Lululemon – look like you work out even when you don’t

Image Source: Lulu on Pinterest

The first time I ever heard about “Lululemon“, it was described as “the exercise wear that makes you look like you work out even when you don’t”. It sounded too good to be true, but I was intrigued enough to look it up. And then I saw the price. I could buy an entire sports outfit for the price of one pair of leggings. Yes. I’m that cheap. Besides, it’s called “working out” not a “catwalk”. That put an end to the nonsense. Or so I thought.

I must have mentioned Lululemon in the passing with DH who decided he would surprise me with a Lulu shopping experience. The ladies in the shop were very helpful. The size you’re supposed to wear is two sizes smaller than your usual size in other stores. So if you’re a 10 elsewhere, you’re a Lulu 6; if you’re wearing 12, then you’re a Lulu 8. Yeah. It’s a snug fit but I guess that’s the idea – hold all the jiggly bits firmly in place and maybe it’ll pass for muscle. Still, I had my skepticism.

Until I was doing a pilates workout and I clapped eyes on a pair of fine looking legs that were attached to my body. Wait a minute. Are those my legs? They couldn’t possibly be my legs. They don’t look half bad. Maybe there was some truth to “the exercise wear that makes you look like you work out even when you don’t”.

Image Source: Lulu on Pinterest

The next time I was at Lululemon searching through the leggings rack, the salesgirl asked, “What sort of workouts do you do? Maybe I can recommend something to you.”

I look at her a little flustered and muttered the first two activities that came to mind. She beamed right back at me and suggested a couple of styles that looked rather plain and unimaginative. Rather abashed to admit that function was the last thing on my mind, I took them and politely thanked her. When she wasn’t looking, I surreptitiously slipped them back onto the shelf. All I care about is how it looks. So what if it’s for the wrong workout? Seriously? Had I become that shallow? Yes, apparently so.

A workout is 50% about how good you feel and part of that confidence lies in how good you think you look. What? Did I say working out is not a “catwalk”? Surely you’ve mistaken me for someone else. That couldn’t possibly have been me.

Tracking Workouts from Polar Beat to Apple Watch

We have a new toy…

Yes, DH should have realised that he unleashed a monster when he got me hooked on the Polar Beat. The only problem I had with the Polar Beat was that I would almost always forget to bring it when I worked out away from home which sort of defeats the purpose of having it in the first place. I thought the Apple Watch would solve that problem because you can’t forget something you wear on your wrist everyday.

Did it? Well, yes and no.

The problem with the Apple Watch is not knowing what apps to use. What I really wanted was essentially and app to do exactly what the Polar Beat app does but using the Apple Watch as my heartbeat sensor. Unfortunately, I haven’t discovered an app that does just that and the Polar Beat app only supports Polar Beat.

A quick search online for “activity tracker” and “Apple Watch” brought up a number of apps. I had a play around with the following:

Since I couldn’t have Polar Beat for the Apple Watch, I decided I just needed an app that would let me track the same states I get from Polar Beat – heart rate tracking using the Apple Watch, calorie burn, and a place to key in my distance covered when I’m on the home rower. If I got anything more, I would consider it a bonus.

A lot of apps are made with outdoor runners in mind and they’re great for that. Unfortunately, for the kind of activities I do – yoga, hiking, indoor rowing, pilates – they miss the most important part I want to record – workout intensity and heart rate. The four apps I downloaded looked promising, but only one app came out on top.

Endomondo

This app is probably the best looking for the four apps I checked out. It also looked very propitious with this screen shot that promised so much:

Unfortunately, Endomondo is not friendly with the Apple Watch’s built-in heart rate monitor. At this point in time, Endomondo requires another heart rate monitor if you want to track your heart rate which defeats the purpose of having the heart rate monitor on the Apple Watch. While Endomondo allows you to add a workout to it, it doesn’t allow you to import your workout from the Apple Watch’s activity tracker – or any other tracker, for that matter – so you can’t by-pass the heart rate monitor problem. What a pity because Endomondo really does look so pretty.

MapMyRun and Argus both had the same issues as Endomondo – you can’t track heart rate using the Apple Watch – so I didn’t really explore them too much after that. I’m sure they’re both really worthwhile apps but for my intended purpose, they failed.

MotiFIT

MotiFIT

This is currently the only app that I found that could use the heart rate monitor on the Apple Watch:

  • MotiFIT allows you to visualize your workout intensity in real-time on your Apple watch as well as on your iPhone and iPad.
  • MotiFIT uses your Apple Watch built-in heart rate monitor for an accurate measure of your workout intensity.
  • Import your old Apple Watch workouts including heart rate records to review and analyze your past intensity and performance.
  • The MotiFIT Apple Watch app automatically syncs your workouts with the app on your phone and to the cloud for easy access on all your mobile devices.

By far the best thing about this app is the ability to import full workouts from your Apple Watch workout tracker. This gives you the option to leave your phone behind and still monitor your workout intensity and performance on the app later when you sync the data.

Fancy Fitness Gadgets: Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Sensor

Aliens have abducted my husband. I’m sure it must be the case because this new person that they’ve returned in his place is a fitness fanatic. I even found a copy of Fitness lying around and I didn’t buy it!

It’s not a bad thing, though… Boys love their toys and my husband is a typical boy. He bought a Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Sensor so he could track his progress and he bought an extra strap for me so that I could track my progress as well. Well, it was either a thoughtful gesture or it’s a strong nudge for me to start working out harder…

Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Sensor

What does it do?

It measures your heart rate while you work out. All you have to do is wear the device around your chest with the sensor in direct contact with your skin over your sternum (like the lovely young lady depicted in the picture below from Amazon).

Using the Bluetooth function on your smart device*, you can connect your heart rate sensor with the Polar Beat App and track your exercise statistics.

You can set the settings to whatever exercise you’re doing – running, rowing, biking, etc.; whether you’re indoors or outdoors, – to track how hard you’re working out so you meet your goals more effectively. For instance, I’ve noticed that if you want to burn fat, it is actually very easy to exceed the necessary workout intensity level. If your primary goal is to burn fat in your workout, you might actually be missing the mark.

The Polar Beat app interprets your workout data, so you’ll know what your body has achieved and what to do to meet your goals more effectively.

The Polar Beat App helps you plan your training before you get started:

  • Choose a training target – burn calories or beat a time or distance record
  • Choose your activity

It helps you train at the right intensity so you can meet your training goals – real-time graphical recordings and voice guidance will help to keep you on track. You can track your distance, pace and route while walking, running or cycling.

You can analyse and understand your training session to see what you achieved with each workout – for example, whether you improved endurance, increased your strength, or burned fat. Polar Beat boasts the most accurate calorie tracking (although I don’t know how true this is).

There is even a training community at polar.com/flow to keep you motivated. You can aslo share your results with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

The app comes free with the basic features but you can also purchase upgrades:

  • Fitness Test – measures your fitness level in 5 minutes
  • Energy Pointer – allows you to see the main effect of your workout in real time
  • Benefit Target – set specific training targets
  • Running Index – see how your running performance is developing
  • Smart Coaching – a choice of unique, easy-to-use features, personalised to your needs and designed for maximum enjoyment and motivation when training

Polar Smart Coaching

* Smart devices include: iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (5th generation), iPad (3rd & 4th generation), iPad mini and iPod Nano (7th generation); or selected devices using Android 4.3 or later (like HTC: One, One M8, One Mini; LG: G2, Nexus 4, Nexus 5; Motorola: Moto G, Moto X; Samsung Galaxy: S3, S4 and S5, Note II, Note III; Sony: Xperia Z1)

Has it helped? 

Well, I’ve been tracking my workouts for a nearly a month and it sort of does motivate you to work harder. I do think that the enthusiasm of my new fitness-loving husband has more to do with it, though…