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It’s called a Fitbit, and is meant to turn Wit’s End into a trimmer, sexier version of the bowl of porridge that emerged from the festive season. You strap this Fitbit thing on your wrist and it begins counting the number of steps walked in a day. (You possibly know about the concept — you turn into a tub of dripping if you don’t reach 10,000.)
This Fitbit checks your pulse, records stairs climbed, monitors sleep, and has an athlete’s stopwatch.
I haven’t finished reading the manual, but it seems it can help me take up professional weightlifting, and explains how many calories I’ve burned. (It’s possible a siren summons the fire brigade should a cheese roll be spotted in my vicinity.)
The first day I wore my gadget I got home from golf and found I had two congratulatory emails from Fitbit management. Their first invested me with the Sneakers’ Badge for doing my maiden 10,000 steps, and the second enthused: "Whoah! You’ve done 15,000 which is nearly three times the national average — You’ve earned the Urban Boot Award!"
This Urban Boot Award was not very comforting. The reason I’d won it was I’d spent the golfing afternoon curing a persistent slice by doctoring it into a vicious hook. So 7000 steps of my Urban Boot had been won trudging through the right rough, and then the left tussock. Bugger their badge.
Come New Year’s Eve and the honours list, I discovered I’d been further elevated — I was now the recipient of the Redwood Forest Award. However, this wasn’t for services to trees. (I haven’t hugged enough.) It was because in the previous 24 hours I’d climbed the equivalent of 25 storeys, which Fitbit said was higher than the typical redwood. I thought there’d been a mistake, because I hadn’t climbed anything. Then I began considering the events of the day. There are three flights of stairs to my wine cellar, and I’d been hosting Australians. So yes, it’s conceivable my Redwood was won fair and square.
I’d won the Sneaker, the Urban Boot, and the Redwood. The next challenge was wearing a Fitbit to bed, so it could monitor the efficacy of my sleep.I prepared for my Sleep Badge with a nightcap and a cup of tea, read two chapters of a courtroom thriller, turned out the light, and zizzed off.
Day broke. The tuis sang, the sparrows broke wind joyfully. I struggled awake, and immediately wondered what my Techo Gizmo had to say about the night’s sleep. (My opinion was it had been a ripper.) I excitedly pushed the button and my faithful Fitbit announced that I’d walked 217 steps since midnight.217 steps marched while in bed? How could this be?
The bathroom visits perhaps? I carefully paced out the distance between the bed and the bathroom — six if you strode, or eight when shuffling. So one, perhaps two, nighttime visits equals, say, 32 steps — which leaves 185 steps unaccounted for. This is more than the length of a football field — it made no sense.
Sleep settled down the next night when I recorded zero sleeping steps, and the night after, an explainable 12. Then the mystery struck again. Fitbit told me I’d taken 230 steps while dead to the world.
I considered this statistic and realised I faced an inescapable truth. Fitbit has revealed I am a sleepwalker. Doubtless this has been happening for years, and it presents a problem. I shall explain.
With the #Me Too campaign now spreading far past the evil of Fatso Weinstein, much of the male populace lives looking backwards. We’re waiting to be #Me Too-ed for the Group Down-Trou at the Freshers’ Prom, or for attempting to kiss a partner after the 1977 Geography Ball. (It now seems written permission, witnessed by the Town Clerk and two Justices of the Peace, was required.)
I calculated that over a 10-day period, the average length of the Fitbit sleepwalks was 200 paces. This distance exactly matches the walk to a nearby social hub — the fruit stand outside the Arrowtown Four Square.
I sleep in only a T-shirt. If Fitbit is to be believed, it’s saying I’ve got away with being the fruit-stand flasher for years. Getting #Me Too-ed is just a matter of time.
- John Lapsley is an Arrowtown writer.