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A few years ago I was interested in a watch that would monitor my heart rate and my physical fitness levels. I was in a stage of my life where I didn’t have a lot of extra money. I researched and found an alternative that would fit in my budget and give me the statistics that I wanted at that time. I found the Sportline watch and heart rate monitor chest strap heart rate monitor. (Affiliate link)
Following you will find a copy of a review that I posted on my personal blog a while back. You can visit that blog at www.beliefinmyself.com.
Over the weekend I purchased a heart rate monitor. I had been contemplating this purchase for quite some time. I had a watch that I can touch and it will give me my heart rate (well, when it has batteries that are not dead) and I did use it somewhat regularly way back when….but I wanted something more. I have frequently perused the heart rate monitors online and had always steered clear of anything other than Garmin or Polar when I looked. I mean, after all, those are the names that you hear about. So I never really looked too much at anything else. I also tended to look at the granddaddy heart rate monitors, those heart rate monitors that had GPS and all sorts of other information that would be tracked during my workout. I mean, how cool would that be? I knew that I didn’t NEED to have the GPS, I use a sweet little app on my phone that will allow me to track my runs/bike rides and give me the speed, elevation and all that data. But seriously, to not have to have my phone running would be fabulous. (and thereby sucking the battery life from it each time I use it). So I wanted one with a GPS. I also knew I wanted one with a chest strap. So I was looking at GPS enabled heart rate monitors. The price was honestly more than I wanted to spend and thus every time I looked I tended to stop the search and say “I’ll wait.”
Last week I decided that this was the time. I was doing it. I knew I wanted a GPS model but I finally decided to buy an introductory model that didn’t have the GPS and see how much I used it and how much I liked it. Part of me hated the fact that I was going to sink between 50 and 100 dollars on a heart rate monitor and still not have what I REALLY wanted. (They are currently running about $50). But I decided to invest in my health and go for this cheaper options. I knew that if I used it a lot I could eventually upgrade to one with more features. (And let me say that a heart rate monitor is NOT necessary for running.)
I walked into Dick’s Sporting Good’s store on Friday afternoon. It took me a while to find the heart rate monitors (duh, I only walked by them 4 times). I was looking at the pretty pink Polar FT4. That is the heart rate that I had basically decided to get online. It was $89.99, a little more than I wanted to pay…but the next level down seemed like a pretty big drop down in quality and features! So I was pretty unsettled. Then along comes the sales man. He asked what I was looking for and I said “A basic heart rate monitor. Nothing with lots of bells and whistles, I don’t need that at this time.” He immediately picked up the Sport line Women’s Duo I glanced at it….$69.99. Hmm 20 bucks cheaper. I looked at him and said “I was looking at the Polar” He actually talked me out of the more expensive one. I was worried about going with a brand that I don’t readily recognize. He told me that he sees returns and hardly ever sees the return of the sportline. So I went with that. The features seemed really similar. The only feature that the sportline doesn’t have that the Polar does is saving 10 workouts in it’s memory. I logged my workouts religiously anyway into other apps, so that was not an issue.
I brought it home and set it all up on Friday evening. It was very easy to set up. Within a matter of a few minutes I had set the time, entered in my personal stats (height, weight age) and even set up the heart rate zone that I want to work within. It came with a chest strap but also has the dual function of being able to test it manually. This watch has two touch sensors. In case I’m not wearing the chest belt I can touch the sensor and it will give me my heart rate at that moment. I like having this feature, because it makes it a bit more versatile. That said, I immediately turned this feature off because I knew that I would be mostly using the chest strap. I tried the chest strap on. It fit. This may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve been obese most of my life, it was a real worry! It immediately picked up my heart rate! I felt comfortable and was ready to roll!
Saturday morning dawned and I got dressed for my run. I remembered to put the chest strap around my body. I wore it right under my bra line. I could barely feel it. (I felt it on Sunday, but since I was somewhat injured on Saturday, that is not too surprising). I started running. All of a sudden I heard a beep. I panicked for a moment, until I glanced at my watch and realized that I had set it to notify me when I had reached my target heart rate zone. I smiled to myself and continued running. My mind of course never quits. I wanted to know what it would do when I reached the top end of my zone. I pushed it full throttle. It beeped again. Yup…it let me know when I was maxing out. Other than that, wearing the heart rate monitor was pretty anticlimactic. I could hit the lap button when I wanted (at each mile or landmark or whatever). It did beep every once in a while, and I'm not quite sure why. lol
After my run, I stopped the watch from recording. When I got home I looked at my stats. To do this you simply cycle through the different settings by pressing one button. This watch gave me how many minutes I worked out below my zone. It gave me how many minutes I worked out in my zone. It gave me an average heart rate. I was also able to see how many calories I really burned. Those are the main ones I looked at. As I said, when I reset the watch for my next run, all the stats from my previous run was gone and gone for good. That is the drawback.
On Sunday I ran again using the heart rate monitor. This was the day that I could feel the chest strap (once again also most likely due to the bruising and soreness from a kersplat fall on Saturday). But even though I could feel it, it wasn’t painful, I just knew it was there. Once again, it worked like a champ! I was impressed. My heart rate registered pretty consistently with Saturdays, and each run was a ‘comfortable’ run so that makes sense and actually made me feel better about the reliability of the heart rate monitor. On Sunday I got back to the car and flipped through the settings on the watch and wrote down the numbers that I was monitoring (calories and average heart rate at that point) and then reset the watch. I had a walk to do that morning also. I monitored my stats through the walk also. I watched the heart rate and saw it rise exponentially with inclines and then fall back to a normal walking heart rate while walking on flats.
I decided to give this heart rate monitor a total test, so when I got dressed to go to zumba on Monday evening, I put on the heart rate monitor. Being a nervous nelly, I tried to start the heart rate monitor in the car and it wouldn't set to a consistent reading and the readings I was getting was with my heart rate up at 226. Uhhh, that is definitely NOT right. I was panicked and continued to fiddle with it the whole ride but it never regulated and didn't start working. (yeah, not good whilst driving). I arrived, parked and set about trying to figure out immediately it picked up a true reading (at least more where I expected the reading to be) and worked perfectly. Could the vibrations of the car and road messed it up. I'm not sure. The watch then worked perfectly throughout zumba (although I need to remember to turn off the beeping notifications if wear it to an exercise class...that got annoying during zumba). During songs that were more intense, I saw my heart rate rise, and I saw it lower on songs that were less intense. (I was amazed at how fast my heart rate dropped back to normal between songs.
I am happy with this heart rate monitor. An upgrade would definitely be nice just to have everything all in one place. It would be nice to have a watch keep track of best times, personal records, my runs/bike rides, etc. But at that time, with the money that I had and my current level of fitness, this watch was perfect for me. In fact, I can guarantee that anything with more bells and whistles would have caused me to drown in the technology. I probably would not have even used all those bells and whistles for a while.
This is a fabulous purchase for anyone looking to monitor their heart rate while exercising! For $50 it is a perfect entry level watch and heart rate monitor!
Read my review of the Garmin Instinct.