Why heart rate training matters

By Aaron Eisberg

There are many reasons that fitness clubs look to add new technology to their club. Some feel they need to keep up with the changing times. Others feel like they need to keep up with their competition that just moved in down the road. Others, still, know they need to collect the data and use it to their advantage, but they don't know how to do that effectively.

With heart rate training, it has become more and more obvious to me that far too many clubs want to add this technology in "just to compete" or as a way to "gamify" what they are doing in the club, with no other objective in mind.

This is all well and good for some, but in reality, heart rate training needs to be implemented in a way that every core aspect of the club and their training is focused on it and engrained in their culture.

For example, I recently visited a Red Effect Infrared Fitness location in Oakbrook Terrace, IL. Red Effect is known for implementing and utilizing infrared therapy not only in the class sessions during the workout, but also outside of the classes utilizing their infrared saunas. As part of their programming, they utilize heart rate monitoring. In fact, it is so engrained in their culture that if you do not utilize the heart rate monitor, you will be kind of "left out in the cold" so to speak. Meaning, the trainers spend the entire workout instructing you to reach different heart rate zones, whether that means to increase your heart rate and get it high during an intense interval, or bringing it back down for a recovery. This also allows the trainer to approach members and help direct them and alter the workout if it is too intense for specific individuals.

This approach creates a culture for the brand. This allows the brand to measure progress and PROVE their concept works. Without this data and everyone participating, you are not able to prove the concept. In fact, this builds the revenue aspect for the club as heart rate monitors become the norm that people want to invest in to get the most out of their membership with your club. This provides them value and is not just "another membership" or something they feel is being tossed to them as an "add-on". It's value. It's a tool to help them on their fitness journey and a tool to legitimize your club.

With that being said, here are some other benefits to heart rate monitoring:

  • Improved Performance
    • Training in appropriate heart rate zones will allow the client to progress faster with less wasted effort.
  • Improved Efficiency
    • Maximizing the benefits of exercise in a limited (and often less) time.
  • Increased Motivation
    • Tracking of cardiovascular and metabolic capacity performance in an objective manner and having an accurate measurement of calories burned during every workout.
  • Increased Knowledge
    • Knowledge of the hearts functions, the effects of stress and health problems on heart rate, and how heart rate varies during training will encourage the client to take more responsibility for his or her own training. Relevance is the key to understanding why the training is benefiting the individual.
  • Adaptability
    • Regular measurement and correct interpretation of heart rate response to stress will allow the trainer and client to train objectively from the clients current performance level and state of health.
  • Accountability
    • The exercise records that can be kept from heart rate monitoring will keep clients accountable for their workouts on group training days and the days they are not training with a trainer. When anything is observed, it is and can be changed based on personal goals.
  • Object Assessment
    • For assessing performance, intensity, and recovery management, and unlike RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion), the heart does not lie. It shows the response of the body at any moment in time. With this information, we can make educated decisions on the quality and progress of training as compared to your clients goals.
  • Object Training
    • Takes the guesswork out of metabolic conditioning program design by customizing exercise intensity for the individual by using basic interpretation of heart rate feedback.

We have said it before, but can not state it enough. Using heart rate monitoring is very much like using the information you receive from the instrument panel in your car. The gauges tell energy expended (gas), how hard your engine is working (tachometer), engine temperature, speed, etc. Likewise, the heart gives us similar information, and when we know what the numbers mean in context to the training environment, we can make educated decisions and avoid trouble.

Implementing a Profitable Heart Rate Training Program