Activity trackers tend to sit in the background and provide information when consulted, only occasionally forcing themselves on your attention when you hit a milestone. The Moov HR Sweat is in your face right from the start, and never lets up. The result was exhaustion, embarrassment, and the best workout we’ve had in years.It’s not cheap, and being tied to a smartphone is a bit of a pain – we’d love to transfer the wonderfully aggressive app on to a smartwatch with a heartrate monitor of its own, even if wrist pulse measurement isn’t quite as accurate – but there’s a lot to like about this device.
Price When Reviewed
Moov’s HR Sweat is a coin-sized heartrate monitor that fits in a headband, thereby tracking your activity and keeping sweat out of your eyes at the same time. Welcome to the future! We asked PC Advisor’s sweatiest man to test out the device, along with Moov’s accompanying smartphone app.
Moov HR Sweat: Design & build quality
The best place to measure your pulse in terms of accuracy and convenience, Moov maintains, is at your temple. Accordingly, the company’s heartrate monitor is designed to be worn on the inside of a tight stretchy headband, although it can also be worn on the ankle.
The sweatband that comes with the Moov is black and largely nondescript, with only the company name picked out in silver lettering and a little heart icon next to the heart monitor. The band is washable, and will need to be, since it sits directly next to the skin during what are likely to be strenuous workouts.
Jogging with a sweatband makes us feel self-conscious at the best of times, but at least it’s not too colourful. (It’s only available in black at the moment. Mind you, the press shots also depict pink and aquamarine versions.) There are further causes for self-consciousness, but we’ll deal with them later in this article.
The HR Sweat itself is a tiny little circular thing, almost exactly the diameter of a £2 coin but somewhat thicker. It sits inside a black rubber casing which in turn is hooked on the inside of the sweatband.
The device is cheap-looking, with a dull black plastic bottom and a dull red plastic top, but that’s not a concern: it’s meant to be robust and lightweight – something you can sweat on, drop on the pavement, and not worry about – and it’s out of sight most of the time.
The band was a tight fit on our reviewer’s bonce, but one imagines it needs to be fairly tight in order to keep close contact with the temporal vein. And while we were aware of the small hard shape pressed against the temple, it wasn’t unpleasant. Our colleague in the US found that it left a red mark for half an hour after each workout, however.
The Moov comes with its own little charger, which connects to a PC or Mac via USB. It lasts up to six hours per charge.
The Moov Fitness Coach app
Perhaps the weakest aspect of the Moov is the setup process.
To start monitoring your heartrate, you’ll need to install the Moov Fitness Coach app (we tested using the iOS app and an iPhone 6s Plus) and pair the device with your smartphone. But it’s not immediately obviously how to do this, and the methods outlined in the quick-start guide didn’t get us very far.
The best way appears to be, counterintuitively, to plunge right in and start a workout that requires a heart monitor. Doing this nudged our device into walking us through the pairing process.
Moov Fitness Coach has four tabs: a page of preset workouts, some of which will need to be downloaded; a history of workouts you’ve done, complete with a fairly exhaustive set of stats; My Progress, which shows more general stats, achievements and goals; and a social leaderboard that’s largely the same as the sharing tab in the Apple Watch Activity app.
Moov HR Sweat: How it works
Tap one of the preset workouts – the last workout you did is placed at the top of the list, conveniently – and your smartphone will start bellowing at you.
It talks about your heartrate, and tells you if you need to increase or decrease the pace to match the targets for that workout; it also provides general tips such as “keep your chest up” and “breathe from your stomach”, and motivational platitudes about pushing hard, keeping going etc. (Platitudes they may be, but they help.)
The result, in our experience at least, is a workout that is far more demanding than what we are used to.
The traditional run, even if you have a heartrate monitor in your smartwatch, tends to boil down to the routine completion of either a desired distance or a desired time, with heartrate a diverting piece of trivia you can call upon from time to time.
But the Moov, particularly when using a nicely brutal up-and-down target graph like the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout in the screenshots above and below, is constantly checking to make sure you’re trying hard enough. And as your fitness improves, the app demands more.
At the end of the workout you will firstly collapse in a puddle on the floor, and secondly receive a report on your performance, covering distance and time as well as the heartrate data (if you run outside; for treadmill runs you’ll need to enter distance information manually). Like this:
We recommend headphones. We found it very hard to hear what the smartphone was saying to us when jogging next to the road, and felt self-conscious when pushing the volume.
Even headphone users may struggle to hear the instructions if traffic is very busy, and of course we wouldn’t recommend listening at excessive volume, so this may be a product that is best enjoyed in quieter surrounds. That is true of exercise more generally, however.