Why do I need to track that?
I was not that person, no way was I going to walk around with a piece of plastic around my wrist and be held accountable to a little screen that would shame me about my “cheeks” being in my seat too long. Then I got my fitbit and it was love at first step, well really borderline obsession. I finally understood why every one was so excited to blurt out their latest badge or how may steps they accomplished. It was Thanksgiving weekend 2015 and I bit the bullet and purchased my first fitbit, an HR Charge-purple of course. It was on sale and I have to admit I was mildly curious about what all the hype was about. I figured I wouldn’t use it much but maybe there would be a few features that would make the purchase worthwhile, although I knew I wasn’t going to become one of those crazy people who can’t wait to tell you how may stairs they did. Fast forward a year late and I was that person.
Badges Trophies and Friends OH MY!
Is it wanting to be “fit” that made fitbit so popular? As wearable technology continues to move from fad, to trend, to mainstream, fitbit was king in the sales year 2014 accounting for 50% of the 3 million + wearable fitness devices. Most of us know in our heart of hearts that we could be a little more fit. America’s battle of the bulge is nothing new and we’d like to think that fitbit could be that tool to tip the scales in the right direction.
What fitbit provides is so much more than a calorie counter and step tracker. We all know those people, (if you are one I apologize in advance), who bought into the fitbit hype. After purchasing a fitbit they either never took it out of the box or after a couple of weeks of deep shame for not hitting their goals moved the fitbit to the junk draw from whence it will never return. Studies show that keys to a successful longterm relationship with your fitbit lie in engagement with fitbit’s website and Apps. Setting achievable realistic goals is the first step and fitbit does a great job at congratulating you on hitting your targets. Every time I feel that little vibration on my wrist letting me know I’ve met a goal my heart does a little flutter. Now those badges and trophies are fantastic little motivators for me too. Although thought by some to be childish I love how I can look back on past achievements and big milestones. My fitbit even gave me the confidence to run my first half marathon. I had been debating it for a while and after a day I went for a long trail run with no real goal in mind I looked back at my results and what I achieved and it inspired me that I could tackle a bigger challenge.
Along with badges and trophies a big engagement tool for fitbit is friends and challenges. I love being able to rank myself against my friends and see how my average steps stack up to theirs. The challenges during the week have allowed me to form relationships with people who I typically wouldn’t. Last year I was on a business trip in Texas and went out to dinner with a co-worker and her husband. Her husband had been bitten by the fitbit bug too and we spent dinner talking about our goals and achievements. The next week he became my fitbit friend and we engage in challenges every week with his group of friends who I’ve never met but cheer on as we progress through reaching our personal goals and of course competing with each other. I’ve never beaten my co-workers husband by the way but trying to catch him every week motivates me to push even further. I have another fitbit friend who prides himself on being able to crush me every week. Now it’s little unfair as I have a desk job and he is a delivery driver for UPS but one week I had been at the top of my game and he admitted later to watching my updates and getting up out of bed at 11pm to make sure I didn’t over take him. Fun fact if you really want to mess with your friends during a challenge hold off on syncing up your fitbit so they can’t see your progress. A little evil but all’s fair in love and fitbit challenges!
Challenges and competitions for fitbit
Challenges for fitbit are accuracy of the features and competition. Although most research has shown that the step tracker is fairly accurate some of the other features like heart rate, activity levels, and distance are a little more suspect. Even if some of those other features are not 100% accurate there is still value. One friend of mine claims fitbit saved her life. She is admittedly not the fitest person but wears her fitbit religiously and therefore knows what it normally registers as her heartbeat. After not feeling well for several days she went to the doctor and they determined she had a standard virus and to just rest. She challenged the doctor a little more by explaining that her fitbit normally registers in the high 60s for her resting heart rate but over the past few days she was noticing it in the low 100s. That prompted the doctor to do more tests and it was determined she had pneumonia which could have progressed more seriously without treatment.
Fitbit has many competitors in the wearable technology segment, Gamin, Jawbone, and Nike just to name a few. Also Apps like Map My Run solve for the distance tracking that fitbit lacks . Overall fitbit is really designed for the casual user and doesn’t provide the diagnostic needs of the more serious athletes.
So does fitbit make you more fit?
I can’t say I know the answer to this. The key lies in engagement but inherently someone who buys a fitbit and takes the time to set goals and track progress is already more motivated to live a more active and healthy lifestyle. So is it fitbit or the individual? Fitbit definitely fills the need for the average individual who wants to be a little healthier, and since America isn’t getting any skinnier anytime soon fitbit should have plenty of customers. Fitbit needs to keep focus on the initial digital engagement which is key to product adoption and satisfaction. Keeping the product simple and Apps easy to navigate are important to keep people interacting with the product. Ideally people what to see results so making individuals accountable to either a community or themselves will help ensure success. All and all a little shaming doesn’t hurt either: “It’s time to move” and feed my fitbit 250 steps!