Category: Product Reviews

Polar RC3 GPS Sports Watch Product Review: Get ALL the Data!

Disclosure: The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Polar.

Lately I’ve been curious about my heart rate and if I’ve been exercising at peak efficiency.  You always hear that you should be able to carry on a conversation while running to know you’re within your target heart rate.  Well I can very rarely carry on a conversation while running, so I had the feeling that I have been pushing it too hard…looks like I was right.

Polar-HRM-Watch

I was recently given the opportunity through FitFluential to try out the new Polar RC3 GPS Sports Watch with Heart Rate Monitoring and I jumped at that chance. I’ve actually been looking at Polar heart rate monitors lately and had been considering getting one not only to track my heart rate, but to track my calorie burn at CrossFit, so this was a great opportunity.

Here are some of the features of the watch from Polar’s website:

  • Tracks your route, speed and distance using built-in GPS
  • Shows GPS based altitude during and after training
  • Training Benefit gives you instant feedback after your session
  • Running Index scores your performance
  • Improves performance with endurance training programs, downloadable for free from polarpersonaltrainer.com
  • Compatible with Polar running and cycling sensors
  • Rechargeable battery, 12h in continuous use with GPS on

That’s a lot for a sports watch!  I was really impressed by the 12 hours of continuous use and my first thought was “Why didn’t I have this for the WDW Marathon when my Garmin battery died after 6 hours?!?”  But there are much more impressive features of this device that you’re probably interested in.

The first thing I did when I received the watch was set up my profile.  Age, height, weight, etc…  This is used to properly calculate your calorie burn and determine what your average and maximum heart rate should be.  This was super easy and only took a few minutes.  I wanted to have a full charge on the watch before using it for the first time, so I plugged it into my computer (it comes with a micro USB cable) and let it charge overnight.  The next day I strapped on the watch and the heart rate monitor and went out for a run.

Let's Go!

Let’s Go!

Two immediate observations.  1.  The watch is large.  I mean, I guess it needs to be for all the stats it shows, but it just felt a little bulky on my tiny wrists.  However, I do have abnormally small wrists.  2. The heart rate monitor is very comfortable.  The strap is soft and flexible and the monitor itself is very small.  I hardly noticed it was there.

There are eight different views you can choose from while using the watch.  They vary between focusing on time, heart rate, distance, elevation or a combination of all of those things.  Since I run walk, I like to have the time front and center so I can keep track of my intervals, so I chose the option that showed time, distance and heart rate (I think it was 4).  It was very interesting to see how my heart rate varied with each interval or with a difficult stretch of road.  Look at all these stats I got:

Polar-Stats

Get ALL the Data!

Clearly, my suspicion was right that my heart race is too high when I’m running.  My average rate was 174, which is at 93%.  Ideally you want to be at 50-85% during exercise.  This is definitely something I’m going to need to work on going forward.

I’ve also tried out the RC3 during a few different CrossFit WODs as well.  It really came in handy for the WODs that included running so I could keep track of my pace.  I always tend to go out way too strong in those WODs and the tank is completely drained by the end. The watch allowed me to keep more of a steady pace to stay strong through the whole workout.  The one gripe I have with it for CrossFit goes back to it’s large size as it tends to get in the way during some of the barbell movements.

CrossFit Calorie Burn

CrossFit Calorie Burn

So far, I have really enjoyed all of the features of this sports watch.  The GPS and heart rate monitor seem to be very accurate and it’s easy to use.  There are still a few features like the fitness test and the training plans that I haven’t checked out yet, but I plan on diving into them in the next few months.  Well that’s if B doesn’t steal it first…he’s had his eye on it!

Good news for YOU…the folks over at Polar are offering all RAD Readers a 25% discount on the RC3 GPS!  If you’d like to buy this great GPS Sports Watch, simply click ::here:: and use code: “fitfluential” during checkout to receive the discount! This is valid only on the RC3 GPS and will expire on this Saturday, August 31st…so get on it!

Do you have a heart rate monitor?  Do you use a GPS Sports Watch?  What is your average heart rate during exercise?

YMX by Yellowman Product Review

I LOVE exercise gear.  I could shop for new running outfits or shoes all day long and much prefer it to dress shopping.  I mean, wouldn’t you much rather wear comfy, spandexy things instead of uncomfortable formal wear??  I know I would!  So when I was given the opportunity to try out some gear from YMX by Yellowman, I said YES PLEASE!

ymx-orange-logoHere is the story behind YMX from their website:

YMX (acronym for YellowMan Expression) was launched in 2009 as an extension of the original, high-end tattoo clothing brand, YellowMan (founded in 2004). Built on an extensive library of original tattoo artwork collected around the globe, YellowMan offers collectible, limited wearable art prints. YMX was created to offer an alternative to YellowMan in a broader, commercial market, while still preserving the authenticity of its origins.

YMX offers multifunctional garments that bridge the gap between athletic and fashion garments. Featuring high-comfort, lightweight MadKool fabrics and detailed, original prints, YMX garments can be worn for athletic use, or for casual wear. As a matter of fact, because of the moisture-wicking properties of the fabric, many people wear YMX in both active and leisure activities without having to change!

Tattoo artwork??  Well that’s right up my alley and when I saw some of the designs on the website, they reminded me of my tattoo…fun!

Sarah-Tattoo

I was hoping I would get a tank top sent to me because I prefer to work out in those opposed to tees.  I was psyched when I opened the package and there was a tank AND a tee…score!  My first impression of both items was how lightweight and thin the material was.  When I tried them on, it was like almost wearing nothing.  The shirts are make of MadKool Performance Fabrics, which are made specifically to keep athletes of any sport cool and dry.  Sounds good to me!

The tank I received is the Infinite Flower scoop neck in purple.  Love, love, love this design!!  I wore this to yoga recently and it was SO comfortable.  Perfect to freely move around in get in those poses.  Plus the pattern has that zen-like feel, perfect for yoga.

YMX-Tank

The tee i received is the Infinite Phoenix short sleeve raglan in grey and I surprised myself by actually loving this shirt.  I usually avoid grey clothing because it shows sweat, but because of the pattern on this shirt it’s not so bad.

YMX-Tee

But my favorite thing about this tee is the pocket on the back…I love pockets on athletic gear!  It’s actually a decent size and can fit your phone or a few gels when you go out for a run.

YMX-Tee-Pocket

The shirts are a bit on the  pricey side, but they seem to be worth it for the high quality and fun patterns.  Also, if you like YMX by Yellowman on Facebook, you will get a discount code so make sure to check that out!

What do you think of YMX by Yellowman?  Do you like the patterns?

Full Disclosure: I received this product complimentary from YMX by Yellowman via FitFluential LLC and did not receive any compensation for this review.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Fitbit Flex – More Than Just a Step Tracker

Step trackers….there are quite a few out there, so how do you choose?!  Well I had been wondering the same thing for quite some time and after doing some research, I settled on the Fitbit Flex.  I went with this one for a few reasons.

  1. It has a wristband
  2. It tracks sleep
  3. It has bluetooth syncing
  4. It has a very user friendly web and phone apps

The product was announced quite some time ago and I had been frequently checking the website to see if there was a release date.  It just kept saying Spring 2013.  So for my birthday this year (March 20th if you’re wondering!), I asked B to preorder one for me.  And after almost 2 months, it FINALLY arrived!!

000 Fitbit

The Flex itself is very small and actually slips right into the wristband.  Both are waterproof and you can actually buy different colored bands to change it up a bit.  I went with this because I wanted something I didn’t have to take off.  If I had a step tracker that I had to clip to something, I know I would constantly forget to put it on.  This never leaves my wrist!

001 Fitbit

002 FitbitI was very happy to find out the Flex actually comes with 2 wristbands, small and large.  I have tiny wrists so the small is a perfect fit for me.  But I am so happy to have the larger band for when I do heavy lifting because it fits over my wrist wraps.

Each band has a clear “window” that shows through to the Flex.  The one downside of this product is that it doesn’t actually show your numbers of steps, but only lighted dots to indicate where you are to reach your goal.  There are 5 dots and each one represents 20% of your goal.  All you have to do it tap the flex and they will light up.

003 FitbitEven though a display would be nice, I kind of like the subtlety of this design.  It actually looks more like a bracelet than a step tracker, like the Nike Fuel Band does.

So now let’s dive into both the web and phone apps!

Dashboard

Web App Dashboard

Web App Dashboard

Phone App Dashboard

Phone App Dashboard

Both dashboards give you a quick snapshot of your day including steps, distance and calories burned.  I love having this right on my phone so I can check it throughout the day.  The great thing about the Flex is that it syncs over Bluetooth, so as long as that is turned on on your phone, it will sync every time you open the app!  I’ve even had it open while I’m walking and it will count the steps.  It also comes with a dongle (love that word!!) that fits into a USB in your computer to wirelessly sync as well.  It’s very small and I just keep it plugged into my laptop.

Activities & Step Tracking

Activities/Step Web App

Activities/Step Web App

Activities/Steps Phone App

Activities/Steps Phone App

The activity trackers gives you more of a visual of your daily, weekly or monthly steps.  You can also enter your various activities and get reports on your progress over time.  The default setting for steps is 10,000 per day, which I didn’t think would be a lot at first, but I was quickly proven wrong.  When you reach your goal for the day, the Flex vibrates and flashes to let you know!

Sleep Tracking

Sleep Tracking Web App

Sleep Tracking Web App

Sleep Tracking Phone App Monthly Stats

Sleep Tracking Phone App
Monthly Stats

Sleep Phone App Nightly Sleep Pattern

Sleep Tracking Phone App
Nightly Sleep Pattern

This is by far my favorite feature on the Flex.  I’ve always been interested in my sleep patterns because often times I will get 7-8 hours of sleep and wake up exhausted.  So this was a huge factor in why I went with the Flex over other trackers.

When you’re ready for bed, you tap the Flex a few times until it vibrates flashes.  Then when you wake up in the morning, you would do the same to turn it off sleep mode.  As soon as the flex syncs, it will give you a report of your sleep pattern for that night.  SUPER COOL!!  You can also see other reports to show your average hours slept, total times awake and more.  I wake up nightly between 1 and 3:30 to pee so that’s a constant in all my reports.  I’m not sure what I will do with all of this information, but I find it all very interesting.  Now if I could just remember to turn it on sleep mode every night…

Silent Alarm

Silent Alarm Settings

Silent Alarm Settings

This was another feature that really sold me on the Flex.  It has a “silent” alarm you set through the phone app and the device will vibrate to wake you up at those times.  It will then snooze and go off again in 9 minutes just incase you didn’t get up, which is great for me!  I have a seriously hard time getting up in the morning.  I’m one of those people that will hit snooze for 45 minutes and still not get up.  This has actually been wonderful because it seems to wake me up easier and it’s also not as jarring as an alarm.  It also doesn’t wake B up like my alarm would, so double bonus there.

Food & Water Tracking

Food Tracker Phone App

Food Tracker Phone App

Water Tracker Phone App

Water Tracker Phone App

Both apps have food and water tracking features, but I haven’t used them yet.  I’m not a big fan of tracking these things.  I constantly forget to do it or it takes too long because my meals have too many ingredients and then I just end up getting frustrated and quitting anyway.  This is one of the main reasons why Weight Watchers never worked for me…but that’s a story for another day.  However I can see this being a great feature if you are into that so you have everything in one place.

Well that’s just a basic snapshot of some of the different interactive features available on both the web and phone apps.  As you can see from the screen shots there are many other features as well, but I really haven’t explored those much.

I’ve had the Fitbit Flex for a month now and so far I LOVE it.  I don’t even notice that it’s on most of the time and it’s really helped me be more aware of how much I move, which I actually thought was a lot more.  The first full day of work that I wore it, I was horrified by how little I moved. By the end of the work day, I had only taken around 2,500 steps!  Needless to say, I need to get up from my desk more…

The technology and interactivity of the phone app has also been great.  I love that it syncs wirelessly and that I don’t even have to think about that…it’s like magic!  The one downside is the battery life, which lasts for about 5 days.  So I generally find a time where I know I’ll be sedentary (work) for a while to recharge it.  It can’t be expected to last forever right?

So what do you think?  Have you tried a Fitbit product?  Do you have a different step tracker that you use?  Do you want to try the Flex?

 

Disclaimer: I purchased the Fitbit Flex on my own and was not contacted by the company to do this review.  As always, my opinions are my own.

Friday Feast: Kona Kase Review

Kona Kase is a company after my own heart.  Their mission is “to inspire people to create and maintain a healthy lifestyle.”  This is something I continue to work on achieving and hope to inspire others as well with RAD.  So when I was presented with the opportunity to try their product, I jumped at the chance.

01 Kona Kase

Kona Kase is monthly delivery services brining you great nutritional products to help in your fitness training.  All of the products are handpicked and tested by the founders Taylor and John…tough job! 😉  Let’s take a look inside…

When you open the case you are greeted by inspiration.  I love this quote by Ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes, “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”

02 Kona Kase03 Kona Kase

Under the postcards are a ton of goodies

04 Kona Kase

Included were some familiar favorites like a Kind bar, a SoyJoy Blueberry bar and Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter.  But there were also a few new products like the Zing Nutrition Bars, TracHealth Chia Tea (I love my chia!), and Rickland Orchards Greek Yogurt Bar.  I particularly enjoyed the Zing Chocolate Coconut…YUM!

05 Kona Kase

 

The box I received was a great mix of sweet and savory items for all types of fitness fuel.  Protein for before workouts or post for recovery, refreshing tea with antioxidants, chocolate for your sweet tooth 😉  I really enjoyed everything in here!

Now go and check out Kona Kase for yourself!  Here’s how to find them:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Great news for all RAD readers, the awesome folks over at Kona Kase want to extend to you a discount for your first month!  Simply enter the code FF2 at checkout to receive your first Kona Kase for only $10.

What item would you like to try?  What would you like to see in the next Kona Kase?

Full Disclosure: I received this product complimentary from Kona Kase and did not receive any compensation for this review.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Find Your Strong with Saucony Virrata

There has been a ton of hype around the minimalist running movement lately and I must say I’ve been intrigued.  I have friends who swear by their Vibrams or lightweight 0 mm drop shoes, so there must be something to this.  I’ve been fitted for running shoes numerous times and a minimalist shoe has never been recommended for me.  Maybe it’s because of my weight, my gait or how I pronate…I never really asked and I haven’t been steered wrong so I went with what was recommended.

Virrata_1

Recently I had the opportunity to try out the new Saucony Virrata, which is a 0 mm drop, minimalist shoe.  Better time than any to give this a shot!  But before I get into the shoes, let’s back up a little to go over heel drop and the benefits of minimalist running.

Heel drop (or heel-toe drop) refers to the amount of height between the heel and the toes in a running shoe.  Typically, the more supportive the shoe, the higher the heel drop which can range from 0 – 15 mm.  Now, I know you’re thinking… millimeters?? Does that really make a difference?  The answer is a big ole YES!

When I first started running, I was fitted for a pair of Brooks Adrenaline (at that time GTS 10).  These are considered support shoes and depending on the model have a 10-12 mm drop.  I went through 2 different models of these shoes, 3 5Ks and my first half marathon.  I loved them, but sadly they are what caused my psoas injury last year.  Generally the more you run, the more efficient you become, so unfortunately these shoes were too much support for me.

When I was refitted for shoes about a year ago, I went with the Brooks Ravenna 3 and was instantly in love.  These were an ounce lighter and the heel drop was about 3 mm less than the Adrenaline’s.  I felt like I could fly!  Clearly, a lighter weight and a lesser heel drop were a benefit to how my stride has changed.  This is what got me looking into the why heel drop mattered and the possible benefits of minimalist running.

Research has shown that a higher heel drop can lead to many common running injuries because it promotes a harder heel strike when running and can lead to overpronation.  Minimal shoes promote a mid-foot strike which is a more natural form and they are generally lighter in weight which can help with speed.

So that brings me to the Virrata.  These shoes are so light that when the box came I didn’t think anything was in it.  They are 6.5 ounces of mesh and rubber that make you feel like you aren’t wearing anything.  The heel drop is 0 mm, which is completely flat, but there is 18 mm of cushioning below your feet so it’s not like other minimal shoes I have tried on that feel like I’m walking directly on the pavement.  They actually feel like they have a good amount of support!  Oh and they’re super cute 🙂  Click here for more stats about the shoes.

Virrata_5

I first took these for a spin at CrossFit.  I had the Princess Half Marathon coming up and didn’t want to risk injury by going for a run in new shoes before the race, but I thought CrossFit would be good.  Typically, the flatter the shoe, the better when it comes to CrossFit because it allows for your weight to be more evenly distributed.  This is crucial when doing heavy lifting because you want that stability.  Because there is often running involved, I never went completely minimalist and instead wear Brooks Pure Connect for my WODs which have a 4 mm drop.  But let me tell you, I love the Virratas!  They provided enough cushioning for some of the aerobic movements, but were perfectly flat for the lifts.  WIN!

Ready for CrossFit

Ready for CrossFit

After coming back from the Princess Half Marathon, I was excited to take these for a run.  The snow was finally melted so I was happy that this didn’t have to be on the dreadmill.  I was keeping it to a short 3 mile run because I wasn’t sure how my legs would respond to the 0 mm drop.  Everything I’ve ever read about switching to a minimalist shoe has said that it needs to be done gradually to avoid injury.

Ready to Run!

Ready to Run!

I immediately felt a HUGE difference in how I was running.  My stride felt awkward and I could feel a lot more pressure on my knees and ankles.  It felt like I was just pounding the ground.  Whoa.  So I knew I really had to focus and pay attention to my stride, which I think was a very positive thing for me.  If I focus more, I can work towards becoming a more efficient (and faster!) runner!

Had to stop and enjoy the gorgeous scenery!

Had to stop and enjoy the gorgeous scenery!

Overall, I felt pretty good during the run and kept an average pace of 12:35.  After getting home and taking the shoes off, I definitely felt tight and sore around my ankles.  After doing some research, I’m pretty sure it is the Inferior Extensor Retinaculum that’s hurting and a few days rest from running should alleviate the problem and avoid this turning into a major issue.

Switching to minimal shoes like the Saucony Virrata for running is going to be a long process for me.  I know I will have to lose some weight to avoid excess stress on my joints and I will need to gradually work up to these shoes.  I’m thinking about maybe going down to an 8 mm or even 4 mm drop first and getting my body used to that on longer runs.  I’m actually very excited to try the new Saucony Mirage 3, which are also very light weight and have a 4 mm drop.  So for now, the Virratas are going to be my go to shoe for CrossFit WODs that include a lot of running (a lot usually being a mile).

If you’re looking for more information on minimalist running, heel-toe drop and making the transition, I founds some great articles for you:

I would also encourage you to check out Saucony’s Find Your Strong Project.  This is a wonderful community to get inspiration, motivation and tips.  I love to go and read some of the posts when I need some encouragement to get out the door.  The fun thing is that when you use the hash tag #FindYourStrong on Twitter, Instagram or DailyMile, you will be featured in the project on their website!

How do you Find Your Strong?

Saucony via FitFluential LLC sent me a pair of Virratas free of charge for this Campaign. As always, all opinions are my own.

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