Gadgets Will Not Make You Thin

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Motorola released a pretty interesting new fitness device yesterday. It's called the MotoACTV, and it tracks your workouts, calories burned, and heart rate. It looks fantastic! But it's not going to shave any pounds off that jiggling frame of yours.


If you look back, just ten years ago, heart rate monitors were still relatively exotic and expensive. They didn't work well. Today, they're almost ubiquitous. The things that, say, a Polar RS800 can do—like RR variability heart rate tracking—were the exclusive province of cardiology labs in the recent past. Or take heart rate-based calorie counting. Two years ago it was an impressive exception. Today, it's a table stake for any high-quality fitness device. Things are changing, and fast. We are in the midst of a fitness gadget revolution.

This revolution has led to a relentless cycle of new fitness gadgetry. Garmin, Nike, Polar, Suunto, and Timex are pumping out new must-have devices every year. And because anyone that can cobble together a motion sensor and a GUI can now roll out a fitness tracker, upstarts like Fitbit and Jawbone—and now Motorola—are muscling in on the market too. (It's worth noting that just a few short years ago Garmin was an upstart itself.)

These are all backed by ads and promotions and splashy eyecandy software that promises if you just wear this thing, fitness will be fun, fun, fun! And easy! Our thing will make you thin and healthy and not such a fattie!

That is a lie. Or at least, misleading.

As evidence, I offer up myself. I have an entire drawerfull of fitness devices that I've collected over the years. I've spent thousands of dollars on them all told. (And this doesn't even count big ticket stuff like my bikes. I'm strictly talking about things with computers in them.) I have more fitness apps on my phone than I do songs, no kidding. And I've got an account on basically every fitness-tracking website that I've ever come across.


I'm 25 pounds overweight; all my jeans are tight-fitting skinny jeans. I've never bought a pair of skinny jeans.

That wasn't always the case. I used to be a runner, a swimmer, a biker, and hiker. I've competed in more races and triathlons than I can count. In that same drawer that holds all my fitness gadgets, I've also got several pounds worth of finisher's medals. But those are bygones. I've gone from triathlete to fattie daddy in no time at all. It's easy to do.


But you know what? Just as gadgets won't make you thin, and software won't make you fit, technology is a tool that you can use to help achieve those goals. Some of it is amazing. Some of it is garbage—or a complete waste of time and money. Wouldn't it be nice to know which was which?

Sometimes all you need is motivation and a wristwatch. I can't do anything about the latter, but maybe I can help with the former.


Starting next week, and every Wednesday thereafter, I'm going to be writing about personal fitness technology right here on Gizmodo. We're calling it Fitmodo. I'll be looking at the latest gadgets, software, trends and tools. I'll talk to elite athletes, scientists, coaches, and schlubs like myself trying to run more than we walk. I'm going to look at the technology tools to help you monitor your calories, log your runs, track your rides, count your laps and clock your sleep. We're going to look at everything designed to make you faster, stronger, thinner and fitter. But that's not the good part.

Vital Stats Week One

Weight: 171.6 lb
BMI: 25.4
Fat Mass: 21 percent
RHR: 63

I'll post my workouts and progress right here on Gizmodo, along with the tools I've used that week and analysis of how they worked. If I slack, you're going to know it. If I eat a pint of ice cream and chase it down with a pint of Guinness, I expect you to call me out on it. I'm going to post my vital stats each week: weight, body mass index, percentage of body fat and resting heart rate. But that's not the good part either.


The good part is that you're going to join me. We're going to do this together. Holding hands. Tentatively, at first. We're going to take baby steps (because, real talk: long strides would leave me winded). It's going to be a journey that by the new year leads to less of you, and less of me too. We're going to provide avenues for you to post where you are, and what kind of progress you've made. (For starters, the Fitmodo forum.) We're going to set goals, and smash them. And we're going to have fun.

You ready? Let's fucking do this.




I wouldn't say they get me to do anything I wouldn't do anyway, but the nike+ with my ipod nano definitely helps keep me going with my running. Seeing the miles add up, getting to the next color level, signing up for challenges are all things that help keep it interesting. It also doesn't hurt having music to listen to. I'd probably still go running anyway, but with the nike+ setup I know how much I'm actually running and I've even used it to figure out routes for when I don't have a lot of time but have a minimum distance I want to cover.

The mapmyrun app (android in my case) is pretty good too, but I just use it for when I walk. Even includes elevation for when you go up/down hill.