Are you into High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts? Trying to up your game? Don’t mind a robotic voice nagging you to move faster? Don’t care if you look like a 1980s fashion victim at the gym? Then the new Moov HR Sweat ($100) was made for you.
Moov HR Sweat differs from wristband devices that track your heart rate, like Fitbit Charge 2 or Apple Watch. Instead, Moov’s product features a quarter-sized sensor that slips into a silicon rubber case, which itself is tucked inside a headband. Yes, a headband. I’ll come back to that in a minute.
Why wear a sensor on your forehead? The head gives the most accurate optical measurements for workouts based on blood density, according to Moov. The company worked with the University of California San Francisco’s performance lab and says its heart-rate readings compared favorably to the university’s EKG tests.
Based on my tests, here’s a profile of the ideal Moov HR Sweat buyer.
1. You’re hyper-focused on HIIT workouts. Moov HR Sweat is designed to work with Moov’s HIIT workouts, which are accessible in the free Moov app for iOS and Android. (As of this writing, the Android app hadn’t yet been updated to support Moov HR Sweat.)
Moov HR Sweat doesn’t currently non-HIIT workouts, such as on an elliptical machine or brisk walking.
2. You’re trying to up your game. Safely increasing your heart rate during workouts is a great way to improve your health. If that’s what you’re after, Moov HR Sweat may be for you, as the app’s virtual coach coaxes you when to step up your pace to increase your heart rate, or slow down to decrease it.
3. You don’t mind a robotic voice nagging you. Another Moov HR Sweat differentiator is the app’s robotic voice that pushes you during HIIT workouts, offering guidance based on current heart rate readings.
The voice — which has none of the sass of a Siri or Alexa, sadly — tells you if you’re in, say, heart-rate zone 2 but need to be in zone 4. It didn’t take long for me, someone who doesn’t like being told what to do, to get irritated. (I’ve never taken a boot camp fitness class and seriously doubt I ever will.) But I could see how others might find the heart rate feedback motivating. I did workout harder, in fact, because of the voice prompts.
4. You don’t care if you look like an 80s nerd. I’m as image-conscious as the next person. And there’s no way I’m wearing a large headband to the gym. No one is going to tap me on the shoulder and say, “Hey dude, the 1980s called and wants its headband back.”
So, at the gym, I wore a loose-fitting baseball cap, which partially obscured the big Moov headband underneath. Heads up, though: the combo gave me a headache that lasted several hours.
For serious athletes only
Moov HR Sweat is a specialty activity tracker/virtual coach for serious athletes focused on HIIT, vs. people who want an all-day/night tracker. The heart-rate performance data it delivers is detailed. Heart-rate readings looked accurate, though they occasionally jumped dramatically, as if the sensor was trying to catch up with me.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.