Garmin Connect is the software which sits behind Garmin’s innovative new fitness technology, and a cursory look at the stats demonstrates its immense popularity with fitness enthusiasts. Garmin Connect users have traversed around the earth a staggering 130,000 times around earth. This works out at over 3 BILLION miles logged by Connect users, and the miles kep coming. Every second 40 new miles are logged. When you’re posting these sorts of numbers, you have some useful technology, so let’s delve behind the scenes.
What is the Garmin Connect? A quick overview of the key features
Garmin Connect is a piece of software which you use to upload and log your workouts. The premise is really very simple – you upload your workout logs and the Connect software will analyse your activity. It incorporates literally millions of activities, ranging from the usual training suspects (think running, cycling, swimming) right the way through to the more outlining sports (think climbing, kayaking and rafting) through all the way to more everyday activities which burn calories and count towards your daily energy burn.
The point behind the Garmin connect software is detailed analysis of this data. The interface is clean and simple, with almost Apple-esque sheen, and this attention to visual detail makes it a joy to spend time pottering around and analysing your hard work in the gym. The analysis allows you to pull off detailed reports about your performance across your different activities that you have completed. The reports detail activity specific attributes, so they are not some cookie cutter pull off of calories burned, distance covered and the other general stats that you get off cardio equipment of all types. Instead, the reports are targeted at the activity that you have completed. So the stats that you get for a 10k run will be focused very different to the stats pulled from say, a 10k downhill skiing session.
After the reporting, Garmin Connect helps you focus on future objectives with a comprehensive goal setting feature. The goals page pulls in your historical data in bite sized chunks, essentially a boiled down version of a report, and from there you can set activity specific targets. Goals takes the data from your supported devices, pulls it into the Garmin connect interface, allows you to update with your new targets and then pushes the data back to your supported Garmin device.
So taking a real world example: I complete a 10k treadmill run in 37 minutes and 26 seconds this morning, and this is tracked by my Garmin device. I load up Garmin Connect on my PC, navigate to goals and see my historical performance. I then set a target of running 10K in 36 minutes and 59 seconds, IE breaking the 37 minute mark, and then the data is passed back to my device. It is a really simple way to keep on top of performance and to set actionable, reachable targets.
Finally, it’s worth noting that Garmin Connect is specifically designed for Garmin devices. This is a hardware software lock up, as opposed to a standalone piece of fitness software. If you don’t have a Garmin device, then there are a range of apps that can do similar things.
Uploading your data
Garmin Connect is a piece of software which you need to download and install on to your computer. Your Garmin device will talk to your computer via the Garmin communicator plugin and the Garmin ANT Agent. These come with very simple instructions which make the installation pain free.
As an alternative to the Garmin ANT system, which offers wireless upload, you can utilise a simple USB connection. Once connected, via either mechanism, you are greeted with a simple overview page. With one click you can then hit “upload new activities”, and this will instruct your device and computer to sync up – a process which is complete in seconds.
Mapping your route
The Garmin Connect software offers a lot of value for outdoor trainers. Garmin pride themselves on the detail offered in their route calculation and mapping. They utilise Bing Maps to do this, and they overlay detailed information about the route that you took, whether running, cycling, hiking or whatever other activity you may have completed.
The Garmin devices that work with Connect come with GPS tracking, so you can upload routes that you have completed, perhaps for example a favourite running course, and the Connect software will store these. You can then match courses against goals with the goal setting navigation.
Create a social profile
Like a lot of fitness tech on the market at the moment, the Connect has a big social focus.
You’re invited to create a profile within the interface which can be personalised with a profile picture and your key stats. This provides an activity stream of the workouts that you have completed, and clearly displays your personal bests. Your PBs are categorised by activity, so running may include a personal best time for the 5K, 10K and marathon. You fill out your profile with basic information, such as your favourite activities and can connect with likeminded trainers. Once connected, you will start seeing a feed of that person’s activity, allowing you to benchmark against friends and even professional athletes.
Garmin allow you to hook your profile up with Twitter and Facebook too, which allows you to share your workouts with your wider, and perhaps slightly less fitness inclined friends.
How to get started with the Garmin Connect service
Step one: you need to register for a free account here. This is a quick process where you’ll be asked to provide your name, email and password. You’ll also create a username for the sake of logging in and a display name for your social profile. You can also control your privacy, with the option to keep all of your data to yourself. NB the default privacy setting is set to ‘everyone’. If your privacy conscious, ensure you change that.
Step two: You need to select your Garmin device. They categorise the devices under their core sport, with running and cycling leading the way. The Garmin Forerunner series support the Garmin Connect, with a total of 16 Garmin devices providing support. There is also support for 8 cycling focussed Garmin devices, and also the Garmin Swim and the outdoor focussed Fenix.
In summary, the Garmin Connect is a valuable piece of software which sits behind Garmin’s leading fitness technology products. It essentially acts like the glue that makes the advanced features work and critically, to make the advanced features actually have value for you when it comes to improving your performance and hitting your goals.
If you are sat on the fence between Garmin and a rival manufacturer, then the Garmin Connect is a fairly compelling reason to move Garmin to the top of your wishlist.