Hit the Waukee Family YMCA indoor track on any given day between 6:15 and 10 a.m., and you may see Scott Wiley. With his earbuds in, iPhone with external charger at the ready, and Fitbit clipped to the center of his shirt, Scott is likely walking his daily half marathon.
Yes, you read that right. Scott, age 45, walks an average of 20 miles every day, with 13 of those miles around the Waukee YMCA track and building, or on different trails around the city.
“I started with nine walking routes at five miles each,” said Scott. “I am able to cover the entire city of Waukee in one week! Take into account I cannot run, but I am a heck of a power walker!”
During his time on the track, he multi-tasks by talking with friends, tackling Fitbit challenges, and listening to music.
“It’s usually rock or country that I listen to…if I ain’t rockin’, I ain’t walkin’,” Scott laughed.
Scott was born with Cerebral Palsy and began walking five years ago “out of boredom” and to be healthier.
“I needed something to do, so I started walking and never quit,” said Scott, who works at the Waukee Hy-Vee in the afternoons.
Scott has walked the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon and the Drake Relays Hy-Vee Road Race Half Marathon. He keeps meticulous track of his steps with the help of his trusty Fitbit. His Fitbit friends have christened him “THE BEAST” on the fitness-tracking tool.
It’s a proper nickname for him, as all of this walking—over 28 million steps, or 13,000 miles at the time of interview—equates to walking halfway around the world. All these steps have kept him at the top of every leaderboard in Iowa, ranking between number one and two. He has also previously been the number five Fitbit stepper in the nation.
Beyond the leaderboards, Scott’s Fitbit usage has also led to other major healthy lifestyle changes for the Waukee resident. When he started walking, he weighed 240 pounds. Between walking, clean eating (think fruits, vegetables and no artificial sugar), and medicating a thyroid condition, he has lost 90 pounds.
Scott uses Fitbit to track his steps, calories burned, mileage, and floors climbed—among other analytics. The in-app gamification functionality acts as a natural motivator for steppers. Users can earn badges, participate in challenges, or start challenges for other to join in—like Scott does.
Users can also join groups within the app or on Facebook for motivation. Scott is the administrator for two Fitbit user groups, the Red Tennis Shoe Fitbit Group and the Red Tennis Shoe Rebounders Fitbit Group. Rebounders are members who jump on a mini trampoline to count steps.
“I was conned into buying my first rebounder last November by one of my Fitbit friends, and I love it!” Scott said, adding that it’s easier on his body than power walking.
In January of 2014, he made it a goal to set Fitbit history at the Waukee Family YMCA by walking 100,000 steps in one day, going beyond the 75,000 step badge. He accomplished his goal in approximately 13 hours by taking a break after every 25,000 steps. At the time, there was no badge for this accomplishment, and Scott contacted Fitbit until they added one last November. This past January, he repeated the feat and obtained the badge he deserved.
Through engaging with Fitbit, Wiley has made a number of friends from all corners of the community and even global acquaintances.
“Some of these people have become personal friends, and most I talk to every day; we share in the daily struggles and issues we face and have fun in the groups and challenges,” he said.
Scott also said that his life has changed forever since he began walking.
“If you look beyond that little piece of plastic called a tracker you buy in the store, there is a whole other world with it,” he said. “This experience cannot be put into words; this is something special.”