Can a Jolting Wearable-Fitness Tracker Get You to Work Out?

PHOTO: The "Pavlok" device encourages you to stay healthy and in shape with handy "shocking" reminders.
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If you need a little incentive to get up off the couch, a new wearable device could give you just the jolt you need to get you to the gym.

The Pavlok device isn't on the market just yet, but its creator Maneesh Sethi said the device will have features to incentivize working out -- including a small zap for when you miss a workout.

While Sethi says the device will encourage people in a way normal fitness trackers can't, some workout professionals are apprehensive at the idea of having a painful incentive forcing people to work out.

However, Sethi stresses that the device is programmed by the user and the incentives are incrementally built. First a user will get a subtle vibration as a reminder to head to the gym. If the user still doesn't go, the alert turns into a loud beep.

Finally if the user doesn't make it to their pre-programed gym, running trial, etc., then there is the option to get a nice sized shock, ranging from 30 to 340 volts, according to Sethi.

"It's nothing that's going to hurt you," Sethi said. "It's not pleasant but that's the point, to break you of these bad habits."

Sethi also said that because users can program the device, they set all the rules. If they just want a reminder, they can set the device to vibrate. They can also specify how often they plan to go to the gym or other workout center.

The device will also go past just workouts. If people want to set it up to keep them off the Internet, they can have their Pavlock monitor their time online.

For the hardcore users, Sethi said they can pre-program a Facebook message that tells their friends when they missed the gym and allow the friends to send in shocks of encouragement.

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At least some workout professionals are concerned about the device or others like it. Jessica Smith, a wellness coach and fitness instructor who contributes to SHAPE magazine, said she found a shocking device as a "bullying" approach to fitness.

"As a wellness coach I've seen the best long-term success with health and weight loss come when clients initiate healthy lifestyle changes themselves, not because a mean boot camp instructor, spouse (or, in this case, a shocking wristband) made them do it," Smith told ABC News.

But Sethi said the Pavlok has some carrots and is not "all sticks." The Pavlok company is working on creating an online component, where users could win points for going to the gym (and lose them for missing a workout). If they get enough points, Sethi said, they could get gift cards or other rewards.

"It's really about the habits," Sethi said. "It's making your brain automatically do what it should be doing."

The Pavlock device will be available to pre-order later this year.

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