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It tracks my sleep, steps, intensity, activities, and more.
I have a slight obsession with fitness trackers. I’m of the habit-stacking productivity mindset: that if you track something, you can improve it. I love externalizing my athletic motivation to a device, and I find that knowing which days I should rest and which days I should push myself helps me stay consistently active. At this point, I’ve tried several—the Whoop, Apple Watch, and a borrowed FitBit—but I have landed on the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music as a jack-of-all-trades choice that boosts both my performance and recovery. More so than even tracking my fitness, this device actually forces me to listen to my body and relax. And for a limited time only, the smartwatch is on sale for up to a whopping 46 percent off.
To buy: $190 (was $350); amazon.com.
First and foremost, in my search, I cared that my smartwatch would have step and workout goals. I find that completing my rings, getting my checkbox, or whatever motivational function a specific brand uses keeps me moving throughout my day. Next, as a relatively hit-or-miss sleeper, I wanted a device that would stockpile data to help me build a helpful nighttime routine. I also love the validation when I get a bad sleep; it allows me to be more gracious with myself about resting and taking it easy. As I explored various fitness devices, I also realized that I didn’t want to have to charge my watch every night and I didn’t want to pay into a monthly fee system.
While Garmin offers a variety of watches meant for everyone from the casual mover to the ultramarathoner (not me), I chose the Garmin 245 Forerunner Music as a comfortable middle ground. My exercise regimen varies. At my core, I’m a runner who hopes to complete a marathon this year, so the device has built-in training plans and benchmarks to track my pace, GPS, heart rate, training status, and more. Still, the watch has activity settings ranging from yoga to cross-country skiing to boxing, so there’s plenty of room to explore.
The watch itself is stylish enough with a larger surface area that I prefer. Five buttons arranged around the circle control the device, and the main face shows me the time, date, my mileage, and the battery life. Throughout the day, texts and calls will pop up thanks to its connection to my phone. I leave the watch on at all times except for the shower. Upon setup, I downloaded the Garmin Connect app, a dashboard which shows me a holistic view of my data and gets to know my body over time. There are third-party apps I can also add to my watch, but I’m happy with just my tracking and my Spotify downloads.
I love its sleep tracking. Every morning, I check how well I’ve slept, a score which includes my sleep duration, stress, depth of sleep, REM, and any periods of wakefulness. Most helpfully, the device gives me a recommendation based on my recovery, telling me my excellent sleep means that I’m ready to take on the world or that my sleep was particularly restless, which may indicate that my sleep environment is too loud or too bright. The overall information is consolidated into a “body battery score” that shows how my energy levels dip or grow throughout the day. When it’s getting too low, I know to give myself a break and not beat myself up about a miles-long to-do list.
The fitness tracking is solid. When I’m ready to start an activity, I’ll click over on my watch to the screen that has all my workout presets. I can add or search a custom activity if I so choose, but generally their assortment gives me what I need. For example, the strength training setting can show me my reps, time, heart rate, and more, while the skiing setting would show me runs, elevation change, and other data more suited to that sort of training. At the end, I’ll save my workout and go about my day. When my workout syncs to the Garmin Connect app, it’ll show me my steps, how many minutes I’ve spent in intense activity throughout the week, and more. The watch is most helpful for runners, as it’ll track stride length, vertical ratio, and more, with built-in coaching assistance that’ll tell you to slow down or speed up your pace depending on your goals. If you have training status enabled, the watch can tell you that you’ve maxed out on high-impact workouts. Why not try some stretching or yoga to have a well-balanced routine? That variety prevents me from burning out, reminding me not to run myself into the ground by pushing myself too far.
I sometimes find that the watch can be a little clunky. While I prefer the depth of the Garmin device, I miss that the Apple Watch would auto-start activities when it detected movement. If I forget to press the start button, I may miss out on significant data from my day, so I have to build in the habit. Saving the workouts can be nerve-wracking too, as it’s easy to accidentally exit the screen without saving.
I opted for the music version, which I’ve taken advantage of this winter. I can sync several Spotify playlists to the watch and connect wireless earbuds to listen. It’s helpful when I want to preserve my phone battery on long runs.
While I bought the watch myself, I recently received the accompanying Garmin Index S2 Scale from the brand to amplify my experience. It connects to the app to track my weight, muscle mass, and more. The smart scale has been beyond helpful and gratifying as I try to put on more muscle, as those results take a while to show up, and I love that it works in tandem with my watch.
To buy: $130 (was $150); amazon.com.
Overall, I love the specificity and variety of the Garmin system. It’s a bit less user-friendly than the other options—or rather, requires a steeper learning curve—but is worth the investment whether you’re hoping to control your stress or are working to hone an activity or skill. Since it’s a one-time buy, I won’t have to pour money into it the way I would with other devices, and it lasts for days without a charge. The app is pleasing and thorough, and the music availability is an added bonus.
Most of all, I appreciate the accountability in taking care of my well-being. There are still so many features I have left to discover, which makes it feel like I’ve unlocked a new world of moving and learning. Join the journey and motivate yourself in 2023 by shopping the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music while it’s on sale for 46 percent off.
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