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PR exec uses fashionable wearable technology to help stay fit

Wearable health technology can sometimes look clunky, but it becomes more fashionable in this incarnation on a Boston PR exec's wrist and helps her stay fit in style.

Kathryn McMahon, an account supervisor with Boston PR firm PAN Communications, turns her Fitbit into fashionable wearable technology by encasing it in a black and gold accessory from designer Tory Burch.

McMahon is passionate about healthcare and the healthcare clients she specializes in for the busy PR agency, and that commitment extends to her personal life in terms of staying active both in the gym and around town.

Her Fitbit model of choice is the Flex fitness tracker, which becomes fashionable wearable technology when McMahon accessorizes it inside an elegant, black and gold Tory Burch sheath and wears it with her other wrist jewelry.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, but like many other wearable devotees, McMahon uses her wearable mainly to motivate herself outside of the gym. Her high-intensity barre, yoga and cardio workouts sadly don't usually register steps on the Fitbit (or on most other wearables for that matter).

"So the motivation fuels the extra after the workout," McMahon said, explaining how she walks everywhere she can, including to work, the supermarket, the gym and sometimes for lunch.

There's also a lot of walking around the office. "Those steps add up more than you think they will," she said.

All this movement in and outside of the gym doesn't mean, however, that the 28-year-old West Hartford, Conn. native doesn't shoot for what has become the wearable world's de facto standard of 10,000 daily steps.

"I know that if I don't make it, it's OK, because I am doing other workouts, but I do try to make 10,000," McMahon said.

Kathryn McMahon
Kathryn McMahon

One reason she pushes regularly toward the 10,000 threshold is because of Fitbit app-based friendly competition with friends and family members -- an example of the kind of gamification most wearable vendors try to keep wearables on users' wrists, or ankles.

"It kind of makes it fun," McMahon added. "It's such an important component."

I actually really like it because I wear it all the time and people actually compliment me. ... They say 'that's a cool bracelet,' and I usually surprise them by saying it's my Fitbit.
Kathryn McMahon

McMahon also employs her Fitbit for sleep tracking and finds it useful for learning about and adjusting her sleeping patterns and conditions, such as room temperature. Many wearables do sleep monitoring, but some don't: notably the Apple Watch, which needs to recharge at night.

McMahon got her wearable tracker in December 2015, partly to get in shape for her wedding in May 2016. Then she just stuck with it.

As for how the $150 Tory Burch case transforms McMahon's Flex into fashionable wearable technology, she noted that the accessory is "kind of cool, almost bracelet-looking."

"I actually really like it because I wear it all the time and people actually compliment me," she said. "They say 'that's a cool bracelet,' and I usually surprise them by saying it's my Fitbit."

Next Steps

Recycling wearable technology devices

Clinical uses for electronic healthcare devices in population health

Wearable technology and personal safety

This was last published in October 2016

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How do you use your wearable outside the gym?
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