This is a personal history anecdote from an old guy so kiddies you probably want to look away before your brain explodes.
Decades ago I used to have to train indoors (actually my back porch) on stationary bike to prepare for the spring club rides. I used my first ever work commuting bike, an old Bertin 10-speed (yes, kiddies, only 10 speeds once upon a time, even worse, only 3 speeds (“English” bikes) before that). I mounted it on this stand with the wheels off the ground and a roller held down with large rubber bands to the rear wheel connected to fans for resistance. I’d pedal away, bored immediately. So I first tried using my WalkMan for music, kind of a bother, so I wired up some outdoor speakers and listen to my stereo with cassette player inputs. Better but still boring. I had an old darkroom timer I’d use for total training time and sprints. Oh, and I kept records, and at work entered them in a time-sharing system and had Basic programs to crunch the data (no graphics).
Today I rigged up a few new pieces so it’s an interesting comparison.
I have a treadmill, elliptical and lately a stationary bike. Of course these each have microprocessor for various programs and data gathering. All three have heart rate monitors, but they’re inconsistent. And I write down data and now crunch it through an Excel spreadsheet with some graphics.
But lately I’ve gotten more wired. Now I have BodyMedia Link armband to record various data. I’ve been skeptical of its results so now I’m also using a Polar heart rate monitor and its wristwatch controller and display. There was an app for iOS for the BodyMedia armband but I couldn’t get the pairing to work. Finally I found the trick and so now I get (sorta) real time data. So I have three data sources to compare: 1) the machine itself, 2) the Polar, and, 3) the BodyMedia.
But the BodyMedia app needs to be online and my WiFi doesn’t work in the basement. So I found I could use my Verizon mobile hotspot near the stairway so it’s on 4G and transfer WiFi downstairs. Now the BodyMedia app works.
Previously I’d used iPod Touch some to pump music into the speakers built into the machines. But its battery is aging and having it plugged in was inconvenient so I stopped using that. But now with WiFi working in the basement I realized I could also crank up the Pandora app and get some workout music. It took a bit of searching for that but now I have old time rock running with the BodyMedia app with the Polar and so I have seven different biometric data streams and the music streams and plenty of automatic data transfer to crunch stats.
As a result I was trying to max everything out and so hit records on my workouts today.
And I realize in many ways all these gadgets are still somewhat primitive and even more could be used (my Polar isn’t even the Bluetooth version so I can’t use the app for it).
btw: When it comes to using iOS devices purely as computers (not phones) an iPod Touch and a MiFi (which, by definition, provides tethering at no extra charge and is only being billed for data) is way better than an iPhone.