App Review: Polar Beat (iOS)

As you know, I started taking health and fitness more seriously a couple of years ago when I hired a personal trainer. I have always been conscious of health and tried to balance out my diet and avoid the nasty things that often find their way into the foods we eat. Working out once a week helps keep me on track but you need some help along the way.

Part 5 – this post – was intended to be a review of 4 more apps. However, since I have now deleted one of these (Weightplan) as it introduced a slew of in-app paid upgrades to access the key features, its value in my world was much reduced and I switched to Full Fitness (formerly iFitness) which you can read about in part 2. The others I was going to discuss – NHS Direct, Breathing and Sworkit Pro – I hardly ever use, but are useful tools if you’re so inclined to look them up.

Other Parts: Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3 • Part 4 • Part 5

As my fitness journey evolves I have recently purchased a Polar HT7 heart rate monitor for use with the free Polar Beat iPhone app (though I did add the in-app purchase to enhance the data analysis functions). I have been wanting something that leverages the Bluetooth features of the iPhone and modern smartphones to use existing hardware I have instead of purchasing the full kit of a heart rate monitor and a watch to do the analysis, and now Polar have made this possible. The Polar app is great – easy to use and can be tailored for indoor gym work, weight training, walking, running, cycling, etc and uses the GPS so you can track runs and distance covered. An all-in-one package. Here are some app screenshots:

My personal trainer likes the app as he can also see my current heart rate and performance while he’s training me during the workout so he can increase or decrease the intensity based on real data rather than just visual or verbal clues – it’s very easy to say we’re tired because we don’t want to push ourselves; laziness is endemic in our society these days. Now, most trainers don’t need this direct feedback but my last session was pushed more consistently into the “hard” zone of the profile and I feel like I got a better result out of the training, so it’s a win-win for both of us 🙂

Another benefit of the HT7 over the HT6 is that the bluetooth signal works with a multitude of other equipment, including the treadmills and other cardio equipment at my gym. I was surprised when I got on the treadmill and the heart rate on screen showed my heart rate without me touching the sensors on the machine. It just picked up my signal automatically and showed it boldly for me to see – no pairing needed. Nice!

If you’re serious about your training I’d recommend a heart rate monitor and app for your smartphone. There are many to choose from, but I chose Polar as they are a highly respected company in this field.

Disclaimer

Before you start any exercise program or make any changes in your lifestyle and diet you must get your doctor or physician’s approval. This post is for informational purposes only and is not meant as professional advice, nor is it a substitute for professional advice. Many of these apps are designed for fit and healthy individuals only (I have marked these “pro”).

Performing exercise of all types can pose a risk to the exerciser. I advise that you should take full responsibility for your own health and safety. Before exercising make certain your equipment is in good condition and be sure to know your own physical limits. Adequate warm up and cool downs should be undertaken before and after any exercise.

Do not perform any of the exercises in these apps until you have been shown proper technique by a qualified fitness professional. If you experience any pain, discomfort, dizziness or you become short of breath, stop exercising immediately and consult your doctor/physician.