One Heart Wonder
With a lot of the fitness products that I have been looking in to, the consistent feedbacks seems to be that these devices have some features that work amazingly well and others that are useless. It hasn’t been easy to find one that does everything that it is supposed to do well. Then it occurred to me that maybe the problem isn’t that one product doesn’t do everything well as much as we are expecting a single product to be able to do too much. If you buy a car, you expect it to drive on the road. You wouldn’t spend a lot of time being irritated that it doesn’t fly or take you across the Atlantic.
Be The Best At One Thing
I decided to look in to devices that didn’t promise to do ALL THE THINGS, but instead just sat they they could one or a few things really well. The Timex Full-Size T5K541 Personal Trainer Heart Rate Monitor and Watch is just those things: a heart rate monitor and a watch. Everything that it does is related to basically those two elements. It isn’t going to set goals for you or provide you a meal plan, but it also isn’t trying to. The Timex Personal Trainer Heart Rate Monitor exists to watch your heart rate and make sure it doesn’t get too high for efficiency or your health while tell you when it’s getting too low for your workout to be effective. It won’t make you coffee, but it will try to make your workout more valuable.
Details on The Screen, Not Your Phone
The Personal Trainer isn’t going to set goals for you or track everything you do during the day to give you charts and graphs, so there’s no need for it to sync to your phone or computer. It has a screen that can give you any pertinent information that you need. The display is easy to read even in low light, and it does have a backlight if it’s too dark where you are.
Set Up Doesn’t Require Much Except For Thumbs
When you first get the Personal Trainer, the setup seems pretty easy and should only take about 5 minutes. You’ll give it the limited pertinent information that it needs like age, height, weight, etc., and then you’ll connect it to the included chest strap and get to work. It can calculate calories burned as well as what your heart is doing in real time. The chest strap means that it is getting an accurate reading of your pulse from the source, and then it transmits it back to the watch. Within two seconds, you should be able to access the information and see how your workout is actually going.
Keeps You Within Your Limits, Too
If you get outside of the safe zone based on your size, weight and fitness level, it will beep at you. If you get to low, it will do the same. Working your heart too hard makes it as inefficient as working it too little, so the detail of knowing where you stand helps a lot. Beyond that, once you’ve sufficiently kicked your own behind, it tracks your recovery heart rate to let you know how quickly your heart is recovering from the workout.
Also, if your workout includes machines at the gym, the Personal Trainer actually communicates with the machine. It will transmit your heart rate to the display on the fitness machine so that you can get an accurate read of calories burned.
No Cords Needed
To further set it apart from many of the current products for physical fitness, you don’t have to charge it. There are no USB cords in the box because it doesn’t need them. Like the watches that you have probably been wearing for your whole life, the device runs off a small battery that gets way more power than the 4 or 5 days USB powered devices do. Both the watch and the chest strap have the same kind of battery, and if it dies after several months or a year, it can be purchased anywhere that sells watch batteries. No cords. No charging. Just using.
Chest Strap Woes
This mission of this heart rate monitor is not grand or terribly impressive. It just serves the purpose of being a useful product for what it should be used for. There are some drawbacks, though. In some cases, the chest strap does not transmit the right information to the watch and has to recalibrate every few minutes to get the information to it. It’s not very helpful if the watch and the chest strap aren’t actually communicating, so that definitely isn’t a good thing for those who are unfortunate enough to have the problem. There are ways to try to improve the communication between the two parts of the device like putting water on the places where the chest strap connects or using electrode gel, but it doesn’t always fix the problem.
Also, broad chested men may not be able to wear the chest straps because it’s too snug. Often, body builders swear by heart rate trackers like this one for the most optimized workout. They don’t, however, tend tend to be small chested men. I was not able to find any extenders that would help to make it more effective for them, either. While it’s not made exclusively for small people, it may not actually be made for large ones, either.
Oh, and it’s not particularly chest hair friendly. Apparently, there is concern about chest hair interfering with the transmission of data on men who are, uh, particularly hairy. It’s not a problem that I’ve ever had, so I can’t say that I understand or would have ever considered that for my own purposes.
Give It Some Timex
At any rate, the Timex Personal Trainer probably isn’t going to change your whole life, but it isn’t trying to. The goal of the device is clear and simple– track the heart rate for health and safety during exercise. It won’t care for your kids, make you skinny with a magic wand or foster world peace, but those were never its goals to begin with. It’s a straightforward device, and I like that you don’t have to find a balance between what it does well and the things that it just limps along with. A few, well-executed features are better than a host of poorly implemented features any day. If you’re in for small triumphs, you can pop on over to Amazon and find it there.