My Myzone Musings

My Myzone Musings

I have now been going to the gym (12Rnds Fitness) for a little over 1 year… (and have posted previously about my exercise obsession “passion”). I have been using a Myzone Heart Rate Monitor for nearly 6 months and (remarkably) for the last few months have been “topping” the Myzone Table for our local Gym, and am (for now) even Top 10 nationally (currently #2) across more than 2,600 participants. 🙂

However, I have recently started to notice some oddities in our local gym results…. some members have, all of a sudden, started getting amazing Myzone (MEP) scores for their workouts… which seemed odd. Some of the national figures also seemed a bit iffy (with some members getting scary big MEP scores consistently, day in, day out).

This prompted me to do a bit of research into how Myzone actually works… here is what I discovered 🙂

What is Myzone

Myzone is a heart rate monitoring system used by many fitness clubs that uses wireless and cloud technology to monitor physical activity.

It involves members wearing a heart rate monitor (on an elasticised strap around the chest) during their exercise sessions. It can be worn in the gym, (tracked by a monitoring device in the gym), or externally (either recorded on the device itself or tracked via a smart phone).

The device records heart rate over time, and the Myzone system generates a LIVE view of your heart rate on a gym-based monitor (as a color-coded, easy-to-read “tile”) as well as recording it against your account.

Myzone Tile

How does Myzone Work

When you purchase a Myzone device and create an account, your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) is automatically determined (based on your age)… The MHR represents a heart rate that is considered to be the Maximum Heart rate you should be able to (safely) achieve with exercise. The MHR is used as the basis for the calculation of MEPs.

MEPs is an acronym for MYZONE Effort Points, and it’s the metric by which everything is measured in the myzone system. MEPs are earned by exercising in your target heart rate zones over a period of time. The more effort you put into each of your workouts, the more MEPs you earn!

There are 5 different Heart Rate Zones (based on your heart rate as a percentage of your MHR)… and each zone contributes a certain amount to your total MEP score.

  • Grey = 50-59% – Earns 1 MEP/minute
  • Blue = 60-69% – Earns 2 MEPs/minute
  • Green = 70-79% – Earns 3 MEPs/minute
  • Yellow = 80-89% – Earns 4 MEPs/minute
  • Red = 90-100% – Earns 4 MEPs/minute

…so if you exercise for 45 minutes with 10 minutes each in the Blue, Green and Yellow heart rate zones and 5 in the Red, you would earn 110 MEPS (10*2 + 10*3 +10*4+ 5*4 = 110)

Under normal circumstances, if you start to regularly hit 100%, then your MHR is automatically adjusted UP by the Myzone system. However, it is possible to also CAP an MHR so it does not increase above a specified level (although I am unsure under which circumstances this is set).

You are unable to adjust your own MHR, but your Gym owner, or Myzone support can do it.

Myzone can be a great Motivator

One of the primary goals of Myzone is to encourage you to pay attention to your workouts – with the aim of motivating you to work a bit harder… or a bit smarter… to achieve your fitness goals…. and it can do this VERY effectively…

It’s amazing how often you find yourself pushing a little harder to reach a different level… or training a little longer to get to a particular MEP or Calorie target… or finding that extra energy to push you to achieve your MEP goals.

The leaderboard can also be a great motivator…

  • striving for Top 10
  • or working hard to be #1
  • or pushing a bit harder to beat someone else’s score
  • or even just trying to improve your own score

If you are getting good MEP scores, or doing well in the leaderboard, or seeing your fitness levels increase with the extra effort you’ve been putting in, Myzone can be a fantastic motivator….. but… when things aren’t going “right”, Myzone can also be a powerful de-motivator…

Myzone can be a great De-motivator

I have noticed some members training REALLY hard but still struggling to reach RED or sometimes even YELLOW Heart Rate zones… but other members seem to be able to achieve very high scores (even hitting 100% for most of their workout) with seemingly relatively little effort.

I realised that it was pretty simple to “reverse engineer” the Maximum Heart Rate and Zone (%) readings on an individuals Myzone tile… and pretty accurately determine their MHR and “Excercise Age” (I plan to do another more technical post with more information about this).

HIGH MEPs

I was stunned to discover that some people (often hitting 100% multiple times within a single session) had a MHR of just 160 or less (an effective “Age” of 80 years old)… and one even had a MHR of 120 (an exercise Age of 142)… This would have been very impressive if they actually were that old… but I really don’t think they were.

I also realised that for some, their MHR did not seem to be changing over time (as it should – to reflect regularly reaching 100% effort). The average person would only be getting a BLUE or GREEN level for that type of HR.. These people seem to have their MHR Capped…so were getting significantly higher MEPS for each workout – and an unfair advantage for the Leaderboard.

These people are often quite motivated (and are sometimes training pretty hard) because they are seeing great Myzone scores… but their scores are a great de-motivator to everyone else who simply can’t compete because of the unfair advantage.

I would like to see the MHR Cap removed for these people (unless there is a specific medical reason) and their MHR reset to more closely relate to their actual age… then let the Myzone system do its thing and adjust accordingly.

LOW SCORES

I had also noticed some people training hard who really struggle to get into the red zone (if they can get there at all). These people mostly seem to have reasonably accurate MHR and Age levels (i.e. close to their actual age), but they find it VERY difficult to get decent MEP scores and almost impossible to show up on the top 20 leaderboard ..despite the effort they put in… This is pretty de-motivating for most of them.. there is little added incentive to work harder.

I would like to see the MHR of these people adjusted down to a level where they are consistently able to reach the red zone (at least once per session).

Myzone HEROES

I also noticed that a few people in the Leaderboard had VERY HIGH MHRs (some as high as 200 – an effective training Age of just 17). These people, through training VERY hard, are still able to achieve decent HR levels and good MEP scores. There MHR has most likely been automatically adjusted up over time by the Myzone system.

As far as I am concerned, these are the real heroes of the gym and although they are clearly motivated… probably deserve more recognition.

My Suggested Resolutions

As a lowly gym junky, I clearly have no actual say in how this works… but as far as I am concerned Myzone and the gyms should be doing whatever they can to “level the playing field” so that as much as possible everyone has the same chance to get decent MEPs. I would suggest :

  • Ensure that all MHR CAPS are removed (unless there is a specific medical reason) – allowing the Myzone automated MHR Upgrade system to work properly – this will reduce the chance of any unfair advantage caused by Low MHRs
  • Introduce an automated MHR Downgrade process… so that the MHR is automatically reduced for accounts that have not (say) reached the Red zone in the last 5 sessions – this will help reduce the chance of people working hard but getting little reward
  • Have a mechanism to flag for manual review (by either Myzone or the Gym owner) accounts where the Myzone Age (calculated from MHR) is significantly different to the actual age….. Those with a much higher Myzone Age are probably getting an unfair advantage… those with a significantly lower Myzone Age may deserve a pat on the back.

O.M.G… What a Difference a Bowl of Muesli Makes !!!

O.M.G… What a Difference a Bowl of Muesli Makes !!!

You might assume from the title that this post is about food… You’d only be partially correct, as it is mostly about Exercise – and a bit about Nutrition

I’ve been going to the gym (see Why I Love 12rnd Fitness) for almost a year now… and for the most part do morning workouts… usually before I have had anything to eat or drink… This has been going pretty well, but recently I have started to do a few more (extra) Lunchtime and Evening sessions.

I have noticed that I seem to have more energy in the training sessions I do later in the day… I can train harder and longer without feeling so exhausted…

This Mornings Training Session

This mornings session in particular was tough. I found it difficult to raise my heart rate into yellow (80-90%) on my Myzone Heart Rate Monitor, and only managed an hour and 145 MEPS – my “worst” session for months….. (see workout graph below) :

I have been pushing it pretty hard at the moment because of a Myzone 6 Week Challenge (shockingly, I am currently ranked #1 in Australia – out of more than 2,500 12Rounders)… and I did 10 sessions last week, and a double session yesterday, so it is probably not surprising that I am feeling a bit “flat”… However, I wondered if maybe food was a part of the issue, so decided to go home … have something to eat… and try again at lunchtime…

After a Bowl of Muesli..

So.. I went home, had a bowl of Bircher Muesli (and a couple of pots of tea), did a couple of hours work (sitting in front of the computer)… and went back to 12rnds for a Lunchtime training session.

Oh.. My.. God… What a difference it made !!!

The Lunchtime session felt SO much better…I was almost immediately (in my warmup) able to get into the yellow zone (80-90%) and managed to sustain it (or higher) for most of the workout – giving me a 270 MEP, 80+ minute workout. 🙂

Workout Nutrition ??

The above should probably not have come as a great surprise to me, but I had not really thought about it much before…Apparently if you work out first thing in the morning before eating breakfast (what’s known as a fasted cardio state) it is believed to help with weight loss. However, working out after eating may give you more energy and improve your performance.

Looks like I need to do some more research (watch this space)… but in the interim, I think I will start having a small meal/snack at least 1/2hr before my workout… and see how it goes.

Why I Love 12RND Fitness

Why I Love 12RND Fitness

My Obsession Passion for Exercise has gone a long way to helping me through the process of losing weight and getting fit… and to a large extent, I attribute my new found interest in exercise to 12RND Fitness

12RND Fitness is an Australian based Gym Franchise, founded by Tim West and Danny Green in 2014. It is based around a “circuit” oriented exercise “system”, focused around boxer fitness training techniques.

A 12RND workout session is designed to be like a 12-round championship fight – 12 x 3 minute rounds with 30 seconds rest in between. That’s 36 minutes of total training time at high-intensity with structured breaks in between.

Each round, includes two movements (which change daily) that involve either punching combos on a bag, bodyweight exercises (sometimes with dumbbells, medicine balls, or sand bags) and/or functional fitness movements. 

Here are some of the things I LOVE about 12RNDS :

  • No Scary Machines – some rounds may include a simple exercise machine (Rower, Ski erg, Cycle), but there are NO treadmills in sight and definitely no scary exercise machines (with more cables, weights, pulleys and levers that you know what to do with). Most exercises are bodyweight based. I’ve done machine based gyms before and are OK with them… but have been surprised how many people feel overwhelmed and put off by all the scary technical exercise machines at the typical gym.
  • No Fixed Start Time – 12RNDS are not 24×7 Gyms, and they only open certain hours of the day (times vary depending on location)… but you don’t have to turn up at a particular time for the start of a “class” or session. You can arrive whenever you want and start your session at a time that suits you.
  • Quick Workout – a “full” 12RND Session of 24 different exercises takes less than 45 minutes, but you can easily do fewer rounds if you are pushed for time (or more if you want a longer workout)
  • High Intensity Training – Each of the 12 rounds includes 2 different exercises, and typically at least one of the exercises in each round is based around High Intensity Training.
  • MyZone – 12RNDS supports the MyZone Heart Rate Monitoring System… this is a fantastic way to measure and monitor your activity level – providing feedback on how you are doing, and motivating you to push a little harder.
  • Variable Workout – The exercises that make up each of the 12 rounds change EVERY day… so you are not “stuck” doing the same boring exercises over and over. Every day/workout brings a new set of exercises (and a whole news set or sore muscles – in a “good” way).
  • Flexible – You don’t have to do the assigned exercises at each round… you can choose your own alternative exercise -e.g. if you need to go easy on a particular exercise, or are working on a specific muscle group… or if you just don’t like it… You can also do fewer, or more rounds if you choose… When I first started I could only manage 6 rounds.. but these days I often do 16 or more…
  • Not Cheap – 12RNDS membership is cheaper than comparable gyms, but it is more expensive than some of the 24×7 gym franchises… I think that paying a bit more is actually a bonus. It is a great motivator… because I damn well want to get my moneys worth (and I really do… I typically do 6-9 sessions a week, costing me less than $5 per session).
    I know too may people with “cheap” or even free gym memberships who just don’t value it, and go weeks or even months between workouts.
  • My own Personal Trainer (for free) – at 12RNDS there is ALWAYS at least 1 personal trainer on hand (and sometimes 2 or 3 at busier session times). They will :
    • explain any exercises you are not familiar with…
    • point out any “technique” issues you may have…
      and (most importantly)
    • encourage you to work harder – at least once per workout (and sometimes 2 or 3 times) a trainer will tap you on the shoulder and coax you through a quick (but often Very High Intensity) sparring, padwork or HIIT session – pushing you way harder than you can yourself, and reminding you of your capabilities 🙂

I am definitely a BIG fan of 12RND Fitness as it is a perfect fit for my lifestyle and the type of exercise regime I need.

Oh Dear… I have Been Dumped !! … Again

Oh Dear… I have Been Dumped !! … Again

Despite being the fittest, healthiest and skinniest I have been for more than 30 years… and in fact, quite probably because of it, I have been dumped multiple times in the last few months !!!

I have had several people, who have played an important part in my life over the last few years, who have decided that our relationship is no longer necessary and that they no longer want to see me on a regular basis !!!

But it is not actually a bad thing… in fact it is a very good thing.. because it is my medical specialists who are “dumping” me in droves…. They have determined that because my health has improved so dramatically over the last 12 months, that there is no longer any reason to see me on a regular basis… and that just an occasional catch up (if that) will do fine.

Endocrinologist

As I have been completely Diabetes medication free for over 12 months (since the day after surgery), and my Blood sugar is well within the “normal” range, my Endocrinologist has declared me “Diabetes Free” and told me not to come back…

Liver Specialist

My Liver specialist says that despite permanent scarring (from Cirrhosis), my Liver is functioning beautifully and my blood data is giving no indication of liver problems at all. She suggests that I touch base in 6 months or so.

Bariatric Surgeon

My Surgeon and Dietician are VERY happy with the outcome of my surgery (62 weeks ago) – and so am I… I weigh nearly 10Kg less than I once thought possible and am still losing weight…. I will catch up with them in another 6 months or so too.

General Practioner

Even my GP is not in any hurry to see me again 🙂

My Gym Trainer/s

The only relationship which I am still fostering is with my trainers at the gym…:) … but even that might be on a downward trend, as I have determined that my Passion for Excercise (NOT an Obsession – I promise) maybe just a little excessive and am considering reducing my 6 or 7 workouts a week (although I am tempted to start swimming as well).

Perhaps I should consider establishing a NEW relationship…. with a Plastic Surgeon…. for an Abdominoplasty – Joking !!! (at the moment) ….

My Exercise Obsession ???

My Exercise Obsession ???

I go to a local coffee shop for a pot of tea (or two) and read the newspaper most days…. Not long ago, I would have jumped in the car for the 3 minute drive… but over the last few months, this behaviour has changed, and now, more often than not, I walk…

1 hr: 43 min – 9km – 12000 Steps – 1100 Calories – 260 MEPs

The map to the right shows the route of today’s (1hr 43 minute) walk to my local Cafe … I actually walk past 7 other Cafes along the way – maybe I should be looking for a more direct route !!! 🙂

Over the last couple of months, the “15 minute walk” to my local Cafe has “evolved” into a more extensive trek (of up to 2hrs), involving a circuitous route, which (strangely) also seems to include pretty much all the good-sized hills in the neighbourhood…

As per my earlier post – Time to Join a New Gym ?? – I am also REALLY enjoying going to the Gym these days… but is 6 or 7 gym sessions a week and regular 5Km+ walks too much ??

Am I becoming Obsessed with Exercise !!!

So what actually is an “obsession” and is there a difference between a Healthy and an Unhealthy Obsession ???

“An obsession is when something takes over your life and you are not able to function or do your regular activities”

So by the definition above, an obsession seems to be a behaviour that is detrimental to your day to day life… so, therefore, is presumably “unhealthy” (or not good for you)…. so a “Healthy Obsession” would therefore be an oxymoron.

Whilst I do find that I am (mostly) enjoying exercising these days, I don’t HAVE to do it… and sometimes I actually choose not too…. so, on balance, I have decided that rather than being Obsessed… I am actually just Passionate about Exercise

OK… so now we have resolved that… maybe I should look into starting swimming (as well) 🙂

Time to Join a New Gym ??

Time to Join a New Gym ??

I am thinking of joining a new gym… Not instead of my current gym (12Rnd Fitness – which I LOVE)… but as well as.

I look forward to going to the gym so much (Endorphins are a wonderful thing), that sometimes at night, I am tempted to go to bed early, just so I can go to sleep, wake up, and go to the gym again… I am actually considering joining a 24×7 gym so I can sneak in some quick after dinner/late night workouts 🙂

OK.. I admit… it may be a little obsessive…

Endorphins – the Happy Hormone

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain and also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine (apparently)….

After 20 to 30 minutes of hard aerobic exercise, endorphins are released and will result in a mood and energy boost for two to three hours, and a mild buzz for up to 24 hours.

“Traditional” Gyms

It’s been many years since I have been to a “regular” gym (I used to be an aerobics junkie in my early 20s)… but the thought of rows of treadmills and spin bikes, and dozens of scary exercise machines with dubious (possibly torture related) purposes simply does not appeal any more…

These days 24×7 gyms seem to be popping up all over the place. These are largely “exercise machine” based, and convenient in terms of locality and time of day for workouts, but rely a lot on your own commitment, and tend to lack supervision and guidance from trainers.

A 24×7 Gym may be useful for me as an extra to my 12Rnd membership – to help focus on exercising particular body parts, and also at times of the day when my 12Rnd gym is closed…. although I can’t see myself going anywhere near a treadmill.

12Rnd Fitness

12Rnd Fitness is very different from the traditional Gym model… It doesn’t depend on a bunch of exercise machines, but is based around more traditional boxer training strategies, and exercise “stations” with a never ending variety of exercises that change daily (with a trainer always on hand to fix/improve technique and push you harder).

You can start a 12Rnds session anytime you like, and exercise your way through 12 different “rounds” or stations, of 3 minutes each ( each with 2 or more excises ) – with 30 second recovery/changeover time in between… A bit like a cross between Rocky and F45 I suppose.

At the moment I am currently averaging 5 or 6 sessions a week, but have (during challenges… see below) managed 8 or 9 sessions a week.

6 Week Challenges

Every few months 12Rnds run a “6 week challenge” which is a way to increase motivation and push yourself a bit harder for a short period… They liken their challenges to getting “fight ready” and they follow a pretty defined structure involving different types of food and exercise at different stages of the challenge.

I have participated, with various levels of commitment in 2 challenges so far – but am looking forward to getting “serious” about the next one starting in October.

MyZone

I have very recently started using a Myzone Heart rate monitor (I was given one for my last birthday). It is great to get proof that those times when I “think” I am working hard… that I usually am… and although it is early days yet (the Myzone monitor apparently takes a while to calibrate maximum heart rate), I was very surprised (shocked actually) to discover that I am consistently in the top few of the exercise leaderboard.

So … Time to Join New Gym ? … maybe… but maybe not…