Sunday, April 14, 2013

REVIEW: Pear Heart Rate Monitor

Know this: I am a gadget geek.

If it's a piece of technology designed to help you get in shape, lose weight or keep track of something, I'm on board. And while I know these devices don't do the work FOR you, they can help make the work seem a little less onerous.

I like to keep track. I like to see the statistics. I like checking boxes and crossing dates off calendars.

So as a result, I've worked my way through a number of doo-dads and gee-gaws, be they GPS watches, pedometers or even the BodyMedia armbands, but far and away (aside from my Garmin) my favourite bit of health-nut equipment has to be a good Heart Rate Monitor.

I mean, you can have an idea of how hard you're working and you can estimate how many calories you're burning, but if you're anything like me (and I hope for your sake, you're not) you'd be grossly off the mark. Then you'd be one of those folks who walk for 10 minutes on a treadmill and then have a cupcake.

Specificity. Yes please.

I'd been using a pretty decent Polar Heart Rate Monitor for a couple of years, but it had been getting a bit spotty, not reading properly, losing signal. It probably needed a new battery for the HRM strap. But I wasn't entirely happy with it. Plus it felt ridiculous to use one thing for my P90X workouts, then have to add another device for my runs (my Garmin).

This is where a trip to the Apple Store comes in.

I noticed the Pear Mobile Heart Rate Monitor and was immediately intrigued.
In the box is a Heart Rate Monitor and a set of Pear Stride Headphones (which are GREAT) plus a little storage bag. That's it.
From there, you download the Pear iPhone App, and you're off and running - the HRM communicates with your iPhone 4s or 5 via Bluetooth and gives you live feedback on the go.

Once you're set up, the App will walk you through a calibration run so that it can get a read on your personal heart rate zones, which will in turn help when you pick a training plan to follow. That's right, the App has a BUNCH of training programs to choose from including plans fro Matt Fitzgerald and Jenny Hadfield. Some are included, free of charge, and others are available at a fee.

So that's some of the nitty-gritty. How's it working, I hear you ask.

I love it. I really do. I like that I can use it for my P90X workouts (it has an open workout setting for non-running workouts, which is exactly what I needed) and then just plug my earphones in, pop it into my arm band and use it for a run as well - using my own music through the App.

I like the interface as well.
Pear is very polite. "Good Afternoon"!

 Pear is very friendly, when you open it up it greets you with a cheery message.

From here, you choose your plan for the day.
Once you decide what kind of workout you'll be doing, it's off to the races. You can add Training Plans from the Plan Store to your schedule here, as well. Since they're all distance based (more on that later) I always go for the Free Format Workout, whether I'm running or not.
There are also plans for Spinning, Treadmill, Core & Strength, Power Walking and Stretching. Something for everyone.

In the workout itself.
While you're working out, you can get feedback on your time, distance, heart rate, pace, current heart rate zone, target heart rate zone and your calorie burn - and you're able to customize which, if any, of these stats you want to hear regularly and on demand.

Once you're done your workout, you just hit "Done", turn your phone sideways and you're met with this beauty:

Look at those spikes!

So not only do you know exactly how many calories you've burned, but you can also see where you were working hard and where you were dogging it.

Plus, Pear keeps everything in a nice, orderly history for you, so if you can't remember how you did last time you trotted out KenpoX, you can just go back and look.

Clearly, I'm a Free Format kind of gal.

Overall, as I said, I've been very happy with my Pear Heart Rate Monitor system. I think the only things I might change about it may not be things that are possible to change - like, I would add an accelerometer to the App so that people who work out on treadmills (I have no choice) can have the benefit of pace and distance included in their reading. At present, I'm still using my Garmin/footpod combo to figure that out, then just add the Pear into the mix for Heart Rate, calories and music. It's really no big deal, and at least it's not adding another thing to wear or use since I'd be using my iPhone for music anyway.
I'd also add an edit function, so you could title your work-outs, plus add distance if you're doing a Treadmill run.

I'm actually really looking forward to getting a chance to use the Pear on land so I can dig a little deeper into the Training Plans. I've done a couple of runs using the Intro to High Intensity Intervals and love those, plus I did a non-distance based training run that was part of the 10K running program that was very helpful - I like the idea of training based on your heart rate, so the feedback was informative.

As far as customer service goes, I have to give Pear a double thumbs up and a gold star. After my first few workouts, I had some sort of a glitch. I wasn't sure if it was a missed update, a function problem with the App or with the actual device itself. I shot a quick email to Pear Support and hoped for the best.

I got an answer back in less than an hour, and they carried on a regular and friendly communication with me while we tried to trouble-shoot the problem and figure out what the culprit was.

In the end, they offered to just send me a new HRM and FedExed me a replacement right away. The replacement has worked flawlessly.

All in all, I'm very happy with how multifaceted this device is, and I as useful as it is now, I can only see myself growing into it more and more as I develop in my fitness regimens.

DISCLAIMER: I purchased the Pear Heart Rate Monitor from an Apple Store. I am in no way affiliated with either Pear Sports or Apple.


  1. Great write up Tabetha! Glad to read you're a Pear athlete.

    1. Thanks for the comment, and the inspiration, Jenny!

  2. Glad I read this review. Very informative. Thanks.