How to give a fitness tracker this Christmas without insulting anyone

Essential do’s and don'ts for buying fitness trackers as gifts for friends and family
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You've found the best fitness tracker in your budget. You've picked out both novelty and hipster Christmas wrapping paper. But how to give the gift of wearable-fuelled potential health and happiness without hurting any feelings? It's easier than you think, just follow these instructions.

DO get yourself the same one

Tell them you're being selfish, really. Tell them you need a friend to team up with. You need any motivation you can get. You might get ill/die/never have sex again unless they accept this gift and kickstart a new era of peer pressure based on burn, not beer. The good kind of peer pressure.

When in doubt, bulk buy. With messages of encouragement on Fitbit, we're all in this self-improvement game together and you just didn't want to leave anyone out.

DON'T remind anyone that they've failed to get fit

“I noticed you talked the talk about getting fit in the summer. But you don't seem to have actually done anything. Here's a Now That's What I Call Fitness DVD with some spraytanned perma-smilers telling you to shake your hips plus a Fitbit Alta to remind you of your complete and utter failure to stop bingeing on Game of Thrones and KitKats."

Come on now, your mum deserves a bit more respect. It's Christmas.


DO buy stylish

This one's getting easier it has to be said. One exception to that rule is the Withings series of smart analogue trackers like the Steel HR and Activité Steel Gold. They look like a small, svelte regular watch but track steps, distance, calories and sleep (and with the new device, heart rate) just as well as any candy-coloured, chunky plastic fitness band.

Wareable picks: The best fitness tracker

Alternatively try the Misfit Phase or Skagen Hagen Connected and watch your hipster sibling swoon over the styling then casually show them how to download the accompanying activity app. Keep things real nonchalant, like it's an afterthought. Give them two weeks and they'll be bombarding you with screenshots of his daily stats in a bizarre case of reverse stalkery.

DO remind them of a conversation you (maybe) once had

We guarantee you will be able to recall - or easily fabricate - a conversation that can form the basis of your actually quite thoughtful gift. Like so.

“Remember in 2007 you said 'I wish I had a new watch'? Well here it is! The Apple Watch Series 2 with GPS for running and waterproofing for swimming. You're always meaning to get into both of those, right? Right??"

Infinitely preferable to: “Remember that time you ate too many blue Smarties? Such a classic festive memory. I got you a Garmin Vivoactive HR+ so you can work them all off."


DO talk about the non-fitness elements

Smartwatches with fitness features, especially, are awesome all-round gifts. They tell the time! You can get Mario or James Bond watchfaces! You can skip Spotify tracks, track your heart rate and read your emails all on your wrist!

See what we did there? There's a world of both useful and fun features to point out to giftees during that crucial ten second post-unwrap, pre-reaction stage.

DON'T target your chubbiest friends or family

You're in a group. Say a Secret Santa swap or the Christmas Day lull just after mince pies. You hand a shiny Fitbit Charge 2 (or even worse a body fat measuring TomTom Touch) to the family member with what you reckon to be the highest BMI in the room, if not the county. Everyone else gets chocolates and boxsets. You may as well have shouted 'Shame! Shame!' at them in your best Christopher Lee voice while they were tucking in.


DO highlight niche features

It really is the thought that counts. Nose around the unique features of fitness trackers and you'll find plenty of specs to target your lucky friends. Like the fact that the waterproof Misfit Shine 2 can be worn while doing lengths - perfect for keen swimmers and flatmates who take long baths.

This is where you can point to expert fitness tracker reviews and really dig into what the tech can do. Focus on the geeky data gathering and impressive hardware over the fact you're essentially trying to overhaul your mate's entire lifestyle.

DON'T forget to check what phone they use

Less a wearable gifting etiquette point, more a gentle warning. It's so incredibly annoying getting excited about a wearable then realising it's iOS only and won't work with your Samsung (or vice versa) that we wouldn't wish this on anyone come Christmas morning.

This could easily trigger the kind of stress that comes from realising there aren't enough roast potatoes for everyone's dinner, five hours earlier than is traditional. Give the gift of checking.

How we test


Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

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