How to give your partner a fitness tracker for Valentine's Day (and get away with it)

Conventional wisdom says this is the one gift you should never give. You can, and should -- if you go about it the right way.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
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Will the gift of a fitness tracker land you in the doghouse? Not if you buy one for yourself, too.


Valentine's Day is all above love, right? That means flowers, chocolates, a nice dinner out -- and maybe a fitness band?

Whoa, whoa, whoa. As gifts go, fitness bands rank right up there with self-help books and vacuum cleaners in saying, "I don't love you just the way you are" and "I put absolutely no thought into this."

At least, that's the conventional wisdom. But allow me to fly in the face of it. I think a fitness band can be an excellent gift -- even on Valentine's Day. It's all about how you present it.


The reason fitness bands routinely appear on "Worst Gifts for Your Significant Other" lists is the underlying message(s) they convey. Indeed, it would be easy for the recipient to infer the following:

  • I'm imperfect
  • I'm not good enough
  • He or she doesn't love me as I am
  • I'm fat

Of course, you don't mean any of that. Rather, you're genuinely concerned for your partner's health. You want him or her to live a more active lifestyle, and a fitness band could kickstart that endeavor.

Still... not very romantic. So how can you give this well-intentioned gift without coming across like an inconsiderate jerk?

Band together

As I said above, it's all about presentation. This gift needs a little backstory, a little explanation... and a little participation. The key thing to remember: This isn't about the other person. It's about the two of you. You don't want your partner to lose weight, you want both of you to engage in fun, healthy activities.

So, for example: "I remember how much you liked that hike we did on our vacation, so I printed out a list of local hiking trails. We could hit a new one every weekend! I also read something -- I think it was on CNET -- about how much fun it is to log walks, bike rides and all that, so I got us both fitness trackers!"

Watch this: Fitness trackers for every budget

See what you did there? The gift is bands for both of you. That says, "We're in this together. And we're going to do things together. Because I want to be together!"

And you do, right? Because at least some studies have shown that couples who get fit together are more likely to succeed in their healthy-lifestyle goals.

If you think this thinly disguised approach doesn't really fit your situation, though, there's another option: Instead of choosing a straight-up fitness band, choose a smartwatch that also has fitness features. The challenge there, of course, is that your partner may not opt to use those features -- not unless you make the same pitch: Let's get out and do stuff together.

So that's my take. A fitness band doesn't guarantee fitness, but some folks get really addicted to tracking their data and hitting activity goals. If you ask me, anything that encourages healthy behavior makes an excellent gift -- not one to be shied away from.

Your thoughts?

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