It used to be simple to weigh myself. I’d climb on my bathroom scale and my current weight (let’s not talk about it) would appear in an inch-wide window.
But times have changed. Now when I stand on a scale, I see not only my weight but also my body mass index (BMI) score, both displayed on a comparatively large 3-inch LCD screen. My scale also connects wirelessly to my smartphone, where an app keeps track of my pound-reduction progress (or lack thereof) by automatically generating charts and graphs.
It’s not that Wahoo Fitness’ Balance Smartphone Scale is any more difficult to use than a regular scale. It works as expected — just step on it. And at $80, it’s not too outrageously priced. It’s just that there’s more data generated, and there are more ways to study and dissect said data. That makes tracking your weight — and your progress losing it or gaining it — more accessible, provided you’re OK with relying on technology even more than you already are for your health routine.
We’ve seen several of these Wi-Fi-enabled and Bluetooth-enabled scales recently. They pair with your smartphone and talk to an app, a social network, or a cloud-based service (or all three) to help you track your body stats. Withings makes a good one, as do Fitbit and other health-tracking product manufacturers. Wahoo’s scale is intriguing because it has a couple of features that make the scale very easy to use. First, there’s the app itself (which is iOS only for now). The scale and the phone sync to each other via Bluetooth, but the pairing happens directly through the app, not in the iPhone’s Bluetooth menu.
Also, there’s no need to schlep your iPhone or iPad into the bathroom to sync your weight and BMI measurements to the app. Each time you step on the scale, your stats I are shown on the LCD display and also locked into the scale’s internal memory. So if your phone isn’t near the scale, your weigh-in gets saved, and the next time you open the phone app within the scale’s range, any weights saved on the scale automatically get mass-uploaded to your phone.
The Balance can save the results of up to 130 weigh-ins and allows for up to 16 different user profiles. Profile setup is simple. First, you enter your identifying initials and your current weight range, your goal weight, and your height, which is needed to calculate your BMI. The weight range is used to identify the particular user, and the scale will automatically recognize the particular person who steps on the scale and display their initials on the LCD screen. If two or three people using the scale fall within the same weight range, they’re out of luck — the scale won’t be able to recognize which user it is, and the weighee will have to manually select their profile if their weigh-in is to be properly logged. This can be a pain for users who live with somebody possessing a similar body type if they both want to use the scale.
If this is a deal-breaker, I would suggest checking out the Healthometer Body Fat Scale. At half the price, it measures and maintains a progress record of body fat percentage, BMI, hydration, and bone mass for up to four individuals. There’s no app, so you don’t get any of the charts or graphs unless you make them yourself, but you don’t need a smartphone to use it.
Wahoo’s scale performed well in my tests. Whenever my phone was within 30 feet of the scale, the scale’s Bluetooth indicator appeared, even when the app wasn’t open. Launching the app, I got an immediate readout of each weight along with a cumulative date-based table showing the day-to-day changes. Since it uses the latest Bluetooth spec, it’s capable of operating at very low power — it runs on only two AAA batteries. Also, I like the look of it. It’s an unobtrusive 13-inch square of clear glass on top of a white plastic foundation. There are no visibile buttons, just one switch on the belly that toggles between pounds and kilogram readouts.
The Balance works with a number of other apps, though none offer much more than the Wahoo Wellness app, which is already pretty basic. But if you want to share your weight with others like a coach or a “fitness buddy,” the scale can upload your data automatically to registered accounts at MyFitnessPal. Of course after I let the Balance measure my BMI for a week, I’m not quite ready to share. That would be TMI.