The high-tech attempt to determine my maximum heart rate flew like a rocket launched from North Korea.
It’s tempting to blame this failure on equipment malfunction, but as Jimmy Buffett would sing, it could be my fault.
The plan was to join a group of fellow spinning class members at the YMCA for a special session of exceptional suffering. The only requirement was a heart-rate monitor. This monitor consists of a transmitter that sends a signal to a digital wristwatch.
Despite an ineptitude at technology, I quickly mastered the task of strapping the transmitter around my torso. But operating the confusing combination of buttons on the watch was another matter.
I have never been particularly scientific about workouts on my bicycle. Consistency is the key. That’s why if I come to a steep hill, I stop and rest. If I encounter a strong head wind, I stop and rest. If I come to a store that sells Gatorade and peanut butter crackers, I stop and rest.
That summed up my workout routine until the instructor at the Y started advising us about which “zone” we should be riding in at particular spots during our spinning sessions. Exercise zones are determined as a percentage of a person’s maximum heart rate. This requires a test.
I was concerned to learn that heart rate tests are conducted at a secret underground facility operated by foreign contractors of the YMCA. These contractors wear hoods to conceal their identity and are armed with cattle prods to encourage 110 percent effort.
I spent a week planning, anticipating and worrying about the upcoming torture. An easy workout Saturday stayed true to the stop-and-rest regimen. Following a good breakfast and light lunch Sunday, I left for the Y.
An extended warm-up period preceded the test. Then, I launched the heart-rate recording feature on my high-tech watch — or so I thought — and started spinning in earnest.
Sweat poured. Heart pounded. Legs burned. Lungs gasped. I worked hard enough to avoid the cattle prod. After about 10 minutes of high intensity, I deactivated the heart-rate memory function — or so I thought — and the suffering ended.
Then I entered the cool-down zone to let my heart rate return to normal.
Although tired, I was full of excitement at the thought of learning my maximum and average heart rate.
That’s when I discovered I had recorded the five-minute cool-down period rather than the actual work-out. Oh well. At least I know where my heart rate should be for the Gatorade and peanut butter cracker zone.
Executive Editor Scott Morris can be reached at 256-740-5721 or scott.morris@TimesDaily.com.