Can fitbit really make you fitter? by@vernekard
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Can fitbit really make you fitter?

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Dinesh Vernekar
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It depends.

In the mid of the year, a fitness drive came over me and i finally decided to get myself a fitbit.

Was software capable of changing your fitness habits? The geek in me said yes, the realist in me knew changing habits wasn’t easy.


It makes you feel fitter!

When i first installed the app, my own need to get fit was pretty high. I hadn’t played a sport in a bit and i had just starting running. I wanted to monitor my heart rate, my sleep cycle, my steps and more. I spent the next few days verifying my steps, adjusting my sleep & being generally hyper active.


Theinterest graph — when trying a new product


One of those odd days when i completed 10,000 steps. Yay!

However my enthusiasm slowly died down. I was averaging 4000 steps per day. I didn’t care about my sleep cycle anymore.

There are 2 types of triggers when we decide to use a product — an external trigger and an internal trigger. An external trigger can be a push notification, an email msg, an retargeting ad which forcibly brings you back to the product. An internal trigger — is an idea that is incepted in your mind which makes you use the product. Example — the constant need to check ‘new tweets’ on twitter is planted in your head using the pull to refresh animation — new tweets while using the product.


An idea is planted with ‘see new tweets’

In case of fitness: - the internal trigger — my own need to be more fit- the external trigger — app sending updates to walk more/complete 200 steps this hour.

Since my internal trigger wasn’t working anymore, i needed an external trigger.

Data in itself isn’t of much value. Unless it can change habits

Some of the most succesful internet products appeal to one of the 7 deadly sins — pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth

The sin that works for fitbit is a combination of pride and envy.

We are envious of our friends doing more steps than us. And we take great pride in winning. Fitbit uses these emotions to make you more active — it allows your friends to ‘taunt’ you if they’re behind you in weekly steps.


Taunt — A classic combination of envy and pride.

This was an external trigger combined with an internal trigger. The external trigger was your friends tauting you. To avoid you friends taunt, your drive to be fitter had grown which completed a virtuos loop.


Internal & external triggers combine to give you a sustained enthusiasm & fitness over time

That’s the beauty of networks. In the previous instance, if you lost your motivation, you were out. However in this instance as long as only 1 friend is enthusiastic, the group stays active & thus fit.

And so i was back in the engagement loop. Going on random walks, running right after dinner and walking to work. All to get to the top of the leaderboard which was me and 3 other friends!

Can the fitbit make you fitter?

Sure it can. But just like the gym you need a bunch of friends to compete against and egg you on if you hope to make it work.


Couple of other notes:

  1. The fitbit sleep tracking is really good. It’s measure of deep sleep, rem sleep & light sleep was om point.
  2. While the home screen is great, there are a bunch of things the app can improve — the friend add isn’t upfront so a lot of poeple miss out on competing with friends and drop off the activity graph. The challenges screen has a lot of content and no clear cta. The accounts tab is poorely done — it’s a great place to show your cumulative stats & badges like the Nike app but right now it’s just a glorified settings page. Also i’m not downloading another app to learn how to train.
  3. A very good review of the fitbit can be found here —

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