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Fitbit ROI Challenge midway point: lessons learned

Published: May 25, 2012

Author: Molly Shotwell

We’re doing the weekly Fitbit ROI Challenge post a bit differently today; we’ve had some interface glitches that have made data-collecting tough this week, so we’re going to take a breath and relate some of the things we’ve learned from our favorite tiny gadgets.
Lesson #1: Numbers motivate. Never has this been more clear than this week; with the group’s dashboard syncing irregularly (the Fitbit team is on the case!), we can’t tell how we stack up against each other. Not at all coincidentally, things like walking meetings, taking the long way to lunch, etc., haven’t been as frequent.
Lesson #2: You don’t have to be an uber-athlete to be healthy. It helps, of course, but when you’re counting steps, turns out you do better walking a mile than running a mile. And if you’re the running type and figure, “Well, if I run today, I don’t have to take the stairs,” those steady Fitbit-ers who make a point of walking to lunch, taking the stairs, walking to work (or at least getting off the subway a stop early), etc., are going to do better than keep up with you — even in miles traveled.
Lesson #3: Being part of a team helps. You may remember Monica Madrigal, she of the living-room treadmill and all the #1 weekly rankings. Monica is MORE than motivated by her competitors (she and week 3 stalwart Laura Rodnitzky are going to push each other over 200K steps per week soon), but she’s just as focused on helping the San Mateo team’s cause. Case in point: when she started using her new under-desk cycle last week and was asked about what kind of astronomical goals she was trying to hit, she said simply, “I just want us to win. Just one week.”
Lesson #4: Competition breeds creativity. And no, not under the “if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying” umbrella. I mean that we’re seeing things like jumping rope in the parking lot (really), an entire office signing up for a 5K/10K event in June, and pacing at night during Cleveland Indians games (hey, if it helps…). Now, if you ask whether or not the San Mateo team got an extra 2,000 steps one week because a certain account manager accidentally put his Fitbit in the washing machine, I will defer comment.
Lesson #5: We love recognition, even from computer software. Your Fitbit Ultra greets you with messages like “GET MOVING” and lovingly calls you “STEPGEEK” when it’s pleased with you. Your Fitbit dashboard gives you badges (for instance, you get a Hot Air Balloon badge when you hit a total of 1,000 flights of stairs) and tells you the equivalent height of the steps you’ve climbed that day (e.g. at 30 flights, you’re told you have climbed “The Tallest Sailboat Mast”). If you eavesdropped on our conversations, you would hear grown-ups telling each other, proudly, that they have climbed Godzilla. It’s like gold-star stickers for adults.
Lesson #6: Saying “It’s just my Fitbit” makes little impression on airport security officers. Save yourself some time and take it off before they raise an eyebrow.
Okay, enough words. Next week: back to the numbers!
Hillary Read, Marketing Manager
P.S. — No blog Monday. HAPPY HOLIDAY WEEKEND, everyone!

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