In recent years, heart rate monitors have gone from being strictly for the hardcore athlete, to being a pretty commonplace piece of exercise kit. Heart rate training is used to gauge how much effort you’re putting in, since it’s usually more accurate than your own guesstimates. It can help to keep you in the sweet spot between working hard enough to see benefits, versus overdoing it to the point that you’ll peg out after 10 minutes.
It has nothing to do with this sort of Heart, but let’s pause and admire THE HAIR OF THE EIGHTIES anyway:
Disclaimer – I never had hair like that in the Eighties. As you well know.
So anyway, I’ve been curious about heart rate monitors for a while, so it was interesting to test out the Beets BLU Heart Rate Monitor which was recently sent to me for review.
Straight out of the box, this device could not be easier to use. As you can see above, it consists of a long piece of elastic with metal poppers at each end. These fit on to the lightweight plastic casing of the device with a snap, so it fits very snugly together. The sensors are embedded in the sides of the strap, and you have to wet them slightly before putting it on to ensure a connection. But once you put it all on, the already-fitted battery means that it starts working straight away. And once you’re exercising and getting a bit sweaty, the connection is maintained. Powered by sweat. #Funtimes.
The strap itself needs to fit tightly to maintain skin contact and not fall off when you’re exercising. It fits across the chest just next to the bottom band of your sports bra and is not obvious even when wearing tight fitting gym gear. I liked how unobtrusive it was. You don’t always want to alert the world to the fact that you’re wearing a HRM.
It’s adjustable and has plenty of stretch, though I’m not sure that it would be big enough for a very large person. You can feel it at first but it’s very comfortable and pretty soon I forgot I was wearing it, even through several runs and BodyCombat classes.
You will need to download the Beets BLU app, which syncs with the heart rate monitor via Bluetooth. Check before buying that your phone is compatible with this – Android 4.3 and later, iPhone 4S and later, plus iPad 3 and later are all fine with it. The app itself is quite simple and just shows your current heart rate, which is quite fun to watch it slow when you’re just chilling on the sofa. I am totally going to use this next time I’m watching a scary film. I suspect this is not what heart rate monitors were designed for but I bet they get used like that a lot.
For more sophisticated data, you need to pair the Beets BLU up with any one of several compatible exercise tracking apps. I couldn’t find a way to pair it with the FitBit app, although that doesn’t altogether surprise me. Some of the FitBits have their own HRMs included so I guess they want to support their own brand and not another one.
In the end I had to download Runkeeper, and add it to that. Personally I would prefer it if the Beets BLU app did more and you didn’t have to connect it to anything else. If you already use one of the connectable apps (and there are many to choose from) then this might not bother you, but I could have done without something else to get my head (and personal details) around. That would be my only criticism – I would prefer if the stats shown were more sophisticated on its own app (in the way that FitBit is).
So I will carry on using this for more strenuous activity than just watching the TV and report back if I find it helpful. As for now, the main verdict is that this is a very easy heart rate monitor to use with lots of potentially positive applications. The sweat still has to come from me though.
The Beets BLU Heart Rate monitor is available here from Amazon, RRP £35, currently reduced to £25.95
Have you used a heart rate monitor? Would you? Leave a comment below