Tracking a Difference Fitness gadgets play important roles for both individual athletes and, now, the Health II class

In this day and age, keeping track of everything with handy apps is already the norm, whether you count friends on Facebook or likes on Instagram. Athletes are now turning to activity moni­tors to improve their health.

Form II lacrosse player Kate Love, a verbal commit to Penn State, uses her FitBit and the accompanying app to track many aspects of her fitness. For instance, instead of just recording how much she sleeps, it also notes if she sleeps restlessly and how of­ten she wakes up at night. It also has features to monitor her exercise.

“I like that it tells you how far you run during the games,” she said. “I usually run like five miles.”

Though students use ac­tivity monitors and see im­provement individually, the Hockaday Physical Education Department is seeing this change on a greater scale.

The course was developed by coaches Adaku Achilefu, Jennifer Johnson and Elia Stanfield this past summer.

“What we’re doing is teach­ing students about intensity levels,” Stanfield said. The stu­dents use heart monitors that connect to a teacher’s iPad. Coaches can then utilize Polar GoFit, a program that “gauges your intensity level, so it’ll tell you [if] you’re working at peak performance, or not.”

The positive reviews the course has received are due in part to the fact that it’s a blended class, taking place in the classroom, online and in the Hill Family Fitness Center. The part that takes place in the Wellness Center is where the heart rate moni­tors come in to play. Thanks to the enthusiastic response from students, the heart rate monitors may be here to stay. “We’re looking to add it to Up­per School Physical Educa­tion,” Stanfield said.

If girls get inspired to track their fitness all the time, they can purchase activity moni­tors of their own at the Pres­ton/Forest Run On!, where Bob Thurman helps runners choose the right running watch for them. Thurman has been running for 35 years and is currently training for the Boston Marathon. As a running coach for Run On! and a self-professed “tech guru,” Thurman knows quite a bit about running watches.

“When someone comes in looking for one, I try to find out what it is they’re going to do with it. If they [will be] counting their steps, then a Vivofit will work fine. If they want to really seriously train… we move up into the better watches, like the Tomtom or one of the Garmins,” he said. “It depends on exactly what you’re gonna do with it.”

Love agrees. “It’s to see if you can improve or if you decline, so it really keeps pushing you to do better,” she said.

Coach Stanfield has person­ally seen the improvements that monitoring one’s fitness can make on one’s health.

“It’s been eye-opening… [what] they’ve learned.”

-Maria Katsulos