Heart Rate Monitors, Strala and Uplift, Oh My!

I mentioned my new heart rate monitor (aff link) the other day, and I Instagrammed a picture of it today.


Please ignore my chipped nail. (You know, the one I just drew more attention to.)

I’d wanted to try it out a few times before I gave my thoughts on it. I got it as an Easter present, but I was going to buy one anyway. Yes, social media influence works. I’d seen a gazillion pictures of calorie counts, and I was really curious, too, how much my non-running workouts were burning. My Garmin tells me approximately how much my runs burn, and I’m fine with that probably somewhat inexact number.

But I was dying to know how much my Uplift classes were burning and also really curious how much yoga classes burn, and I was also interested in knowing my maximum heart rate.

There’s a standard formula (220 – your age.) According to that formula, my maximum heart rate should be 190. I wanted to really test it, thought, and test my own ticker. I found a maximum heart rate test on Runner’s World: warm-up, 1 mile tempo, 400 meters all out. I went to my high school track on Sunday and busted it out. It was weird and nice to look at heart rate, not pace. I guess my heart is average, because my exact maximum heart rate was 190. Cool, I worked up a sweat for nothing.

I was interested to see how many calories I burned in classes and where my heart rate was.

When I tried Barry’s the other day, I burned 501 calories! My heart rate got up to about 170-175 during the treadmill sprints and was around maybe 120-130 for the lifting.


[photo via Sarah – from L-R, Katie, some weird girl, Sarah, Bex and Tara Stiles. NBD.]

I know yoga doesn’t burn a gazillion calories – and that’s fine, because that’s not why I do it (yoga=cheap therapy) – but I was curious to see how many calories I would burn, so I gave it a spin when I took Tara Stiles’ class at Strala. (My original Strala review.) I’m still figuring the damn thing out, so it was beeping at me constantly to tell me my heart rate wasn’t in the fat-burning zone, which, you know, was awesome for achieving zen. My heart rate stayed between 60 – 90ish the whole time and it said I burned about 125 calories. I’m going to try it at my favorite yoga class, too, to see how many calories I burn.

Speaking of burning, I’m probably going to burn that shirt after I finish writing this.

Finally, I tried it out at Uplift yesterday for a cardio class. For the 55-minute class, I burned 444 calories and noticed my heart rate up around 170-180 during the cardio intervals. Yesterday’s class was with the adorable Kat and had TONS of jumping and an awesome playlist. While a great instructor is obviously really important, I feel like the playlist is what really makes the class. Songs I can lip-sync to > songs I don’t know. Wait, you don’t lip-sync while you work out? No, me neither.

(I’m getting free classes in exchange for blogging about them, but you can get a 10% discount on any 8:30, 10:30, 12:30 or 5:30 weekday class or any Sunday class with the code losingweightinthecity.) Or! You can use the code UpliftKE for any of Kat’s classes for a free class, if you’re new to Uplift.

Do you use a heart rate monitor? Do you use it specifically? (As in, not out of curiosity like me? I will probably start using it more specifically once I start tri training soon.)

25 comments on “Heart Rate Monitors, Strala and Uplift, Oh My!

  1. Lisa

    I too have considered one because they are everywhere at my spin class these days and I am jealous. But then I remembered — didn’t my Garmin come with a heart rate monitor chest strap that is in a closest somewhere? Didn’t yours? Why don’t folks use that feature on the Garmin rather than buying a whole new device?

    Basically I want to know if I should buy one or start hunting through my scary closets.

      1. Linda

        @Theodora: Your Garmin probably did come with a heart rate monitor strap. You can also buy a new one and pair it to your watch, if you lost the old one (or like mine it went crazy and insisted you had a 220 heart rate — the new one doesn’t think I’m dying).
        I had a Polar at one point, too. You need to shut off the function for the zone alerts. I turned off all the audio alerts when I had mine — I hated the default hourly beeping.

  2. Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat

    I have the same polar, I’ve had it for a couple of years!

    In the beginning I was using it as a guide for what I was burning (I was in weight loss mode) so I could keep my calories in check. It was definitely helpful.

    I was actually getting too obsessed with calorie burn and have mostly stopped wearing it – and I don’t really train by HR for running which accounts for the majority of my activity. I also have a very low HR (resting is in the low to mid 40’s) so my max is also pretty low (getting to 160 takes a LOT of effort) and I would try to raise it towards what my max “should” be and would just get frustrated.

    BUT that being said – I think it is a great tool in understanding your body and what is normal and to know if you are pushing yourself.

  3. Hildy

    I’ve considered getting a heart rate monitor but was worried the chest strap would be annoying or bother me during a cardio workout. Did you have any issues with the strap?

    1. Theodora Post author

      You know, I had one a long time ago and hate hate hated it, because after years of being overweight and trying to stuff myself into too-small clothes, I didn’t want something that felt constricting, but I mostly forget it’s there. Yesterday with all the jumping, it did slide around a bit, which bothered me.

  4. Dori

    I have one that I bought years ago, used to wear it to spin in 2008 but haven’t used it since. I don’t care how many calories I burn anymore, I just feel happy knowing I worked hard. Also, I have a very high heart rate (it used to get over 200 when I worked out) and I found that a little scary. I also found wearing the chest strap (and remembering to put it on) annoying. But I know some people find it very useful and helpful!

  5. Linda

    When I first got my Garmin and was running a lot more regularly and was a little obsessed with running (training for one’s first marathon will do that), I used the heart rate monitor almost all the time. I liked to see if my perceived exertion matched my heartrate or whether my “perceived” exertion was just psychological.
    I hat a BodyBugg that I used for a while and it wsa fun for a bit to see how many calories I was allegedly burning, but it really wasn’t that much of a mystery that on the days I worked-out I burned a lot more calories than when I didn’t, but I got to compare my spin class to my MMA class, so that was fun.
    I <3 that nail polish color!

  6. Rachael

    I saw your picture of the HRM watch yesterday and it pushed me over the cliff to buy one. I had been thinking about getting one for a while. I already have a bluetooth HRM strap that I use along with a couple of apps on my phone, but I had been wanting the watch kind so I could more easily keep an eye on it while I’m exercising. I ended up buying the HT7 watch only as an open box item on eBay for around $40. I’ll use it with the strap I already have. I can’t wait to try it out. Thanks for the push!

  7. Mary @ Food and Fun on the Run

    I recently got a Garmin with HRM, and so far I am liking it. I am want to look at exertion from a different place, rather than just “ow, my legs are burning”. I am interested to see what I can get my body to do based on HR, rather than breathing or the thoughts in my head.

    I still need to read more about HR training, but I am excited to look at running and working out from a different perspective.

  8. Dawn H

    Oh, your Polar is cute! I’m inspired to dig out the heart rate monitor strap my Garmin came with, because I have no idea what my max heart rate is either šŸ™‚

  9. Kaelin

    I used a Polar FT7 model for a couple of years and then upgraded to a Garmin 405CX once I got into running.

    Unfortunately, I am of the variety that gets really whacked out with calorie in and calorie in counts. And it got to be bit of an OCD problem, so I stopped wearing my HRM strap about 10 months ago.

  10. Julie Donahue

    I’ve been thinking of getting one too. I bought a Polar FT1 on clearance at Target for $30, but then I returned it. I read too many negative reviews. That one had a HRM, but no calories burned. I’m hoping to get a Polar 4 or 7.

  11. Logan @ Mountains and Miles

    I always wear my HRM on my runs and bike rides. Sometimes I wear them when I lift or do yoga. It’s nice to use when you are running based on effort – it can tell you your REAL effort, rather than just your perceived. A lot of times I think I’m “tired” and working really hard, when in reality my heart rate says I’m not, ha.

  12. Jane @ Not Plain So Jane

    I love my heart rate monitor! I use it out of curiosity sometimes: like burning 3600 calories for a marathon!! But I also use it to make sure I’m not running too hard on long runs and to see how hard I’m working in the fitness classes I teach. I am going to try the heart rate test you posted! Always been curious about the 220-your age. I think I have a higher max heart rate!

  13. Philly Jones

    So, it’s more helpful if helpful if you have a heart rate monitor, right? I’ve never tried it before. Definitely looking for some soon. Thanks for your info.

  14. Kate

    This post came at the perfect time, Theodora. I have been thinking about investing in a heart rate monitor for the same reason: I’m dying to know how many calories I’m burning during my non-running workouts. I’ll check back in soon to see if you post any updates. I am the content curator at FitFramed.com. I’d be honored if you’d submit this great post (and others, too) to our site. We’re a blogger-submitted, curated photo gallery with a focus on fitness. Fit Framed offers a unique platform to reach new readers and a broad audience with whom to share your content. Check it out.


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