Apple Watch Series 5 as a Fitness Watch: Yay or Nay?

Apple Watch, Apple Watch Series 5 as a Fitness Watch: Yay or Nay?, The Travel Bug Bite

I got my first Apple Watch in November of 2019. I had previously used Fitbits in the past but after getting an iPhone, I wanted to check out the Apple Watch. For the first few days I absolutely hated it. Once I got used to it and figured out all the settings, I absolutely loved it. Now it’s been six months and I can’t see myself ever going back.

Smart Watch

The thing that I was most worried about when switching from Fitbit to Apple, was that the Apple Watch was a smart watch. As cool as the functions of receiving calls and responding to texts are, I primarily wanted to use the Apple Watch as a fitness tracker. That is why I got so disappointed when I found out that watch wouldn’t alert me when I reached my step goal.

Of course, there are other ways to track fitness with the Apple Watch. But I am absolutely step-obsessed! Even now on hikes with my husband, I turn green with envy when his Fitbit dings and he yells “10,000 steps!” My pedometer app gets excited too when I reach my goal, but I have to click on it and don’t received an alert. I have checked online to see if I can change this and apparently there is no way to do it at the moment.

Instead of focusing on steps, the Apple Watch has three rings: one for standing up every hour, one for minutes of exercise and one for active calories burned. You can change the the amounts in the settings based on your level of activity and fitness goals. The watch does have really cool graphics for when you close each ring and then once you’ve closed them all. If only they could add steps as a fourth thing!

As a smart watch however, it can do a lot that the Fitbit can’t. You can respond to Facebook messages and texts. You can use it to take photos via your iPhone. If you get the more expensive cellular version then it itself is basically a smart phone. However, I kept it simple and got the regular version with just GPS.


  • Step counting: as I already mentioned, it doesn’t focus on steps like a fitness watch would. It has a pedometer that can be displayed on the watch face but it doesn’t alert you when you reach your goals.
  • Price: the Apple Watch is more expensive than a Fitbit. The new Series 5 is currently available for $299 on Amazon, which isn’t terrible The Series 3 is available for $179 and there aren’t too many huge differences between the two watches to be honest. I had the Series 3 first and got the newer, sleeker version just because it was newer.
  • Too many functions: there is so much going on with the Apple Watch that makes it hard to get used to. I’m very tech-savvy but it took a week for me to fully understand it and not get frustrated. Once you get the hang of it it’s not that bad, but switching from a fitness watch will be quite the shock.
  • Apple only: when I first got my iPhone, I used my Fitbit with it without any issue. But when I upgraded from the Series 3 to the Series 5, I was hoping that my Android-using husband could take the Series 3. Apparently there are ways to make it work on an Android, but it takes some series hacking and is not worth it. Obviously it makes sense that Apple watches are only compatible with iPhones. But at the same time, people could discover their love for Apple by starting off with the Apple Watch. The lack of compatibility with other tech is what makes people hate Apple in the first place. It’s the reason it took me 27 years to pick up my first iPhone.
  • Paid apps: many of the apps that make the watch better are paid. They happen to be quite cheap, under $5 without reoccurring payments. But it is still a pain to have to spend more money after purchasing an already expensive watch.


  • Sleek and pretty: okay, it’s vain but these watches are beautiful! I scratched my first watch so I now wear an ugly cover on mine when I’m at home or exercising. Every time I take it off, I swoon all over again.
  • Amazing at tracking: it tracks everything perfectly! There was one day when I had the Series 3 when it froze and I lost all my progress. This only happened once in six months. One of my big issues with my Fitbit was its inconsistent tracking of me standing up every hour. The Apple Watch tracks that, as well as all exercises and sleep perfectly. 
  • Swimming tracking: the Apple Watch tracks swimming! It is completely water resistance up to 50 meters. So you could even go diving with it as long as you’re not going too deep. I use it to track my laps and it’s amazingly accurate. When you swim 40+ laps it can be a huge pain to keep count by yourself. I love that I can turn my brain off and just keep swimming, like Dory!
  • Battery life: I live with my watch on. I track every exercise I do, which is many short ones during the weekday and long three-hour hikes on weekends. Then I sleep in it to track my sleeping. I still only have to charge it once a day, usually first thing in the morning while I drink my coffee. The only time I needed to charge twice was when I tracked a seven-mile hike and a 90-minute swim. Still, the battery life on this thing is amazing.
  • Intuitive thinking: this watch is smarter than me. Sometimes I forget to track a run and more recently, I haven’t been tracking my rowing workouts because they have been super short. After my fourth five minute rowing session, the watch dinged and asked me, “would you like to record your rowing?” It’s amazing that it can figure these things out and help you out when you’re distracted and forgetful. Similarly, it reminds you to stop tracking an exercise if it senses that you stopped. 
  • Endless watch head options: there are so many cool designs that you can swipe through on your watch to change its appearance. You can also pay for more but there are so many free ones available. You can have quite a few set up on your watch so that you just need to swipe for a whole new design. This is great if you want something to match your outfit. When I went out wearing a fancy red dress for Valentine’s Day I swiped to a simple red watch head. This only showed the time and not all the stats from my day of workouts.
  • Great watch band selection: there are so many watch bands to pick from. Leather, metal with magnet, bracelet style, Velcro and rubber. I buy mine on AliExpress which has a slow delivery but a great selection for very cheap. I already had a bunch when I switched from the Series 3 and I was frustrated thinking I would have to buy new ones for the Series 5. Turns out that they made it compatible and if you had the smaller size of both watches, the bands fit both!


I don’t have the newest Fitbit and I haven’t tried any other smart watches. But I find that the Apple Watch Series 5 is a great fitness tracker for my purposes. It is amazingly accurate and I trust it to save my progress, give me detailed reports and keep me motivated. I have lost almost 20 pounds since January and I give a lot of credit to this watch.

It’s like a mini-personal trainer that will give you advice even when you don’t ask for it. It will often tell me to get to sleep earlier or remind me that yesterday I was more ahead in closing my circles than I am today. These reminders make me roll my eyes and wonder if it’s healthy to have a watch know me so well and control my life. Then I get up and do what it says because it helps me stay healthy. I love my Apple Watch and won’t go back to anything else. Except maybe the newer watch once it comes out.

Apple Watch, Apple Watch Series 5 as a Fitness Watch: Yay or Nay?, The Travel Bug Bite

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