Earlier this summer, Weight Watchers introduced a new gadget called the ActiveLink. It is similar to the FitBit in that it’s cute, compact, clips onto you, and measures your activity throughout the day. At night, you plug it into your computer where it downloads the data and syncs with your online tracker. Being the gadget whore that I am, I NEEDED ONE IMMEDIATELY, without even really looking into exactly why I might need it.

It arrived around the time that I was in the middle of my Weight Watchers revolt, and apparently you can’t transfer it to another person so I was stuck with it. It sat on my desk for a while until I picked it back up last Saturday when Weight Watchers and I made up. The first week is the assessment phase, where the ActiveLink takes notes on how you go about your daily routine so it can set a baseline for earning Activity Points. To my annoyance, I learned that I couldn’t track my activity the normal way during assessment, so I don’t really know how many I earned. Not that it mattered since I wouldn’t have used them anyway, but still a small annoyance.

At long last, yesterday was my final day of assessment and my ActiveLink reported this analysis:

My initial reaction was “BOOO-SHIET! I only earned ONE activity point per day?! I worked out nearly every day this week!” What a waste of time. I know I burned way more calories than an average of one activity point per day, so this technology is certainly flawed.

And then I read the rest of the assessment:

I looked at my week’s workout schedule to see what activities I did each day and it went like this:

Sunday Row circuit
Monday Pump Challenge (high reps, low weights)
Tuesday Power walk & yoga stretch
Wednesday Pump Challenge
Thursday Hardcore Abs
Friday Rest
Saturday Row circuit

I don’t think it had synced my Saturday workout yet, thus the blank entry for that day, but even then I would have only earned one AP for rowing. BOOO-SHIET. I regularly burn 225-270 calories rowing for 30 minutes. That’s gotta be worth more than one AP. Notice that the ActiveLink spiked on Tuesday when all I did was walk and stretch.

This tells us what should have been obvious to me already: it tracks solely based on movement and not on your heart rate. It does not take into account the calories I am burning while standing relatively still but lifting heavy weights. For you spinners out there, it will probably not accurately guess your points earned while you sit on a stationary bike. And it is not taking into account the rate at which I am burning calories while resting. Not that I’m all muscle, but I like to believe that I do have more muscle mass than the average Weight Watcher in my height and weight range.

I can see how the ActiveLink would be most useful for someone who runs a lot, but for someone like me whose main activity is weight lifting, my Polar heart rate monitor is still king. This is yet another thing that makes me question if Weight Watchers is for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to use it to track food and exercise, but I can’t see how any serious health and fitness fanatic could use it as their #1 option. For the average person who needs guidance? Absolutely a great program. Luckily for Weight Watchers, that’s what most of the world is like.

ActiveLink is challenging me to earn 3AP per day based on its system, so you know what damn it, I accept this challenge. Even though I am already working out plenty, I’ll make you happy and spazz around some more by reintroducing Insanity to my daily routine. Yes, I am this competitive that I’d start INSANITY AGAIN just to prove to you that I am more active than you say. At the end of the week, I better have doubled my AP earnings or else I’m chucking this thing.


26 Comments

  1. Whitney
    Posted August 19, 2012 at 4:40 PM | Permalink

    You also have to consider baseline activity. That base may be high, so you earn*after* reaching it. Also, some activities must be named, not automatically selected in the ActiveLink. I believe cycling and rowing are among those activities. I don’t quite now how they’re measured through. I’m still waiting to receive mine to try it, but I thought I’d share what I know from my WW training.

  2. Posted August 19, 2012 at 5:14 PM | Permalink

    I was just thinking recently how I’m so glad I signed up for MyFitnessPal in addition to WW because it helps give me a more well rounded look at activity levels. I’ve noticed WW AP has some flaws since I started running: in the activity list, there is “Running, 5 mph/12 min mile” and there is “Jogging,” which suggests they see running as being at a particular speed. Yet the points are counted exactly the same. The AP is really unable to see pace as a factor, it’s just time. So I can run for 31 minutes at a slow pace and earn 8 AP, but if I run for only 30 minutes, I only earn 7 AP, doesn’t matter if my pace was much faster. Using a running app that calculates pace and seeing calories in MyFitnessPal gives me a much different picture and I like seeing it in addition to WW.

  3. Mae
    Posted August 19, 2012 at 8:15 PM | Permalink

    So I ran a mile today, and did 30 minutes of Les Mills Pump with heavy weights and high reps, only earned 1AP according to ActiveLink (burned almost 400 calories according to HRM). I tried naming the activities but it didn’t seem to change anything. Maybe I’m just not doing something right, but whatever it is I don’t know if it’s worth the five bucks a month. :*(

    • Posted September 10, 2012 at 9:20 PM | Permalink

      Try changing the position in the settings area to the one which says you are wearing it on a necklace or in a pocket…it will track more movement. Just leave it where it is though and see if it gives you a more accurate picture of your day.

    • Posted July 5, 2013 at 10:45 PM | Permalink

      I’m probably late to the AL party, but I’ve been a devoted AL subscriber for 9+ months, and this is what I’ve learned about it.

      The baseline. It’s a number out there based on your age/height/weight. Your only “earn” AP once you reach the baseline. It’s like a bucket – the bucket needs to be filled and it’s the spillage that counts toward the number earned.

      You can change how it reads the AP you earn, by where you have it on your body. Lowest points (from what I’ve found) are around your neck, highest on your belt – the pocket and on bra are in the middle (bra is higher than pocket though). Want more AP? Wear it on your waistband. Fewer? Necklace.

      If I set my goal for 2 AP, when I hit the 2 (or 100%) the lights will “dance.” If I change my goal to 6, then they won’t light up and “dance” until I reach my new 100%.

      I do see a downside, or 2, to the AL: It doesn’t wirelessly sync to a device, so if you want to find out your exact % you need to plug it in. Second, I’m on my 2nd AL because my first one fell off my waistband somewhere between the grocery store and the BFs home. I had painted the holder for the first one orange with nail polish, in the hopes that it would be more eye catching if it came loose. No dice. So this one’s painted with gold nail polish – I need to befriend someone w/ a labelmaker so I can put my name/number on the back.

      One last thing, I double up on activity monitors. The AL, which I use to see # of WW points I earn (even if I don’t use them), and my Fitbit Flex wrist band. The Flex because I work with people who also use Fitbit’s and we like to “challenge” each other on the number of steps we can get each day/week.

      Oh, I forgot – you can’t give someone else your AL. It’s linked to you.

      I know you may no longer be using the AL, but my goal is making the lights dance each day – and having a visual helps me keep going. :)

  4. Posted September 4, 2012 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

    I agree. I went for a long walk yesterday and couldn’t wait to see how many AP I earned. Imagine how I felt when I earned none! And, there was a message for me wondering why I wasn’t trying harder. It completely bummed me out. It was easier to record your own activities and get points. I don’t feel motivated – just annoyed.

  5. Gina
    Posted September 7, 2012 at 2:08 PM | Permalink

    Thank you all for your comments. You just saved me $40.00 + monthly fee.

  6. Dannewi
    Posted September 10, 2012 at 6:22 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for the review ! You nailed my concerns and glad I did not waste the $40. Our leader has been wearing one for that last several weeks and my initial thought was… how is it measuring your heart rate? I was hoping WW or even Apple would come up with an interactive program that would sync with my Polar. Something like that I may get excited about, but not a $40 keyfob that measures movement.

    Thanks again… sorry you spent the $. Maybe you can resell on eBay.

  7. Patrick
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 5:28 PM | Permalink

    I have the ActiveLink and I think it is a piece of &^%*. I workout almost everyday at the gym where I do things like, run on a treadmill, use the elliptical, ride a stationary bike, and (my fave) lift weights. During the Assessment phase I did absolutely nothing (I wanted to see what my base (i.e., workouts not included) activity level was and it was very low). Then I went back to working out. Whereas I used to get 5-7 APs, now I get nothing. I know I’m not doing the body acceleration thing, so have to enter the information manually. I put in a 60 minute treadmill run on high intensity and get no AP points. This thing is nothing more than a high tech pedometer; I don’t care what ActiveLink tries to tell you. It may work great for people who actually run/walk on sidewalks or trails, but for gym rats it’s pretty useless.

  8. Ginger
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

    I found this useful, as I am trying to decide between this and a fitbit. Anyone have opinions on how they compare? On it’s own, active link doesn’t sound promising.

  9. Cheryl
    Posted October 14, 2012 at 4:35 AM | Permalink

    If you read to the bottom of the information you get when you click on the “name my activity” link, it says there are six types of exercise that aren’t accurately measured by the ActiveLink, and one of them is rowing (others are swimming, cycling, elliptical/cross-trainer, skating, skiing and swimming). That’s because one of the things the ActiveLink monitors is your movement through space, so it’s thrown off whenever the degree to which you’re exerting yourself does not match up with how far you’ve traveled (since bicycles, skates and skis increase the distance we travel, and equipment/the resistance of the water decrease the distance). So you really have to go to the daily result, highlight the time you were doing those things and click on the icons below the timeline to tell the ActiveLink system what you were doing then. Does that help?

  10. jen
    Posted October 20, 2012 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    It’s a no-go on reselling it on Ebay. Sadly, I just bought one there and then learned that WW will only recognize the seller’s account, not mine. Their terms say, “Your Monitor is personal to you and cannot be shared or given to another person.” Other ideas?

  11. Tiffany Van Nostrand
    Posted October 21, 2012 at 6:20 PM | Permalink

    Thank you. You saved me the money.

  12. Mae
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 9:33 AM | Permalink

    Hi all, thanks for your input! I feel sort of bad about this review because honestly? I’m not even sure if I was using it right. Many other people who use it seem to like it fine (they’re mostly runners) so if your main activity involves a LOT of movement (rather than stationary lifting, etc.) then it could work out great for you. I still don’t agree with the monthly fee and nontransferrability of it though.

  13. Nicole
    Posted December 3, 2012 at 7:33 AM | Permalink

    I’m happy to see that I am not the only one who finds this thing useless. I’m beyond pissed I wasted $40 on it. I am a gym rat and this thing picks up pretty much nothing. If i am not taking spin class, then I like to do the stairmaster. I climb stairs for 30 minutes, sweat my ass off, and get 1 point. And then it’s not even consistant because the next day, I did the same cardio workout, 30 minutes stair climbing and got 0 points. I lift 5 days a week and get nothing for it. The days i do spin, i get about 4 points for the class, I think. It says i did 34 of high intensity workout so out of curiousity, I plug that into the WW activity calculator, with my weight- 34 minutes high intensity and it tells me 8, so either this active link is lying or WW is. I think I’m ditching the activity monitor and going to track the points like i always did and was always successful in weight loss. This thing just pissed me off and wasted my money. And I’m even more irritated that it can’t be transferred. Wish i saw this website before buying it!

  14. Jennifer
    Posted February 26, 2013 at 5:07 AM | Permalink

    I have to say I wanted to flush this thing down the toilet when I first got it because it certainly wasn’t agreeing with me. That was in June and now I make sure I have it on everyday. You have to remember you have to reach your baseline before you earn any activity points. Your baseline is just based on your age, weight, height and gender. If you sit all day and go to the gym for an hour odds are you have not reached your baseline and that means you won’t earn any activity points. Back in December I was gaining a little and couldn’t figure out why, I had actually added 2 bootcamps and my food was the same. I want back and looked month by month… I live on the east coast so once it gets cold I love my slippers and my couch and it showed. In the summer I was out talking to neighbors or whatever but not on the couch at 7. I find it to be very helpful and really encourage you to give it another shot

  15. Posted March 2, 2013 at 10:26 PM | Permalink

    I agree with you all about the activities not being accurate. Yesterday my ‘workout’ was my slow day where I walked my dog for 3 miles. Not a fast paced walk, just a stroll. Today I did 25 minutes on the elliptical machine and did Jillian Michaels Extreme Shed and Shred levels 1 AND 2, which is a 1 hour 21 minute kick your butt killer workout. I was excited to plug in my Activity Link tonight only to find that it only registered me at 5 Activity Points for this. REALLY?!?!?!?!?!?!? 5??? But a stroll with my dog yesterday earned me 8??? I am very frustrated and will probably cancel my membership. Wonder if WW will take the Active Link back? Mine is on from the moment I wake up till the moment I go to bed so there is no question about whether or not it is on long enough for me to reach my baseline. I have also gone in and told it what activity I was doing for the time I was doing it and there seems to be no change in what I am getting for Activity Points. Definately a waste of time and money in my opinion!

  16. Posted March 25, 2013 at 6:01 PM | Permalink

    I wish I’d read this before buying the ActiveLink. I’ll still use it but like you I feel jipped. I worked my butt off on the eleptical today and only earned 1 point plus the other walking I did today. Are you still using it? :(

  17. Erin
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 7:19 AM | Permalink

    I have to agree with Cheryl about your problem–you MUST name some of your activities to get accurate points. I was really disappointed when I started cycling again with my ActiveLink–after a 22 mile ride where I battled wind and hills and was going about 20 mph the whole time, my green bars were only at 75%. This surprised me. Not only had I gone to the gym that morning but I just had a killer bike workout… BUT then I went to the ActiveLink page and chose “name your activities” after I told ActiveLink I was biking during the time I was on the road and gave it my intensity level, my points shot WAY up and I was at nearly 150% of goal. Try that–I think it will drastically improve your PP values…

    Hope that helps!

  18. Posted May 11, 2013 at 7:00 PM | Permalink

    I just got done with my activelink challenge. I went to Crossfit yesterday for one hour..yes crossfit and it said I earned 2 points. I was expecting to see at least 10! I can barely move when I finish crossfit due to the intensity of the workout. Today, I walked my dog for 35 minutes with my first grade son and I earned 3 points.??? I see that some people say that naming activities help but I really don’t know see a comparable name in the list for crossfit which is a high intensity bootcamp. Really frustrated with this thing..Any suggestions other than chunking it? And what is a better monitor?

  19. Posted May 23, 2013 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

    If there’s a way to convert the calories burned i think this would be a good idea. Connect your fitbit to myfitnesspal. It only gives you a calorie adjustment after you’ve burned your BMR. Thats what i plan on doing anyway!

  20. Nicole
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

    Save your money on this and go buy a heart rate monitor, makes much more sense and it’s way more accurate as you wear a band around your chest. I love mine.

  21. Debbie
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 6:05 PM | Permalink

    I have been losing weight and Activelink has helped. The idea is for us to get off our butts and try to keep actibpve throughout the day, not sit all day and then work out like a maniac at the gym for an hour. I earn 8 points a day – how? I get out of my chair and walk around. I take stairs everywhere and take 4 walks a day. I move around as much as possible. While I understand that this is not possible for everyone, it is healthier to move theoughout the day than to sit all day and workout for an hour.

  22. Posted December 11, 2013 at 8:07 AM | Permalink

    I have enjoyed reading all of the responses. I have experienced the same frustrations but love that that I want to get to 100% every day no matter that I get more points for walking the dogs than getting on the bike for spin class. I know what it takes for me to lose weight – even if my AL does not.

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