Tracking to health

23:01, Feb 04 2013

Kiwi company Comvita is well known for natural ingredients and skincare products, but its chief technology officer is on a mission to add exercise to the formula.

Ralf Schlothauer has introduced Fitbit trackers – a wireless device users wear to monitor steps taken, distance and elevation completed, calories burned and how much sleep they get – to the company’s corporate wellness programme. If successful among staff, the tracker offer could be extended to customers, he says.

Schlothauer says it became increasingly evident during his time at Comvita that things like exercise make a huge difference to wellbeing, when done in conjunction with functional foods like its broccoli and olive leaf extracts.

“If we’re saying preventative health is our paradigm, we have to help people to be their best before anything happens. As a company we have to embrace this and ask how we can get people to be more active.” 

Staff were offered Fitbit trackers eight months ago as part of Comvita’s Wellness Fund, which gives them $200 to use for things like gym memberships, yoga classes and fees for running races.

Schlothauer created the First Team on Everest challenge, where teams of four staff climbed the equivalent of 3000 flights of stairs (about the equivalent height of Mt Everest) – 750 floors each.

He’s been talking to Fitbit, a US company, about options for offering the trackers to customers. They include Comvita reselling the devices, loans or hires, and customers submitting step counts to get the device free.