I hated those wearable ‘fitness yokes’. Now I’m one of those people

The pandemic has seen me embracing middle age if not with gusto then with a quiet sort of acceptance. It had to happen eventually. In the olden days, last January, even the thought of writing the words “middle age”, in relation to me, or my life, made me feel queasy.

I’d see other people, younger than me talking about themselves as middle aged, and I’d think they were grossly exaggerating. But in the past seven months, when everything changed fundamentally, I changed on a deep level too. And by that I mean I purchased, and began wearing on a day-to-day basis, an activity tracker.

When I first started to see these “wearable” accessories on the arms of my friends, I was horrified. I hated everything about them. The way they tried to look like watches only cooler. The sleek, subtle design that attempted to communicate they had some kind of higher purpose much more elevated than the mundanity of recording how many flights of stairs you’d climbed.

I’m flashing my wrist at the world and regularly hearing myself pointing out the difference between REM sleep and the more restful kind

I’d always remark on the sudden appearance on a friend’s wrist of an activity tracker because that felt like the polite thing to do. “I see you got one of those fitness yokes,” I’d say grudgingly, which was a mistake because having admitted you spotted the thing you then had to listen to a 10-minute conversation about the different “features” of the fitness yoke.

I’d zone out immediately as they droned on about heart rate monitors, water resistance and sleep data. I thought there was nothing more boring than hearing about other people’s dreams but it turns out there is. It’s hearing about how much “deep sleep” somebody got backed up by stats gleaned from their activity tracker.

When I got one myself, I understood it all a bit better. There is a need to explain, to justify this new phase in life where you know and actually care about exactly how many steps you have taken in a day.

What happened was my knees started to hurt and that started me thinking about ways to live a bit longer, to maybe avoid having knee replacement surgery and eventually to meet any grandchildren that may or may not transpire in my world. And then I interviewed Jane Fonda, who is 82, and she told me she wanted to live to the age of 100 to see how things turned out. I realised I wanted to see how things turn out. I bought an activity tracker.

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