A Fitness Tracker for Lightweights: the Motiv Ring

Over the summer, I was complaining to a colleague about my love/hate relationship with fitness trackers. I fell in love with the Fitbit for a few years but I found their trackers didn't really last. That's something I'm less inclined to be okay with given how much more I pay attention now to where my waste goes. And, the other factor important for me is a tracker that fits nicely under my boxing gloves — something that sometimes wrist-based trackers aren't always great at.

My colleague then suggested I check out the Motiv fitness tracker.

On the surface, I was excited so naturally I ordered it immediately. The price point ($199.99) made it not so expensive that it seemed unattainable but definitely pricey enough so that I had some expectations about it being moderately good going in. After using it for a couple of months now, I can walk you through the good, the bad and my closing thoughts on whether it's a good buy or not.


Form Factor
It looks pretty slick! I got the rose gold which looks more brown in most lights (whatevs) and so far most people just think it's a ring until it starts glowing in a dark bar while I talk with my hands I share info about what it really does.

Motiv Ring Options
Motiv Ring options sent my way – this feels a little wasteful (all the packaging, plastic)

I have thin hands and I thought I'd have a hard time finding a size but the ring sizer they sent ahead of time helped me out big time as I was able to wear a tester out in public to see which size was most appropriate. I went with a size 8.

I wash my hands a lot in an average day so I was concerned about how this would hold up in water. So far, so good. I'm not actively looking to submerge it for long periods but I also don't need to take it off when I am doing anything particularly wet. Or, if I forget to take it off in the shower, it's not the biggest deal.

This comes in handy with my current routine of kickboxing as my hands get sweaty in my boxing gloves. I haven't had any issues wearing this while working out with my hands wrapped, though, as a rule of thumb I've been wearing this on my left (non-dominant) hand so that most of the punches I throw will tend to be a lighter. I do find it's a little awkward sometimes on that finger so I have taken to sometimes moving to the thumb on my non-dominant hand (something Motiv doesn't recommend).


Battery life
The team at Motiv quotes battery life at 3 days and that is the absolute maximum you'll get out of this thing.

On a Sunday evening, I got a notification (nice touch!) to charge my ring so I got it up to 100% before bed. By Wednesday evening after work, the battery is critically low (at 1%).

I know it's a small battery but I do wonder how often it syncs with my phone and whether adjusting that setting could help extend the time between charges. This isn't something customizable in the app yet, unlike my Fitbit Charge HR where I was able to squeeze out more battery via fewer syncs.

The App
It looks nice, but isn't super intelligent. While I appreciate the whole "active minutes" thing as a focus, it would be nice if I had the option to focus on a different metric given it tracks calories, steps AND active minutes.

Font weirdness
While this is a cool concept in theory, it's poorly executed down to typography (see the illegible sub headline).

The threshold for active minutes is pretty low. My 10 minute walk to the bus or subway was called out as active minutes when it's just a natural part of my day and I wouldn't really track that as a work out. My Fitbit generally got this right, so it's disappointing that Motiv struggles to recognize a real workout from New Yorker power walking.

The user interface for the workouts tab is also poorly thought out. There's no rhyme or reason to the workouts in it and there's no ability to search, filter or browse them. Want to find a good indoor workout to do because it's too cold to run outside? Good luck! Want to save a workout you liked to get to it more quickly next time? Nope, that's not a thing either. Don't remember which workout you downloaded and want to sort by that? Lo siento, but still the answer is no.

I don't understand who this app is for as it doesn't do any one thing particularly well. It's got a wealth of rich data about me but limited ways for me to gain insights. The app is tightly coupled to the ring but that's about all it's good for. I'd prefer if there were more ways to transfer my data out of this and into other apps. I have some bones to pick with the free Nike Run Club app, but even that does a much better job of tracking activity in a way that makes sense to people who run (such as splits and pace) but also keeps it simple for the non-runners.


The lack of any usable insights coming out of this tracker (via its app) makes it not worth buying.

At the end of the day fitness trackers are only useful in so far as how much they can actually help you track your current state and progress against a certain goal. I'm not really interested in tracking every minute I happen to walk around (which their active minutes seems to do). I'd like to more accurately track the moments I devote to fitness and get a better handle on how active I really am, not be deceived into thinking I've been good because I sprinted to the bus for a few minutes today.

I would give Motiv the benefit of the doubt if this was an extremely new product but that's not the case here. Their app is solidly in version 2+ and the company was founded in 2013.