Bodybugg V3 Review
Waaaaay back in May, before California decided it would have winter all summer long, there was a girl who bought the Bodybugg V3 and digital display from a 24 Hour Fitness gym because she was too impatient to have it delivered by mail. Less than 30 days later she contacted Apex to return her Bodybugg. Three weeks later, after many phone calls, emails, and a few grey hairs 24 Hour Fitness finally refunded her money. Four months later, she finally got around to writing a review because she’s awesome like that.
Why I wanted a Bodybugg?
I bought the Bodybugg V3 because I had been lacking motivation to lose the 12 pounds I put on last winter (I need to lose them to pass the RKC certification snatch test) and because I enjoy gadgets. I had read so much about it and I wanted to see how it worked for myself.
What I liked about the Bodybugg.
The Bodybugg was extremely motivational for me. I was really surprised to find out my metabolism was that of a slug. I had thought my winter weight gain was due to my food intake but after using the Bodybugg I realized it was more so from my recent decrease in daily activity. I looked at the time I started gaining weight and it coincided with when I started homeschooling my kids. It was very much an “aha” and “duh” moment for me.
Setting up the Bodybugg and digital display was quick and easy. There was a series of questions that helped customize a plan for you to reach your goals.
You get one coaching session with a “Bodybugg Coach”. My coach was really nice. She helped me to understand the software and it’s capabilities.
I LOVED the digital display watch even if it’s not very fashionable and looked silly on my small wrist. In fact, for me, the Bodybugg would be useless without the display. The display is what motivated me. More than once, I decided to go on a walk because I noticed I had only walked 900 steps for the day. I also loved the “trip” feature for workouts. It was fun to see how many calories I would burn or steps I would take during a specific workout. This feature always motivated me to push a little harder.
I liked the graphs. I know, nerdy. Particularly the graph on the main page. Here is a screen capture of one of my days where I burned 2119 calories and ate 1669 calories giving me a deficit of 450. Below the bar is another graph that shows the peaks and valleys of my activity. The two largest peaks are my walk while my kids were in taekwondo and later training in my taekwondo class.
It’s also worth mentioning that I didn’t mind the armband. I had read about people getting rashes from the metal sensors. This didn’t happen to me.
What I didn’t like about the Bodybugg.
The food database. It is (Was? Maybe they have updated it since June 2010?) limited especially if you shop at Trader Joe’s. I could not find ONE Trader Joe’s item. I tried using their food tracker but after a few weeks I gave up. It was that limited. I could have entered a custom food for each item but that would take lots of time when there are already plenty of calorie trackers out with HUGE food databases. I tried entering my total calorie intake for the day from The Daily Plate (I’ve been using TDP off and on for over two years so my personal recipe database is quite full.) but it wouldn’t accept it. After a few days of just seeing”calories burned” I was frustrated because I wanted to get my money’s worth and see the full graphs including the calories consumed. So I tried different things until I found a way to enter my total from The Daily Plate .
If you are a Bodybugg user and frustrated with the calorie tracker (If not skip this paragraph) you can use the database from your favorite calorie tracker by clicking on “Nutrition” located between “Calories Burned” and “Calorie Balance”. That will open up a window that shows “your nutrition” for a specific day. What I would do that worked (most of the time) was enter one big breakfast or lunch. In other words, at the end of the day I would take my total from The Daily Plate and enter it as one meal. Sometimes, I could enter the fats, carbs, and protein ratios. Other times I could not and would get an error message. In that case I would just enter the calories and serving size 1. It wasn’t a big deal to me because I could see my ratios on The Daily Plate and I don’t get too hung up on ratios anyway. Here is a screen capture of where I would enter “my meal”, i.e., total calories eaten taken from my Daily Plate totals. NOTE- I never could get it to work by clicking the green calories consumed button (on the first screen capture) and entering one big meal. It would always give me error messages but for some reason when I entered it clicking through the “Nutrition” button it worked. Most of the time.
I would have kept the Bodybugg had the limited nutritional database been my only problem but here was the deal breaker: I had to email customer support 11 times within 28 days.
Not only did I have to email them them, what I felt was an unacceptable number of times, on average it would take 48 hours for tech support to get back to me. Okay so maybe I’m impatient but I’m also paying for a monthly subscription so if I can’t use it for two days then I’m essentially paying for nothing those two days.
Here are the reasons I had to email tech support. (I saved all my emails.) Some of these reasons required multiple emails hence the number 11.
The food tracker inconsistency in the beginning. They just told me I would have to enter all my food in separately and could not use one big number from another food tracker. Not one to easily give up I found the way I described above.
I kept getting messages that the port was not recognized and I couldn’t upload my data. Tech supports response? To switch usb ports and reboot my computer. In all fairness, it did work but then I got the message again and had to keep switching usb ports and rebooting. This took a lot of time and I was concerned it would be a regular occurrence.
I had to email them about the differences in what the online tracker said vs. the digital display. They explained that a 5% difference was allowable but this is what mine showed one day: the online software 1824 calories burned and the digital display said 1276 calories burned. Big difference. The next day the online software said 1558 calories burned and the digital display said 1374 calories burned. I’m not a mathematician but these both have a difference greater than 5%. Their solution was more time consuming reboots and lengthy hard to understand emails.
Finally, I kept getting messages I need to install the software. So I reinstalled it and it worked. Then I got the same message again. They told me to change some setting on Safari that seemed to work but by this time I was already too frustrated to keep the Bodybugg V3. (It’s interesting to note that the girl from 24 Hour Fitness who helped me to return the Bodybugg used a Mac and said she had to reinstall the software every few days to make it work.)
My last complaint was the plastic velcro piece fell off the armband and I had to duck-tape it back on. Not a biggie but when you spend $300 dollars on an item you really don’t want to have to use duck tape. One morning, I woke up to find the Bodybugg next to my bed and I was always a little worried it would pop off into the sink when I was washing my face or something.
The Return Process
In short, the return process was just short of a nightmare. I was sad to return my Bodybugg because when everything was working properly I LOVED it. You have 30 days from the date of purchase to return it. I emailed through the website that I would like to return it before my 30 days was up. I received a response from Apex and they said that was fine but I would have to return it at the 24 Hour Fitness gym where I bought it. Unfortunately, I was camping the day I received the response so I couldn’t go into 24 Hour Fitness until the following Monday. When I went into 24 Hour Fitness, the manager was unavailable. It took over a week for her to get approval for the return and then at least another week for the refund to actually go through. Since I had purchased the digital display watch on a different day they tried to tell me that I didn’t pay for it because they had “a special- buy the armband and get a digital display watch for free”. Really? Because when I bought the armband no one mentioned “the special” and I have a receipt here for a $99 display. During this time, I was in contact with Apex and their customer service was AWESOME. The woman who was helping me would send me emails to see if 24 Hour Fitness had refunded my money and she contacted 24 Hour Fitness to let them know my return had been authorized by them.
Did I lose weight?
When the device and software program was working properly and I followed the calorie consumption and burn recommendations it did work. I would lose what it said I would lose. So yeah, in that sense it worked for me.
Would I recommend it?
It depends. The technical difficulties aside I loved it. I jest about being obsessive but my obsessive tendencies are of the “it feels good to cross things off my list” type not “define my mood (or self worth) for the day” type. If you are like me and love to see numbers, need extra motivation, don’t mind tracking calories (that’s a whole another post in and of itself), and still think you are pretty awesome even if you don’t meet your daily goal, then yes. The Bodybugg never made me feel like a slave to a number, rather it offered some data I could interpret and adjust my choices as needed to reach my goals. Even if you don’t like tracking calories it’s quite fun to set daily expenditure goals and reach them. If you decide to go for it, I recommend purchasing one through Apex. I don’t get anything if you do, I just want to save you the headache I went through from dealing with 24 Hour Fitness should something not work right. It may be worth waiting though as there is word that a NEW BLUETOOTH SMART PHONE COMPATIBLE VERSION may be available through BodyMedia (they make both the Bodybugg and GoWear Fit) next month.
However, if counting calories stresses you out in anyway or triggers unpleasant obsessive compulsive behaviors I would not buy the Bodybugg. I’m not qualified to offer dietary or psychological advice but I will say I’m of the opinion if you have or have recovered from an eating disorder it wouldn’t be a good idea. More than likely it will only compound the problem.
The girl’s love for numbers and grafts didn’t fade upon the return of her Bodybugg. For days, she wondered if she had made the right decision. After much thought, she decided she would purchase the GoWear Fit armband to see how it compared to her long lost Bodybugg. Much to her delight, the sparks flew and they have been together ever since. One day the girl hopes to tell the
blogosphere world of their relationship.
What about you? Have you used the Bodybugg before? What was your experience with it? How do you feel about gadgets? Love’em or hate’em?
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