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Every time I speak with my mother, she can’t stop talking about her Fitbit.  “Guess how many steps I took today?” “I slept great according to Fitbit”—Fitbit this, fitbit that. Her tone is tinged with a slight edginess I can’t seem to pinpoint, at least not this far into our conversation. But there is something about her that has definitely changed since receiving the wristband as a gift some months ago. Do I judge her for being swallowed up in the wearable trend? No, I certainly do not. Whereas I prefer the gym and cycling out in the open, I realize those circumstances are not for everyone. The colorful rubber wristbands are durable, affordable, simple to use, and provide participants of fitbitness just the right amount of motivation to maintain their activity.

The fact of the matter is lots of people use fitbit. In a recent Wall Street Journal interview with President Obama, clung to his wrist was a black Fitbit Surge. Not an Apple Watch, but the step counter wearable that emerged eight years ago. Since its humbled beginnings, Fitbit’s product line has gained a significant amount of popularity. But what is the reason for all the hype concerning their product? This tiny device has become a desired favorite among all demographics for an array of reasons.

Its relatively simple target goal of 10,000 recorded steps that welcome users of various health backgrounds and its equally simple ways of achieving that number. For those especially busy people who don’t necessarily have time to head to the gym regularly, they can now count their steps while they run errands in addition to walking and running. Users can even partake in some friendly competition with co-workers, neighbors, and family via Fitbit online. The bottom line, it’s a fun product that has enticed many to engage in contemporary fitness routines in between the various facets of day-to-day life.

As for my mother’s case and many others, sometimes fun is taken to the extreme. Like I said earlier, no conversation was without mention of ‘the Fitbit’. I knew my mother enjoyed her morning walks with the dog, but things seemed a bit strange when she mentioned several walks in a day, eagerly running errands, cleaning the house, and tidying up the yard all because she wanted to ‘stay in the lead’—with who? I was curious, the dog? No. Her colleagues and a neighbor, all of whom were connected online, and all of whom were stealthily finding their own separate ways of reaching the top of the virtual podium. What I detected in her voice was the sound of fierce rivalry reminiscent of my elementary days.

“It’s important to me. You won’t understand until you get one.” Those were the exact words uttered to me by my own mother. And they still haunt me with its eerily cliquey undertone. One part of me chuckles—I believe competition in moderate amounts is healthy and gives us the motivation we need, but the other part of me was concerned. When does Fitbit-ing become an obsession? Is there some underground Fitbit gang I am unaware of? Of course these are all false accusations, but even lies hold a certain amount of truth. For Mimi Segel, writer for The Huffington Post, her amusing documentation of the physical and mental transformation that borderlined psychosis came with great relief when the band suddenly broke. She never replaced the Fitbit and claims she’s a free woman once again.

Aside from the few noteworthy fitness maniacs out there, wearables of various fashion are trending at an unexpected rate. But will this small company fade in the wake of the Apple watch? Some people think so which is why their recent IPO was regarded with some concern. A few weeks ago they filed for a $100 million IPO. If their bid is approved, any fears of being bought out by Apple vanish. But can Fitbit continue to dominate the wearable market? With multiple product variations that all claim to track fitness, its hard to tell. Let’s not forget Garmin and Basis are also prominent within the wearable market, their products are affordable and have high user ratings. However Fitbit is certainly determined to instrument their expertise when it comes to monitoring all areas of exercise. Currently, their products are not able to register and convert other forms of activities into mere step counts, but their team is working hard to change that. Those of you that swim, cycle, and weight lift have no fear—there will be a Fitbit for you too.

If Fitbit can manage to stay ahead of the game and prove to users that their fitness device is a definite compromise to the do-all Apple watch and many other competitors, as far as step counting goes… they’ll get go well beyond that 10,000 benchmark.

 

 

 

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