Review: Scosche Wireless Pulse Monitor

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This thing was a right pain in the arse. I’d been sent it a couple of months ago, along with the Jabra Sport Wireless Headphones and while I’d figured out the headphones easily enough, this Scosche Wireless Pulse Monitor was like going back to the 90s in a ‘what the fuck is this thing supposed to do then?’ way; not intuitive at all.  But unlike in the 90s, when I was happy to sit all day playing with techie things and making them work, then breaking them, then making them work again,  now I just want things to work straight away with no faffing around.

What I hadn’t really gathered was, was that there wasn’t really anything to gather. The monitor (which you wear on your upper lower arm (don’t you love my grasp of anatomical terms?) works with the myTREK app (which you’ll be prompted for when you set up your first workout) via Bluetooth. You tell the app you want a new workout, name it, choose your activity (running, cycling, mountain biking, yoga, walking, aerobics, resting and other), then choose free training or a ‘zone’ to train in (resting, weight loss, fitness, performance or red line), then the type of training (free workout, free distance, time, workout and distance, distance [setting the distance] or calorie).

Setting up your profile on the app is simple enough. You tell it your gender, date of birth and weight and it sets your max heart rate for you using the dubious 220-your age calculation, setting mine at 178 (you’ll see later why this is bollocks).

After I was all set up, I gave it a test run in the house, just by walking around doing usual things like sitting on the sofa. My heart rate skipped along merrily between 55-70 bpm until I got up to get a beer from the fridge when it shot up to 191. Huh? I know I like a drink, but I didn’t think I found it that exciting.

I tested it again a couple of days later and I didn’t name the workout so don’t know what I was doing but whatever it was, it must have been good, as my heart rate hit a max of 231bpm and I burned 202 calories in 22 minutes. If I knew what that was, I’d do it again.

Looking at the calendar now, there are a couple more I haven’t named, so I’ll ignore these, but the next one looks like I’ve managed to set it up better and it says I walked for 35 minutes, burned 78 calories and had an average pulse of 69 bpm. Actually, I’ve just decided this is rubbish as it says that walk was 0.17 of a mile and it doesn’t take me 35 minutes to walk 0.17 of a mile.

A few days later I tested it again on the rowing machine in the conservatory. Determined this time not to fuck it up, I made sure I set it up correctly. It says I rowed for 30 minutes with an average pulse of 117 bpm (max 131), which sounds about right. The only thing that doesn’t sound right is the calorie count of 288 calories. The rowing machine display said I’d burnt 55. Hmm.

Shaun also tested it on the rowing machine (putting his details into the profile settings). His results were 18 minutes, 91 bpm average pulse (138 max) and 98 calories which, seeing as he puts in much more effort than me on the rowing machine (judging by his smelly-dog-that’s-just-been-in-a-river impression on his exit from the conservatory), is probably about right.

The one thing I thought this monitor would be useful for, for me, would be down the gym, to see how many calories I burn in spin and body pump classes. I haven’t been brave enough to go to a class yet with a monitor on my arm (no need for your phone to also be on your arm – the signal from the monitor travels up to 33 feet [although if you do want to wear it on your arm because you use your phone for music, you can control the music from the monitor strap, as well as get audio alerts while you workout]) but yesterday, I wore it down the gym and used it while I was on the machines to see what the results were and how they compared to the display on the machines.

I got on the rowing machine and kept my phone on the floor so I could see the display (your current heart rate is displayed in big white numbers so very easy to see). During my 20 minutes on the rowing machine, my heart rate kept at a steady 120bpm. This all changed when I’d finished on the rowing machine and got on the treadmill to do the Audiofuel Thru the Gears interval session. I love this interval session, the music is fab and really motivates me to push myself. This is now scientifically proven by the heart rate monitor reading which shows that my heart rate went up to 183 bpm then went back down as I cooled down and then went on the cross-trainer, where my heart rate stayed at a steady 160 bpm (obviously still raised after pushing myself on the treadmill).

After I’d finished in the gym, it said I’d burned 890 calories, which I reckon is way over, especially as the machines in the gym said I’d burned about 430. Unless the monitor takes into consideration the calories I’d be burning anyway, just by living, and it’s not just exercise calories burned?

So, I’ll be using it down the gym so I can make sure I’m making more effort on the rowing machine but I’m not sure of its accuracy. How accurate can it be with the dubious 220-your age calculation? Especially as I went over my ‘max’ heart rate more than once? For serious heart rate training, I’d say it was useless, unless you know about the zones and which zones you need to be training in. I’m not sure you can set these yourself though so maybe even if you do know about zones, it’s still useless.

Another thing I’m not impressed with is that I thought there must be more to it than that for the RRP of £139? Some pretty maps and charts and graphs and stuff? But no. It’s £139 just to tell you your current heart rate and there are a lot of watches around that will tell you that for a lot less money.

I’m going to give it a spin at my spin class tomorrow, and I’ll let you know the results.

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