Fitbits: fad gadgets or fitness revolution?

Various Fitbit fitness watches display their functions. From left to right: Charge, Charge HR and Surge.
Various Fitbit fitness watches display their functions. From left to right: Charge, Charge HR and Surge.

If you own a fitness tracker or smartwatch, chances are it is a Fitbit, whose third-quarter global sales in 2015 were nearly 5 million units, according to IDC Research.

“The first time I got one for non-athletic purposes must have been when I was working at Ithaca College, so right after graduate school,” said Amy Lanou, department chair and associate professor of UNC Asheville’s health and wellness department. “I was working in another health promotion department with a bunch of fitness people.”

Lanou said fitness trackers started out as basic pedometers.
“The field has had them for a long time as step counters,” Lanou said.

Fitbit, according to its website, currently offers eight different models of fitness trackers, all with varying levels of features across different price ranges.

Lanou, a former cross-country and track athlete, said runners constantly focus on distance goals. Distance tracking is a key feature of these devices.

“I used to run as a high school student and in college, so of course we’re always interested in mileage,” Lanou, 52, said.
Ellen Garrison, a full-time lecturer in the health and wellness department, became familiar with fitness trackers through their incorporation into university programs.

“There’s been a pilot project using some technology and interfacing with Mission Hospital,” Garrison said. “It’s called a Pebble, and it’s an accelerometer. It’s part of my healthy life program.”

Through using the Pebble smartwatch as an instructional tool, Garrison became more familiar with fitness trackers and began enjoying the novelty of it.

“So, I was using the Pebble and I kind of got used to it. I like seeing the steps, I like having a goal, and I didn’t know I would like that,” Garrison said. “I found it fun, and it can be a little bit of a competition among friends.”

Lanou, also familiar with the Pebble tracker, prefers her Fitbit Charge wristband.

“This one has been a lot better for me than that one because that one I had to remember to move it from shoe-to-shoe. Or sometimes you can wear it on your bra and, whoops, it went in the washer,” Lanou said.

Garrison, 61, is also a Fitbit user who purchased her first one, a Charge HR model, in 2015.

“It was last year, I remember because it was a basketball game and Verizon was handing out 20 percent discounts, which you almost never hear for a Fitbit,” Garrison said. “We got the coupons, and we took off to Verizon.”

Fitbit has a large portion of the fitness tracker market cornered, but they are not the only option available.

Kathryn Gambill, a sophomore student, wears a Polar FT7 fitness watch.

Gambill, who bought her first fitness watch this past year, said fitness trackers are relatively new to her.

“Yeah, this is my first one. I’ve been using it since December,” Gambill said. “I do a specific workout program that a lot of other girls do, and so a lot of them wear this. Seeing them using it and finding out about how well it works and how cool it is to be able to track your progress in numbers made me want to get one too.”

Gambill said she began working out consistently over the past year after becoming motivated by some of her friends who are UNCA athletes.

“A lot of my friends are on the track team,” Gambill said. “Seeing them being really active and watching how that impacted their lives, it was just such an overall positive thing. There weren’t any negatives to it.”

Garrison said she agrees that fitness trackers encourage and enable users to maintain an active lifestyle.

“I think the studies do prove that some support and accountability helps increase more consistent, sustainable exercise,” Garrison said.

Gambill also said that using a fitness watch has impacted her motivation to maintain consistency in her workouts.
“One thing I noticed is that I think last week I did maybe one or two less workouts than I normally do. It was kind of shocking to see how much that threw off my weekly summaries and see how fewer calories I burned,” Gambill said.

Lanou, on the other hand, does not see her Fitbit as a motivational tool.

“For me it’s not particularly motivational, it’s more like I already have the motivation, and this helps me figure out if I am meeting my goals,” Lanou said.

Gambill said she plans to continue maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle and eventually wants to run a marathon.

“Just to continue getting in shape and being healthy and making it even more of a habit, I’d like to tell myself I’ll run a marathon someday,” Gambill said. “It looks kind of painful so I don’t really know, but we’ll see.”

John Mallow

John Mallow is a senior mass communication student at UNCA and Assistant Social Media Editor of The Blue Banner. He enjoys running, mountain biking, ska music, pizza and beer. He also wrote this bio himself, in the third person. Twitter: @jmallowjr Instagram: @johnmallow0602

10 thoughts on “Fitbits: fad gadgets or fitness revolution?

  • March 30, 2017 at 2:44 am

    I am 25. I was shocking for my health and fitness and searching many website to buy fitness tracker. But luckly
    i go to your website and study some Fitness Tracker news
    and instantly i decided to buy this fitness tracker. Now i am fully
    satistied to use it. It is really good and 100% working. Now i am happy. Thanks a lot your website. I believe it must need
    for every smart person. Fitness Tracker news

  • April 1, 2017 at 7:47 am

    I am 25. I was shocking for my fitness tracker market and searching many website to buy tracker market. But luckly
    i go to your website and study some fitness tracker market
    and instantly i decided to buy this fitness tracker. Now i am fully
    satistied to use it. It is really good and 100% working. Now i am happy. Thanks a lot your website. I believe it must need
    for every smart person. fitness tracker market

  • April 16, 2017 at 2:27 am

    Hi, i am Olivia from USA want to tell something about vcall fitness tracker. It is not only a tracker but a
    fashionable product. Vcall fitness tracker.
    It changed my position. I am using it and it is 100% working. Now, it is working as my
    coach, guider and good friend who is caring me all time.

  • April 16, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    I am john robert in USA using this product from few days that giving me 100% satisfaction.
    Vcall fitness tracker.
    I think this is the best fitness tracker in the world. It has various features specially i like calories burn that
    give me slim figure. Thanks a lot of the special product.

  • April 17, 2017 at 1:26 am

    In the prior time, i was confused about my fitness and future cause of my unfit body. Luckly i get this product and
    using it, it is really good fitness tracker.
    DESAY Smart Fitness Tracker Black.
    After using it now i am fit and handsome. It teaches me how to active
    in work and how to care myself.

  • April 17, 2017 at 3:03 am

    I am adams croof feeling better to say something about desay smart tracker because it change my life.
    DESAY Smart Fitness Tracker Black. It is
    really good fitness tracker and guide how to make me fit and handsome. It has all fitness tracker features those
    are seen in other products. I am happy and pray for this smart fitness tracker.

  • April 29, 2017 at 3:03 am

    I am Ben I am very satisfied to use this Fitness Tracker Pedometer Bracelet Vcall because it is giving me a lot of opportunity to walk every steps and km. passing with calories hampered.
    Its notification and incoming call is very well. It gives me play store opportunity that why I can download very necessary thins.
    I’m very happy to buy it.

  • May 4, 2017 at 8:02 am

    I need a computer program that will automatically start another program and not let that program close for a work computer. So basically, when the computer starts up, this program I am looking for will start a work-related program and force it to stay open, so that the only use of that computer would be to use the work program. Thank you!.

  • August 8, 2017 at 12:01 am

    I get a smart watch from the fitness tracker. I like most this watch and i so use it for going to every occasion. Do you know about this tracker, so come in :best fitness tracker


Leave a Reply to Asley ASley Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *