Most heart rate monitors take readings from your chest, wrist or, most recently, your ears. That all changes with the Moov HR, a headband-based heart rate monitor that takes the reading from your temple.
At its core, the basic premise behind the Moov Now is a heart rate monitor that works with Moov’s iOS and Android apps to deliver HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts. These are designed to get your heart pumping and working in specific heart rate zones for the desired effect, whether that be burning fat, building endurance or improving overall cardiovascular health.
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Moov, of course, is already well-versed in fitness tech. The company is responsible for the Moov Now, an innovative exercise and activity tracker, and one of few wearables to ever attain an almost-perfect score from TrustedReviews.
The Moov HR can also work in tandem with the Moov Now, opening up a breadth of new exercise circuits within the app that use both wearables, such as HIIT Running.
If you already own a Moov Now, the Moov HR is a great way to take your training in a different and fun level when paired with the Moov app’s great real-time coaching.
The actual Moov HR sensor itself doesn’t look drastically different to the disc-shaped Moov Now sensor. They’re both of a similar size, but big difference is that the Moov HR is designed to slot into a headband, which has a stretchy silicone holder hidden away inside.
The silicone not only makes it easy to slide the sensor in and out when it comes time to charge, but also if you want to attach the sensor to a swimming cap accessory. I’ve only tested the sweatband model, but I can’t see the swimming cap performing any differently aside from holding up to water and ensuring the sensor doesn’t go missing during your laps.
The headband itself is made from the sort of sweat-wicking material anyone who’s been to a sports apparel shop will be familiar with. In that regard, it doesn’t feel dissimilar to the running waistband I shove my keys and phone into during a run.
I will say, however, that as it’s a double layer of material, it can still leave my forehead feeling a little too warm, but It does at least stop the sweat dripping down my face after an intense session.
Actually getting the headband on can take a little practice, however. The sensor is supposed to sit over your temple, free of any obstruction from your hair. Moov recommends you tie your hair up before putting the headband on for this reason, somewhat at odds with my hope that the headband could be used by itself to tame my luscious mane of hair during a workout. It’s worth watching the in-app tutorial video on how to wear the headband for accurate readings.
Once that’s out of the way, there’s not any real setup process to using the Moov HR as such. Instead you just give it a quick tap to wake it up when in use and then select it when you choose a heart rate based circuit in the Moov app. The app will tell you the strength of the heart rate detection, and you’ll need to re-position until you get a 'Strong' reading before you can proceed to a workout.
High intensity interval training isn’t a particularly new training method, and it can in a sense be applied to different forms of exercise, be that running, cycling or resistance training.
It’s based around the idea of intervals of heart-busting high intensity, such as sprinting, followed by an interval of lesser intensity or recovery. Depending who you talk to, it can be thought of as a more effective way of training in a shorter period of time compared to steady state cardio training, such as running for 30 minutes at a constant speed, especially when it comes to burning fat.
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HIIT training is also supposedly able to speed up your metabolism for a period after the exercise, meaning you’re able to continue to burn more calories during recovery. Certainly, from my experience I’ve had good results from HIIT training in the past.
Long periods of steady state cardio can lead to muscle catabolism – namely the breakdown of muscle for energy once muscle glycogen is depleted. In part, that can explain the difference in body composition between a sprinter and an endurance runner. As a strength trainer, this is something I'm desperate to avoid, but I also still don’t want to neglect my cardiovascular health. Therefore HIIT, in theory, should be perfect for me.
Jump into the Heart Rate Based section of the Moov app and you’re greeted with various circuits such as ‘HIIT Foundation’, ‘HIIT Athletic Conditioning’ and ‘HIIT Running’. The HIIT Running workout will also work in conjunction with an optional Moov Now sensor worn on your ankle for extra movement analysis.
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The first time you start a new workout, you'll need to download it as they don't come pre-installed. Keep this in mind if you're somewhere without an internet connection, as I found at my local gym.
Notably absent is anything for cycling, at least in the beta version of the app I tested, so fans of spin classes might feel a little left out. Hopefully that’s something coming down the line. There also wasn’t anything specifically for swimming. As it stands, you can track these elsewhere in the app, but these require a Moov Now with the Moov HR only used as an optional wearable, and even then you lose out on the HIIT-specific coaching.
Each Heart Rate Based workout circuit has a specific purpose and difficulty level. The bodyweight circuits all last around 30 minutes, typically consisting of three different circuits of four different movements.
Feel the burn in your quads as you Air Squat. You get useful form cues like 'don't let your knees go in front of your toes'.
Once you start a workout, you get audio cues and words of encouragement from the real-time coach. The voice uses text-to-speech, though, rather than actual human recorded messages. It therefore feels a little detached from what you would get from a personal trainer and devoid of any real emotion.
While I might not want a tough drill sergeant, a little verbal push up the backside wouldn’t have gone amiss. The automated voice can also say certain terms like "quadriceps" with a very strange inflection.
Still, the voice telling you that you should ‘feel a burn in your quads’ while you’re holding a half squat for 30 seconds, or that it’s ‘time to push it’ towards the end of a circuit, is helpful and a welcome distraction from the agony.
Some of the workouts are tough, so don’t expect to just breeze through them. Even in the HIIT Foundation circuit, exercises like flutter kicks will have you gritting your teeth towards the end. Usefully, you get a video demonstration of each movement so it’s not difficult to follow along. Clear timers let you know how much time you have before the next round, as well as dedicated recovery periods, typically around 30-60 seconds in duration.
You also get a clear indication of your current heart rate, including which of the five heart rate "zones" you’re currently in. These are based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate, which is calculated by using the standard formula of deducting your age from 220BPM (if you’re male at least). The real-time coach will let you know if you need to push harder or take it easier to stay in the prescribed zone. It’s all very intuitive and easy to follow.
You’re also able to move the maximum heart rate up or down in the app, depending on your actual fitness. So if you’re a glutton for punishment, moving it up will make the workouts that much tougher.
Once a workout is complete, you get an extensive breakdown of time spent in each heart rate zone as well as calories burned.
Part of the reason for the unorthodox wearing method of the Moov HR is more accurate and quicker heart rate readings relative to something wrist-worn, and fortunately this was the case during testing.
I was generally impressed by the readings from the Moov HR. It can take a little while to get up to speed, taking some time to level out at an accurate reading, but once there, I found it kept pace with both a Jabra Elite Sport worn in my ear and a Wahoo Fitness Tickr X worn across my chest.
All three of the sensors were within 1-2 BPM of one another and the Moov HR kept up with the rapid changes in heart rate that HIIT workouts entailed. On the other end of the spectrum, the Fitbit Charge 2 on my wrist was lagging behind.
The Moov HR will also play nice with other apps, such as Strava, through Bluetooth Smart. So if you want to have heart rate data for other purposes and like the idea of having readings taken from a headband, it’s a great fit.
The battery life is rated at around six hours, which seemed about right. To charge, you need to remove the sensor from the band and attach it to a proprietary dock that has a Micro USB connector.
If you already own the Moov Now and want to diversify your workouts, it’s almost a no-brainer. Personally, as someone who travels a lot and can’t always get access to a gym, I can see the Moov Now and Moov HR combo as being viable options to stay fit on the go as well as for those wanting to get fit without needing expensive equipment.
But keep in mind that the Moov app will work with other heart rate monitors, so if you have one already, such as the also excellent Wahoo Fitness Tickr X, there’s nothing to stop you from just using the app for its circuit workouts.
However, the head-based heart rate monitoring of the Moov HR proved to be excellent, accurate and convenient relative to something chest-worn. Not all heart rate monitors are created equal, so if those are important factors, the Moov HR is a great choice backed up by an excellent app, and a heart rate monitor that can be used with other apps, too.
Having said that, I hope down the line to have more circuit and exercise options available that build upon the HIIT principles, but what is already available will certainly get you building up a sweat as you punish yourself for your fitness goals.
The Moov HR is a convenient and accurate heart rate monitor backed up by a great app and real-time coaching for HIIT circuits.