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very easily converted to a heart rate monitor using just a dongle and an app. “Although it’s currently used mainly by elite athletes, Training-Peaks is a good example of this and demonstrates the future direction of heart rate monitoring and data interpretation. It can be used with Garmin, Polar and Suunto watches, as well as many other devices such as cycling power meters and GPS. As well as setting a programme and capturing the heart rate, the app records other useful data such as resting heart rate, body weight, and whether the body is getting fatigued. These ideas are already starting to be incorporated into more consumer- orientated programmes.”

Knowledge is power “What consumers want is changing rapidly, and the scientific data Wattbike provides is the product’s main motivating factor,” says sales manager Richard Baker. “Consumers are more tech-savvy and demanding, with a thirst for knowledge when it comes to training more efficiently and effectively. Members are seeking to understand the science behind their training and how they can use the data.” He continues: “Our onboard computer displays a wide range of fitness parameters – such as heart rate and power – in real time. That enables users to fine-tune their training and track improvements, both during the workout and over a longer period of time. Tracking fitness parameters shows the user their workouts are having the desired effect. That’s fantastic motivation for them, and a strong retention tool for the gym. “We’re continually working to help our customers analyse the performance

data from their workouts, and we currently have some very exciting development plans to enhance the offering for both members and operators.”

Importance of education

“The most important factor in the use of heart rate monitoring as a motivational tool for exercise is education – for example, educating users about aerobic thresholds and how this can benefit them with their training,” says Jason Kerry, senior sales executive at Suunto. “Health club users often remain in a comfort zone when it comes to the intensity of their workouts, so features incorporated within modern heart rate monitors – such as an inbuilt training coach and increasingly accurate data collection and calculation – can play a significant role in getting results and motivating the user. Meanwhile, a new feature of Suunto watches is recovery time generation and display, which estimates how long it will take to recover and prevents people from over-training – a common cause of demotivation.” But it’s not only experienced exercisers who can derive motivation from understanding heart rate training. Precor and Suunto – both owned by Amer Sport – have recently collaborated to provide Wennington College in Lancashire, UK, with heart rate monitors and wristwatches. All the boys at the school are statemented with social, emotional or behavioural difficulties, and one of the aims of the school is to bring the boys back into the mainstream. Sport

Wattbike: Today’s tech-savvy consumers want more in-depth data to improve their workout efficiency

and exercise is one of the ways in which they aim to achieve this.

“As it’s a boys-only school there’s a lot of testosterone, but sport and exercise helps channel this and burns off excess energy and aggression,” says Precor’s Paul Bolus. “The heart rate monitors have helped because they’ve given the boys goals to aim for. Many come from disadvantaged backgrounds and have no idea about healthy lifestyles, but the monitors – alongside education from PE teachers – are helping them understand their bodies, health and exercise.”

Immediacy & accountability “Our concept and studio focus on the idea of working out based on science, and using heart rate monitors fits with this,” says David Long, CEO of Orangetheory Fitness in the US. “We introduced Polar Cardio GX about two and a half years ago and saw our member retention improve by about 15 to 20 per cent. “Members have the instant gratification of seeing their data at the end of the session. A summary draft of how much time they spent in each zone, and calories burned, is emailed to them at the end of their workout. That’s very motivating because they can easily track progress: the data is objective, simple to understand, and clearly shows the impact their workout is having.”

Wennington College: Heart rate monitors are giving the pupils goals to aim for 76 Read Health Club Management online at

ZT Group’s Gilbert agrees: “In the 18 months that we’ve been using MYZONE, both retention and motivation have improved massively. I can check up on our members – there’s no hiding place – which keeps them accountable. And that helps change behaviour.” ●

March 2013 © Cybertrek 2013

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