We’d just gotten in the car when my husband realized he’d left his phone in the house. At first I thought I’d wait for him. But then I couldn’t stand it. I hopped out, slammed the door, and chased him up the driveway, matching him step for step. There was no way I was going to let him get any more steps for the day than me.

If you guessed that we’d recently bought fitness trackers—in this case, the Fitbit Charge—and that I can be a competitive person, you’re right on both counts. Quite cruelly, I think, my husband is almost always about 2,000 steps ahead of me, but on that day I was ahead, so I wasn’t above tailing him, all his eye-rolling be damned.  

While no single gadget yet dominates the market, popular trackers include the Charge ($149), Nike + Fuelband SE ($99), and Jawbone Up4 ($65), which detects heart rate (you can also use the Up4 like a portable wallet and pay for items with it in stores). I like the Charge because it has a screen, allowing me see my steps without checking my phone or computer, and it’s comfortable and slim besides. I do wish it were waterproof, another feature that should be more readily available soon.

Since embracing my tracker, I’ve felt much more motivated to get steps in where I can. And in the end, the person I’m really competing with (all evidence to the contrary) is myself. My daily goal is 10,000 steps, which the Charge celebrates by vibrating and blinking. (It’s a more satisfying display of congratulations than it sounds.) Recently, after a long day, I stumbled into bed, pulled up the covers, and checked my wrist to find I’d taken 9,950 steps.

I leaned back. It was totally fine. Only 50 short, no biggie. My husband yawned drowsily next to me. Wait. I hadn’t plugged in the iPad. Yes! It was only one room away, but when I got back, I only had to pace around the bedroom a few times before—blink, vibrate, success. My husband laughed and put the pillow over his head, but I didn’t care.

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