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Garmin’s new chest strap actually works with sports bras

Garmin’s new chest strap actually works with sports bras

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The company also brought an updated Lily smartwatch to CES 2024. Oh, and it’s rolling out a refreshed app, too.

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Woman modeling Garmin HRM-Fit chest strap, which clips onto the bottom of sports bras.
The HRM-Fit clips onto the bottom of your sports bra.
Image: Garmin

While Garmin is known for its big, bulky fitness watches, it’s taking a different tack for CES 2024. The theme of this year’s announcements is prioritizing comfort and wearability with a chest strap that finally works with sports bras, and the Lily 2, a revamp of its smallest smartwatch.

The $149.99 HRM-Fit addresses a real problem with chest straps. If you need to wear a sports bra, regular chest straps can be uncomfortably tight since you have to slot the entire thing under your sports bra band, especially if you need more support. And while everyone’s body is different, underboob sweat is a menace that can make removing standard chest straps unpleasant.

Instead, the HRM-Fit has a clip-on design that snaps onto the bottom band and is meant to work with both medium- and high-support bras. Like other chest straps, it’ll be compatible with Edge cycling computers and various fitness equipment. It’s also capable of capturing heart rate data for various activities, including running, cycling, strength training, high-intensity interval training, and more. The strap can also pair with Garmin smartwatches to provide running feedback and can store workout data if you decide to take the watch off mid-workout.

Woman wearing Garmin HRM-Fit while checking her watch.
The HRM-Fit will work with both medium- and high-support sports bras.
Image: Garmin

The company also announced the $249.99 Lily 2, an update to its petite Lily hybrid analog smartwatch. The Lily 2 keeps the spirit of the original’s design but adds new features like sleep scores, dance fitness activities, and contactless payments.

The original Lily smartwatch launched in 2021, and its main schtick was that it was designed by women for women. (Though, at the time, I argued that it didn’t need gender-specific branding to be a good idea overall. I maintain that’s still true with the Lily 2, even though Garmin intends for it to be a women-centric watch.) It was a fashion-forward watch with a hidden OLED display featuring patterned lenses and, most importantly, the smallest case size for a smartwatch. At 34mm, the Lily was absolutely tiny — even older Apple Watches started at 38mm, while most “small” smartwatches these days hover around the 40–42mm range. However, to achieve that size and design, the Lily unfortunately made a lot of tradeoffs in terms of interface, features, and battery life.

Six Garmin Lily 2 SKUs lined up with the cheaper Lily 2 on the far left and the four Classic models on the right.
The Lily 2 (the left two watches) have silicone straps. The Lily 2 Classic have nylon and leather bands but will cost $279.99 and $299.99, respectively.
Image: Garmin

It seems that may be less of an issue with the Lily 2, which also comes in a slightly fancier Lily 2 Classic variant. (The Classic is also more expensive, starting at $279.99, depending on which strap material you choose.) Design-wise, it’s technically a smidge bigger — 35mm instead of 34mm, but that’s small enough of a difference that you probably won’t notice. Garmin spokesperson Natalie Miller says the original actually looked a bit bigger since the case had taller edges, whereas the Lily 2’s are more sloped. It also introduces new colors and patterns on the lenses while getting rid of the T-lug shape of the original for a more standard lug. That ought to mean it’ll be easier to swap straps, too.

For features, the Classic version gets Garmin Pay — something that was missing from the original. The Lily 2 series also gets the newer Sleep Score metric, whereas before, it was limited to more basic sleep tracking. The dance fitness activity will also include more styles like Afrobeat, Bollywood, EDM, hip-hop, and Zumba. The Lily 2 watches have the same estimated five days of battery life, but we’ll have to see how that holds up in testing, as I never got anywhere near that with the original.

Mockups of Garmin Connect app redesign
Finally, Garmin’s bringing some order to the cluttered Connect app.
Image: Garmin

Lastly, Garmin has a third update for all of its users: a refreshed Garmin Connect app. The new Connect app will have a more clearly organized approach. Instead of info dumping on every screen, the refresh will separate information into specific customizable sections. Today’s “Activity” focuses on logged and upcoming workouts, and “In Focus” centers health and fitness metrics like Body Battery, Sleep Score, and Training Status. The “At a Glance” section focuses on stats (e.g., VO2 max, HRV status, etc.), and there’ll be separate sections for Garmin Coach training plans, social challenges, and any upcoming events like races or competitions. A beta version of the app will be available to certain Garmin users today. The official rollout is planned for later this year.

The HRM-Fit is available now for $149.99. The Garmin Lily 2 series is also available now. It costs $249.99 for the base model, while the Classic starts at $279.99.