Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Review: Jabra Elite Sport

It has been a while since I've done a gear review here, but I am excited to write this one.  The reason for my excitement is that I have had terrible luck with wireless Bluetooth headphones, and the product I'm reviewing not only fits that bill... it does so much more!

The Jabra Elite Sport headphones have good sound quality, stay in my ear well, and has a heart-rate monitoring function!!  This means carrying one less device when working out.

Official description:

Jabra Elite Sport is the most technically advanced true wireless pair of sports earbuds available. The fully sweat proof and waterproof Elite Sport is the ultimate training aid that delivers freedom of movement on any terrain. When paired with the Jabra Sport Life app, the earbuds deliver the most comprehensive range of audio training tools, including an in-ear heart rate monitor, in-ear intelligent coaching, VO2 Max fitness testing, automatic repetition counting, a race-time predictor and a recovery advisor.

Upon opening the package, I was impressed with the slick charging apparatus/case, yet overwhelmed with a bunch of tiny ear plugs and wings.  However, this was a one-time thing and allowed me to try out many different sizes so that the ear bud fits and stays in my ear, especially if I'm going to be jumping around.  Admittedly, it took me a while to figure out how everything fits together and fit well in my ear, but once I got that, I could jump and run around with no issues.

Snug as a bug:
I downloaded the app and entered a few stats on myself. (age, weight, gender).  There was then a test screen that asked me to run/jump for a few seconds to make sure the right ear bud was picking up a heart-rate. 
The app has an Activity screen where you can select a workout such as running and walking, and it even includes built-in workouts!  These built-in workouts talk to you through the headphones and provide music (though you can also play your own).  There are also several coaching programs such as pace and heart-rate targeting that also guide you via in-ear instructions!
Speaking of music, the sound quality is great!  Compared to other wireless Bluetooth headphones I've used, I feel like the sound is very clear.  There are volume control and selection buttons on the buds, which you can use to answer your phone calls.

As for the heart-rate sensor, I feel that it was pretty accurate, since I am used to seeing what my Apple Watch registers.  This is a great alternative to wearing a separate heart-rate monitor!

I'm really looking forward to using these headphones more, as I do a lot of workouts off my cell phone in situations where I don't want sound to be coming out.  Having the portable workouts is even better, and it will even sync up with some other apps such as RunKeeper.

FTC Disclaimer: I was sent a sample of Jabra Elite Sport headphones but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive review.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Quitting the Gym... Again Again

That's not a typo: this is the second time that I have voluntarily called it quits on my gym membership.  Before I had my child, I didn't have a membership because I was commuting a lot and had discovered the wonders of home workout videos.  Prior to that, I had access via work, though really, I was running outdoors a lot and didn't really need it, anyway.

After I returned to work post-baby, I didn't work out for a while trying to balance everything, and I quickly started a new job.  Once I got comfortable with that and was pumping fewer times at work than when I started, I joined the gym because I could use it during lunch hour -- my only break during those hectic days.  By then, I was about six months postpartum and was only working out randomly at home sometimes.  I think I went to the gym about three times a week after that point, which was gold.

As time went on, I started working from home more because I was transferred to a different department, and I found that less commuting meant I could make more time for workouts.  My son grew older, and now his care during the day went from very inconvenient to extremely convenient.  Ironically, I only made it to the gym once or twice a week.  I think it was because I had made significant progress in my little "home gym" project and started to use that out of convenience.  However, around the same time, I got into heavy lifting more, so I justified keeping my gym membership just for that.

The gym has been critical to me for two things besides weights.  First, when I do come into the office, it's convenient for me to go very early to beat traffic and go to the nearby gym before work.  I wouldn't be able to shower at home because that would wake everyone (yeah, ugh...).  Second, since my kiddo is still very attached to me, sometimes going to the gym was the only way I'd get a workout and shower in without being noticed.

After my first year of gym membership, I got an e-mail saying that my rate was going up, at which point I said I would get a squat rack and quit the gym.  That didn't happen.  Now, another year went by, and I recently got this:

As your partner in fitness we are proud to support your fitness goals, and we would like to thank you for being a member of [GYM]. We work hard to provide you with quality services, facilities and amenities that enable you to get the most out of every workout.
To ensure we're able to continue to meet your needs, your membership rate will be increasing by $1.57 per month. Effective July 2017, your new monthly dues rate will be $XX.XX plus applicable taxes. We do our best to keep your rate as low as possible while delivering you the best fitness experience at a great value.

Although I thought I was getting a good deal initially, this was the second raise in two years, and who knows how many will follow?  The gym was not improving at all.  Equipment was still down too often, showers mediocre, and it was still too crowded for me to do what I wanted all the time.  So the next day after I got the message, I called and cancelled my membership.

Where does this leave me?  Well, I know I didn't mention it here, but several months ago, we finally took the plunge and got a treadmill for our garage gym.  While I tend to run outdoors when I can, "The Ukrainian" often prefers the treadmill, and this opens up running during off-times.  I've tripped too many times in the dark to trust myself from being that hardcore, plus, we live in an area where coyotes and other wildlife have been seen.  Having an indoor treadmill also helps with cardio warm-ups for other workouts I might do.

I won't be able to work out anymore on the days I come into the office.  I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do about that.  Maybe I will just do a lot of walking on those days, do some resistance training at my desk, or maybe even try working out at the home gym without showering??  Same for times when I need to get away -- I just need to work around my toddler's needs and maybe go without showering more often.

I still don't have that squat rack, though I think that is in my near future.  It would pay for itself in about three months of not paying gym dues and another three months for the barbell.  We have a smaller barbell that I can use for training in the meantime.  Money isn't exactly an issue, but it's the principle... the same one that got me to quit the gym in the first place.  Plus, I primarily do workout videos, anyway.

Anyway, I don't think this is going to be a huge deal, but if anyone in a similar position is thinking about quitting the gym, I thought I'd provide my perspective on making this kind of decision while still staying committed to regular exercise.