Tanita are a Japanese company who bring to market technologies that facilitate health monitoring. They started making Body Fat Monitor/Scales for home use in 1994, and have continued to make great products since.
As an athlete, it is important to keep track of your weight for a number of reasons. It is important to make sure you are not loosing too much weight by overtraining and not eating enough. Monitoring your weight and seeing it fall off on the scales can be a great source of motivation. If you weigh yourself before and after a long run or session, you will be able to see how much you have dehydrated yourself and then give yourself an idea of the amount of fluid you need to be putting back in the system.
The BC-1000 "brings the most sophisticated health monitoring technology to heal and fitness enthusiasts everywhere." They are ANT+ enabled scales that provide you with a whole host of information, from body fat percentage to overall physique rating.
The scales come in a box a little larger than the scales themselves, with some rather happy people exercising next to a picture of the scales.
Open up the box, and in it you get:
•Feet for the carpet
The first thing that you should notice about the scales is that they do not have a display on them. To receive data from them, you will need a compatible Garmin watch, or the Tanita D-1000 display.
The Scales themselves look very stylish, and wouldn't be out of place on any bathroom floor.
The BC-1000 uses 4 AA batteries to power the device. They fit in the back of the unit, underneath the battery cover. I am not sure what the battery life is, but I have used the device for over a year and not had to change the batteries.
Once you have installed them, the device is ready to go!
The Bc-1000 comes with four plastic 'feet'. These are designed to be put on the bottom of the device if you are sitting the unit on a carpet. This should give a more accurate reading. They will slot very easily into the four corners on the reverse of the unit.
Connect to the scales with a Garmin
Once you have got the scales set up, which will take all of one minute, you will want to use them for the first time. I am going to explain the process of weighing yourself using a Garmin, for the purpose of this review it was a Forerunner 310XT.
Currently the following Garmin watches are supported by the Tanita BC-1000
• Garmin Forerunner 60
• Garmin Forerunner 210
• Garmin Forerunner 310XT
• Garmin Forerunner 610
• Garmin Forerunner 910XT
The first thing to do on your Garmin device is to enable Weight Scales ANT+ in the menu, this will usually exist in the settings area, but it depends on the device as to where it will be.
Once this is done, get within range of the scales, and begin the scan. This is usually initiated by pressing the 'Light' button on the device
Once this has been done, the Garmin should say "Scanning for scale"
Once the scale has been found, the Garmin display will change and say 'Receiving on it'
The BC-1000 scales will then beep at you, and you need to wait until a Green light appears on the scales. once this is done, you can step onto the scales.
Once the weighing process has finished, the scales will beep at you, and the Garmin will have a done underneath your health data, and you can step off the scales.
One important thing to note is that you need to be barefoot to weigh yourself, otherwise you will not get accurate data.
If anything goes wrong in the weighing process, a red light will appear on the BC-1000. If this happens, get off the scales and wait for it to disappear, then start the process again.
Weighing yourself is a very easy process to do.
When you first try and use the scales, the Garmin will ask you if you are a lifetime athlete. You will qualify as a lifetime athlete if "you have trained intensely for many years (around 10 hours a week for at least 6months) and have a resting heart rate of 60 bpm or less. If you have a lifetime history of fitness this mode could also apply.
The lifetime athlete setting will change the readings that the scales provide,. The Monitors do not measure fat directly, it uses an equation based on body type, height, gender, weight and electrical resistance of the body. The equations have been calibrated against clinical readings taken from a representative sample of the population. Tanita found that a different equation was needed to maintain accuracy in the elite athletic population, as their muscles structure and hydration exhibited differences. Due to this, the lifetime athlete mode exists.
This setting can also be changed by going into the user profile area of the watch.
If you are unsure, I would select no on the lifetime athlete. If the readings are drastically out from what you expect, then you can change it afterwards.
Garmin Connect and the data
Once you have weighed yourself using a Garmin device, you will probably want to upload the data to Garmin Connect to view it. Most of the devices will wirelessly transmit this data, however with the FR210, this data will have to be manually uploaded.
The data is stored in the Health tab on Garmin Connect
By default, you will get a graph of your weight, and you can track its progress online.
Selecting any data point will bring up a complete view of the data for that given day, and there are a lot of pieces of data available. There is also a Legend that can be viewed to get more of an understanding on what the data means.
The BC-1000 provide a lot of data, here is just a quick overview of what each bit means
Body Fat - Everyone needs body fat to be healthy. It is vital for basic body functions (such as cushioning joints and organs, storing vitamins and regulating body temperature) But too much fat could put you at a greater risk of developing serious medical conditions.
Visceral Fat - This is the dat that surrounds the vital organs of the trunk/stomach area.The higher this level, the greater the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Total Body Water % - around 50 - 65% of the weight of a healthy person is water. It keeps you healthy by amongst other things; regulating body temperature, removing waste from the body, carrying nutrients to the cells and providing natural moisture to the skin and other tissues.
Muscles - Muscles act as the body's engine. The more you exercise, the more your muscle mass will increase, and this will raise your metabolic rate. The BC-1000 will track muscle mass over time.
Metabolic Age - metabolic age indices what age level the user's BMR is currently at. The BMR is the number of calories the body needs when at rest. The more muscle or general activity a person takes, the more calories required. If the metabolic age is higher than a user's actual age, the user needs to improve their BMR - so increase exercise levels and build heather muscle tissue.
Daily Calorie Intake - This value is given by working out your BMR and then also the energy for activity, which is given by for physical activity level. This added together provides a guide as to the amount of calories you would need to remain at your current weight.
Physique Rating - As you exercise, your weight may not change but the balance of muscle to fat will , and this will alter the physique.
Women's bodies are biologically designed to have more body fat than men. A women's body is designed to protect her and a potential foetus.
Women also experience greater changes in their hydration levels over men due to the menstrual cycle.
Women may find it prudent to monitor their weight and body fat readings every day for a month, that way they can understand better their bodies natural monthly cycle.
How do the scales work?
The Tanita scales use Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis to help calculate results. The unit sends a low, safe electrical signal through the body. The resistance provided by the different tissues in the body is then used to analyse your body.
As body water levels change naturally during the day, this will also affect your body fat readings. It is possible that your body fat reading could vary by as much as 3-4% during a 24 hour period. In the morning, you will be dehydrated and the fluid in your body will be stored in the central trunk area. During the day, this fluid will become more evenly distributed.
The best time to then weigh yourself is in the evening, just before an evening meal, as your hydration levels should be more stable. However, the most important thing is to pick a time and continue to weigh yourself at that time to get useful results.
I think that the Tanita BC-1000 are a fantastic piece of kit. They work seamless with the Garmin watches and Garmin Connect, provide an incredibly detailed picture of your body and its make-up and look great at the same time.
They are slightly restrictive because they only work with a specific Garmin, or the wireless reader, however you wouldn't purchase them unless you owned the appropriate Garmin.
The Tanita BC-1000 isn't cheap, with an RRP of £209.99. However, it is available from Wiggle for £184.79. You aren't just getting a set of scales, its a full body composition monitor, and anyone serious about their training would benefit from this system.