Last month we looked at what exercisers think of heart rate monitors and how you can increase your revenue by using them. This month I'll give you a list of things clubs must do and my top picks for heart rate models.

The real news is that the new generation of heart rate monitors perform a variety of functions — everything from measuring stroke ventilation to caloric expenditure to fatigue level. Monitors are for everyone from those looking to lose weight to athletes who need to know when to take a rest day. This is where motivated trainers and your sales staff either see a big opportunity or become overwhelmed.

Although ingrained in many club cultures, to “net out” heart rate monitoring is still not used as maximally as it could be. You are leaving your members with an underutilized tool and the ability to connect with them more frequently if you don't take advantage of effective heart rate programs.

This is a short list of things that leading-edge clubs and their fitness staffs must do to delight clients and advance their progress using heart rate monitors:

  • Explore creating manufacturer relationships where you and your trainers recommend and sell monitoring devices. Bundle training services that include interpreting heart rate information as part of an overall program.
  • Include training sessions with your fitness staff to teach them how to use this technology, and teach your members the same. Training should be tied to selling and executing additional programs.
  • Strongly consider using the downloadable features that heart rate monitors provide with your trainers and their clients. Having computer kiosks that your trainers and clients can use drives participation and results.
  • Use this information as a way to sell additional training services, and have your trainers provide guidance and “touch” with their clients when they are not in your club by services such as Web and phone coaching.
  • Consider bundling coaching and monitoring services that follow your members when they are traveling or exercising in non-traditional situations away from your club.
  • Develop heart rate monitoring programs for group classes that use heart rate monitors that you sell to your members as part of an overall objective.

Although not the only choices in this emerging category, the following heart rate monitors are two examples of monitoring devices (sometimes called wrist top computers) that our coaches and clients tested. Both have many features, but I'll concentrate on those our users felt were most useful to end users.

SUUNTO

Suunto, a Finnish company, works with world-class athletes and has a full line of wrist top computers for outdoor athletes. The feature that our testers liked best was perhaps the simplest — a large, readable display. Their new t6 has some unique features including:

  • Ability to estimate an exerciser's oxygen and energy consumption
  • Telemetric heart rate monitoring
  • Graphing of training effect
  • Alarms for target heart rate ranges
  • Heart rate ventilation
  • Respiratory rate
  • Excess post exercise consumption
  • Temperature, altitude

POLAR ELECTRO INC.

Long the leading player in wireless heart rate devices for athletes and exercisers, Polar is another Finnish company. Polar provides a variety of models for beginning exercisers to outdoor athletes, including adventure-racing enthusiasts. Polar is also the choice for many manufacturers that include heart rate monitoring in their aerobic equipment.

We like Polar products because they continue to respond to user needs. For instance, their new M61, which we tested, included features such as:

  • A comfortable chest receiver system
  • “Own Zone” to personalize your training zone and caloric expenditure
  • Fitness bullets to remind you to stay within a zone for a length of time
  • An alarm that reminds you of scheduled exercise
  • Information downloadable to a computer and/or coach
  • Add-on capabilities, including a bike-mounted cadence and power meter

Polar has also launched a computer system called Body Age that allows customized testing and programming for personal trainers and their clients. This can be used as a tool to recommend and sell additional sessions and even nutritional products.

By providing devices such as these to your members, you can help improve their workouts, increase their enjoyment of exercising and elevate your status from just a place to workout to a sage of state-of-the-art techniques and provider of leading-edge equipment.


Gregory Florez is CEO of FitAdvisor Health Coaching Services and First Fitness Inc., which was recently rated as the No. 1 health coaching online training service by The Wall Street Journal. He and his team have provided training and coaching to companies, individuals and the fitness industry for 21 years. They also provide product and technology reviews for consumers and the fitness industry. He can be contacted at gregory@fitadvisors.com.