Dom Joly: My Fitbit is driving me crazy

Dom Joly with his 'nightmarish' Fitbit

Dom Joly with his 'nightmarish' Fitbit - Credit: Archant

Dom Joly’s new fitness device has lead to a fierce international rivalry with an uber-competitive businessman in Dubai...

I’m starting to realise that I’m quite a competitive person. I genuinely never used to think that I was. One of my big theories on life is that ‘quitting’ is actually not that bad a thing. The secret is to know when to quit, to do it decisively and then move on to something else. This might partly explain my zig-zag of a career as I tend to get bored easily and jump from one thing to another without much thought for the future.

Anyway, I got this thing called a Fitbit. It’s basically a device that you wear on your arm like a watch – it registers the distance you cover in a day and downloads it to your computer. You can set it so that it vibrates when you have covered a certain distance (mine is set to five miles). This can get a little embarrassing when I’m shopping and the thing suddenly vibrates. I jump for joy, whoop and air punch as people near me shake their heads at what they believe to be the first signs of a minor celebrity breakdown.

Still, it certainly motivates me to walk, and I stride all over Cleeve Hill Common making a mental note of just how many burnt-out cars there are dotted around the hill.

What is going on up there? Is it just bored Gloucester joyriders or have the car parks surrounding the Common become the meeting place for people who like to set fire to cars so that they can ‘dog’ in comfort? But I digress.

Back in Fitbit land, things got out of control. I discovered that you could link up with friends and compete with them. I made the mistake of connecting with a friend in Dubai. This was the beginning of a living nightmare. Unbeknownst to me, this ‘friend’ is some kind of uber-competitive freak. I’ll walk for three hours solid and cover 12/13 miles only to come home to find that he has clocked up 20 miles. This is a man who runs his own successful advertising company. How is he doing this?

Stacey was immediately suspicious. She thought that he was paying minions to carry the thing around Dubai.

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“Does he have a dog? Maybe he is putting the thing on its collar?” He does have a dog but, in true Dubai-style, it’s a Chihuahua. The little rat would have to be doing some serious distance to register anything significant.

“What about his wife? She’s a gym nut; I bet he’s doubling up and getting her to wear it…” I had no idea that Stacey could be so suspicious and competitive on my behalf. I felt that I trusted my Dubai rival not to cheat. I just wish I’d known that he had these psychopathic exercise tendencies.

So I pressed on – one day I did 25 miles. I could barely walk when I got home. My dogs were starting to hide when they heard me getting ready to go out. But still the bastard was beating me.

The time difference is an additional killer. When I wake up, Dubai has already been going for five or so hours. The moment I open my eyes I check my phone only to find that he has done another marathon. It’s driving me crazy.

You can taunt or cheer people you compete with and he regularly sends me photos of his feet or of him wearing some sort of weird gold medal. I try to ignore them, but I can’t – they rule my life. If I’m out in Cheltenham having a romantic meal with my wife, I’m just going through the motions. I’m actually wondering whether Dubai man is on the move and whether Stacey would mind if I left the meal early and walked home.

I’ve even started to make excuses. I’m ‘better’ than him because I walk up and down steep hills in the biting cold, battling the snow. Meanwhile ‘Dubai’ is wandering along plush flat tracks in the sunshine AND not paying taxes.

I need to get over it… hang on… my phone has just bleeped. He’s on the move. Sorry, got to go. I’m going to do the Cotswold Way and back again… today.


This article is from the March 2015 issue of Cotswold Life.

For more from Dom Joly, follow him on Twitter: @domjoly