Take almost any workout and any metric and this heart rate strap will find it. Wahoo!
As a Personal trainer with a good few years of training under my belt, it’s safe to say I’ve used many a heart rate monitor, from chest straps to arm bands, wrist watches to pulse checks via your finger and your mobile phone. I’ve tried the lot.
This is the best heart rate monitor, I have ever used.
Is it perfect?
Let me tell you, it comes pretty darn close.
Wahoo Tickr X Features
At a glance the Wahoo Tickr X features:
Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor
Dual band Technology - Thanks to its Bluetooth hrm, the heart rate strap can signal to two devices at once, ie. your watch and your mobile phone.
Heart Rate Monitor App
Real time heart rate and calorie tracking - I prop my phone up and have the Wahoo app on display throughout my training, where you can clearly see all your top metrics including speed, calories and heart beat meter. Plus, an added bonus for fellow four eyes...it’s clear enough that you can see your scores whilst training without glasses!
Device Free Heart Rate Tracking
Internal Memory - As soon as you snap the strap to the monitor and it finds a heart rate, the tracker will start recording, meaning you can leave you phone at home, head out for a run and then download your data to your phone later.
Heart Rate Strap with Running Analytics
This is so unique for a heart rate strap, usually you would need a foot pod but this strap does it all. Monitor your cadence, smoothness, left-right, up-down, forward-backward, ground contact and oscillation, along with classic speed, distance and pace.
Indoor cycling Wahoo cadence - With separate workout screens for indoor cycle and even spinning; RPM, speed and heart rate on one screen.
Third Party App Compatibility
Wahoo itself has multiple fitness apps (more details later) plus the strap is compatible with all the main fitness apps, from Strava to MyFitnessPal.
Visible Heart Rate Connection and Alerts
The moment you strap the Tickr X strap together, it flashes to show it has made a heart rate connection. The computer can then be set to alert you with small vibrations for milestones such as distance traveled or laps completed. The main computer can also be used as a remote to control your other devices with its tap feature, allowing you to skip tracks or other features such as begin a lap or pause a workout (the action this command creates is set up in the app and can be different for each workout setting). Alerts play via headphones or speaker as you hit milestones and will tell you your average heart rate, pace and distance.
Heart Rate Tracking in Treadmill Mode
The Wahoo Tickr heart rate monitor has a designated workout setting for training indoors on the treadmill - so your hard work still counts. You can track your speed and distance just as accurately as if you were outdoors.
This heart rate monitor takes in far more than just your heartbeat, using a combined measure of body motion and impact shock in 3 directions.
Take the heart rate monitor out for a run or ride and review your route on the app with GPS for precise location and distance feedback.
Wahoo Tickr X Setup
Setting up the device is simple either partner the strap with your regular fitness watch for heart rate readings direct to your watch or for the full user experience download the Wahoo Fitness App. The Tickr X is also compatible with Wahoo apps Runfit and 7 minute workout, but the Fitness app is the Wahoo hub. Here after entering details such as age, weight and height your user is set up and you’re ready to go.
Selecting and creating a workout
Once you’re ready to go the Wahoo Fitness app already has pre-programmed workout modes:
- Indoor Bike
- Spin Class
You can then add your own workouts - for example, I’ve added Metafit and Workout DVD.
Starting a Workout with The Tickr X Heart Rate Strap
Once you’re ready to start a workout with the accompanying app, you simply strap together the monitor across your chest and press go, a woman with a bizarre accent - let's call her Miss Wahoo, will count you in 3,2,1 (always embarrassing when you’re at the gym and this comes out on speaker making it look like you count yourself in) and then you’re away.
Whilst training with the app you can scroll through numerous pages of statistics, I like to have the heart rate screen up throughout training (if I’m not running) to ensure I stay in the right zones throughout my workout. You can’t lie to your heart rate. You can also scroll through the app to skip through music, meaning you don't have to multitask through multiple apps. Simple.
Heart Rate Monitoring during Running
9 times out of 10, this heart rate strap was spot on, however setting up the strap correctly is essential. I’ve had two blips with the watch thus far: 1) Taking too deep a breath and pinging the strap off (which I clearly hadn’t fitted correctly anyway) and then flashing half the local neighbourhood mid run as I tried to lift my top up to do it back up - not wanting to miss tracking any valuable data of course! 2) Leaving the tap setting as skip track, meaning when I’m running and there’s a bit of bounce with the old bust, I’m skipping tracks every other footstep and my playlist sounds more like a stuck old record than my motivational playlist that gets me bouncing off the walls.
When the watch does work, it’s great, super effective and every mile or kilometre depending on your preference your overall time, pace and average heart rate are stated by Miss Wahoo, like your very own robotic PT. This is really useful as it means when running with a phone, you don’t need to keep unlocking the device to view your stats, just wait for Miss Wahoo to keep you updated.
Stand Alone Heart Rate Monitoring
Forgot your phone? Hate running with a device? No problem. This monitor works all by itself. Once the heart rate strap is clipped together, flashing lights signal it is recording and that’s all you need to do. When your workout is finished you can unclip the device and download the workout to the app the next time you have your phone and heart rate monitor strap together to view detailed feedback.
Wahoo Tickr X Heart Rate Accuracy
I’ve now worn this strap for multiple types of workout, from HIIT to kettlebells, battle ropes to running, spinning to boxing. Throughout all these workouts the strap has kept up well 95% of the time. When compared with the Mio Fuse, the heart rate picks up and drops far more in line with real-time, allowing more accurate data. It is also paired with my Wahoo Balance scales meaning that I can get the most precise data feedback, as my profile updates every time I weigh myself. The only difficulties I have with this strap and in fact, all heart rate straps, is when it comes to chest exercises, as the strap often inevitably loses connectivity, this is the nature of where you wear the device, so I don’t feel it’s a deal breaker.
Wahoo Tickr X Speed
The Wahoo X also has the ability to monitor your speed during indoor workouts such as spin, indoor cycle and on a treadmill. Whilst during spin, I found the strap and bike corresponded exactly on my speed, the treadmill would often think I wasn’t even moving - even i’m not that slow! It was an odd anomaly for the heart rate monitor, as with all other speed monitoring and outdoor running, it has been spot on.
Additional Wahoo Tickr X Features:
Double Tap Feature
The double tap feature allows you to control multiple aspects of your workout, from starting a new lap, to adding a bolt into your workout, or my personal favourite - skipping a track. A simple double tap to the chest and the strap skips you to the next track on your playlist, meaning you can have all your best tunes, without having to stop training to skip through them.
Resting Heart Rate
For those who want the most accurate readings, the watch can do a test on your resting heart rate. From this it can then deliver your specific workout intensity targets for each heart rate zone - rather than using your age as a guideline. I found this feature useful - although the app does not explain that the best time of day to do this is when you wake up - prior to any caffeine, so you get the most fair and accurate reading.
Wahoo Running Smoothness
The Wahoo running smoothness feature is a revolution in heart rate straps, as normally you would need to wear a foot pod or additional device to monitor stride and technique. After a running session the smoothness graph details your minimum, maximum and average smoothness, your left-right, right-left and up-down smoothness, ground contact and oscillation. This wide array of feedback is great for those training towards running goals such as a marathon or even triathlon and ironman. Whilst this detail and level of feedback is fantastic, I do feel Wahoo has missed a trick in not detailing how you can fix area’s of issue to improve your score, rather than adjust your technique and see how you go, I’d like to be told what a poor left-right score means and how this can be developed.
When you open the app you are presented with a four week summary of your training history, but the app also stores all your workouts in it’s history, so it is easy to review your progress as the weeks go by.
Wahoo 7 minute Workout
This little app sets you 7 minute challenges and tracks your reps as well. It’s a great tool for upping your daily burn without having to take a chunk out of your day, or even worry about counting reps!
Wahoo Tickr Heart Rate Monitor Review
Overall, this is so much more than a heart rate monitor, it’s a fitness monitor and delivers so much feedback which can be used to adjust and improve your workouts, whatever they may be. It’s simple, easy to get along with and provides accurate feedback.
This brand is aptly named, because you’ll be shouting WAHOO I’m so happy I found this heart rate monitor …
As a woman, it's ingrained in my DNA to instinctively fear just one thing more than spiders, snakes and clowns.
The body coach calls them ‘the sad step’, I think of them more as a torture device. An evil machine that calls me into the bathroom to make me miserable.
Before we start, no I haven’t lost a ton of weight recently and now love to jump on the scale to show off. My weight fluctuates and I can’t help but get obsessed with the numbers, but the Wahoo scale has given me a tool to help...
The Wahoo Balance scale has a very simple set up, which is great, especially for personal trainers, who may use the scale to track their clients - as there’s not that big intimidating amount of time setting up which can be daunting for a nervous client.
A simple snap of the back to add your batteries and a pop to the app store (metaphorically of course) to download the Wahoo Balance’s very own app ‘Wahoo Wellness’ and you’re ready.
A great feature of this scale - particularly for those in the leisure industry, is that the scale can hold the data of up to 20 separate users. This means trainers can add clients to the scale to track the weight. To add a user is simple, using the app you answer generic questions such as gender and date of birth. It is important to note that in order for the scale to recognise each individual, you need to enter a rough weight - this can be in a range of 10 kg of your actual weight, so it’s not hard to guess!
As a PT, this feature is great because you and your clients can download the app and have your progress graphed. A PT can easily open the app and swap between clients as and when they need to, all from one app and one scale.
Recording data using the balance scale is simple. In fact, you don’t actually even need to have your device and the app with you. Simply step on the scale and it will automatically detect your user, the display then shows your user initials to confirm who is present. If it’s not you scroll until you find your user! The scale then records your weight and BMI. This is stored on the scale itself and can be downloaded to the app at a later date.
Tracking your weight
This is the part I found most useful for my phobia of weighing myself - the way your weight is displayed. The Wahoo app downloads your weight entries into a graph. Here you can visibly see your weight, rise, or drop.
Why does that make the scale less frightening? Because it shows you the bigger picture. The graph is broken into the last 7 days, 30 days and 365 days. Now what this means is that you can focus on your weight across a larger amount of time, allowing a bad (or hormonal) week, to be compared easily with the rest of the month. Instead of being disheartened by readings that aren't perfect, you can contextualise that anomaly and look forward to putting it right next week - or at least trying!
Another good thing - the 7 day reading encourages you to weigh yourself only once every seven days. So for those who become obsessed with scales it tries to create a healthier relationship with weight.
As a personal trainer, I tend to sideline BMI. Why? Because muscle weighs more than fat of course! A person with under 10% bodyfat and a full on 8 pack can come out with an overweight BMI, believe me, I’ve seen it. However, as a ‘guideline’ it's a useful tool to measure whether your weight is healthy. Your BMI is stored with each time you enter you weight.
The weigh in:
- Easy to set up scales with up to 20 users.
- Simple and valuable data stored on the app and scale.
- Weight history stored in simple, easy to read graph.
- Auto - recognition. No fiddling around in the nude pressing buttons to find your user!
- BMI automatically calculated.
To ‘weigh things up’ here, I would recommend this scale as a simple, easy to use scale for multiple users that makes progress clear and less daunting.
If I could ask for anything more, it would be that the scales measured body fat. I’m very excited to see if Wahoo release a scale with this additional feature as this would be a game changer - especially for personal trainers!
You can purchase the scales here: Wahoo Balance Scales.
Read our other digital scale reviews.
Vibram and Vivobarefoot are probably the two biggest brands designed specifically for the barefoot runner, while other industry giants may have dabbled, these two are first and foremost barefoot brands.
In my experience, I’ve always found that those who train in barefoot or minimalist shoes, tend to like to tell you about it. They’ll scoff at your padding and wiggle their toes until they go blue in the face, but why are people so enthusiastic about being barefoot? Should we all be ditching the padding and reverting to a barefoot style shoe. It seems like in a world where technology is constantly advancing, the fitness industry is constantly trying to rewind history, first with the Paleo diet and now barefoot shoes!
Vibram vs Vivobarefoot
As a twenty-something female, when it comes to trainers, as much as I want function, I’m in it for the aesthetics. I want to look good in my trainers and wear them as casualwear as well as whilst I’m training. I would not wear either of these trainers as casualwear. Make no mistake, neither barefoot trainer blends into your workout wardrobe. They stand out. They create a reaction. People will stare. People will ask, are you prepared to answer? Once you’ve tried them, I bet you will be.
5 Finger KSO Evo
Sole: The hugging sole of the Vibrams is less than 5mm (so very very thin). The soles are made with the XS TREK technology that is said to provide traction, stability, comfort and durability. Although they are barely existent. The soles do feel like you are directly on the floor and I think combined with the fact you have no socks on, you’ll feel bare.
Lacing: The shoe fastens with a speed lace system, which features a toggle fastening. I rate the lacing system on these. It’s quick and easy and stays really secure. I often have to stop and re- adjust my laces, so this was a real bonus. The lace allows plenty of adjustment as well meaning it's suitable for both a wide and narrower foot.
The toes: This is where I struggled. The Vibram is designed with individual toes to mimic being barefoot as closely as possible, allowing each toe to grip individually and strengthen the toes. The difficulty here is that people’s toes are rather different. Some people have a longer second toe, some people have toes which decrease in size as they move down the foot and some people's toes just have a mind of their own. The toe sockets on the Vibram have the first and second toes as equal and then decrease in size. For me, this was no good, I have small toes and they didn’t manage to fill the sockets, leaving the empty space at the end which was annoying as well as uncomfortable.
The Vivobarefoot Stealth has a very flat sole, whereas the Vibram contours around your foot, the Vivobarefoot sits completely smooth against the ground. The trainers are very flexible and very lightweight. The toe box is really wide allowing plenty of room for your toes to wiggle about, but with this shoe they can do so whilst snug together in one box. The upper is seamless with the Vivobarefoots signature hexagon laminate upper, which allows breathability and endurance in one, plus it looks cool. I feel more protected in these than the five fingers, whilst remaining grounded.
When transitioning from a regular trainer to a barefoot running shoe, runners often experience pain. Why? It’s something other than what they're used to. Barefoot running requires different strengths and therefore both barefoot designers recommend a transitional period, starting with running short distances in their shoes while your muscles become accustomed to the new style.
Running in the Vibrams feels cool, granted I’ve only run for shorter distances so far, which is what is recommended as you transition, but I felt lighter, despite the lack of cushioning, I felt bouncier. Why’s this? Barefoot running forces you to run with better posture, landing on the front of your foot. Running over fields and other debris is fine as the sole of the shoe still has you covered. My path was reasonably clear but a few bits of rubble didn’t put me off, you can feel it, but it’s not painful.
Running in the Vivobarefoots felt equally as lightweight as the five fingers, but somehow a bit more protected. I think this is due to their design being more similar to what I’m used to, just having the comfort of all my toes working together, for me, was better. The wide toe box allows your forefoot to lead the way comfortably, whilst the tongue and laces ensure your foot isn’t slipping forward in the shoe. I also trained legs in these and found I could lift heavier and jump higher, being able to push off my heels rather than push into the cushioning of a regular trainer.
Both trainers are designed to be multi-purpose, I see coverts wearing Vibrams 24/7, not just for their gym session but for their daily food shop. Equally Vivobarefoot have a range of casual footwear for every occasion, with their barefoot sole design.
Vibram 5 Fingers
Heel to Toe Drop
Speed lace and toggle
£60 - 95
£50 - £90
Whilst both trainers put in a good performance on a barefoot run, personally I prefer my toes being together, call me old fashioned, but for me, this makes the Vivostealth my winner.
For anyone new to running in a minimalist shoe, I would recommend reading up on the benefits of barefoot running. Either of these shoes would be good to support your transition when changing to a barefoot running style, I would argue that there is no clear winner and your decision is going to be down to personal preference and finding which trainer has the best fit for your feet.
Minimalist Running Shoes
Sales of minimalist running shoes have grown into a $1.7 billion industry in the US. Sales of minimalist running shoes grew from $450,000 in 2006 to $59 million in 2012, and grew 303% from November 2010 through November 2012, compared to a 19% increase in the overall sales of running shoes during the same time period. In the summer of 2012, both Vibram and Adidas were sued in the United States regarding allegations of deceptive claims of increased training efficiency, foot strength, and decreased risk of injury resulting from use of their minimalist running shoes. These lawsuits follow on the heels of recent settlements by Skechers and Reebok with the Federal Trade Commission over claims that their barefoot shoes strengthen the body in ways no shoes ever had before.
Was that lap 31 or 32? Now with the Poolmate Two, you don’t have to worry.
Introducing the Poolmate 2, the perfect partner for any swimmer. This watch lives up to it’s name and then some, anywhere there’s water this watch will count your laps.
The watch itself is slender and fits snugly around even small wrists, the design is simple and effective allowing a secure and comfortable fit with a classic sports watch look. The blue band reminds me of old school swimming pool locker keys, (you know the ones some people pop around their ankle) I wonder if this was the purpose in its design?
The four simple buttons are easy to spot and press even when you are tired, slippery and wet. The buttons themselves aren’t waterproof, so it’s recommended you lift your wrist out of the water to use them, but I found I was doing that automatically anyway.
The Poolmate 2 is the new improved version of the original Poolmate with additional features such as speed and open water swim tracking. For those of you who are new to the Swimovate Poolmate watches, they offer tracking of laps, strokes, distance, speed, efficiency, duration, sets, rest time and calories burned.
The battery life of the Poolmate 2 is said to be extended from is predecessor and can now last up to 2 years. So I’ll keep you posted in 2018.
In the Pool
Setting up and using the Poolmate. The Poolmate setup is simple, strap up, select your pool size by pressing the up and down key and then push start. Once you're off you can then press up and down to view your stats in real time, push to pause and record drills (up to 99). Once your workouts over the latest stats are viewable with just one press, but also stored in your log for later viewing, making it easy to compare your progress over the last few sessions. Here you can also see your swim efficiency score, which has results that are explained in the watch manual.
To swim open water, you’ll first need to go for a calibration swim. This is a swim where the distance is already known. From this the watch can then make a distance prediction, like an in water pedometer, as to how far you’ve traveled. For more accurate tracking you’ll need a GPS sensor, but for the RRP of £70 this is a very useful feature for those brave enough to conquer a sea swim.
Out of water training
Out of water you can use the watch as a 99-lap stopwatch, so it’s great for sprint training and particularly triathletes, who have to switch between the two disciplines.
Up to 50 workouts
I can see why the call it Poolmate, this will be any swimmers new best friend.
Read more of our wearable reviews here.
Remember when you hurt yourself when you were younger and your mum would run to the medical cabinet, pull out a disney plaster (one of those ones that costs 3 times as much as a regular plaster) and just like magic you wouldn’t be hurt anymore?
Well, this is what I pictured would happen when I tried Kinesio tape.
What is Kinesio tape?
Kinesio taping is a form of taping muscles for rehabilitation defined by the sire as being able to: “facilitate the body’s natural healing process while providing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion as well as providing extended soft tissue manipulation to prolong the benefits of manual therapy administered within the clinical setting” - at least, according to their website.
What does Kinesio tape do?
The Kinesio site is filled with explanations of how this magic tape does it’s job, which in layman's terms, translates to the following:
By lifting the skin the tape aids with lymphatic drainage and reduces inflammation. The tape can be applied in hundreds of different ways and claims to have the ability to re-educate our neuromuscular system, reduce pain and inflammation, optimise performance, prevent injury, promote good circulation and healing and assist in returning the body to homeostasis ie. normal.
Dr. Kenzo Kase developed the Kinesio Taping Method in the 1970s whilst looking for a way to aid the body’s natural healing process and prolong the benefits of his treatments, after his patients left the office. He worked as a chiropractor in Tokyo and founded the tape in 1980. In interviews he has insinuated that the tape became more popular in Tokyo as there they are more open to alternative medicine such as massage and acupuncture. Since it became readily available to buy in 1983, the tape’s popularity has grown from strength to strength, with tape being used to support the olympics, by sports celebrities such as Gareth Bale, David Beckham and Claire Steels and a Kinesio University has even been opened.
A little research
If you try to find research around Kinesio taping, you’ll go one of two ways, there is no sitting on the fence here. Either you think that there is not a significant enough amount of research supporting the tape and it is just another fitness fad, or you think Kinesio tape is a fitness fix and wear the tape without fail over tired, injured muscles or muscles at risk to prevent damage and support your sport.
Here are some of the studies which have been conducted:
Two studies on Kinesio Tex showed some short-term effect. A study of 42 patients with shoulder pain, published in 2008 in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, found that range of motion improved immediately after application of kinesiology tape, compared with a sham taping using no tension. But the study found no significant difference in pain or overall disability scores.
A study on 41 patients with whiplash after car accidents found statistically significant pain relief and improvements in range of motion with kinesiology taping compared with a sham tape. The effects were seen immediately and continued a day later. In the paper, the Spanish-led research team said the changes were so small they "may not be clinically meaningful." Kinesio Holding, which didn't fund either study, said a limitation of the shoulder study is that the kinesiology taping wasn't customised to each patient's injury.
As studied are few and far between, it is hard to be conclusive purely based upon scientific evidence.
As with anything that gains a bit of momentum, there are many copycats of the Kinesio tape, however the original tape has distinctive features which make it easy to spot a fake.
The Kinesio Tex tape is designed to mimic the epidermis of the skin, with the same thickness in the aim to attach to your skin causing as little distraction as possible. The tapes fibers are designed to stretch between 40-60% of their resting length, which is the approximate stretch potential of areas of your skin such as the knee and lower back.
The adhesive strips on the tape are created in wave patterns to mimic fingerprints. The tape is porous and waterproof, designed to be gentle on the skin and remain breathable at all times.
The tape can be applied in a variety of ways to aid rehabilitation, once applied the tape lasts between 2 - 3 days depending on the affected area.
Kinesio regularly host courses on how to apply the tape and it is recommended you attend a course before applying the tape, however it is not seen as essential and there are plenty of helpful videos and guides available online.
Putting Kinesio tape to the test
Last month was father’s day. Father’s day in my house means a family run. Joy. So my dad, the marathon runner, my sister, the school sprinter and myself, the weight lifter, set off on our run, I wonder who the weakest link is? I kept up for the first half, until on a downhill mini sprint to attempt to keep up with the others, I gloriously toppled over and had to hobble back to the road for a lift home. It’s been a beauty of an injury, sitting just above the ankle I found myself a high ankle sprain. I’d just started running daily, that stopped. I went on holiday wearing a support. Let me tell you, it has been bleak. It has now been five weeks of resting, exercising around the injury and icing when possible. So when I discovered Kinesio tape, I was praying it was going to be the adult alternative to one of those magic disney plasters.
Last week I received my Kinesio tape and I’ve been looking forward to reviewing it it ever since. I am a sceptical person, so following my online research I decided to take the approach of ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’. I’ll be the first to admit I’m desperate to get back to training normally and yes, I am looking (hoping and praying) for a miracle. Has the Kinesio tape given me one? Well, a miracle maybe not, but, I do feel better for wearing it.
Firstly, the tape is easy to apply and stays on easily for two days, including multiple showers. In fact, the only reason I actually pulled my first tape off was to check for tan lines, shameless. The tape sits comfortably and is easy to forget about.
Things the tape is good for:
Support: I swapped my tubigrip for kinesio tape for most of the day where I’m not putting any extra stress on my ankle and it felt really supported. It was far more comfortable to have on than a thick tubigrip between my foot and my trainer and still felt like it was holding my foot in place. However, I’m still far from being able to run, so no miracle cure.
Inflammation: For the last five weeks I have had a cankle. My ankle has stayed swollen despite ice pretty much from day one, when you compare the two side by side, one is at least a third bigger than the other. After applying the Kinesio taping the inflammation has reduced considerably and the ankle actually looks - as well as feels, less swollen.
Range of movement: Since the nurse confirmed my suspicion that I’d damaged the tendons in my ankle, I’ve been avoiding moving my ankle too much where possible. When the tape is applied, gentle movement of the ankle is far less painful, which is a benefit of the tape.
Pain relief: Another function of the tape was said to be pain relief. When I wake up in the morning and first apply the tape, I do feel a great sense of relief, but as the day goes on the aches gradually increase. Now, arguably this could simply be the toll of my daily activity, but the pain relief from the tape does seem to be initially quite significant and then slowly subside.
Overall, I think for me, the Kinesio tape has been a hit and after a week wearing it I will continue to do so. I think that proper application is critical to how well the tape works and that to get the most of the tape it really would be worth investing in going on one of their courses, something I would love to do in the future.
Am I going to give you a conclusive yes no answer as to whether the tape works or not? Of course not. For me personally, I felt better with it, be that a placebo effect or otherwise. Taping has been used to aid recovery by physiotherapists for years and whether there’s enough research to support it or not, if an athlete feels better prepared by wearing the tape, where’s the harm in that?