How to Get Started with Fitbit Premium (and Why You’d Want To)

How to Get Started with Fitbit Premium (and Why You’d Want To)
Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo

Fitbit Premium is one of many fitness subscriptions you can sign up for, but unlike most, it’s designed to be a complement to the Fitbit device you already own. Fitbit’s paid service gives you deeper insights than its free version, as well as on-demand workouts, personalised instructions, and more, but is it really worth $15.49 a month? We’ve been putting it through its paces to try and find out.

Fitbit is currently offering a 90-day free trial of Fitbit Premium, which gives you plenty of time to figure out whether or not it’s the right service for you. Here’s what you can expect when you sign up.

Workouts and guided programs

You don’t get live, Peloton-style classes with Fitbit Premium, but you do get a selection of on-demand videos that you can work through at your leisure, which you can filter by duration, difficulty, muscle group and more. There are two main sections within the Fitbit app: simple on-demand workout videos and more carefully planned collections of activities called guided programs.

Workouts and guided programs in the Fitbit app. (Screenshot: Fitbit) Workouts and guided programs in the Fitbit app. (Screenshot: Fitbit)

Dive into the Workouts section and you’ll see videos covering running, walking, meditation, stretching, particular muscle zones, core strength, exercises for kids, yoga, and even recipes. There’s not a massive amount of content here, but the videos are simple and straightforward — you watch an example of what to do, and then you have to follow it.

The Guided Programs section of the Fitbit app takes you on a more precisely tailored journey toward a personal goal — eating less sugar, sleeping better, improving your strength, etc. These can last days or weeks, linking different workout videos together, and the app will prompt you to take a new session. Though the core video content is the same, it’s a bit more like having a personal trainer.

Confusingly, Fitbit runs Fitbit Premium alongside Fitbit Coach, a slightly cheaper subscription service built from an acquisition back in 2015. As far as we can make out, a Fitbit Premium subscription gets you access to Fitbit Coach, and they’re both split up into workouts and guided programs — there’s some crossover, but some differences in content too, which is strange. It would seem that Fitbit still hasn’t got around to merging both these services together (Fitbit Coach remains a separate mobile app, for example).

Workouts and guided programs in the Fitbit Coach app. (Screenshot: Fitbit) Workouts and guided programs in the Fitbit Coach app. (Screenshot: Fitbit)

We were able to start a guided program in Fitbit Coach (which is also available on the web), for example, which was then nowhere to be seen in the Premium section of the main Fitbit app. You can also leave feedback after workouts as to how you found them in terms of toughness, but this only seems to affect the data logged in your Fitbit stats and the difficulty of the exercises you get suggested to you.

More detailed statistics and insights

Fitbit offers plenty of metrics and feedback without a subscription, but paying for Fitbit Premium subscription takes this to the next level. First up is a more detailed breakdown of your sleep score, which takes into account heart rate during sleep if you’re wearing your Fitbit overnight, and gives you more data about each sleep stage: awake, asleep, deep sleep, light sleep, REM sleep, and looking at how restorative your sleep has been.

Get more data on your sleep habits. (Screenshot: Fitbit) Get more data on your sleep habits. (Screenshot: Fitbit)

You’ll also find more general insights and tips around sleep in the Fitbit app if you’re a Premium subscriber — advice on how to boost your score, for example, or an overview of how your sleep patterns have changed over the last month. It’s not a massive leap from what you get with Fitbit’s free sleep-tracking feature, but it does go into greater depth.

Then there’s the Health Metrics dashboard, which offers more advanced metrics, including your breath rate, your resting heart rate, your heart rate variability, changes in your skin temperature, and your blood oxygen saturation level. Each reading comes with an explanation of what it might mean, with changes tracked over time like the rest of the data linked to your Fitbit account.

A Premium subscription also gets you a Wellness Report, which collects all your health and fitness data into one compact document. It’s really intended to share with your doctor and other health professionals, so they can see your fitness levels at a glance, but it’s also useful to look back on yourself. It’s like the stats you’ll find in the app writ large, with more attached analysis.

You get a few different screens and views as a Fitbit Premium subscriber. (Screenshot: Fitbit) You get a few different screens and views as a Fitbit Premium subscriber. (Screenshot: Fitbit)

You need to have been using the Fitbit app and an associated Fitbit device for at least 30 days before you’ll be able to generate a Wellness Report, which gives you some idea of how in-depth and comprehensive it is. The report is generated in PDF format, so you can easily print it out or email it to whoever needs it.

Other features and notes

Having a Fitbit device is pretty essential to the Fitbit Premium experience — it wouldn’t make much sense to sign up for the service without one — but any Fitbit wearable will do. Obviously some Fitbit gadgets report more data than others, but whatever device you have, it’ll work well with the Premium subscription.

Meditations are also part of the Fitbit Premium experience. (Screenshot: Fitbit) Meditations are also part of the Fitbit Premium experience. (Screenshot: Fitbit)

A few extras are included with a Premium subscription. Fitbit offers mindfulness features, which are similar to workouts but focused on meditation and relaxation, with short audio clips designed to help you when you’re struggling to sleep, dealing with uncertainty, or feeling uncomfortable in your own skin. They can’t compete with the content available on dedicated meditation apps, but they’re a useful bonus to have.

A Fitbit Premium subscription also gets you access to extra challenges through the Fitbit app, in addition to the ones available free for everyone. You can create custom challenges too, picking a metric such as steps or active minutes and then challenging a friend or family member to see who can achieve the goal fastest.

It’s worth noting that Fitbit also offers a one-to-one health coaching service through its app, which really is like having your own personal trainer. It’s priced like a personal trainer too, because this kind of personalised, direct communication with a professional is going to set you back a hefty $US55 ($72) a month. If you think you might be able to get value from it, you can try it free for a week.

Premium also gives you access to custom challenges. (Screenshot: Fitbit) Premium also gives you access to custom challenges. (Screenshot: Fitbit)

Fitbit Premium seems like a nice extra for Fitbit users rather than an essential service. The workouts and programs are well done and professional, and particularly good for beginners and casual users, but we’d like to see more workouts, better integration with feedback from Fitbit devices, and Fitbit Coach folded in.