Why I don’t use a fitness tracker
Recently, some friends and I were discussing wearable technology. It began by one of my friends asking if we thought wearables would be the demise of watches. Then I took it a little farther, positing that eventually we’ll have to sew our clothing to get away from wearable technology. Ok, I took it a lot farther... Or maybe not.
Why my the-sky-is-falling attitude towards wearables? While I have flirted with the idea, mostly out of curiosity regarding their accuracy, if the alarm clock features some boast would actually wake me at a better place in my sleep cycle, and wanting to know what I really do in a day, ultimately, I don’t want to know the answers to any of these questions. I’m too Type-A to quite literally have no boundaries between the data and myself. Caveat: If I were preparing for a race, I would definitely invest in a wearable for training re: mileage and pacing.
For me, the only number that matters is 1. One being “number one” (i.e. me) and the one team that I and my group fitness classmates become. I used to take classes with an instructor who would always say, “What you do we do, what we do you do.” For those 60 minutes, we would dig through heavy torq, sprint on flat roads, and tap it back as one, cohesive whole, feeding off of each other’s energy. Does it make me a hypocrite that this class was at Flywheel (where technology, in the form of the torq board and individual tech packs on each bike are key elements of their cycling classes) and I love taking cycling classes there?I don’t think so. The tech pack allows me to gauge how hard I'm working and make sure that I'm keeping pace with where I need to be. Sure, I get a rush when my score ranks high on the torq board, don't we all? (I don't put myself on the board but I'll look up and see how my score compares with what's up there.) But when all is said and done, my final score doesn't get to set the tone for the rest of my day, instead my endorphins and the collective "we did it" do. What it comes down to is working my best on that given day. I know when I’m pushing myself, just like I know when I need to pull back or when I can give a little more. If I worked as hard as I could and had fun, then it was a successful workout. Plus, that number stays in the studio – yes I can access it through my account later on, but that choice is mine, it’s not sitting there on my wrist all day. There’s no, “I can’t go to bed yet. I didn’t hit my X quota;” it's the perfect balance of knowledge when you want it and out of sight out of mind.
As I always suspected, I’m not alone in feeling this way. To paraphrase a recent study by Professor Etkin of Duke University, when people know their efforts are being measured, the activity (fitness or not) starts to feel like a chore. (Click here and here for additional coverage of the study.) I don’t want to ruin fitness or my love of going out on aimless walks through the city or Central Park. Maybe one day I’ll feel differently and perhaps when tech takes over the world it won’t be as bad as I imagine but until then, I’ll stick with my analog watch and take my cues from my body.
Do you use a fitness tracker? Does it make you feel like you're always chasing X number? Am I being a total luddite?