Fitbit app now offers guided Fitstar workouts

Fitbit's updated mobile app now provides recommendations for workouts via the companion Fitstar app, but some features are only available to subscribers.

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Credit: Fitbit

With its latest mobile app update, Fitbit is not-so-subtly encouraging people to use Fitstar, the guided workout app it acquired in 2015.

Fitbit's app now includes a "Guidance" tab that leads to a screen of recommended Fitstar workouts. Fitstar is a freemium service, so it's clear why Fitbit would want to rope you into using the app. But you can still use lots of Fitstar features without paying.

New guidance based on past Fitbit activity

Fitbit now shows recommended Fitstar workouts based on your previous Fitbit activity. I worked out on an elliptical machine recently, for example, so Fitbit suggested I try Fitstar's 7-Minute Workout or Cardio Kickoff. That's reasonable, particularly the emphasis on cardio. Neither workout requires a subscription to Fitstar Premium, which costs $8 a month or $40 year. 

fitbit fitstar Fitbit

Other workouts Fitbit recommended include two muscle-focused routines for "a more efficient workout," both of which are free; two challenging "blitz’" workouts, which require subscriptions; and “Quick HIIT,” another cardio workout that also requires a Premium membership.

In other words, Fitbit recommended seven Fitstar workouts for me, four free and three that require a paid subscription.

Updated Fitstar app packs "radio" features

Fitbit also released an updated and redesigned Fitstar app, with two new personal trainers who, like other Fitstar trainers, demonstrate workout moves on video.

Fitstar Radio is another new feature. You can currently choose from seven "music stations" to play during guided workouts, including "Pop Party," "Throwback Jams," and "Cardio Mix." The feature requires a Fitstar Premium account, but you can sample it for free for "a limited time."

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More Fitbit features soon to come

At the recent CES in Las Vegas, Fitbit also announced a new Community section that's expected to hit the Fitbit app in March.

Community will include Feed, a new social feature that lets users share updates, read fitness-related content, and find trainer-led workouts in their areas. A new Friends feature will merge in-app messaging and the leaderboard. And Groups will include more than 20 groups you can join for support and inspiration. The Fitbit app should soon be much more social. That's something to look forward to, because Fitbit has already had a strong social component for years.

You're more likely to find people to compete against on Fitbit's leaderboard than on other services. The company has sold more than 54 million activity trackers to date, according to Fitbit. Also, Fitbit still owns the wearable device market, with 23 percent market share in the third-quarter of 2016, compared to its nearest competitor, Xiaomi, which had 16.5 percent, according to IDC. (IDC is a sibling business of IDG, CIO.com's publisher.)

Fitbit CEO James Park also told reporters at CES that the company wants to eventually build its own app store, based on some assets it acquired from smartwatch maker Pebble, according to Forbes.com.

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