Gruve Personal Activity Monitor Review

Increasing Your Movement Throughout the Day

Gruve
Gruve. Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Gruve system is designed to encourage you to increase your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (N.E.A.T.) throughout the day. That is the movement you do in everyday activities -- walking around the office or school, doing chores, shopping, etc.

The Gruve alerts you by vibrating when you have been inactive too long, and the indicator light changes from red to yellow, blue and green as your near your daily movement and calorie burning goal.

You can view your data online. This is a system that can help combat the health risks of sitting too much as well as increase the calories burned throughout the day.

What the Gruve Measures - What it Doesn't

The Gruve has an advanced mechanism that detects motion. It uses internal formulas to translate that into calories burned. It also records your movement time per minute.

When you upload your data through a USB cord, you can see your activity zones and calories burned by day, week and hour. However, unlike a traditional pedometer, you won't see a step count or distance estimate. The Gruve does not have a mobile app, you will need to be able to connect it to a computer as it doesn't have Bluetooth.

The first week that you wear the Gruve you are supposed to make no changes in your daily routine. It records your activity and calories to set a baseline.

After the assessment week, you get your Green Goal -- the number of calories you must burn above your resting metabolic rate to achieve a weight management goal.

This is supposed to start off low and then increase if you achieve it on eight out of 14 days.

You are also given a recommended calorie intake goal. The combination of limiting your eating and moving more should help you lose weight.

Download the Gruve Guide .pdf document for a 12 week program to set goals, track your changes in diet and activity and guide yourself to a healthier active lifestyle.

It incorporates many tools and advice similar to our free Walk of Life 10-Week Program.

Computer requirement: The Gruve requires a USB connection to a Windows XP or higher computer or the Mac LION system. You also charge its battery via the USB cable and should recharge it every two to three days.

Getting to Green with the Gruve

Wear the Gruve on your waistband throughout the day. If you want an indication of how you are doing towards your daily goal, press the Halo button and see what color you are at. Red means you are under 25% of your goal, orange under 50%, yellow under 75%, blue under 100% and green once you have reached 100%

There is no numerical display on the unit, so to see your numbers you need to plug the Gruve into a USB port of a computer where you have installed their syncing program, and where you have an active internet connection. Then you will be able to see your data on the Gruve Dashboard online.

Good Vibrations Remind You to Get Up and Move

Sitting still for too long is a health risk according to evolving research.

The Gruve alerts you with a vibration if you have been sitting for too long -- mine vibrated after each 57 inactive minutes. It vibrates when you reach your Energy Conservation Point -- the point at which your body goes into a low-energy hibernation because you have been inactive. This varies from 45 to 90 minutes depending on your health profile. You can adjust the hours of the day when it gives you the warning, or turn it off via your online dashboard.

I wished that this timing could be adjusted. While I appreciate that it is set by my health factors, I would like to be alerted after only 30 inactive minutes based on inactivity research that shows better health effects if you move more often.

The vibration was intense enough to get your attention, but also silent so others won't hear it.

Gruve Dashboard Data

When you sync your data, you will be able to see two activity indicators.

Calories: You can view your activity calories burned by day, hour, and minute. The calories shown deduct your resting metabolic rate calories, so they are likely to be a lower number than shown on many devices where those are included.

Activity Zones: You can see a breakdown for each day of how much time you spent being sedentary (red), in low activity (yellow), moderate activity (blue) and high activity (green). Most of my walking ends up being tracked in the green zone, which should be for brisk walking or more intense exercise.

By viewing your daily zones, you should be motivated to spend less time in the sedentary red zone. I wish there was a way to set goals to reduce the time in the red zone, increase time in the green zone, etc. and see that on the chart.

Bottom Line on the Gruve

What I liked:

  • It was easy to set up and operate. It's hard to go wrong with a device that just has one button. It is lightweight, silent and easy to wear on your waistband or in a pocket. It never came loose from my waistband.
  • I like getting the vibration alert when I have been sitting still for too long.
  • I like the daily activity chart as I want to decrease my sedentary time.
  • The printable Gruve Guide program is a good guide to set weight loss and health goals and develop healthy habits.

What I didn't like:

  • While some people like the simplicity of the color indicator rather than seeing numbers, I'm a numbers person. I prefer units that have a numerical display on the unit itself, so you don't have to rely on a computer download to really see where you are. I would also like to have a step count.
  • I would like to be able to modify the vibration alert so you could set it to vibrate more often if you wish.
  • I would like to be able to set and track a goal for decreasing sedentary time, increasing moderate or high activity, rather than just a display.
  • The printable Gruve Guide is a good weight loss/active lifestyle program, but more of it should be incorporated into the Gruve Dashboard. The SlimCOACH activity monitor has a similar color display but also has many tools online for diet planning and tracking.
  • There is no social aspect to the Gruve -- no way to post your result to Facebook, Twitter, or email.
  • There are no badges, trophies, or other motivational rewards for achieving daily or weekly goals.
  • The individual coaching is limited.
  • You have to have a computer to use the Gruve, it doesn't have a mobile app and can't transmit data via Bluetooth.

If they could improve the Gruve dashboard to have more of those motivating factors, I would give it a stronger recommendation.

Update 2016: As more fitness trackers add inactivity alerts, if you have a smart phone to run apps, I would suggest the Jawbone UP2 or UP3 instead.

Manufacturer's Site

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer.

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