It’s been a couple of years now since I’ve hopped in a pool to swim laps, and even longer since I swam competitively, but after spending 8 years on swim teams, including all through high school, the sport of swimming will always be near and dear to my heart. Swimming is an excellent all-around form of exercise, and I always feel at home when I’m in the water (maybe I’m part mermaid!), whereas running has never been an activity I feel naturally suited for (but I love it anyway). As it turns out, swimming is also an excellent form of cross-training for runners, made even better by the fact that it is virtually zero-impact, so it is great for recovering from/preventing injuries. Because of this, I’ve been meaning to get back in the pool since about the time we started doing races (over a year and a half ago already!), but have had trouble motivating myself to make it there during open swim hours (which are usually very early in the morning). However, I think I’ve finally found the perfect reason to get out my suit, cap, and goggles and hit the water again–the Instabeat!
The Instabeat is a heads-up display (meaning that it is visible at eye-level and does not require you to look away from your normal viewpoint) that attaches to your swimming goggles, and monitors your heart rate, calories, laps, turns, and breathing pattern throughout your swim session. The device is designed to fit any pair of goggles, and reads your heart rate using your temporal artery. The Instabeat then projects a series of color-coded LED lights onto your goggles to let you know what heart rate zone you are currently in (fat-burning, fitness, or maximum performance). This eliminates the need for a chest strap, most of which don’t actually work underwater, anyway, and those that do don’t allow you to see the data in real-time. At the end of your workout, all of the data can be transferred via a USB connection from the Instabeat to your computer, where you can view it on your personalized dashboard. Pretty awesome, right?
As a former swimmer, I can attest that the heart rate monitoring alone would make the Instabeat a very valuable device in the pool. I can remember doing interval workouts with specific heart rate goals, but having to “measure” my heart rate by hand (e.g., feeling for my heart rate on my neck, counting how many beats in 6 seconds, and multiplying by 10). This, of course, had to happen at the end of each lap/interval, but it would have been great to know as I was swimming if I was meeting my goal. Being able to keep track of laps, turns, calories, and breathing pattern is really the icing on the cake.
The Instabeat team is currently raising money through an Indiegogo campaign to fund production/manufacturing and regulatory testing/approval of the device. They’ve actually already met their $35,000 goal, but with 32 days left in their campaign, there’s still plenty of time left to donate and ensure you get your hands on one of the first Instabeat units, which will be delivered in October. A single unit will cost $139 if you preorder, a discount of $10 from the release price of $149. To learn more or order one of your own, you can head over to their website, check out their Indiegogo campaign, or watch the video below!
Meagan is a geochemistry research lab manager, runner, Netflix binge-watcher, and Mom to a rescue dog, a bunny, and a human child. She started running in May 2011 and ran her first half marathon in October 2012, followed by her first marathon in October 2013. In July 2018, she joined the triathlon world and completed an Olympic-distance race. After an extended break (pregnancy/maternity leave), she is making a long-overdue return to running and is preparing for a high-elevation half marathon at Crater Lake National Park in August 2020.