As technology steadily marches forward, so too does our ability to monitor our bodies as we meticulously work to perfect them. Today, options for measuring our heart rate, calories burned and time spent training abound, and often in the same compact device. To wit:
ePulse2 Strapless Heart Rate Monitor Watch & Calorie Counter
($129.95 at Amazon.com)
Until now, if you wanted to keep an accurate, steady reading of your heart rate as you pounded the pavement or pedaled through your favorite course you had to harness up with one of those obtrusive chest straps that kind of made you look like a cardiac patient.
All that's changed, however, thanks to the ePulse2 Strapless Heart Rate Monitor Watch & Calorie Counter, which slips over the forearm and more closely resembles an 80's calculator watch than it does something you might find in the E.R.
The ePulse2 features not just a heart rate monitor, but also a calorie counter, a split-function stopwatch and the ability to create target zones for heart rate, fat burned and calories burned. A relatively quick and simple customization process when you first turn it on is all it takes to get personalized readings. It can also be charged via the included wall socket charger or USB.
The ePulse2's strap is comfortable and its screen features big, bright, easy-to-read numbers. The only real drawback to the ePulse2 is the jealous glances you'll be getting from the chest strap-wearers
iHome/New Balance 2-in-1 Sport Earbuds/Earhooks With One-Touch Heart Rate Monitor & 3D Pedometer
($99.99 at ihomeaudio.com)
Fortunately this little device isn't nearly as complicated to use as its name is to say. Whereas the ePulse2 gives you a visual readout of your vitals, the New Balance monitor works audibly. Simply plug the monitor into your existing mp3 player, stick the included earbuds into your ears, and get moving.
With a touch of the monitor you'll get an audio readout of your heart rate as you listen to your favorite tunes. It can also be used as a chronograph, a pedometer and even a calorie tracker.
The included flash drive can be plugged into your PC for uploading your info into the Heartpal software, provided on an included CD, with which you can track your progress according to workout goals, heart rate goals, calorie-burning goals, distance traveled and time spent training.
The only thing it can't tell you is how you look in onion skin shorts. You'll have to figure that one out by yourself.
POLAR FT40 Men's Heart Rate Monitor
($179.95 at shoppolar.com)
This device consist of what looks like a slick 80's-retro watch and a low-profile chest strap, but is unique in that in addition to the usual references (heart rate, calories burned, various timing modes), its proprietary EnergyPointer tells you whether you're working to burn fat or maintain cardio fitness and the built-in Polar Fitness test measures your aerobic fitness by comparing your resting heart rate, keeping track as you progress and registering your VO2 max. You can even keep track of your weekly training history.
The FT40 It also features a nifty backlight that makes it ideal for night owls, as well as audible prompts to let you know when you drop out of your targeted zone. All information can be downloaded to your Mac or PC using the Polar Flowlink, sold separately. All-in-all, a stylish, full-featured solution to your cardio monitoring needs.