By Nicky Mills
Fitness monitors, or wearable tech as it is imaginatively called, encompasses gadgets such as the Polar heart rate monitor, the Fitbit, Jawbone UP and the Nike FuelBand. I realise that over the years, I have tried a fair few accessories in my efforts to improve my motivation and sports performance.
My addiction began back in the day, with a sturdy, grey, plastic pedometer , complete with its clip-on belt attachment – oh the shame! Comparing that functional fitness monitor with what I am surrounded by now is like a comparing an abacus to an iPad. These high end activity trackers are part of a multi-billion dollar industry, so it looks like they are here to stay, in one form or another.
They clearly have their place in our exercise routines guiding us along the way to physical perfection. However. Oh yes, there is a devilish side to them. If you have used a fitness monitor for any length of time, you may have fallen prey to these scenarios:
My Dad is an avid step counter, he clips it on and off he goes like a Duracell bunny. It really has helped him to transform his daily exercising habits. Although I have seen the positive contribution that the step challenge has had on my father, I have never quite felt the appeal of counting my own steps. Counting calories, yes. Counting money, I am in!
Beneath the veneer of respectability, there is something quite narcissistic about monitoring something as mundane as steps taken each day. Counting steps and expecting a round of applause is acceptable – for toddlers. Nevertheless, my newly health-conscious colleagues have taken to proclaim their “numbers” for the day, every day!
I have shied away from these group discussions, preferring to change the printer ink. I don’t know if I can handle the margin of error. What if I swing my arms too vigorously and it counts that as a step? When I am out and I see someone that I know do I stop and chat whilst marching on the spot? What would Mo Farah do?
None of this really matters unless you are ridiculous like me, but this is what an incessant drive for information can do to you!
It isn’t quite enough that I am often shackled at the wrist by my sports bracelet. More often than not, I have an MP3 player along for the ride too. When I’m not untangling myself from my so called “sports” headphones, I am busy checking my stats. No matter where I am, I am often oblivious to what is going on around me. If I am at the gym the scenery is invariably someone on the stationary bike, cycling at a snails pace whilst and downing liquid sugar, to aid their recovery. If I am out on the road, the scenery takes the less benign form of exhaust fumes, and cyclists on the pavement. Arm caught in cable, winds around itself like a mischievous snake. Why oh why is it impossible to run, mess with your iPod and maintain the ear-buds in a comfortable position? I have a headphone graveyard, a cracked iPod and a smashed up iPhone to prove it.
If I ever forget to put on my fitness monitor, I have an oh-so-brief moment of panic. Then, I remember that I am trying to regain my six-pack and world rights itself on its axis once again. If I complete a workout before I realise that the pedometer has been forgotten, the walk seems pointless. Until I come to my senses that is. Recently, I overheard one of the PTs at the gym proclaiming that “if it hasn’t been counted, its worthless”. Not so my friend – the technology is merely a tool. Or maybe you’re the tool!
All heard of the runners high? This is something even more sinister than Katie Hopkins. To do with GPS being wrong and saying you have run two metres instead of two miles. Was it worth it? First comes the disbelief, like those hapless drivers guided into a field of cows by their satnav. Then comes the rage – bloody useless etc etc. Plan to learn to use an ordnance survey map next time. An all or nothing attitude
Information induced Insomnia
Did you ever trip on the treadmill because you are so busy checking that you actually turned on your watch? Being a fitness geek is exhausting. So in order to get yourself some next level, quality sleep you use the Fitbit sleep tracking capabilities. Beware, this can double your exhaustion levels.