Thursday, July 10

DDP Yoga and My New Heart Rate Monitor!

For the past year, doing DDP Yoga, I have been wearing a Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor. It worked flawlessly for the first 5 or 6 months. Then, sporadically at first, and more regularly as time passed, it started to read 0. I replaced the batteries. It did not help.  the fact that no matter how tight I put my monitor, my boobs were in the way, it was sliding around, it was reading 0. It was a no win situation, and I needed a solution. I tried a sport bra that had connectors for the heart rate monitor module and that was great. Until I bent over. Then it popped off and flew across the room. Yes, much laughter and giggling ensued, then I realized it wasn't a win for me, so the hunt was on.
 One day at work, one of the guys showed me his new heart rate monitor. It was an Alpha Mio. I'd been looking at the Alpha Mio since I started having issues with my Polar, but I was hesitant because of the cost. I mean, really, I'm "just" doing DDP Yoga, I'm not training for a marathon or a century bike ride. Did I really need it?  He let me borrow it, and I went in a conference room and did some DDP yoga for about 15 minutes. It worked perfectly. Flawlessly. I mean, it tracked my heart rate, and the heart rate it showed kind of matched what I saw at home when my monitor worked. Hmmmm.
I went back to my desk and thought on it for a bit. I talked to a friend who works at Amazon, asking about buying "used" or "refurb" items from Amazon and learned a lot. I guess they are pretty stringent about what they resell. The odds were that I'd get an almost new item if I picked something that had packaging issues. I read reviews on so many different sites. The more I read, and after having tried it in person, the more I knew it was the right decision. I also quickly realized that there was no "great deal" to be had, and that other models by Mio did not carry the same awesome reviews.
I splurged and bought one! I picked one that was in "Like New" condition and had "missing packaging." That sounded promising. When it came, it was missing the little insert that holds the watch in place. The watch was rolling around loose in the box, but everything was there, the charger, the instructions, the watch. Go me. I paid under $150 for it. And I am SO happy with it! At first, it was a bit of a challenge. I'll talk about that a bit next.
This is a very serious heart rate monitor. It ONLY monitors your heart rate. It does not have a lot of bells and whistles, but it works and it works well. I'll let you read about the technology aspect online, places like Engadget and LiveStrong have great reviews that tell pros and cons, as does Amazon. Just understand, going in, you aren't buying a consumer toy with flashy screens to make you go squee. You are buying a tool that will help you perform a task more efficiently. For the first few days, that was kind of a stumbling block for me. I was used to the world of Polar where I see my average heart rate and my maximum heart rate, as well as some other things. You have to connect to an application to get more information. After trying several, my personal favorite is Map My Fitness. It is primarily meant for walking, but has power yoga, so I use that.
Here are the graphs I get after I finish my workout. They are pretty awesome and tell me everything I need to know! I have installed the app on my ipad, so when I'm ready to work out, I bring my ipad out to my mat and get things set up.

With a Polar (and a nasty chest strap) you put the watch on, click a couple of buttons and off you go. With the Mio, you put the watch on, hold down the button, it "Finds" your heart rate. This takes about 5 seconds, I'd say. Then you press the same button and that starts your workout. While you are working out, there is a light that flashes blue (you are below your optimal zone), green (you are in zone), or red (you are above your zone). You never have to touch the watch, and can always glance at it to see where you are if you need to know what your current heart rate is, but once you get used to the colors, there's really no read to examine, right? And, if you use an ipad, the screen is easy to read and shows what you're burning (live calorie read) alternated with a reading of your current heart rate. I love it. At the end of the workout, I press the button on the watch, and stop the workout in Map My Fitness, and done. In Map My Fitness, I then change the name of the workout from Power Yoga to DDP Yoga, and save it. I'm slowly building a history of my workouts with valuable real time information on the different zones and recovery times.  (See the screen capture below.) 

In summary, I'm in love with the Mio Alpha and I am glad I bought it. I have had a few misfires, days where I messed up and started Map My Fitness before starting the Mio, which means I didn't gather data and had to rely on what the Mio stored (average heart rate and length of workout, I think.) But as long as I use everything correctly, I'm getting great results. The Mio does sync with iphone and also with my Samsung Galaxy S5, but I haven 't used it, the ipad is just so much easier to see during a workout, for me.

P.S. I have NO affiliation with Mio. NONE. :)