Summer prep starts now… this week #SWEATtheHB

by: Amy Frankenthaler

Happy Spring HBers! During the long winter months, we have a tendency to put our good workout habits on hold. Its finally time to break that cabin fever and come tunneling out of our snow forts with a healthy vengeance. Before you start freaking out about bikini season, you have to remember one very important thing: You must walk before you run. We’re going to use the HB mantra to offer stepwise advice on getting and staying fit… ‘Sweat, Inspire, Transform, Raise the Bar!’

This week let’s SWEAT. We at the Handle Bar are here to help especially when it comes to helping you kick some booty! It’s amazing how far a good SWEAT will take you.. its simple but impactful. Don’t be afraid to get drenched in your next class, we promise you’ll feel powerful.

First things first, plan your week ahead. Do you know what your schedule is like for the upcoming week? Why not schedule in some HB classes, gym time, extra walking and/or running time? So let’s treat your well-being like your job and make it a priority. Schedule your SWEAT sessions like you would your work meetings and stick to your plan. You are the priority!

Here’s a question for you: During your ride are you truly challenging yourself? This week let’s challenge ourselves to dial the resistance a little further, and find that sweet spot where the rhythm meets the road and you’re barely hanging on! This is where the magic happens. Every Handle Bar instructor crafts the songs to challenge you and make you SWEAT. A big part of the experience is letting go and enjoying the ride. Let the instructor take the wheel as you close your eyes and feel the BEAT. Don’t fight the challenge, embrace it and let it drive you. Don’t just find the rhythm and stay there.. battle with every pedal stroke to better yourself. More resistance means more results.

Having trouble? Challenge a friend! Challenge us! When you know someone else is holding you accountable, you are more likely to show up, push yourself, and SWEAT more!! We challenge you to come to one additional HB class this week, go for that longer walk/run, do that extra crunch or burpee…whatever it might be, do more, SWEAT more, and be the best you… We are in this together, so let’s SWEAT together!

Have an inspiring SWEATY selfie at The Handle Bar this week? Don’t forget to tag us in it @the_handle_bar, #SWEATtheHB. Best pic wins a 5 class pack!

Sweaty Selfie

The HB Team weighs in on live music and what it means to them

Our riders know just how important music is to us, and to our ride. The entire ride hinges on the tunes that we play. We know we can rely on certain artists for that crazy sprint, or another artist for that deep silent climb. And of course…the beat is everything.

A ride at the HB is an adrenaline fueled cardio party. We move, we sweat, we listen, we laugh and we become inspired. We work hard to play hard and it just so happens that our play time feels a lot like an HB class. One way we let loose is to rock out at live shows. A few members of the HB team have weighed in on their live music experiences, favorite shows, and what keeps them going back for more.

Tell us about the last show you attended

sarah m: Lena and I went to go see my favorite DJ – the EC Twins at Julep. I have been following them for years, and turned some of our other instructors on to them as well. Every time I have seen them, the crowd is SO into and so amped.

lena: Odesza in Portland, ME at Portland City Music Hall. Electronic sound, heavy live percussion, and beautiful light shows! I went with some of the HB crew, Cara, Maura, and Danelle! I was riding a bike in my mind the whole time HA! It was amazing.

lisa: The last concert I attended was Zac Brown Band at Fenway last summer.  It was amazing.  ZBB is such a fun concert to go to and I love the vibes that country shows give off.  My fiance and I had field seats, but we actually moved up to some seats in the stadium and spent the concert hanging out and enjoying our drinks.  it was a perfect summer night.  We are actually going again this summer when ZBB comes back Aug. 8.
Julie: Betty Who in New York City – she is a friend of mine from when she was living in Boston when she attended Berklee College of Music. To see her growth from when I first met her to now is amazing. She deserves all her success! When “Somebody Loves You” first played in an HB class, it was pretty cool.
Julie and friend/artist Betty Who

Julie and friend/artist Betty Who

In your opinion how does music bring people together?

lena: Music is universal. A sheet of music can be distributed to musicians around the world and be understood. Music is meant to be shared to bring people together culturally, artistically, emotionally. My experiences singing in a cappella groups over the past 6 years have brought me together with amazing people I probably would not have met without music. Basically, music is EVERYTHING.

sarah m: It’s kind of cool to think that you’re in this large venue with hundreds or even thousands of strangers, but you all at least have one thing in common – the love for whoever is performing.

jess: music is the language of the soul! It is understood and enjoyed without discrimination to all who listen. There is something so unique about listening to a song that you love and sharing that love with those around you, including total strangers!

What was your fondest memory at a concert or festival?

lena: My best friends from college (go UCSB GAUCHOS!) and I attended Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, CA for 4 years. It was some of the best memories of my life. We camped outside in the desert, stayed up all night dancing under the palm trees and stars, and enjoyed amazing bands from electronic, to rock, hip hop, indie electronic, folk, bluegrass, rap, pop, and more. Every year I left with a passion for a new artist, lasting memories, strengthened friendships, and in need of a long hot shower!
sarah m: The Krewella concert at The House of Blues back in the fall of 2013 when all the HB instructors went together. Lena and I somehow pushed our way to the front near the stage for the last song. The next thing I know, we are both up on some random guys’ shoulders holding hands and screaming and signing at the top of our lungs. It was hilarious and the Red Sox won the world series that same night. I hate to use the word epic, but it really was!
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Jess, Lena, and Sarah M at Krewella – Halloween ’13

jess: Seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Lollapalooza in 2012. It was the last show of the day, an enormous crowd, a sunset over Chicago, and a group of friends I’ll never forget. They played all of their hits and the joy in the air was so full you could feel it!

Jess at Lollapalooza in 2012

Jess at Lollapalooza in 2012

In your opinion what qualities make for a great show?

lisa: It doesn’t matter if I know every song the band is playing or not, the best experiences come from spending time with my friends.
lena I am ALL about vocal quality. If the artist can sing and make my heart beat to the sound of their voice it takes it to another level for me. Also, the artists energy. I love when you can tell that an artist is so in love with their own music and craft. If they are into it and connecting their music with the audience, it is something very special.
sarah m: Definitely when the crowd is into it. I love when there is good energy and everyone is singing along and dancing together.
The crows at Krewella - House of Blues 2013

The crows at Krewella – House of Blues 2013

Concert vs an HB class… to you, how are they alike?

julie: I love how at a concert and at a HB class you can “feel” the music. When Lena tells you to close your eyes on a heavy hill and just listen to the music, it’s awesome. I feel like that same feeling when you don’t focus on anything but the music happens at a concert, too. I love that!
amy: When an instructor puts together a perfect “set” and the crowd of riders as swaying as one, to me that is like a concert in the spin studio. The rhythm and beat are infectious. That is the HB experience. The HB community thrives off the energy and positivity of not only the instructors, staff, but each other.
cara: being in the moment and enjoying the awesome sounds, good people, and overall positive vibe of people around the world coming together to enjoy the same passion. When I think about it, these elements are really similar to what I try to create in a handle bar class– pretty cool!!
How do you enjoy music outside of the HB bike room? We’d love to hear your stories!

Get out there, dance hard, live it up, you deserve it.

Congratulations Anthony! Our Rider of the Month

A Fenway Ride-Or-Die staple, Anthony has been a Handle Bar regular since we opened. His fun-loving nature makes our mornings brighter and our evenings lighter. An incredibly strong rider, we recently asked Anthony to audition for our instructor training program! But alas, he is taking is infectious energy to New York City at the end of the month.. and he WILL be missed. Congrats Anthony, and keep riding!

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Tell us a little about you – where are you from? What do you do in your free time? What is your fitness background/music background, what in your path drew you to the Handle bar?
Originally, I’m from Sleepy Hollow (yes, that Sleepy Hollow), New York. I moved up to Boston to work in consulting,

where I’ve mostly concentrated on healthcare litigation. When I’m not working, exercising, or sleeping, I am often singing and playing the guitar. I’m also an amateur bartender/mixologist, so I like to try out drinks for my friends over the weekends!
I’ve done group exercise classes ever since High School, where cycling and weight-lifting helped me get in shape. I also ran track occasionally, but was never very good at it. I got into lifting and fitness programs more seriously during college, and found theHandle Bar after moving to Boston and wanting to try a new fitness experience.
Musically, I have been singing, playing guitar, and playing cello for as long as I can remember. I used to be in a few a Cappella groups and choirs in college, and definitely miss singing in groups. That music-driven group energy is probably one of the things that drew me to the Handle Bar!

What other communities are you a part of? Social groups, volunteering, athletics, hobbies?

I helped found my company’s Outing Club, and I’ve planned hiking and kayaking trips. I have also joined my company’s recreational soccer league. Besides those, mainly just hanging out with friends.

What inspires you? In fitness and in life?

I think my biggest inspiration is that we can constantly improve. In fitness, and in all aspects of our lives, we can reject that we are at a “plateau,” and push ourselves to do more, better.

What’s your favorite way to retox after a long week?

When I’m not making cocktails for my friends, I love to go out for drinks on the weekends. Whether it’s a casual night of conversation or a night of dancing, I love to get out of the apartment.

Do you have a favorite class at The Handle Bar?

Oh, don’t make me choose! I love so many of the instructors, that choosing a single class is impossible. I totally love all of the Bar Fights I’ve been to…especially the RL Grime/ODESZA one that was on my birthday! But Throwback Thursdays are also so good!

What is your favorite music to spin to?

Dubstep, trap, and anything electronic is awesome. But more than that, I love songs with strong beats that the whole room can get into!

What is your favorite music to party to?

It depends. If I’m throwing a party, I love to put as many throwbacks as possible on the list, but when I’m going out, I love to dance to house, trance, or anything else with with a beat.

To chill to?

Anything that doesn’t have words…classical music or Explosions in the Sky.

What motivates you?

I like to compete, be it with my friends in sports, or myself while working out or solving a problem. I like to try new things and find new experiences.

Anything exciting happening to you this week?

I just found out that I got a job in NYC! It’s very exciting but very sad. I don’t want to leave the Handle Bar community, but it’s a very hard opportunity to pass up.

Anything else to add?

To everyone who hasn’t yet taken a class at the Handle Bar: what are you waiting for?! To all those who have: go up and talk to theinstructors after class, and all of the staff! They’re nice, funny, and totally awesome. Plus, shout-out to Cara for dealing with my seemingly endless list of song requests!

Post Pregnancy Fitness: a Q & A with Sarah Maguire

Handle Bar instructor Sarah Maguire had a beautiful baby boy on December 28th of last year!  8 weeks later and she’s ready to get back on the schedule.

They say that integrating fitness all the way through a pregnancy is the best way to bounce back fast… Let’s hear how this wonder woman is doing and just how she’s been adding The HB back into her schedule!

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Sarah and Liam

 

 How long up until your delivery did you workout?

I taught my last class on December 23rd and gave birth December 28th!

How frequently and at what intensity were your workouts?

By the end I was barely teaching on the bike, it was impossible to instruct and ride at the same time, I was completely out of breath. Besides, tapping it back at 9 months pregnant looked absolutely ridiculous! I was still able to enjoy other instructor’s classes though, and I was doing a lot of walking towards the end as well.

When you had Liam, how long did it take you to even THINK about spinning again?

I think I started to get the itch to workout again about 3 weeks after I had him, not so much teaching, but I definitely missed the studio and the atmosphere.

Were you ready mentally before you were physically? Describe your energy level post pregnancy.

I think I was mentally ready before physically. I just wanted to get out of the house and escape, the snow didn’t make things any easier, the cabin fever was real. Even though I was mentally ready, I was absolutely exhausted. Nothing can prepare you for the lack of sleep. I was a zombie, I truly don’t really remember those first few weeks, it’s all a blur.

 What kind of changes took place in your body the weeks following labor? (spare the TMI facts!)

Haha, well since we have to keep this PG, I would say the biggest change I have noticed is my lack of core strengthnow. It’s slowly coming back, but at first I had trouble pulling myself up to a sitting position.

What did the doctor recommend as far as getting back into fitness?

My doctor spins too! So she knew how important it was for me to get back into the swing of things. She supported me throughout my entire pregnancy and urged me to workout as soon as she gave me the OK and as soon as I felt ready.

What did you miss more, teaching or riding?

I think I really just missed being at the studio in general and seeing all of my regular riders, fellow instructors and the HB staff. I have been lucky enough to take a lot of other instructor’s classes these last few weeks and it has really made me remember what I love so much about spinning in general. It’s so nice to be able to get a really workout out and enjoy a class with the best teachers in the city. With that being said, I am definitely getting ready to start teaching again, I have been “stealing” ideas from my teammates!

What was your first class back like?

Haha, well I knew I wanted to get back in the saddle, I knew I was ready. Elise texted me and was basically like, “You. Me. Lena’s 4:30 class today“. Long story short, my ass was handed to me and it felt amazing.

How has the arm series been?

Honestly, that has been the most challenging part! I took about a month off and I feel like I lost all my upper body strength! Sarah C’s arm portion was especially brutal the other night, still feeling that one.

How do you manage to get away from home long enough to fit in a class?!

Daddy day care! I give my husband 24 hour notice that I want to spin. I’m like, “I am spinning at 5:30 tomorrow so clear your schedule and make sure you’re home”. I am lucky, he has been really supportive of me getting back in shape.

Do you think your class style will change at all after this big life addition?

Do you mean, will I start to be more conscious of my potty mouth and playing less house music? Nope, probably not! If anything, I see myself being more present in those 45 minutes, teaching at the Handle Bar is a privilege. Not to mention those 45 minutes may be the only time I get to myself that day!

Sarah wants to lose 8 more pounds to return to her pre-pregnancy for a total of 33 lost. We’re both confident she’ll melt those last few inches in our bike room in no time at all:)

Congrats to our HBingo winners!

Over two of the snowiest weeks Boston has ever seen, us folks at The Handle Bar hosted a challenge – HBingo!

Riders had 14 days to complete a row of the HBingo card (it wasn’t easy) to win 1 week of unlimited riding. SIX dedicated (and fearless of the snow) riders completed the challenge by finishing at least 1 row or column on the bingo board. Congratulations to:

Kym Murray

Erica Mellone

Corinne Nagle

Jenna Swymeler

Emily Lawless

And we’re in awe of our HBingo winner who completed a bingo and much more. With 14 finished squares our HBingo winner wins 1 month of free riding!

Erin Horgan

Check out her finished card below! Great work everyone, and happy riding.

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Turn it up Tuesday with Sarah C!

Sarah updates our Turn it Up Tuesday playlist on Spotify EVERY week! New, fresh, unique songs are getting added to the playlist and we want you to tune in!

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By: Sarah Coppinger

There are a couple things I depend on to keep me toasty during days like this – a killer spin class, coffee and super steamy tunes. Lucky for me (and YOU), the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack just came out. The sizzle is real, guys.
With my 50 Shades themed class coming up on Friday (shameless plug cough cough sign up for my class! Or Cara’s if you’re in Fenway!) I’ve been listening to these songs on repeat. Annie Lennox, The Weeknd, Ellie Goulding…fiery hot, my friends.
Here are some of my favorite tunes keeping me warm this week. Follow the playlist to hear more every Tuesday!

Congratulations to Josie, our rider of the month!

Just in time for her birthday, we’re celebrating Josie – our rider of the month! Congrats and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you, Josie!
Josie has been a loyal HB rider and supporter since August. Her enthusiasm and infectiousness is what we’re all about.. so we thought she deserved the spotlight this month! Our Bar Staff and instructors know and love her… she even crafted a hand-knit hat for our manager, Maura! Helping us stay warm with hats and positivity, Josie is a pleasure to have in the studio. Her online support of The HB in the social media world is not overlooked, and we can’t thank her enough for sharing the HB mission and spirit with her own friends and followers. Congratulations Josie!
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Everyone has their own unique fitness journey. What has your journey been like with spinning?
One of my best friends had been spinning for years and she never shut up about it.  When another friend in the neighborhood suggested trying out one of the recess rides at The Handle Bar over the summer- I caved and tried it out.  I think it was with Jess- and I loved it!  I knew I needed something to become addicted to – this was it.   I now try to go about five times a week.  Many friends have joined The Handle Bar and we now go together!
 
You’re extremely active on social media – what inspires that? Do you have any favorite follows to share with us on Twitter/Insta?
I have always been extremely outgoing in real life and it has spilled onto social media. I worked in public relations before teaching – and have always made strong connections with all kinds of people.  Everyone I follow is my favorite- but I especially love looking at photos of food… and paintings.. and crafts… and vacations.. and animals…
What did you do for fitness prior to joining the studio?
I didn’t do anything.   I had only lifted the remote control.  The last time I hustled was for last call at the bar.   This is truly the only time I’ve ever done any exercise in my life.  My family and friends are shocked.
What other communities are you a part of in Boston? Social groups, volunteering, athletics, hobbies?
 I am a BPS teacher so I feel like I am surrounded by work for 10 months out of the year.  I love reading (old school only!), my two rescue dogs, trying out new restaurants, knitting, and I can’t wait to roast on the beach this summer.
What’s your favorite way to retox after a long week?
After a long week, I try to make a spin class, and grab cheap buckets of beers with my friends at a dive bar. 
Or, I attempt to go to spin, then take a nap and I never wake up.
Do you have a favorite class at The Handle Bar?
I can’t choose a fave- everyone is so good and different!  I have become used to attending Elise’s Saturday, a double with Rachel on Sundays.. I squeeze in everyone else during the week whenever my work schedule allows it.  I look forward to Sarah coming back too!
What is your favorite music to spin to?
Top 40s, with a few old school throwbacks mixed in. 
What motivates you?
Thinking about summer vacation.
What words do you live by?
I need to look back and find a cheesy quote on my Instagram……. Couldn’t find one.. So I’ll just put some lyrics I like– 
“i’m not all bad, but i’m a faithful sinner,
i might get lost, but i’ll be home for dinner,”
Anything fun planned for the weekend?
It’s my birthday the 9th! I am heading to NYC on the 14th with my three best friends.
Anything else to add?
Just a big thank you to Jess who thought of me and everyone who is has been so friendly.  If you’re thinking about trying out a class, I definitely recommend it- you’ll be hooked!  Say HI!

Sweat away that cabin fever!

bike-in-the-snowSnowed in? Cabin fever already have you feeling stir crazy? Well, don’t fret! We’re hosting a Juno ride tonight at 5pm in our Southie studio for all of our riders who live within walking distance and can safely get to and from the studio. We’re all about getting our sweat on, even though the snow is piling up outside. But remember, safety first, HBers!

Can’t leave your home safely but still want to get your sweat on? Try this at-home tabata style training workout that’ll leave you sweaty and ready for your next HB ride…or to start shoveling:

Circuit 1 (4 minutes):

  • 20 second mountain climbers
  • 10 second rest
  • 20 second squat jumps
  • 10 second rest
  • Keep repeating until the 4 minutes are up!

Circuit 2 (4 minutes):

  • 20 second jumping jacks
  • 10 second rest
  • 20 second spider style elbow taps (assume high plank position, alternate tapping your left knee to left elbow and right knee to right elbow)
  • 10 second rest
  • Keep repeating until the 4 minutes are up!

Circuit 3 (4 minutes):

  • 20 seconds speed skaters
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds burpees
  • 10 seconds rest
  • Keep repeating until the 4 minutes are up!

Circuit 4 (4 minutes): 

  • 20 seconds jump rope (with or without actual jump rope)
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds split squats (jumping lunges, alternating legs)
  • 10 seconds rest
  • Keep repeating until the 4 minutes are up!

Repeat the entire workout 1 time through for a serious calorie and fat burn – all in less than 35 minutes!

Before you start that at-home workout or head out to the HB, put on a pot of this hearty Kale and Potato Soup (assuming you stocked up on Kale, just like those smart New Yorkers did pre-blizzard, causing a city-wide shortage of kale). But on the real, this soup is a perfect post-workout blizzard meal because ingredients can easily be substituted (spinach for kale, turkey for chicken, etc.) and it’s packed chock-full of protein and hearty veggies.

Kale and Potato Soup with Turkey Sausage (recipe courtesy of skinnytaste.com)
Servings: 6 • Size: 1 2/3 cups
Calories: 232 Fat: 4 g Carb: 31 g Fiber: 5.5 g Protein: 19 g Sugar: 3 g
Sodium: 647 mg (varies by brand of broth used)

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz reduced fat Italian chicken or turkey sausage
  • 8 cups (1/2 batch) kale, stems removed, leaves shredded
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water 
  • 3 medium red potatoes, peeled diced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 pinch dried red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  • In a large Dutch oven or pot, cook sausage over medium-low heat. Turn and cook until brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from pot, let cool and cut into thin slices.
  • Add oil to pot, add onions and carrots; cook on medium until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  • Add broth, water and black pepper, bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Add cooked sausage, potatoes, red pepper flakes and bring back to a simmer. Cook covered for about 4 minutes. Add kale and bring back to a simmer. 
  • Cook partially covered until the potatoes and kale are cooked, about 5-6 minutes. Adjust salt if needed.

Hopefully we’ll be back in the saddle all day tomorrow, but for the most up to date info, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Stay safe, stay warm, stay sweaty! 

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Bar-re hop with us this Sunday!

Cross-training. Muscle confusion. Variety. Whatever you want to call it, switching up your workout is key to seeing the results you want and to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. At The HB, we firmly believe in the power of and results from riding 3-5 times a week, but we also know that it’s important to change up our workouts and constantly keep our muscles guessing. A ride at The HB will torch calories and strengthen arms, but we cannot stress the importance of adding a complementary workout (or two!) during the week. Barre, yoga, and weight training are all workouts that lengthen and build muscle, respectively, and are the perfect complement to all the calories burned from tapping it back and partying with us at The HB.

barre hopFor us, the value of cross training is undeniable. That’s why we’re so excited to co-host the first ever Bar-re hop, this Sunday, January 25th. We are joining forces with Simply Barre in South Boston to bring our exercise enthusiasts a workout double header where you can get your cardio fix in a 60-minute cycling class and then work to lengthen and tone your body in a 60-minute barre class. Class participants who sign up for the Bar-re Hop will choose which workout they do first and after the class, they will walk the .02 miles to the next studio for their second workout of the day.

There’s still room to get your sweat on and hop from Bar to Barre with us on Sunday in the 2:15pm early session Handle Bar class taught by owner of The Handle Bar, Jessica Bashelor. Tickets are 35$ and all participants will receive a co-branded HB and Simply Barre tote. All participants will also receive a 20% discount on retail merchandise at both The HB and Simply Barre.

See you at the Bar(re) this weekend!

To track or not to track?

By Falon Sweeney

ActivityTrackerJust yesterday as my barre class was beginning, looking around the room, I counted at least seven of my 20 fellow classmates with some sort of fitness tracker, smart watch, or heart rate monitor strapped to their wrists. Since when did we decide to become so hyper aware and obsessive about our bodies’ energy expenditure – even in a 50-minute barre class where the object is not necessarily to torch calories, but to tone, lengthen, and strengthen our muscles to fatigue? Recently, more than ever, it feels as though the fitness industry is pushing the need for these activity trackers, but the question is – do we really need all the data that these trackers provide?

Now, I’d be a walking hypocrite if I told you I thought these activity trackers were totally bogus, because, anyone who knows me even remotely well would tell you that my FitBit and I are practically inseparable. Yeah, I even wear it out to the bar and I’m not ashamed. Gotta log all those dance moves, ya dig?

So yeah, you could say my FitBit is my guilty pleasure. There’s something about knowing my sleep patterns, how many steps it takes me to get to class, or my average resting heart rate, all with one tap on the wrist that really just gets me going. To some, it sounds ridiculous, but to other data-whores and avid goal setters like myself, it literally does help us sleep better at night, knowing the best window of time to wake up in the morning to avoid grogginess. Oh, and did I mention you can challenge any of your friends that have a FitBit to a little healthy competition? Ideal for all my fellow competitive folks out there…

I could talk all day about how much I loooooove my FitBit and how it instantly syncs with My FitnessPal, and how awesome it is that I can see in real time how many calories I’m burning; however, not without acknowledging that it is a little strange knowing all these hard numbers about my body’s performance, when in reality, our bodies don’t even know what a calorie is. Yep, that’s right; a calorie is just a measure of energy determined by science. Our bodies really only know the difference between hungry and full, healthy and sick, and tired and well-rested. However, modern technology has allowed us the opportunity to optimize our health and athletic performance, all based on a few numbers. That’s pretty cool. Now, I’m not saying that running out to the nearest City Sports or Best Buy and buying one of these devices will revolutionize your fitness routine or be a quick-fix to weight loss, because it certainly is not. But, if you have even been remotely curious about how active you really are, sitting in that cubicle from 9-5, an activity tracker will tell you just that; and, it’s a sure fire way to motivate yourself to get up and move more.

  1. FitBit vs. Jawbone? FitBit all the way. I got my first FitBit during summer 2013 but the band broke (womp womp). I carried around the little piece that fits inside the band for a whole two weeks before it was lost and gone forever. I took a little hiatus from the trackers and used a step counter on my iPhone, but it just was not the same. I caved and went for the Jawbone UP because it was on sale and, to be honest, I didn’t love it. It served its purpose, but having to constantly plug it into my headphone jack instead of it automatically updating via bluetooth was definitely an inconvenience. But as soon as the FitBit Charge HR ($150) was released, I ditched my Jawbone and am totally satisfied. There’s no removable piece to lose – you just plug in the band to charge it, about every five days. Jawbone makes a similar version, The UP3, but for $180. Long story short, if you’re going to make the investment and want the HR technology, go for the FitBIt.
  2. Do I really need real time HR monitoring? The heart rate technology is definitely cool, and eliminates the need to wear a separate HR monitor and strap. But if barre, pilates, and yoga are your activities of choice, you probably don’t need it. But, if you’re a HB regular and are curious about how hard you’re actually working and if you could see more results by pushing just a little bit harder – consider it. Sometimes just seeing that little number pop up on my wrist is enough to make me tap it back just a little bit farther. The HR technology is also great because it makes your daily calorie burn more accurate.
  3. Are there any other brands worth considering? I’ve never tried the Nike FuelBand or any other brands, but from personal experience and doing my research, FitBit and Jawbone are for sure the top two contenders. If you use another brand of tracker, let us know your experience in the comments!

So, there you have it, HBers – insider insight from an activity-tracking junkie! Whether you decide to hop on the tracking bandwagon or not, try not to take it too seriously. When we say everything in moderation, fitness tracking is no exception. Don’t let a few numbers take the fun out of your workouts, because at the end of the day, enjoying your workout is the most important part. See you in the saddle, with or without that FitBit!