Is Fitness Tech Right for You?

There was a time when if you wanted to remember to do something, you would tie a string around your finger. As with other things in our modern age, the string has been upgraded.

Today’s string replacement is a device filled with microchips and trendy features like “haptic feedback,” “accelerometers,” and “six-axis gyroscopes.” Generally worn on the wrist, they can remind us about email, appointments, and an endless list of things to do. If sales figures are right, the most important thing we need to be reminded to do is exercise.

A price increase accompanies these upgrades. Depending on the sophistication, these devices will run between $80 and $400. Even with inflation, that is a little steep.

What justifies these prices? Why do people pay them? It comes down to an adage, “You get what you pay for.” Said a different way, something that we value, we use.

A piece of string is worth pennies and pennies is probably all the level of interest most will give it. But when you start paying hundreds of dollars for a reminder device, we give it a different level of attention.

People with new devices that tell them to stand, will stop what they are doing and stand. Does that device on your wrist tell you that have more walking to do? Maybe 20 minutes of exercise? Somehow we find the time to get it done. It isn’t magic. It’s investment.

Yet we all have stories of how these investments don’t last. Perhaps you decided to spend hundreds on a new elliptical machine. For the first month, maybe even the first six months, you were dedicated. Then the investment depreciated and you found reasons to do other things that you valued.

Endeavor Partners research into wearable technology suggests these fancy new devices that you think will change your life can follow a similar pattern. Surveying 6,223 adults, they found that while one out of ten owns an activity tracker, [one third stop using it within six months].

Among those who stop using these devices are those who don’t expend any resources to get the tracker and therefore don’t have any investment. Receiving a fitness device as a gift, especially if it is unwanted, usually results in an early retirement to a box in the closet.

Why does all of this matter? Because if you are considering an investment in a fitness device, the question shouldn’t be which one. The question should be how invested are you?

But don’t be fooled, it isn’t just about money. Investing $10,000 on a gold-plated Apple Watch will not help you stay more dedicated than a $400 Apple Watch or even an $80 Fitbit. It is about the investment and dedication you are giving to the experience.

Apple Watch

In other words, a mild interest in being active can’t be increased by spending money on a device. And please, don’t think you can change someone’s lifestyle by giving it to them. Being reminded multiple times a day that you aren’t being active enough isn’t fun.

Think of fitness devices as tools. If you are active and life gets in the way of remembering to get out there and do something, then these tools could be a great addition. Otherwise, work on your motivation and investment, then put your money where your action is.


Dan Ledger, Endeavor Partners, “Inside Wearables” Dan Ledger, Endeavor Partners, “Inside Wearables Part 2” 

Photos: Apple

Brett Thelin

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