If minimalism is what you’re after, this could be the one for you.
Bellabeat’s Ivy health tracker is easily the prettiest fitness wearable out there. The company, which first made a splash into the “tech disguised as jewelry” market with its versatile Leaf Chakra pendant/clip/bracelet charm, released Ivy this past fall with the total wellness buff in mind, offering not just activity tracking but sleep, menstrual cycle, and stress monitoring, too.
Around that time, I was looking into Android-compatible smartwatches that had decent fitness tracking capabilities. My Series 2 Apple Watch — which I loved and wore into the ground — had finally kicked the bucket and, with nothing to tie me down anymore, I’d exited the iPhone ecosystem to give the Galaxy Z Flip 3 a whirl. But I’m pretty particular about my accessories and a lot of what’s out there just wasn’t doing it for me. When I eventually came across Ivy, its minimalist, screen-free design and comprehensive set of features really hooked me.
After a lot of deep breathing over the cost ($250), I bought one, figuring I’ve got all the time-telling capability I need in my Tamagotchi watch, anyway.
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A delicate, unobtrusive wellness tracker that monitors exercise, sleep, and menstrual cycles.
First and foremost, Ivy is too expensive. That was my concern going into this and it’s still my opinion after two months of use. For a device that has no display and isn’t even waterproof, a $250 price tag feels almost insulting. But hey, some of y’all like luxury and that’s your prerogative.
Overall, it is a pretty great wellness device.
Ivy pairs with the Bellabeat app to show you a daily Wellness Score that can be broken down into five goals: step count, activity (exercise), meditation, water intake, and sleep. It also generates a figure categorized as Stress Sensitivity, which takes those other factors into account to help you judge how best to approach the day. If you got a terrible night’s sleep, for example, it might warn you to go a little easier on yourself the following day. There’s also the “Readiness Score,” which similarly tries to help you plan the best time to workout based on things like heart and respiratory rates, a built-in wellness diary that lets you log your periods, and — if you pay for a subscription — a “coach” function that suggests workouts, mindfulness routines, and even meal plans.
When I first started using Ivy, around early November, the app felt lackluster and buggy. I couldn’t record my water intake, for example, no matter how many times I tried, and syncing with my phone to show all my updated numbers for the day seemed to take forever. Sometimes, it wouldn’t sync at all. Some days, the meditation feature was locked. Other days I could record a session, no problem. It was infuriating. Without a functioning app, Ivy is a $250 bracelet.
I was ready to write it off then, but sometime in the last few weeks, the app experience got significantly better. That’s the beauty of software updates, I guess, and thankfully, the latest round seems to have worked. Now, everything is running as it should be and it feels like I’m finally enjoying Ivy’s full potential.
Since getting it working smoothly, I’ve really appreciated the little details like my Readiness Score, which tends to reinforce how chill I think I’m feeling on a given day or how not chill I’m feeling in times of high stress. So far, it’s been pretty on point and has served as a good reminder to take breaks when I need them. Today, for example, I’m at a cool 2 on the Stress Sensitivity scale: “You can conquer your day with ease.” And your daily Wellness Score is displayed as a circular meter not entirely unlike Apple’s rings, which gives you the satisfaction of seeing the meter reach completion when you’ve met all your goals. The app also sends you little encouraging messages throughout the day, which are either motivating or annoying depending on my mood.
Ivy’s step counter and activity tracker seem very accurate. When I sync up with the app, it shows more or less what I’m expecting, with a higher step count than my phone tallies (since it’s not on my person all the time) and a slightly lower count than the pedometer on my Tamagotchi Smart, which I’ve previously noted is a bit generous. If you’re into integrations, you can also link it with Google Fit.
That’s all great, but what really impressed me was its sleep tracking feature. Ivy is a beast at monitoring your sleep.
The app will break down the points at which you slept most deeply, when you seemed restless, when you maybe got up in the night for a drink of water, etc. My partner has been telling me for months that my body kind of “freaks out” at night and suddenly I’ve got data to back that up. The app even checks in with you after a night (or several) of “disturbed” or “restless” sleep to make sure it logged your snoozing and awake times correctly. Sure, you can’t rely on wearables 100 percent to diagnose your troubles, but as a person with a chronic illness who spends a lot of time trying to get doctors to believe the things I’m saying, having a tool like this in my pocket can be a big help.
And on that note: I was never the person to sleep with their Apple Watch on. It’s just too bulky and the wristbands too unforgiving for my inflammatory arthritis, which causes a lot of swelling in my hands and wrists at night. But Ivy is super lightweight and its band is minuscule, making it much less of a bother when you’re trying to fall asleep.
The thinness and flexibility of the band mean that even if I don’t loosen it a bit before bed, there’s no painful digging-in come morning. There’s digging, yes, but it’s soft and elastic enough to where it doesn’t feel like a too-tight hairband around your wrist. For me, that’s huge. Swelling isn’t just a nighttime problem, and while I’d have to fiddle with the tightness of my Apple Watch band all throughout the day, I can generally leave Ivy as it is because it isn’t anywhere near as rigid.
Ivy comes with a very, very long wristband out of the box, and I loved that. It accommodates a broad spectrum of wrist sizes, which is awesome. I just trimmed mine down a couple of inches so the excess wouldn’t hang off. It’s a great example of how easy it is to make wearables work for all bodies as opposed to the tired “one-size-fits-all” approach.
And, as I mentioned earlier, it’s just a very pretty device. You can choose from rose gold, silver, or black for the stainless steel trim and a gray/white or black/white marbled faux stone that houses all the gadgetry. I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve gotten on my “bracelet,” and how fun it is to then tell people that it’s actually a fitness tracker. The battery lasts the better part of a week, too, which is basically forever for a device in 2021. I can go several days without even thinking about charging it, and when I eventually do, it’s back to 100 percent in an hour or so. It charges wirelessly on a dedicated, diamond-shaped charging pad that takes up very little space on your nightstand, about the same as an Apple Watch charger.
Ivy is definitely a “treat yoself” kind of device and gym-heads might find it to be just a little too barebones. But for a person more interested in total body wellness (and the femme aesthetic), it’s not a bad option — as long as the app continues improving. I only pray future versions will be more than just splashproof.