will tell.