Fitness Tracker Pavlok Will Shock You Into Shape

New wearable brings a dystopian approach to encouragement.

The expanding universe of fitness trackers has a rising star which is half Fitbit, half stun gun: Pavlok. If you consider the gentle buzz of a silent reminder from your current wearable only so much weak sauce, Pavlok’s solution is simple–a little electroshock therapy.

Fit Clarity reports Pavlok tries a subtle approach before lowering the boom, “it starts with just vibrations. This quickly advances to a small alarm and if you are too stubborn to heed the warning, it will shock you.” Fit Clarity says Pavlok then follows up with old-fashioned social media shaming, posting to your Facebook page if you get lazy and skip your run, visit to the CrossFit box or even legs day.

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Pavlok’s Amazon page answers the obvious question about the device’s name:

Pavlok uses classical Pavlovian conditioning to break your bad habits once and for all. By associating the electrical stimulus with the undesired action, your brain quickly stops liking that action. Listen to Pavlok’s five-day audio courses, which train you to associate the stimulus with your habit.

Pavlok began as an Indiegogo campaign in 2014.  It received a burst of notice at the time, including a review of the prototype from Yahoo! Tech, which stated that one of the device’s strengths was controllable intensity.  Reviewer Becky Worley concluded if she had “a serious issue around something like exercising where I knew I had to change but no other method had helped me flip the switch,” she might give Pavlok a try.

Beyond Growth, however, concluded Pavlok would be nothing but a self-administered “shock collar for humans,” which is just spooky.

io9 reported Pavlok would be available in January 2015, but the Amazon page says it will be ready for commercial release on October 1st. 

The Indiegogo campaign raised more than 500% of Pavlok’s funding goal, so it’s clear there are plenty of people who are dead serious about the cliché “no pain, no gain.”

Pavlok’s pre-launch video.