A watch fit for the job

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 May, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 May, 1999, 12:00am

There are some people who measure how hard they have been exercising by the level of pain they feel in their muscles, and I confess to being one of them.

Not anymore, however. I am determined to become a toned, hard-bodied and healthy individual, and I think I may have found just the gadget to help me get there.

PolarEdge manufactures heart-rate monitors for serious athletes, although they can be used by those who are merely interested in keeping fit, losing weight, or monitoring fitness levels.

The heart-rate monitoring system requires two pieces of equipment - a digital watch, which is functional to the point that I doubt G-Shock manufacturers have anything to worry about, as well as a chest transmitter. The chest transmitter is a black plastic strap measuring about 2.5 centimetres wide which goes around your chest.

For women, they have developed a sports bra that allows you to slide the transmitter along the bottom edge. Not great-looking, but inconspicuous enough.

For men, if you don't wear a T-shirt over your chest transmitter, it just looks like you have put your belt around your chest instead of around your waist.

So wear the T-shirt please . . . unless you have a body like Brad Pitt's and in that case you can get away jogging with even psychedelic Hello Kitty stickers on your chest.

The transmitter picks up electrical impulses from your heart, and zaps them to the watch. Depending on the watch you buy, you can measure heart rate, as well as heart rate within targeted zones, or even count how many calories you have burned for each exercise session.

Some models have a back-light feature, for those nocturnal exercisers. There also is a PC dowloadable interface option for monitoring progress on athletic training for the truly serious.

Jogging with the heart-rate monitor was great. I fed in information on my height, weight, and age, and it calculated the target I need to reach depending on the intensity of excercise. If I went below the target, the watch beeped at me to pick up the pace.

If you do not have a personal trainer, this is the way to go.

Polar Coach, which monitors your heart rate and synchronises the data to a PC is priced at HK$1980.

Polar SmartEdge which calculates the calories you have burned during exercise is priced at HK$170.