Life before the Fitbit

The Fitbit, a revolutionary device that’s transforming the way we track our fitness and daily routines. However, how does this compare to the space we once lived in without this device?

The Fitbit was created in 2007 by James Park and Eric Friedman yet was not released until May of 2013. So how were people tracking their steps, calories, sleep, and weight without it? During the years between the creation and release date of the Fitbit, many other technologies were stepping up to the world of fitness. Before the time of all this tech talk, I remember being in third grade and having to wear a pedometer to track the steps I took during class. After one gym class, I went home and asked my mother if we had owned one and if not,I was going to ask her if that could that be my birthday present. ‘Outdoing’ my classmates on their steps became a game soon after the introduction of this tool. Little to my knowledge, my mother wore one in order to track the steps she took per day.  Therefore, in 2002 people were using pedometers as ways to keeps up on their fitness. Remembering my experience with my mother, I decided to take to Facebook and ask the public how they took exercise stats without the accessibility of the Fitbit. The following are some responses to this post:

“If I remember sometimes I write down what I eat. If I workout I write it in my planner.”

-Allee S.

“Before I got the Fitbit I would just record my exercise, like what workouts I did and how many reps and what I did for cardio and how long I did it for. For example, if I ran for 30 mins on the treadmill I would record that”

-Andrew S.

Therefore, before the time of the Fitbit some people would manually write down their exercise plan. This would include how many miles they ran which fitness goers would get from a treadmill, the amount of time they worked out by keeping time on a stopwatch, and even writing down what they ate for the day along with the amount of calories they consumed. However, writing down information does not seem to be the most logic and reliable way to track information.


From my research, the next example of a tracking device was able to come about by the introduction of smartphones in 2007. The smartphone had technologies that allowed for apps to be downloaded to the phone for many uses. Fitness goers were now able to track their exercise stats was through an abundance of applications smartphone device had offered. Almost everything you needed to know was at the tip of your finger.  In order to understand how these applications are used, I will discuss the two main fitness apps that people claimed they used on my Facebook post. According to Kranz et al. (2013), GPS trackers, workout planners, and exercise books are the three different categories in these applications. I will be analyzing apps that fall under the GPS and workout planners categories.

GPS trackers include apps such as RunKeeper that “annotate outdoor activities like running or cycling with location information” (Knranx et al., 2013, p. 207). According to Gilbert (2011), this device has split counters, a calorie burn counter, and GPS location. It even has an encouraging voice speaking to you throughout your run that makes statements such as “You’re doing great!” or “You’ll be fit in no time!” Along with the animated voice over, the app also allows the user to have to enter a database full of tailored workouts (Gilbert, 2011). However, there do seems to be some problematic issues with this application. As Knranx et all. (2013) states,  “the quality of exercise instructions can be improved through well-founded information and physiological correctness. Moreover, the combination with skill assessment and targeted feedback could be a large step towards self-determined, autonomous training” (p. 208). This meaning that the  tailored workout made for this running app could actually damage and hurt the user if they are executing the plan wrong.

The next app is considered a workout planner or an app that has goal-orientated workouts for weight training as well as exercises devoted to certain body parts (Knranx et al., 2013).

The Nike+ Training Club is a prime example of a workout planner. As stated on Nike’s website, you get to workout, your way:

“Up to you, as it should be. Drills focusing on HIT, yoga, and pilates will push you – hard. Audio cues will help you keep a good from. And video guides and step-by-step images make following a breeze.”

The applications has over 100 Nike Master workouts to chooses from giving the user many different opportunities and options. The user could measure the number of workouts done, number of minutes spent working out, and average calories. This app also help with long term motivation because it allows the fitness goer to sign up for 4 and 6 week programs which pushes you to meet goals and exceed your abilities.

The world of exercise tracking has been in constant transformation with the adaptation of new technologies. Fitness goers began with the struggle of manually writing down their daily activities in a journal, which I would believe was often lost or too bulky to carry around. Now people have the ability  to downloading apps on a smartphone that keep a digital log of the information. With applications such as these, it is hard to believe that something more technologically  could be introduced. However, the evolution of exercise tracking has not ended. Join me in my next blog post to explore just how much the Fitbit has changed the world of exercise!

For now, stay updated by following my twitter account!



Everyone. Every run. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2016, from
Gilbert, J. (2011, July 15). The Fitness App RunKeeper: Reviewed For Lazy People, By A Lazy Person. Retrieved February 9, 2016, from
 Kranz, M., Möller, A., Hammerla, N., Diewald, S., Plötz, T., Olivier, P., & Roalter, L. (2013). The mobile fitness coach: Towards individualized skill assessment using personalized mobile devices. Pervasive and Mobile Computing, 9(2), 203-215.
Nike Training Club. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2016, from