Thursday, May 20, 2010
My first introduction to heart rate monitors (HRM) was in January when I attended the EA SPORTS Active retreat. During our hiking trip Gerard (the EA trainer) and my friend Christy both had heart rate monitors. The most impressive thing for me about these devices was the fact that they were able to accurately report the number of calories burned on the hike and Gerard's also told him the distance. Up until this point, I was only familiar with machines at the gym that calculate this information and EA SPORTS Active also does it - but it is an estimate because there is nothing that actually monitors the individual and levels of exertion are different.
I knew that at some point in the future a heart rate monitor was on my list of things to get. This tool would enable me to see how hard I am training, if I am training too hard or not hard enough, providing me with the information I need to train more effectively. Call it Kismet or fate but the stars aligned and I have been given the opportunity to try out a Polar Training Computer - FT60. Although this is my first foray into the world of HRM, I have to say that I love this little device. It is available in designs for men and women and in two colors, black and purple/lavender. I have the purple/lavender version and it is cute. So cute in fact, I can wear it around town without people wondering why I am wearing a clunky fitness watch! It isn't a small watch by any stretch of the imagination but the color and design make it very fashionable.
Cuteness factor aside, this training computer is functional too. It is paired with a chest strap that monitors your heart rate during workouts and provides the info to the wrist piece. To use the chest strap you must wet it and then put it on. I have found it to be extremely comfortable and I tend to forget I am wearing it. Before training with the FT-60 I took a fitness test which basically determined my level of fitness. Don't worry, it isn't an extensive test, you simply relax for five minutes while it does the calculations. I was happy to find that I am in very good shape, not elite yet but I'm on the way.
After taking the fitness test I had the option to choose three different types of goals - improve fitness, maximize fitness or lose weight. I've chosen the lose weight option and the computer provides me with weekly targets for calories burned, training time and intensity in each of the three training zones. At the end of the week I can check in and see if I've met or exceeded my goals. Although I haven't purchased a polar link - if I had one I could also upload this information to the free Polar website to keep a history of my efforts. As it stands, my wrist computer will keep up to 1000 workouts on file, I think that suits my purposes and I can always manually put the information on the site.
In addition to training zones, for each workout I am able to see my average and maximum heart rate, the number of calories burned and what area of my fitness I am improving. It also tracks the length of time of my workouts. There is a feature called Own Zone that I haven't utilized yet, but basically you do a fitness test and it makes an assessment on your best training range. This provides useful information to check in with during a training session. I honestly just forget to try this out but will do so later this week.
As I mentioned, the computer keeps tally of all my workouts and at the end of the week will give me information about my performance. My first full week ends on Sunday so I have yet to see this in action but I know that it will give me guidance on how hard to train the upcoming week, if I need to do a recovery week, if I need to train more or less, etc.
In addition to the basic features of the F60, I also am utilizing the optional S1 foot pod. This is a great tool because it helps me keep track of my training outdoors during my runs and walks. At the end of my workout I am told the average pace of my run (walk) and the maximum pace I achieved
as well as distanced traveled.
I LOVE this option. Although the pod itself looks large, it really doesn't weigh anything. I don't feel it at all and I wore it during my 5K run last weekend(in my excitement I forgot to turn it on but that is another story). The pod used triple A batteries so I can change it myself but I admit I had my husband help me because I had a little difficulty understanding the pictures for the battery installation. It also took a minute for me to get the food pod to work - to initiate the device you have to hold the on button for a few seconds until the light flashes green, somehow I missed that tidbit of information.
Overall, for my purposes the Polar FT60 coupled with the S1 foot pod is great. I love having feedback on both my daily workouts and my weekly workouts. I also like knowing that I will receive guidance on how to improve my training and at any point I can change my training goals. If you are in the market for a Heart Rate Monitor - plus some great features, I highly recommend the Polar FT60.
Disclosure: I received the Polar FT60 and the S1 Pod for this review but all of the opinions are 100% my own.