By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
Under Armour is a leading maker of performance sports clothing and shoes but has also a stake in various health tracking and fitness apps having purchased MapMyFitness, Endomondo and MyFitnessPal and the company has brought all the key features of those apps into the UA Record app which is designed to connect to the Under Armour HealthBox system.
The UA HealthBox system is the most comprehensive and user-focused set of tools that merges an app, fitness tracking technology and connected devices with big data and cloud computing. It is composed of hardware built by HTC including the UA Band, the UA Scale and the UA Heart Rate monitor.
The UA Scale is a Wi-Fi enabled scale that takes your weight and fat percentage plus progress towards your weight goal. This information is sent to the UA Record App (iOS and Android). This is a solidlly designed and well-built smart scale that's easy to set up and use.
The UA Band is a fitness tracker that can accurately measures sleep, resting heart rate, daily activity, and even workout intensity when worn with UA Heart Rate. UA Band is an excellent standalone tracker, it has a heart rate monitor and is quite water resistant and tough. It has one button but the display can be controlled by touch and is quite easy to read even under harsh sunlight provided you have brightness at full. What I like about the UA band is that you can wear it and wear a watch in your other wrist it is unobtrusive. I also like how it accurately tracks sleep automatically. As a wearable, the UA Band will alert you if your phone rings, if you get a text message or when calendar alerts chime. None of these are actionable but it's a nice feature to have nonetheless.
The UA Heart Rate is a heart rate monitor worn on the chest. Like many of the heart rate monitors of this type it isn't the most comfortable thing to wear and it is the component I used the least in the HealthBox (you do need it to get an accurate reading of what activity zone you are in since it interfaces with the UA Band to give you colour coded cues as you are working out).
While all the hardware included in the UA HealthBox is superb, specially the UA Band, the real gem of this system is the UA Record app. Quite simply, this is one of the most comprehensive activity and fitness tracking apps out there and when I used it on my HTC 10 for the past threee weeks, I was able to very accurately track all my progress and stats plus even enter my mood or how good I was feeling.
UA Record manages to portray data and information in an easy to read and intuitive manner. It is designed for use in the heat of a workout and doesn't have endless rows of text and data. Everything you need is all on one screen and you can drill down on specific information to get a better picture of how information breaks down.
Getting to test the UA HealthBox was timely for me as I am currently training for strenght and endurance as well as trying to lose some weight in the process. UA HealthBox is a very well designed system so you can take your weight in the morning, wear the UA Band all day and night and use the UA Heart Rate when doing cardio. I used the UA Band alongside my Microsoft Band 2 and both devices were quite similar in terms of accuracy with the UA Band having a much longer battery life.
It is easy enough to use the UA HealthBox system even if you don't always have your smartphone with you since the devices don't need to be connected all the time. The UA Band tracks activity, sleep and resting heart rate accurately and syncs whenever the smartphone app is accessed. Same with the scale which wakes from sleep when you step on it. The Heart Rate monitor senses movement and then does the same.
Committing to a healthier lifestyle and training in a gym or home gym requires motivation and the UA HealthBox helps in this regard. The UA Band always reminds your of your goals, the UA Record app is great at giving you up to the minute updates. If you want more motivation, it is possible to go social with the app and issue challenges to friends on the system which brings some competitiveness and gamification to the process
This is crucial if you work out alone since you can remotely gain motivation from any friend who is on the system even if they're living in another town or country. The data from users is fed anonymously to improve how the apps work. UA currently has 165 million registered uses across its various apps.
UA HealthBox is a very well put together system with top-notch hardware and class leading software geared to make tracking fitness and physical activity in a wholistic manner possible with SLEEP, FITNESS, ACTIVITY and NUTRITION - as the tentpoles of success through an intuitive single-view dashboard. The UA Band is one of the best standalone fitness trackers in the market and one that has impressive battery life plus a heart rate monitor in a compact size. The UA Scale is similarly outstading if not elegant way to take accurate weigth and body fat percentage plus the UA Record App is the most intuitive and elegant way to keep all the information in one place.
UA HealthBox isn't cheap, The complete system includes UA Band, UA Scale, UA Heart Rate and retails for $549 CAD but everything that comes in the system is top shelf in design and build and having used it for my personal fitness journey has enabled me to get a better overall understanding of how I'm doing, what I need to continue to do reach my fitness and personal goals.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5