The benefit of attending a group fitness class is you don’t need to plan what to do during your workout as that’s what the instructor is for. Your instructor has already thought through every section of your workout, saving you time and energy. Your instructor will warm you up, encourage you to push yourself and rally you to finish strong.
Although your instructor can tell you what to do, they can’t tell you the exact intensity you personally need to exert to get results. Your instructor can’t tell you how much harder you need to push in your HIIT class to get into the red zone. Your instructor can’t tell you when you need to ease up to get back into the fat-burning zone. What can tell you how hard you need to train is your heart rate.
Monitoring your heart rate can help you ensure every group fitness experience is safe, effective and efficient.
One key to improving your fitness is to ensure you’re mixing up your routine and exercising at different intensity levels. Training at the same intensity during every class is like being on a hamster wheel – you won’t get anywhere. Your fitness, aerobic capacity, and endurance won’t improve in a meaningful way and you may make yourself more susceptible to injury, sickness or overtraining.
High intensity and low intensity classes serve a different, but equally important, purpose in your fitness routine. Regardless of the type of class, the key is you get the exercise benefit you’re aiming for. And the only reliable way to know this is to use a heart rate monitor to measure the intensity of your efforts.
If you aren’t tracking your heart rate during a class, you may think you did a high intensity session based on perceived effort, when in reality your heart rate never got to a zone to give you that cardio load benefit. When you monitor your heart rate, you can ensure you work out at the intensity you intend and then use that data to plan your next workout accordingly.
Today, most watches with wrist-based heart rate tracking will give you real-time feedback on the intensity of your workout so you can adjust your effort right in the middle of a class.
So, the next time your instructor says, “This is the easy part before we really start putting in the work,” make sure you have enough gas in the tank to finish the class. Monitor your heart rate in real-time so you know if you need to pull back your effort, or if you can afford to push just a little more.
Elizabeth Walsh is the director of marketing for Polar USA. To learn more about incorporating heart rate technology into your campus rec facility, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit polar.com/polarclub.