With Zwift cracking down on riders cheating, ensuring your weight in the game is correct is paramount, especially if you plan on doing any eRacing.
But updating your Zwift weight is hard work, right? Opening the app, pressing all of three buttons and then typing in your new weight… Ok, no it’s not hard at all, but here’s a solution to a problem you didn’t know you had: Zwift-compatible smart scales. Or more accurately, smart scales that, thanks to a few workarounds which we outline below, can now automatically update your in-game weight.
Weight doping as it’s known sees riders shaving virtual pounds off their actual mass to increase their power-to-weight ratio to go faster in the game. With eRacing progressing on from something you did only during the cold weather months to a fully-fledged UCI-sanctioned event, complete with a World Championships event, riders at the highest level are required to film height and weight verifications to ensure they aren’t giving themselves an unfair advantage.
For those of us who are still yet to crack into B-Grade, ensuring your weight is up also helps you get the most out of the game, for a closer-to-real-life experience.
Weight fluctuations happen over the course of the day depending on how hydrated you are, your last bowel movement and a variety of other factors, but even just jumping on the scale and comparing it to the Zwift companion app, I have lost two-kilos since the last time I updated — which was quite some time ago.
Luckily, thanks to everything these days being smart-enabled, smart scales have a bit of added value for the Zwifter and can automatically update your weight in the game so you’re not dragging any extra virtual weight as you suffer up Ven-Top.
What is a smart scale?
As the name suggests, a smart scale is a bathroom scale with either a Bluetooth or WiFi connection to track changes in your body weight, that makes educated guesses about metrics like BMI, Basal Metabolic Rate, muscle and bone mass, water weight and body fat percentage, and graph them to illustrate changes over time.
The scales determine these additional metrics using bioelectrical impedance analysis. The scale sends a small electrical current up one of your legs and then measures the strength of the pulse that returns on the other side, measuring the resistance it encounters as it travels through your body.
These measurements provide a useful insight into what’s going on inside your body, they should not be taken as gospel as the BIA is not great at differing between lean muscle vs fat, and also only take into account your legs — an area where most cyclists are usually quite lean, and may not provide an accurate picture of the rest of your body.
What does this have to do with Zwift?
As a citizen of Watopia who wishes to remain in high standing in the community, keeping your weight accurate is critical, as it plays a large part in Zwift’s algorithm that translates watts into forward motion in the game. But, even though you may jump on the scale every morning when you get out of the shower, if you’re anything like me, your first thought isn’t to whip out the Zwift companion app and ensure that your weight is accurate.
Using a smart scale, this daily weigh-in can automatically be routed to Zwift, sometimes without ever having to touch your smartphone.
The vast majority of these smart scales take advantage of the Fitbit app’s openness to collecting and pushing health data to connected services — with your permission of course.
If you have a Fitbit scale like the Aria Air, all you have to do is pair the scale to the app and step on it; however, if you have a different branded scale, like Withings or Garmin there are a few extra steps.
If you have a smart scale that isn’t made by Garmin, the companion app should be able to push data over the Fitbit app, which can automatically beam your weight data over to Zwift. Yes, it’s an extra step, but the Fitbit app is free and pretty non-intrusive.
For those who have bought into the Garmin ecosystem and want to keep everything under one umbrella, there is one more additional step, but you’ll still be going through Fitbit. The first way is through MyFitnessPal; set your Garmin Connect account to share data with MyFitnessPal, MyFitnessPal to Fitbit and Fitbit onto Zwift – lots of connections, I know. This works pretty well, though Garmin Connect does seem to forget it’s allowed to talk to MyFitnessPal every so often.
The second way is through FitnessSyncer, which uses the same chain of permissions to share weight data.
Best Zwift-compatible smart scales
When it comes to value for money, at $50, the Eufy Smart Scale C1 is tough to beat. At 28x28cm, the glass-topped scale is one of the more compact of the bunch, and measures weight, BMI, body fat percentage, water, muscle and bone mass and more.
Using a Bluetooth connection and the Eufy Home Life app, the scale doesn’t sync automatically like those with WiFi, so you’ll have to open the app to transfer the data. That said the scale can store up to 100 readings should you forget.
Info is automatically pushed to the FitBit app when you do sync manually, and there is a WiFi-enabled version available, though it is twice the price. If more than one person in your household wants to use the scale, it can remember up to 16 people and automatically identify who is who based on weight and body stats.
Withings, like Garmin and Fitbit, has a whole ecosystem of health trackers, including a classy-looking smartwatch. The Body+ sits in the middle of the brand’s range of smart scales and offers a glut of body composition metrics, including BMI, body fat percentage, muscle mass, and will even show you the weather — perfect for when you’re getting ready in the morning.
The Body+ sees WiFi connectivity and can pull information from Apple Health and Google Fit, among other apps, to offer a larger picture of how the numbers that pop up on the scale relate to the border picture of your health. Each metric is explained in plain English in the Withings app and which also shows healthy ranges according to the World Health Organization recommendations. Withings did at one point have a direct Zwift connection, however, it’s currently broken and a quick look at the Zwift support forum shows that it has been for a while. Luckily, the Withings app plays nicely with Fitbit.
If you are already a FitBit user or simply want your weight updated in Zwit, without having to faff around with extra apps and connections, the Aria Air might be the scale for you. The Bluetooth-connected scale tells you your weight and BMI, which is calculated based on your height, weight and age, using the same formula as the host of online BMI calculators.
It’s a basic scale, but the Fitbit Aria Air syncs straight to the Fitbit app, and will update your weight in Zwift without you ever having to dive into layers of menus.
Wyze is a company that specialises in smart home products — think security cameras, thermostats and robot vacuums — so it’s not a massive stretch that they also offer a smart scale. It does more or less everything else that the rest of these scales do; it will read 12 metrics including weight, muscle mass, basal metabolic rate and age, etc., and speaks the language of not only its own companion app, but also Apple Health, Google Fit, and Fitbit.
But the real headline here is the price. At $20, you can buy two or more of these scales for what many of these other scales cost. The only real downside is the lack of Wifi connectivity. Better still, it works pretty darn well and looks great too.
While the Withings Body scale doesn’t offer the same number of metrics as its more expensive brand mate above, the $60 scale does retain WiFi connectivity, a feature the vast majority of the cheaper scales omit. That means, once’s it’s set up the first time, there is no need to pull out your phone for data sync or software updates.
The scale measures the BMI and weight of up to eight users and will show you the weather as you get ready in the morning. As with many of these scales, it runs on AAA batteries but it’s claimed to last 18 months.
For all of its shortfalls, the Garmin ecosystem is one that many of us have bought into and have taken the time to learn — even though there are far superior health and fitness apps out there. And for the folks who are committed to Garmin Connect, the Index S2 fits almost seamlessly into the mix.
With a colour screen, the Index S2 is WiFi-enabled and show you up to 30-days of weight trend data on the scale itself to help you visualise how the numbers that light up after your morning coffee fit into the bigger picture. Using the WiFi sync, the data will no only populate Garmin Connect without the need to pull out your phone, it will sync across any other Garmin devices you may have. The Index S2 can tell the difference between 16 individual users and automatically pick out who is standing on the scale and read BMI, body fat percentage, skeletal muscle and bone mass, and body water per cent and give you the weather report too.