Being a slave to the Fitbit - and an explanation of what it is for those who've never heard of it.

@boiboing (12881)
Northampton, England
October 27, 2015 3:32am CST
It's funny that something can become an important part of your life yet a large part of the population have no idea what it is. Think about MyLot for example; how many of us spend every spare moment on here but our friends and family have no idea what we're doing. Similar to that is the Fitbit. If you've got one, then it's on your mind (and on your wrist) all the time. Many of my colleagues have them and we talk about them a lot but in the so-called 'real world' they are still quite a minority gadget. I wrote yesterday that my Fitbit had told me I'd walked the distance of the London Underground in the 10 weeks since I got it and a couple of people commented that they didn't know what a Fitbit was. So I thought I'd better explain. At its simplest the Fitbit is a step counter but it soon becomes a lot more. There are several different versions and mine is the Fitbit Charger - not the cheapest but far from the most expensive. Some are designed to hang - though I'm not clear what they should hang from - but most are worn on the wrist. The most basic wrist worn ones just count steps whilst mine also tells the time. This was a key issue for me. I didn't want to have to wear a Fitbit and a watch. Mine counts steps and converts them into distance, counts how many floors of stairs I climb, tells me how many calories I've burned and tracks my sleep. It syncs to my Kindle Fire but you can equally set them up to sync to a lot of phones or your laptop. You do need to have some kind of device to sync it to as the wrist monitor only tells you about the current day. Once you've got one of these you'll soon find it becomes a bit of an obsession. You start parking at the far side of the car park to get in a few extra steps, you take the stairs all the time and you find creative ways to take the long route. When I get home in the evening my husband wants to know how many steps I've got and - if as usual I'm not at the target 10000 - we go straight out and walk around the village until the Fitbit buzzes to tell me I've reached the target. 10000 steps for a person with my stride length should be almost exactly 5 miles although Fitbit assumes my stride is slightly shorter than it is so it under reports. It should be possible to fix it but so far I've not worked out how. In the past on a day when I was working from home, it was not unusual for me to go through a whole day and not even leave the house. These days I make at least half the target pretty much every day and 3-4 days a week I beat it. On our holidays we beat it nearly ever day. You can track calories on the app but that's a very time consuming business and I've not done it so far though people who do swear by it. Mine cost just short of £70 from Amazon but I got a great deal on it. Normally they are more. You can get the basic Fitbit flex for around £45 to £50 depending on the colours you choose. If you are a person who is motivated by targets and needs a kick to get out and move more, the Fitbit is fantastic but of course its results are only as good as your determination.
17 people like this
16 responses
@owlwings (39768)
• Cambridge, England
27 Oct 15
An average of 25 miles a week is very commendable! (Apparently there are 250 miles of track on the Tube network). Personally, I'd regard £70 as a little expensive for what is basically a watch and a logging step counter. I wouldn't be in the least interested in the number of calories I consumed though I would find it interesting to know how many steps (or how many miles) I walk each day - too few for my health, I'm quite sure! I'd also be interested (but not necessarily convinced) by what it thinks of my sleep patterns. Now if it could record dreams as videos, that would be REALLY fascinating!
2 people like this
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
27 Oct 15
There are increasing numbers of cheaper knock-offs that will do the step counting and skip some of the other functions. They may be worth checking out.
2 people like this
@Hatley (164484)
• Garden Grove, California
29 Oct 15
hi8@Boiboing I used to do ten thousands steps whn I was working in the l ibrary shelving media as i was on my feet fo rfive and six hours. since then I was retired and have to get backnto the rhythm
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
30 Oct 15
@Hatley That doesn't surprise me that being a librarian is such a healthy job.
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (119872)
• Boise, Idaho
27 Oct 15
That sounds like a cool little gadget. I have heard of them but didn't know anyone that had one. I have had to old fashioned device but they are so boring. We used to walk all around the warehouse I worked in. Got a lot of distance in. Do you do any competitions?
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
27 Oct 15
I don't but it's really easy to set up a group of friends and challenge each other.
2 people like this
@celticeagle (119872)
• Boise, Idaho
27 Oct 15
@boiboing ...Yeah, that sounds kind of fun. At work to get people going.
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
27 Oct 15
@celticeagle Some days we're all fighting to go to each other's desks to get extra steps. The people I work closely with are at the other end of the building and they have Fitbits. In the past we'd grump about who went to see whom and now we're racing down the corridor to get the points.
1 person likes this
• United States
27 Oct 15
Both my daughter and son in law each have one and love them. I've been thinking of putting it on my Christmas wish list
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
27 Oct 15
That family that walks together, stays together! Go for it!
• Grand Haven, Michigan
27 Oct 15
So this thing wants me to walk to meet a goal? What sort of evil sorcery is this!!?? lol
1 person likes this
@gudheart (12741)
27 Oct 15
I was thinking about maybe getting one but wait until the price drops.
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
27 Oct 15
Sites like Groupon have a lot of unbranded copies of the Fitbit that are much less expensive. And you can save a lot by picking an unpopular colour. I think there may be a lot of unwanted ones after Christmas when people list the presents they didn't want on ebay.
1 person likes this
@gudheart (12741)
27 Oct 15
@boiboing I have to really think to myself if I really need it. A lot of these gadgets are not that useful but I end up getting them due to the 'want factor' lol
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
27 Oct 15
@gudheart maybe you can sell some of your unwanted gadgets and then buy a fitbit
1 person likes this
@Rollo1 (16685)
• Boston, Massachusetts
27 Oct 15
The Boy downloaded an app to his phone that counts his steps and he pays attention to his totals. For me, it would be a waste of money and I know that any gadget that nagged me would soon end up being thrown against a wall.
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
27 Oct 15
It has to inspire you, not nag you. This is why I think it only works for certain types of people. I'm very target oriented so it inspires me. Others might see the same things as nagging. That's why we're all different!
1 person likes this
@Rollo1 (16685)
• Boston, Massachusetts
27 Oct 15
@boiboing I have a terrible personality. I would definitely be yelling at the thing. Of course, I am hungry right now and haven't made breakfast or lunch. I am terrible when I am hungry. I get hangry. After I eat, I will be much more open to new ideas.
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
27 Oct 15
@Rollo1 I understand. My husband comes out and walks with me but whenever I ask if he wants one, he says he doesn't and if I buy it he won't wear it. So although he's fascinated by my targets, he doesn't want to do it himself. I knew it would be good for me because I've had pedometers in the past and loved them and this is a super-charged pedometer.
@DaddyEvil (25922)
• Aurora, Missouri
27 Oct 15
LMAO! Hello! I enjoyed this discussion start, although I do know what a fitbit is (and apparently a lot more than you know about how to program one) because I sell the stupid things, not because I wear one! A suggestion? Go to this link: I found/find it very helpful changing settings in a customer's fitbit. I just sync their device to my phone, change the settings for them, then delete the data that was added to my phone from the fitbit they own. Hopefully it will do as well for you as it has for me. It really is my pleasure meeting you!
We cover a detailed walkthrough of how to setup your new Fitbit Charge and then offer some tips on how to get the most out of it.
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
27 Oct 15
Well you are a very useful chap to know Mr Evil. I shall give it a go in a moment but I am not about to feel inadequate because you OUGHT to know a lot more than me. What sort of price do you generally get for these in the US these days? I had planned to buy mine over there but couldn't beat the UK Amazon deal I got on mine.
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
27 Oct 15
I spoke to soon. I read all the advice and tips and went to look for the 'gear' icon at the top right of my dashboard screen and there isn't one.
@sofssu (14447)
27 Oct 15
The app on my phone just counts the number of steps I take everyday.. I guess i haven't heard about the fitbit. It costed me nothing to download the app.
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
27 Oct 15
It's a good alternative but only if you carry your phone with you all the time. I don't do that.
1 person likes this
@sofssu (14447)
27 Oct 15
@boiboing I do it all the time.. especially when I go out for my walks.
@LadyDuck (177121)
• Switzerland
27 Oct 15
It's a nice little gadget I bought one for me and one for my niece, she has already lost the one I gave her. I have no intention to buy another I keep mine and I keep my determination to walk at least 7000 steps every day.
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
27 Oct 15
That's a shame - some people don't seem to value the things they are given. But good on you for the 7000 per day.
1 person likes this
@Drosophila (16699)
• Ireland
27 Oct 15
Yep I have a friend who got one, he's now even sleeping with it on. It tracks how much he sleeps and tell him whether thats enough etc.
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
27 Oct 15
Yes, mine does that and encourages me to go to bed earlier.
2 people like this
@xFiacre (5236)
• Ireland
27 Oct 15
I can see how that would encourage you to walk more than you otherwise would. If I ever have a spare £70 I might get one. Better still, you might just have solved my annual Christmas dilemma when it comes to getting something for my wife. Now that I think about it that might be a bit risky.
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
27 Oct 15
You can only give someone one of these if they really want it. Otherwise it would indeed be risky.
1 person likes this
4 Nov 15
i like the idea of these goals! i am very interested.
@valmnz (12744)
• New Zealand
1 Nov 15
I'm definitely motivated by targets, but personally I know instinctively if I've been active enough during the day. I'm a resonably fir person for my age, without a gadget like that.
@marlina (78199)
• Canada
27 Oct 15
No interest in that gadget at all.
@wiLLmaH (8236)
• Singapore, Singapore
27 Oct 15
iPhone does that too. :)
@MALUSE (43662)
• Uzbekistan
27 Oct 15
That sounds far too sportive for me.