Health

I Wore Garmin’s New Smartwatch for 2 Weeks—Here’s How It Improved My Workouts

Ever since I got my first GPS running watch in the early days of fitness trackers, I’ve always had something on my wrist during workouts. The Garmin Venu 2 is just the latest in a whole load of trackers and smartwatches that I’ve cycled through since then.

But after wearing it for almost two weeks, I can honestly say it’s one that I definitely don’t want to take off.

My must-haves for fitness trackers started pretty basic: I’ve always looked for accuracy—both in heart rate and GPS, since I run outdoors frequently—ease of use, and reliability. Over the past couple years, however, as trackers added more and more capabilities, I’ve also tacked on health-monitoring features to my list, too, such as sleep and stress measures.

As fitness trackers become more complex, though, they run the risk of becoming too complicated to use efficiently, or they lose the intuitiveness I admire in slap-on-and-go watches. I’ve been wearing the Garmin Venu Sq, the company’s entry-level, budget friendly option, and I love its ease of use and simplicity. So when a sample of the Garmin Venu 2 came across my desk—a more expensive, higher-end GPS model—I was curious whether added capabilities would mean any added confusion.

My concerns, however, were unfounded: The Garmin Venu 2 is a straight-forward, user-friendly vessel for some really high-tech fitness information.

How I Tested

SELF’s panel of fitness experts helped us determine which criteria to emphasize when testing fitness trackers, including factors like accuracy, ease of use, battery life, and special features.

I kept this criteria in mind throughout my testing period. For nearly two weeks, I’ve worn it on outdoor runs (including hills, speed work, easy runs, and long runs), outdoor walks, and during at-home cycling classes and strength-training sessions. During my cycling classes, I also wore another heart rate monitor on my forearm for comparison. I also wore it each night I slept during the testing period. Here’s what I found out.

Ease of Use

The Garmin Venu 2 won huge points for me on ease of use. Its out-of-the-box setup was fast, and it immediately synced with my Android phone (an older LG G7 model) using the Garmin Connect app. Using it for workouts was really intuitive, too: You press the top button (one of only two physical buttons), and it pulls up a “favorites” list of your top-four workout modalities (out of 25 different types), which you can set upon first use. Press it again, and it’ll start the workout.

The workout screens were also very easy to navigate. When you start a run, your four major metrics—time lapsed, distance, pace, and heart rate—all appear on one screen, and you can swipe the screen down for additional info, like lap times and lap distance. (Your screens are also customizable, too, so if you wanted to see things like cadence, elevation, or steps instead, you can set that.) The bottom button serves as a lap marker, meaning it’s so, so easy to start and stop running intervals you might be timing. (The physical buttons also come in clutch when you’re wearing gloves on chilly runs.)

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