Any form of self-awareness, that drives behavior change, is a good thing in my book, and that includes fitness trackers.

However, what people don’t realize is information from fitness trackers is useless and even counterproductive if there is no plan to integrate the data into an exercise and nutrition plan.

A study published in 2016, on the effects of wearable technology on long-term weight loss found the following:

  • Among young adults with a BMI between 25 to <40 kg/m2, the addition of a wearable technology device to a standard behavioral intervention resulted in less weight loss over 24 months.

Many other studies show similar results, and it appears that reliance on fitness trackers undermines confidence and self-efficacy in the ability to make positive lifestyle changes. Unless of course, they are used correctly.

How personal trainers use fitness trackers

What I love about fitness trackers is they take out the emotion, the judgment and all the qualitative, subjective and excuses for exercise. They focus on measurable data.

As a fitness coach, fitness trackers are liberating because my focus is to get my clients fit and I can’t do that unless they are engaging in their exercise program.

The tracker becomes my surrogate coach as we work through their fitness and nutrition plan together.

Our body’s health is indifferent to whether we are too busy, stressed or run out of time for exercise.

The body, like fitness trackers record movement when it happened. It doesn’t record our why or why not for exercise, because “why” is irrelevant for the body to become fitter, it needs to be exercised, what ever the reason.

Using your fitness tracker as a personal trainer


  1. Understand the fitness metric you are trying to improve. Just knowing your heart rate, hours of sleep, or calorie burn rate isn’t enough; you have to know what those numbers mean for long-term fitness.
  2. Spend time working out where your fitness is now. Starting with a 10,000 steps a day plan is overwhelming when you are only tracking 2,000 steps. Working out your baseline fitness and then a strategy to get you to 10,000 steps is far more effective long term.
  3. Set a specific goal. Goals like “lose weight,” or “move more” are too vague to form the basis of a plan of action for fitness. Setting a specific goal will mean a program can be formulated around achieving goals strategically and not just guessing at what might/might not work. Specific goals become a resource for learning rather than a source of self-condemnation.
  4. Build your fitness plan. Once you know your baseline numbers (see step 2), then you can progress your program over the next ten weeks. For example, increase steps by 10% each week. I also recommend 2 active rest weeks after your training blocks. Recovery blocks are used in all athletic training programs to improve performance and avoid burn out.
  5. Monitor like a Personal Trainer. Fitness trackers can disconnect or reconnect you to your body, understanding the numbers is vital in the context of your perceived performance. This where I recommend you note your “Perceived rate of exertion” (aiming for Zone 3 – 4 (vigorous) on the modified Borg scale) after each training session.Taking time each week to analyze the data and compare it to your perceived rate of exertion will help you understand how your body is performing and give you the ability to make adjustments according to your fitness needs.

Planned fitness programs achieve measurable results

We have heard that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, however often people forget that drawing the line is essential to connecting those points.

Improving your fitness requires the same exercise, that is, “drawing a line” to where you are and where you want to be with your fitness.

Leaving your health to the stress of wandering through the myriad of fitness options available, will see you defeated before you start or within weeks of your “fitness resolution.”

Please don’t despair, we are all athletes in life, and your body can be trained for better performance, with consistent exercises that adapt to your needs.

With or without a fitness tracker, you can learn more about how to exercise effectively, by planning your program, executing the program, analyzing the results and re-planning for continual improvements.

Fitness then follows a life cycle contingent on your belief of living life well with fitness and by taking action towards better health with regular exercise.

If you are ready to start tracking your fitness then perhaps our 9 minutes to fitness program is the answer for you. Click below for more information and to download your Free 9 minute workout.



Live well with fitness!


Written by Anna: Fitness and Nutrition Personal Trainer