In the past I’ve written a lot here about tracking my workouts here but I haven’t always had all the data that I would like to have around my workouts. Recently Angela and I put money into purchasing heart rate monitors to enhance the detail around our workouts. We tried a couple of different heart rate monitors including the Polar H7 and the Wahoo Blue HR monitor. Both of which use Bluetooth Smart technology to connect and stream heart rate data to your Bluetooth Smart enabled phone. Each monitor rests in a strap that you wear around chest. After trying out the Polar it to be inconsistent in its compatibility and performance with many of the apps that we like to use. We switched to the Wahoo because it came highly recommended from a number of sites and is RunKeeper endorsed.
The Wahoo strap itself is very easy-to-use, with no set up required other pairing it to your preferred fitness app and adjusting the band size to your proportions. We started out by using the heart rate monitor with RunKeeper and found it worked pretty well. There were some initial headaches with needing to pair and un-pair and then pair again. After about the 3rd time, we found that monitors starts to track immediately. For the most part it’s been very easy to use and is easily adjustable. Additionally, it’s waterproof up to 5 meters and can be used simultaneously with other monitors such as cadence, power, and GPS while on your bike.
The only downside has been that what was my favorite fitness app, RunKeeper, does not accurately export the heart rate data to some of the other websites I like to use to track my fitness workouts. When I tried to export workout data from RunKeeper to Garmin Connect or Strava, the heart rate data would be missing. So I decided to try using the Wahoo brand’s own fitness app itself. The app has proven very successful.
What I love about the app is that you can link it up with many of the other fitness websites such as Nike, Garmin, RunKeeper, Strava and many more. So when you finish a workout you can easily upload to all of those sites with a few clicks right from within the app. You can even upload data in .csv, .gpx, .pwx, .tcx, and .wf formats to your DropBox account, which is great for the most hardcore of fitness addicts. It’s a really great app for making sure all the sites you use or any of the tools you use are kept in sync.
The interface of the app, however, is as if a Windows guy designed it for a Mac. It’s just not super intuitive, clunky and to be honest ugly. Once you can get past some of the aesthetic issues, the app really is awesome. You can really configure and customize each workout type to give you all the metrics you want to see. You can pair and select a number of devices to use with each workout, such as cadence, heart rate, GPS data and more. You can set up multiple dashboards within the app per workout type, to show you different groups of data such as heart rate and another screen for GPS data, distance, pace and time. You can swipe between the dashboards easily while the app is running.
Another great feature I discovered is that you can set it up to track your heart rate while you using stationary equipment like a treadmill or bike trainer. You can export the heart rate data to DropBox and then enter it later in RunKeeper or Garmin. Some other neat little features include additional downloadable voices for in app announcements, customizable playlist and event-based triggers like queuing up songs based on distance or time. I really think this is probably one of the most fully featured and well-connected apps out there to use on your iPhone. There is no Android version and deservedly so (too many damn devices out there to code against). One last piece of advice would be to label your heart rate monitor if you plan on having more than one in the house. They are not hot swappable because each one has a unique ID that is stored in your apps after pairing.