equals approximately 10,000 steps.
How do I
just as I made it to the five-mile mark on the Kelly Drive loop
Saturday morning, the teeny LED lights in my red Fitbit Flex
started doing the happy dance. And the silicone wristband —
reminiscent of cyclist Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong bracelets
for a smoothie and did some grocery shopping. And when I got
home, I synced the Flex to my laptop and — drumroll, please
— my grand step total was 18,148. By day’s end, I earned a
So are a
lot of other runners, bikers, swimmers, and people just trying
to lose a few pounds, as "wearables" — computer
chips that, at a minimum, track steps taken, distance traveled,
calories burned, and sleep had — continue to climb the
It-o-meter in fitness and fashion circles.
tracking chips hit the market in the early 2000s, but they were
geared to the techy fitness buff. I once tried attaching a chip
made by Nike to my running shoes, but because I couldn’t get
the darned thing to sync with my iPod, I threw in the shoelaces
pretty quickly. Then they were made to look like pedometers.
Clearly, function trumped fashion.
however, sales of activity trackers topped $100 million during
the first quarter, according to the market research firm NPD
Group. In 2013, total sales were $283 million.
such a focus on fitness and how it integrates into our
lifestyles," said Ben Arnold, industry analyst for NPD.
"Trackers can monitor our heart rate and can tell you how
long you’ve been in the sun. The new features are bringing the
trackers into the next phase."
helps that the trackers — the Jawbone, Fitbug, Pulse, Fitbit,
and market newcomer Misfit Shine — are becoming trendy
must-haves like the recognizable Starbucks coffee cup,
Bloomingdale’s brown bag, or lululemon’s horseshoe insignia.
Fitbit or (Nike) FuelBand says ‘I’m active, I like to work
out. I’m healthy.’ There is an inherent status symbol in
that," Arnold said.
there is cachet to be claimed, fashion is never far behind.
talked-about tracker-meets-fashionista collaboration of the year
is between San Francisco-based Fitbit and Main Line-bred Tory
Burch. Someone on the Tory Burch team, which apparently has a
lot of Fitbit wearers, reached out to Fitbit co-founder Eric
Friedman. After a few months, the companies settled on a golden
cuff bracelet and pendant that can hold a Fitbit sensor.
are designed to be high-fashion accessories that can take your
Flex tracker from day to night," said Melanie Chase,
product marketing manager at Fitbit.
introduced its Shine tracker (battery-powered, so it doesn’t
have to be charged) in August 2013 with fashion in mind, said
founder Sonny Vu.
circular, hand-polished stainless steel tracker can be attached
to a wristband or worn around the neck as a large pendant. It
comes in 12 colors, including a blue one that resembles a piece
perfect for business casual and dressy attire," said Vu,
who introduced a flowery stainless steel necklace holder called
Bloom in early May. "We wanted to make something that
people would enjoy wearing."
also a race to marry tracking devices with apparel. Misfit sells
T-shirts and socks with snug pockets for the Shine.
Seattle-based Heapsylon introduced its Sensoria sports bra and
shirt (both $79) earlier this year with sensors embedded in the
fabric. Heapsylon will introduce socks in July; four pairs for
question is: Do trackers provide accurate data?
consensus is that they work best when worn on the wrist.
newsroom, we tried the Fitbit Flex ($99.95), the Fitbug Orb
($49.95), and Withings Pulse ($99.99).
were pretty good for counting steps and keeping up with miles.
Our Orb user liked how her device calculated how many of her
steps were aerobic and became obsessed with getting 10,000 daily
steps; in fact, she surpassed her goal every day.
continually tapped my wrist just to see how many LED bars would
twinkle — each of the five represent one-fifth of my 10,000
steps. (I tapped even when lying on the couch.)
be great at tracking steps, but other workouts prove more
elusive. Although my Fitbit Flex was waterproof, I was too
chicken to swim in mine, so Friday morning’s workout was a
wash. The coworker who used the Pulse never made her step
quotient despite intense yoga sessions and 10-mile daily rides.
She felt judged by her Pulse.
she was impressed with its sleep tracker. She thought she was
getting some good zzzz’s until her morning stats informed her
she was awake more often than she thought.
— maybe I tossed and turned a lot? — my Flex showed I could
have been walking while sleeping.
a little bit off, or I’ve just learned something new about