When I first saw the Spire, it was on Facebook. I have always been interested in fitness trackers, but I never got down to buying one, because honestly, I really don’t work out as much as I should. I beat myself up over that enough; I don’t need a wearable to yell at me, too.
I chalked it up to one of those ridiculous Facebook ads, but then, after weeks of seeing it slide through my stream, I decided to click on it and get a better sense of what this little device really was.
Even with glowing reviews from the likes of The Wall Street Journal and Forbes, it was hard to believe that a small, wearable device that looks like a river rock could actually affect my life, let alone “reduce stress by 50 percent” as their website claims. So, I decided to test it myself. I could use all the de-stressing it was offering.
The Spire device itself is very beautiful, but the packaging and seamless set up is what makes this wearable so unique to the FitBits and Jawbones of the world. The charger is a round disk that you can plug into your computer via USB (or into a stray plug you have from an old iPhone charger), and the Spire sits clip-side up, and chargers like that. It’s pretty sleek.
When you download the iPhone app (sorry, Android users), it prompts you to have the device next to you and then wirelessly connects through Bluetooth. When it’s connected properly, it vibrates twice and then prompts you to make sure your Apple Health app is activated. Then you’re brought to the following screens:
If I was comparing the experience of setting this thing up to my time spent trying to set up my dad’s FitBit, I would easily do 10 of these instead. It’s seriously THAT easy. You get to choose goals for each section: Calm, Focus, and Activity (which are easily changeable as well), and then, like any other fitness tracker, it takes into account your breathing and steps count to keep tabs on how much of each you’re doing each day. This is translated into a daily goal, and you can check on your progress in the Progress tab. You can see your monthly progress, as well.
You can wear your Spire on your waist or bra, and in the settings tab, it lets you toggle between the two places so that it can accurately measure your breathing (I thought that was pretty neat). It does get a bit uncomfortable if you have it tucked into your waistband and you’re sitting as much as I do during the day, but that’s to be expected. When walking, though, I went about my days without even noticing it.
It’s pretty easy to glean how Spire tracks Activity; it’s the same way most fitness trackers do. But I was a little confused as to how it would track Calm or Focus. How does it know that I’m tense? What does that even mean to a wearable device? Well, the app explains:
In the first few days, I noticed that first thing in the morning, I’d have about a 10-minute Tension streak. The Spire only picked up on the tension when there was really something up (like my morning routine of attempting to very quickly catch up on emails), not mistaking me being out of breath from running up and down the subway stairs for actual panic. The device tracks what they call “streaks,” moments in the day where you are either calm, focused, or active for a certain amount of time. This is what’s logged on your pain screen, and if you happen to need a push to be active, or you need to be told you’re tense, this is where that shows up. You can also opt into push notifications, which are actually pretty unobtrusive, surprisingly.
When I got stuck on the L train, it sensed that I was tense and asked if I wanted to use my “boost” to help calm down. It’s basically like a mini-meditation of a woman’s voice guiding your breath. My breathing regulated, and I did feel more relaxed. Though, it got a bit weird after a while because all of those things feel super forced and awkward, like when you think too hard about your breathing in yoga.
You can choose a Calm boost, a Focus boost; an Energize boost, and a Meditation boost. Any time you’re struggling to get back on track, you can hit any of these, and it’ll help you veer back on.
My only real complaint is that the app on your phone needs to remain open. When I double-clicked the home button on my iPhone to get rid of apps I wasn’t using when my battery was at 20 percent, I was met with this:
It’s unfortunate, because it does use a lot of battery life from your phone, but if you have a charger nearby or you don’t use your phone as much as I do during the day, then that’s no biggie.
At $150, it’s at the higher end of the wearable tech price spectrum, but, honestly, the Spire is kind of amazing. It’s a wearable that doesn’t feel like it’s shaming you into meeting your goals, and it also makes sure that you’re okay. It’s like a mini-therapist clipped to your belt. I can easily notice the calmness in my breathing and can actually feel that my tension is now only reserved to moments where it is warranted. And that’s a pretty big deal.