Fitbit Charge 2: Essential tips and tricks

How to get the most out of your new Fitbit Charge 2
Fitbit Charge 2: Tips and tricks

The Fitbit Charge 2 isn't as smartwatch-esque as the Fitbit Blaze, but it's got a leg up on fitness tracking thanks to the VO2 Max data.

There's also a lot more to figure out compared to the Fitbit Alta. Charge 2 on the whole remains simple enough to figure out, given the time.

Essential reading: Which Fitbit should you buy?

If you'd like a helping hand learning the ins and outs of your new Fitbit tracker, here's a handy guide with plenty of tips and tricks along the way.

How to navigate the Charge 2 interface

Fitbit Charge 2 tips and tricks

The Fitbit Charge 2 main menu shows your steps taken, floors climbed, distance traveled, calories burned, heart rate and real-time exercise stats on your wrist. Tapping around the tracker's screen on the actual band or the body of the tracker - because it's not a touchscreen - will bring up the different stats.

Pressing the button takes you into specific menus where tapping will show you more options for each. If you're still not sure what all the tapping does, here's a cheat sheet:

Heart rate - Shows your current heart rate. Tap to switch to your resting heart rate.

Exercise - Tap to move through your exercise choices, then press and hold the button to start the specific exercises. Press and hold the button again to end the exercise. Options include run, weights, treadmill, workout, elliptical, bike and interval workout.

Alarms - Tap to scroll through any alarms you've set. Press and hold the button to disable or enable any alarms.

Stopwatch - Press and hold the button to start the stopwatch. Press the button to stop and resume the stopwatch. Press and hold the button again to reset the stopwatch.

Relax - Tap to choose a guided breathing session. Press and hold the button to start the session.

How to change the Charge 2 face

Just like the Fitbit Alta and Blaze, there are several clock faces to choose from. Unlike Alta, all seven of Charge 2's faces are vertical but you can find the customization page in the same place.

Tap on the account tab again to find the various faces then pick whichever one you prefer, then tap the back arrow. Selecting one will automatically sync it and the next time you turn your wrist over, and the face should be changed.

Switching Charge 2 bands

Fitbit Charge 2 tips and tricks

Fitbit has a decent selection of sport and fancier special edition bands to choose from should you wish to switch up styles.

The $29.95 Classic band comes in black, plum, blue and teal. The special editions include black with gunmetal body or lavender and rose gold, which are pricier at $179.95. Like the Alta, the Charge 2 will also get Luxe leather accessory band options, in brown, blush pink and indigo, which cost $69.95.

Changing the Charge 2 band is once again very similar to Alta. On the back of your device there are latches that, when pressed, release the tracker from the band. Slide your choice of band into the same slot and it will snap into place.

Using connected GPS on Charge 2

Like the Blaze, the Charge 2 doesn't have GPS on board, but it will work with the sensors on your nearby smartphone to track GPS data (known as connected GPS).

Running and biking are the two that will track your GPS data. To double check, you should see a phone icon at the top, meaning the exercise offers connected GPS and your device is connected to a GPS signal.

Unfortunately, the Fitbit Charge 2 doesn't use its real estate to display your route like the Samsung Gear Fit2 or Microsoft Band 2. You'll instead have to sync your tracker with your mobile phone to see the route, along with additional stats from your workout.

Understanding Charge 2's VO2 Max

Fitbit Charge 2 tips and tricks

To see your VO2 Max/cardio fitness score, head to your Fitbit dashboard and tap the heart rate tile. Swiping on the graph will bring you to the cardio fitness graph where you'll see your VO2 Max/cardio fitness level.

Typically, VO2 Max is measured in labs and includes running on treadmills with a mask strapped to your nose and mouth to gauge the amount of air you inhale and exhale. Some tests also require pricking your finger to measure the oxygen in your blood. It's far more accurate of course, but not everyone can measure their fitness levels this way.

Fitbit is only estimating your score based on the data it has collected from you including your gender and age compared to other people in your gender and age group.

Fitbit recommends doing long runs - that last about 10 minutes or more - on flat terrain helps improve the accuracy of the score. Higher intensity runs also provide better estimates.

How to use the guided breathing Relax app

Fitbit Charge 2 tips and tricks

The Fitbit Charge 2 measures the beat-to-beat changes in your heart rate, known as heart rate variability (HRV). As you inhale, your heart rate increases, and as you exhale, your heart rate decreases. Your tracker uses these changes in heart rate to recommend a personalized breathing pattern during each guided breathing session.

To start Relax, press the side button until the icon pops up. The two-minute session is the first option or you can tap again to choose the five-minute session. Press and hold the button to start then follow the prompts to stay still and breathe deeply during the calibration period - which lasts about 20-40 seconds; you'll see the phrase 'sensing your breathing' on your tracker's screen.

Once calibrations are set, follow the circle on your screen by inhaling and exhaling in time with the animation. You'll also start to see feedback in the form of little 'sparkles' on the screen. The more sparkles you see, the more in sync you are with the guide. Breathing in and out slowly can increase how in sync you are with the guide.

Two minutes feels like a long time, but after using it I started to see why the five-minute option was added - it actually flies by pretty quickly. If you're still not used to it, quit the program early by holding the button down. To help keep you stress-free, all notifications and alarms are also muted when doing the breathing sessions.

Setting hourly step reminders

Fitbit Charge 2 tips and tricks

Step reminders first arrived on the Alta and have since been made available on all the Fitbit devices except One and Zip. Rather than just standing for a bit, the reminders encourage you to walk 250 steps per hour - which really is just a few minutes of walking.

The minimum steps can't be changed but you can customize the default tracking that's set to 9:00 am - 6:00 pm, seven days a week.

There are two ways to change this. Open the Fitbit app and select Hourly Activity (the one with the red figure with its arms up). Then tap the settings gear in the top right corner.

Or once again in the app, go and tap on the Fitbit Charge 2 icon twice to see "Reminders to move". From there, you can also adjust the number of hours per day and set the days of the week where you'll be reminded to reach your step goal.

Shop for Fitbit trackers on Amazon

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  • Sassypants1 says:

    I would  like to know if the fitbit charge 2 will sync with the  S7. I know I had problems in the beginning  syncing the Blaze with the S7. But finally got  to  sync

    • l.prasuethsut says:

      The Charge 2 should be able to sync with your S7 phone if you have the Fitbit app downloaded. 

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