I have a confession to make: I once punched myself in the face during kick boxing. Because I was trying to read my heart rate monitor. Okay, true confession: I’ve done that more than once. It’s embarrassing.
The Geek Squad
When the Gym Buddies and I hit the gym floor, it’s like watching the starting line of the Academic Olympiad. (And to those of you who actually competed in the Academic Olympiad and are saying “Wait, there’s no starting line! “Olympiad” is metaphorical! Not to mention grammatically incorrect!” I must answer, with love, “Geek.”) The first step of every workout is to… synchronize our watches. I’m not kidding. We adjust – sometimes blatantly down the top of our tank tops – our chest straps. We spit on our fingers and get the nodes wet. And then, we hold our multi-colored watch-strapped wrists out so we can start the little number-crunchers all together.
Our first warm-up lap around the track consists of “Is yours on?” “I think mine’s been messed up lately!” “Hold up, I can’t get mine to read.” Occasionally one of us flat lines. It’s a sad, sad day when your friend announces she has no pulse and you answer “Try spitting down your shirt again.”
I Blame Them
I never had a heart rate monitor, nor any interest in one, until I met up with my current roster of Gym Buddies. Allison and Candice looked so cool and sophisticated and techy with their Polars. And after class when they’d discuss max heart rates and zones and calories burned, my naked arm burned with envy. I just wanted to fit in. So I broke down and got one. Which was a good thing because it had been far too long since my last co-dependent relationship.
Not only could I now watch my heart’s every move (is it possible to stalk an organ?), I could also gauge intensity without having to “perceive” my exertion. I could tally calories burned and maxes achieved. I could even see how low my resting heart rate is when we did Corpse Pose (a.k.a. Super Boring Pose) in Yoga – 42 for any of you that care. Besides, how much better to run my experiments with even MORE numbers?
The numbers can have a downside. My week on the Numbers Diet Experiment was blissfully peaceful. In fact, Gym Buddy Allison has not weighed herself once since we did that experiment and is loving it. I’m so proud of her (and a bit jealous)! But the allure of statistics keeps me coming back. I wouldn’t have been able to do my superfun metabolic test without my monitor (which I just realized makes it sound like I’m on house arrest – incidentally, the closest I’d ever come to being Martha Stewart, knock on wood). I wouldn’t know if Hip Hop Hustle is as good a workout as TurboKick or just so much fun that you don’t notice you’re burning mega calories. But most of all, I wouldn’t know when I’m not working at my full potential. Type A, much?
And I’m not alone. The venerable New York Times recently ‘fessed up to a tech-crush on their heart-rate monitors. I think we need a support group.
R U Geek 2?
Do you spit on yourself before workouts? Is your wrist shackled with a candy-colored gadget that cost more than the last non-athletic pair of shoes you bought? Do you introduce your GPS/monitor/calculator at parties? I have to know – Do you love yours as much as I love mine?