Fitness Tracker Best Practices


How To Use Your Fitness Tracker

Only a few years ago it seemed advances in fitness technology were confined to the gym. Fancy new cable machines, vibrating plates, and shake weights seemed to typify the cutting edge of exercise tech. And while a good deal of incredible innovation continues in this regard, like the impact-free Zero Runner from Octane, a new kind of fitness gadget has taken the industry by storm.

Fitness Activity TrackersWe refer, of course, to fitness and activity trackers like the Fitbit or Polar Loop. These wearable devices, along with their app and website counterparts, are empowering individuals to take charge of their fitness, health, and weight-loss goals through the power of data. Indeed, the NPD Connected Intelligence Consumers and Wearables Report points out that one in 10 adult Americans now own a fitness tracker, and the market for such devices is expected to grow to $2.8 billion by 2019 according to IHS Technology.

However, fitness trackers by themselves are not enough to help you reach your health and fitness goals. Although these gadgets do provide a wealth of information with which to make informed decisions about your exercise routine and food choices, we wanted to share with you five best practices so that you can make the most of your new fitness tracker.

1. Set Your Goals

No matter how state-of-the-art the latest fitness wearables and apps may be, they are next to useless if you don’t know what you want to accomplish. Do you want to lose weight? Maintain your current weight? Run a six-minute mile? Run a marathon? Knowing your goals ahead of time is absolutely essential, and the more quantifiable and specific your goal is, the better.

Once you’ve determined your goals, choose the technology that will be most helpful to you in reaching this goal. Not all fitness trackers and mobile apps are created equal. For example, most activity monitors can tell you things like how many steps you’ve taken, how many miles you’ve ran or walked, and how many calories you’ve burned. However, many of these monitors only estimate caloric expenditure by inference, based on your height, weight, age, sex, and the amount of motion it detects. To get a more accurate estimate of how many calories you’ve burned, and to account for athletic activity that is not directly correlated to steps (for example weight lifting), you’ll want a tracker that can also monitor your heart rate like the Polar Loop Activity Tracker.

Sign up for the HealthStyles Exercise monthly newsletter to keep up with our latest sales, deals, and discounts on items like the Polar Loop!

2. Create a Baseline

So you’ve got a brand new fitness tracker. Your first instinct is to slap it on and hit the ground running with an intense workout. Resist the urge!

In order to determine the best course of action to meet your health and fitness goals, you first need a baseline to reference. Therefore, rather than trying to impress your activity tracker with how active you are, wear it for a week without changing anything about your normal daily routine. Don’t be discouraged if the numbers are a little disappointing. That’s OK. The first step in meeting your fitness goals is knowing where you’re starting from.

Polar Loop Activity Tracker3. Work at Your Own Pace

You know your goals. You have your baseline. Now it’s time to start! However, don’t try to bite off more than you can chew at the beginning. Most activity trackers come with a default initial goal, like walking 10,000 steps in one day. If your baseline shows you only walk 3,000 steps a day on average, then trying to hit 10,000 steps on day 1 may be too aggressive. Instead, work your way up by adding 500 steps each day until you hit that magic number.

Similarly, if your tracker includes a heart rate monitor, don’t try to hit your maximum heart rate for every minute of your workout. Working out too hard will leave you feeling spent and unwilling to exercise the next day, while taking it too easy will keep you from meeting your goal. In general, you should aim to train within 65-85% of your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age). This way you can work out for the longest amount of time and burn the most calories possible without burning yourself out.

4. Record and Review Everything

Self-monitoring your exercise has always been a key component of getting into shape. And while these activity trackers automate a lot of this for you, you cannot delegate all responsibility to your wristband. If your goal is weight-oriented, then recording the amount of calories you burn is not enough. You also need to record the amount of calories you consume. Most fitness wearables have a food diary built-in, but there are also stand-alone apps like MyFitnessPal that integrate with many of the top devices.

Furthermore, don’t be satisfied with simply checking your daily stats. For the best results, take advantage of some of the detailed analytics your fitness tracker can provide. Look at the charts and graphs to give you a picture of your progress over time, to reveal times of the day when you are excessively stationary, and to discover opportunities for getting more steps in or calories burned.

Check out our selection of top-of-the-line heart rate monitors!

5. Be Social

Training in isolation can be comforting for those of us who are embarrassed about their current health and fitness levels, but it can also make it easier to lose your motivation, or even cheat your results. With more and more websites and programs that deliver workout routines right to your desktop, it’s easier than ever to avoid human contact while you work out.

However, training with other people, sharing your progress, and having a coach are some of the best ways to keep you focused and honest. Luckily, many fitness trackers have social sharing elements baked in, allowing you to see how your progress compares to that of your friends and thereby motivate you to keep up the hard work. For example, the Fitbit app and website can display a leaderboard that ranks you and your friends in terms of how many steps you’ve taken in the past seven days, adding a competitive element to your training. Online programs like Vida Health Coach or RevUp pair you with personal coaches and other health professionals who can keep you motivated and provide you with personalized tips and advice.

Ready to take your workout to the next level? Then check out the selection of Polar heart rate monitors and activity trackers. Talk to one of our fitness professionals for some personalized tips on how to incorporate your activity tracker into your workout routine, and discover some of the best equipment to help you meet your goals.

Muscle Isolation vs. Functional Fitness


TRX Functional TrainingA lot of people workout with certain body parts on their minds – they want to target the triceps, focus on the inner thighs or work their biceps to exhaustion. Isolating muscles definitely has its purpose and place, but in today’s world, it’s all about functional fitness! Haven’t heard of the latest fitness buzzword? Let us explain.

What’s the big deal? The goal of functional fitness is to train movements, not just muscles. Sometimes called movement-based exercise, functional exercises work multiple muscle groups at a time in order to build a body capable of doing real-life activities. Why? Our bodies are meant to function both inside and outside of the gym. When you lift a suitcase into an overhead compartment, a lone bicep is not doing all the work. Muscles always team up to carry the load, and functional fitness will help your body do this better!

Bosu Functional FitnessHow am I benefitting? When you work multiple parts of your body simultaneously, you not only improve your overall strength but you burn more calories, more fat, and increase your flexibility. And since many movement-based exercises test your balance – think squats on a BOSU ball – you’ll gain greater coordination and stability.

Bodyweight SquatWhere do I start? If you’re new to functional fitness, focus on these key words when you work out: push, pull, squat, hinge, and lunge. Any exercise that involves one of these five motions is guaranteed to work more than one muscle at a time. For example, your quads will be challenged on a leg extension machine, but your quads plus your hamstrings, calves and glutes will be worked with a squat!

Functional Fitness AccessoriesAt HealthStyles Exercise Equipment we love the concept of moving all our muscles at once, and our showrooms reflect that shift in strength training over the past several years. Rather than the traditional home gym that works one muscle at a time on a single plane, our strength systems now include cable gyms and multi-purpose training systems for the home like the Life Fitness G7 Gym or the Torque Arsenal. We have wall mounted racks that can be installed in your garage and used with a suspension trainer such as the TRX Suspension Trainer or SPRI Gravity Trainer Pro. Dumbbells, kettlebells, Bosus, stability balls, gravity assist bands and dozens of other accessories can be used to enhance functional training which will help you train smarter and better prepare your body for everyday life.

Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide. For more information on Fit Tips and other fitness advice and expertise visit

Give the Gift of Fitness!


Are you looking for ideas for unique Christmas gifts?

HealthStyles Exercise Equipment has some great gifts for fitness enthusiasts in all price ranges!

Whether your gift is for an avid runner, a Cross-Fit or P90X junkie, or a friend or loved on who is trying to firm up or lose weight, here are just a few of the many possible gifts you can put under the tree for those important people in your life.

The Back-Up Plan: A Fitness Must Have!


Most of us understand that to get where we want to go, we need transportation to get there. A vehicle of sorts, whether that be car, bus, bike, subway etc. The same concept holds true for our health and fitness program. Some of us have a gym membership, while others prefer to walk, run, bike outdoors. However, as we all know there are late nights, running late mornings, bad weather issues, and hot weather at this time of year, that can sometimes prevent us from using our preferred mode to get our workouts in. I’m constantly telling my clients that regardless if you prefer to workout outside or if you belong to a gym, there are going to be times where we just can’t get a workout in.

One of the most important Fitness Must Haves is to invest in a few key pieces for your home to create a Back-Up Plan! Despite budget or space issues, there are a wide range of options to meet your needs! The bottom line is, having a solid back-up-plan will help keep you moving and on track for your fitness goals! Here are few ways to create for yourself a back-up plan to ensure you always have a way to get a workout in!

Basic Cardio:

There are TONS of options for the home user to create a cardio workout. For the budget conscious there are numerous workout DVD’s you can purchase for minimal cost. P90x is great example of a full body, 90 day workout that can keep you going that requires minimal equipment and can be done anywhere! Most satellite and cable providers have a fitness channel in their basic line-up of programs. Do some checking to see if yours’ does and then check out the options.

If watching the TV doesn’t get it done for you, invest in an indoor, "spinning" type bike or rowing machine. Both tend to take up minimal space and can provide you with an awesome way to get some cardio in! Be prepared to spend between $700-$1300 for these.

If you prefer to spend a little more dough, there are tons of treadmill and elliptical options out there! Quality that will last starts at about the $1200 range, and there are tons of options to suit your needs. Visit a speciality fitness store, where you will get quality advice and support.

BEWARE: Don’t buy cheap! It is better to buy a different type of piece, than to buy a cheap version of an expensive product! For example, don’t buy a $800 treadmill when you can spend that $800 on a quality indoor bike or rowing machine that will last. You want your Back-up plan to be RELIABLE …that is the whole point!

Resistance Training:

Again you can do this with or without budget constraints. For about $10 you can get resistance bands at various tensions. Even for the hard core lifters, resistance bands can be effective if done correctly as part of an overall program. Add a door anchor for about $5, and you can essentially turn any door into a resistance training work station!

Another option for between $100-200, is a suspension training system, such as TRX or Jungle Gym. Suspension trainers use a nylon strapping system to turn your body into a functional training station! You can get an amazing workout using your own body weight and need about 8ft. of space and a door, ceiling or other sturdy place to attach the anchor.

If you want the feel of weights in your hands, for about $400 you can get a pair of Power Blocks! This unique concept offers 24 pairs of dumbbells in a one piece set! They are durable, easy to use and give you a ton of options! For an even cooler route, try the Kettleblock. With the same concept as the Power Blocks, instead of having all those kettlebells lying around, you have just a one handled block with the ability to select the weight you want with the push of a pin!

If a home gym or functional trainer with a weight stack where you can continually increase the resistance is what you need, quality home gyms and functional trainers begin at just above $1000 and go up from there depending on the variety of exercises you would like to be able to do with the gym. Again, purchasing an inexpensive functional trainer or gym is a bad idea. It will "feel" lightweight and the cables won’t have the smooth feel that you may have experienced in the gym.

Training while Traveling:

Training on the road can be a big challenge. Make sure to plan ahead, so you have a game plan in place.

Check the hotel to see if they have a workout out room, ask what types of equipment they have, how many pieces they have and the hours of the facility. If this will work with your schedule, you’re set. Even if they have a room, ask if they have a pool, and depending on the time of year, if it is indoor, outdoor and heated. I always travel with my swim bag as a back-up, back-up plan for hotel stays. There is nothing worse than counting on the hotel workout room, only to find out the bike or treadmill is broken or so unstable it isn’t worth the risk!

If all else fails, bring along your resistance bands and door anchor or a suspension system, (TRX). They take up little space in your suit case and are an awesome way to get a workout in. Mix in some body weight squats, lunges and push-ups, create a circuit and you are good to go! Don’t let travel and a lack of planning prevent you from staying healthy while on the road!

Let’s face it …Life happens. Having a Back-up Plan in place is a sure fire way to help you stay on track for your fitness goals and keeps you moving and feeling good! Everyone should have a few key pieces in their home, as well as a take-along plan for travel!

A little planning can go a long way!

Tonja Hadley, MA, CSCS
Personal Trainer
HealthStyles Exercise Equipment

HealthStyles Christmas Shopping Guide


Here are some of HealthStyles’ best selling accessories that your favorite fitness enthusiast will be thrilled to find under their Christmas Tree this year!

Resistance Bands $10 – $13
Foam Rollers $9 – $25
Mini-Exercise Balls $8
“Great” Instruction Books $10
Kettlebells $16 – $100
Exercise Mats $26 – $65
Fitball Balance Discs $22
Balance Boards $23 – $70
Medicine Balls $23 – $55
Fitball Stability Balls $30 – $40
Polar Heart Rate Watches $59 – $159
Neoprene Dumbells $3.50 – $25/pr
Gray Hex Dumbells $7.00 – $250/pr
Rubber Coated Dumbells $10 – $300/pr
Selectorized Dumbells $149 – $379/pr
BOSU Balance Ball $109.99
P90X Home Fitness Training $129
TRX Suspension Trainer $189.95

The Benefits of Heart Rate Training

We get so many questions from people that say they work out regularly and don’t see the results they want. What are they doing wrong? What they are doing is exercising without being aware of their heart rate training zones. Heart rate training is so important in determining the intensity level needed to produce maximum results, whether you are trying to lose weight, improve your conditioning, rehabilitate from an injury or heart attack, or train for an athletic event. How do I make it work for me? The first step is to determine your maximum heart rate. There is a mathematical formula that allows you to predict your Max HR with some accuracy. It is called the “age-adjusted formula”. The age-adjusted Max HR formula can come in very handy when you’re not prepared to pay for the physician-supervised stress test. Continue reading

Benefits of Heart Rate Training Video – Part 2


Ever wonder why people exercise with heart rate? This video shows how training with heart rate provides guidance to train at the right level and get the best workout for your body – and your goals. We also show how a Polar training computer makes exercise more fun, helping you to see that any sport or active pursuit can be your workout. In this second half, we’re speaking with a former college athlete turned busy lawyer and family man who’s looking for training guidance as he gears up for his first triathlon and gets back into shape.

Benefits of Heart Rate Training Video – Part 1


Ever wondered why people exercise with heart rate …and what exactly a Heart rate monitors IS? This video answers those questions, showing how training with heart rate provides motivation to workout smarter, track your progress, get feedback and reach your personal fitness goals. Plus, we demonstrate what exactly a Polar training computer is and how it works. In this first half, were speaking with a busy mom – a mother of three with a full-time job – who’s trying to get back into shape and needs some motivation.

Holiday Gift Ideas


Christmas is the time of indulgence as we all know. Eating foods high in calories and skipping regular exercise routines often leads to New Year’s resolutions designed to undo the excesses of the Holiday period. When you are out shopping for loved ones this year, instead of getting them that favorite video game or DVD, why not get them something that shows them you really care – give the gift of health!

Along with exercise equipment, there are accessories available in all price ranges, and for all different functions. From cardio to strength training to improving core muscle strength and balance, the options are many and varied. Below are just a few suggestions for Christmas gifts that show how much you care.


$25 and Under:

Perfect Push ups
Balance Boards and Balance Discs
Foam Rollers
Resistance Bands
Body Fat Calipers
Weight Lifting Gloves
Fitness Handbooks

$50 and Under:

Fit Balls
Resistance Bands Kits
Weighted Hula Hoops
Equipment Mats
Spinning DVDs
Medicine Balls

Other Ideas:

BOSU Balls
TRX Suspension Systems
Power Blocks
HyperStrike Memberships
Heart rate monitors
Body Shape Kits
And much more!

Check out your local HealthStyles Exercise Equipment location to see the latest accessories available for your loved one!