Garmin Index S2 Smart Scale Review
Data doesn't lie.
At least, objective data doesn't lie.
That's why we train with power meters. You may feel great, but if you were supposed to put out 250 watts for 10 minutes and you only rode at 220 watts, you weren't doing great.
Educator and author Peter Druker once said "What gets measured, gets managed." No place is that truer than with our weight. If I'm stepping on the scale every morning, I'm less likely to throw that extra scoop of ice cream in my bowl at night.
But what happens to those numbers the scale spits out? I see them, but what do they mean? I weighed 148lbs last week, right? Or was it 150? And what was my percent body fat?
I've been using a scale that measures weight and body fat for over 3 years, but that data never went anywhere. It just sat in the scale for 2 days and then "POOF!" was gone.
Enter the Garmin Index S2. It's a WiFi-connected smart scale that automatically syncs advanced measurements to the cloud. The benefits are twofold: It offers a snapshot of your wellness in real-time while also tracking and plotting changes over the long-term.
For cyclists, triathletes, and endurance athletes, it's a potential game-changer for improving fitness and performance.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
What Is The Garmin Index S2 Smart Scale?
As the name implies, this is the second generation smart scale produced by Garmin, the leader in endurance sports computers, navigables, and wearables.
First off, it's pretty slick! With a black (or white) glass top and smooth edges, it looks sleek and fits well in any bathroom. It is equipped with a color screen, WiFi for syncing data, and Bluetooth for initial setup. All this will set you back $149 which may seem like a lot, but as you'll see, the robust feature set justifies the price!
Initial Setup Of The Garmin Index S2 Smart Scale
Unboxing the scale takes all of 20 seconds (assuming you have scissors at hand). Open the package, unwrap the scale, insert the included batteries, and you are rolling!
When you first put in the batteries, the unit will go into pairing mode. If you have the Garmin Connect app on your phone, you can open that up and click "More >> Devices >> Add New Device".
From there it will search for (and find) your new scale. Just enter the numbers shown on the screen of the scale, follow the prompts, and, voila, you're good to go!
In those prompts, you can set your basic metrics (which may already be in Garmin Connect), create a 4-character name that will display on the screen each time you weigh-in, and even invite other users who will be sharing your scale. With that, you just place the scale where you want it and return to it when you are ready to start recording your data!
Basic Usage Of The Garmin Index S2 Smart Scale
When you go to weigh-in, you will simply tap the top of the unit and it will wake up and calibrate with a zero-offset. I say "tap" and that's what I mean. With other scales I've used, I would lightly step on the top to wake them, but not with the Garmin Index S2.
While other models are pressure-sensitive, this one is not. You literally have to tap it to the point that it makes a knocking or jabbing sound. It doesn't have to be rough or violent, but enough of a sudden tap that it will register and turn on. It's almost as if it responds to sound instead of force.
My wife would close a cabinet on the other side of the bathroom and the scale would respond, but when I would step on it forcefully, it wouldn't even notice. So tap, don't step!
Once it's on, you stand on the top barefoot (it's glass so it might be a little cold on your feet in the morning!) and let it take its reading. Your weight will display, followed by your 4-character identifier that you choose when creating/syncing an account. No need to even stand there and watch those advanced metrics scroll by on the screen if you don't want to!
Advanced Measurements Of The Garmin Index S2 Smart Scale
The advanced measurements are arguably the best part of this scale (aside from the auto-sync). Too many people (athletes included), are hyper-focused on total weight and ignore other important aspects of health like body fat and hydration. The Garmin Index S2 addresses that with holistic reporting tools that go beyond what other smart scales offer.
Each time you step on the scale, you get a measurement for weight, body fat percentage, muscle mass, bone density, and total body water. These are important because you may lose 2 pounds, but simply be dehydrated. Or you might gain 2 pounds but have lost body fat and packed on some muscle. Tracking all of these wellness metrics (automatically on the screen and in Garmin Connect) will give you a richer, more complete picture of your health and weight.
Multiple Users & The Garmin Index S2 Smart Scale
All of this isn't just for one user either. You can have up to 16 recognized users on this scale. I'm not sure where you would have 16 people all with their own Garmin accounts using the same scale (a racing team? a college dorm?), but the Garmin index S2 can individually recognize each person and sync their data to the appropriate Garmin Account.
When you invite a user, they go through the setup process for themselves and after the next scale sync, it will recognize who they are when they step on the scale. This is great because I was able to get my wife to set her own details and she can weigh-in and see her own data and it won't confuse my history for hers like some other "smart" scales on the market. It also keeps my small children from accidentally throwing off my data by including, say, a 100lb weight loss in the course of a day.
Syncing Data With The Garmin Connect App
As already mentioned, the Garmin index will sync over WiFi after each weigh-in (you connect it to your network during the setup process). All of the metrics are stored in Garmin's system, accessible through the website or app for Garmin Connect. When you pull up the information you can see all the data in numeric form.
Even better, it visualizes your progress over time with easy-to-read charts. Only one weigh-in is displayed per day (I recommend you record your weight at the same time each day) but you can dive in and find multiple weigh-ins if you did that. You have also the flexibility to delete a single weigh-in if you need to for some reason (such as when I weighed myself 15 times in one day preparing for this review!)
Some 3rd-party fitness apps will pull this data from Garmin, but that is totally dependent on the quality of said app. Because it's not always in the same place as the normal workout data in Garmin, it may take some poking around assorted submenus to pair and function correctly. Whether that is Garmin's fault or the various 3rd parties' fault is hard to ascertain. But as far as the Index S2 and Garmin Connect are concerned, everything operated smoothly and without a hitch.
How The Index S2 Smart Scale Can Help Cyclists, Triathletes & Endurances Athletes
All of these advanced features and metrics are great, but you may be wondering, "how will a smart scale help me ride a bike better?" Cyclists, triathletes, and endurance athletes in general love to chase gains, some big, some, well, marginal. We'll pay a premium for a component that is a few grams lighter or an upgrade that promises a few more watts more, but what about bodyweight? Losing weight is "free speed," and free speed is the ultimate upgrade.
What you don't want to do is crash diet and drop pounds in an unhealthy way. Having a history of these advanced metrics that you, your coach, and your doctor can review in-depth gives a clearer picture of your health and provides valuable intel that can be used to chart the best path forward from a setback, injuries, or simply overtraining. A healthy body is the foundation to becoming a fitter, faster athlete regardless of sport!
At the end of the day, most users are simply going to work through the setup process, place the scale in their bathroom, step on it once a day, and be done. And honestly, that's ok. That's what this scale is for! It's unobtrusive and excels at the tasks it was designed and created to do.
The data is there for you to keep track of and identify trends. It's there for you to scrutinize when weight is a focus or you are coming to a peak for that big race, and it's silently accumulating for the weeks and months so you can see the big picture of your health. And every night as you scoop that bowl of ice cream, you know it's there waiting for your weigh-in the next morning.
Author Nathan Deck is a husband, father, triathlete, and a teacher at heart. When he's not training, he loves to mentor junior athletes new to the sport. Read more of his work at Triathlonpal and follow him on Twitter.