As spring moved into summer last year, I found myself at the heaviest weight I’d ever been. Hovering around 265 pounds, years of little to no exercise, tons of travel with fruity drinks and a sedentary lifestyle had put me looking at XXL clothing and hypertension. At not quite 5’10”, this was becoming a rather large problem (pun intended).
Looking to change a traveling fitness routine
At this point, I dug out an ancient activity tracker that I’d had, but rarely used, a couple years ago. It still worked – so I installed the app and began to run a couple times a week. The watch itself was very basic – it counted steps and stairs climbed, gave distances in miles and kilometers, timed workouts, and recorded my workouts in the mobile app upon syncing.
I started off running for as long as I could before walking to catch my breath. As my heart rate declined, I begun jogging again. I did this until, according to my fitness tracker, I had gone a couple of miles. As the days and weeks progressed – I was able to run for much longer periods without walking.
As September came, I was regularly running four miles three times a week – or so I thought. As it turns out, my basic fitness tracker was doing a few calculations based on how I swung my arms and how long I was running for to estimate the distance traveled.
It wasn’t until I started using a running app on my smartphone that I actually started to get accurate calculations of distance and pace. But, it was super bulky and did require me buying a dorky waste pack to carry my phone and keys with me.
Mobile fitness tracking help
At this point – I had lost a decent amount of weight, and had gained some fitness back. The app on my phone was working alright, but it was a pain to take out my phone, and make sure it was tracking my movements before tucking it into my waistband and beginning my exercise. My phone, a Samsung Note 5 (not the exploding version) is quite massive, and barely fits anywhere. When running, it annoyingly bobs back and forth as I run.
This worked OK for a little while – especially when I was running the same or similar route quite frequently. As I was getting more and more into the running, I began to understand that my lifestyle was changing. It wasn’t just about losing weight and getting healthy – I was actually enjoying the outdoors and pushing myself to not just run, but explore. Running became something necessary for health, but I also wanted to go on hikes and spend days wandering through the countryside; as well as rent bicycles and swim and ski! This was the lifestyle change I was after – not the night after night of running along the same pavement.
Enter the TomTom Adventurer
Understanding a healthy lifestyle is all about being able to track those activities – and this watch gave me the tools to do so. Without any configuration needed, the TomTom Adventurer activity tracker has separate modes for tracking runs, hikes, swims, cycling, skiing. it’s been a complete game changer. It even has separate modes for indoor cycling versus outdoor cycling, treadmill versus outdoor running, and skiing versus snowboarding.
Being a TomTom, one of it’s best feature was the GPS system and its incredible accuracy (it can tell when I cross the road on a run). No longer did I need to carry my weighty phone on runs – my watch tracked my movement and distance. I was able to link the TomTom MySports app to MapMyRun so that my activities automatically uploaded to my MMR account. This changed my world – as it meant that I could vary my workouts (couldn’t take my phone into the pool) – especially on days when I wasn’t running – I would be able to track the other exercise I was doing and get a better picture of where I was that week. The watch has worked well underwater while I swam laps on a trip to Massachusetts, and I can’t wait to take it skiing in Chamonix, France next month.
Climbing Arthur’s Seat
While the watch does everything a high end fitness watch should – steps, calories, distance, duration, location, heart rate – it’s the fact that this watch fit into my changing lifestyle that made it such a winner to me. For example – my wife (Eileen) and I went to Edinburgh for the weekend with another couple. We climbed Arthur’s Seat together, and the Adventurer keeps right up – telling me my rate of ascent, my BPM, and how long I’ve been walking for.
The Adventurer helps me understand my limits, while keeping me on track to meet my goals. In fact – having goals in general was something new to me in terms of fitness. Goals are always driven by data – and this watch gives you the data to achieve your goals. The MySports app also puts out these nice little photos showing your route over a picture of your choosing:
The daily grind also became easier, even while on a getaway. Using the TomTom Adventurer’s Trail Exploration function – I can go for a run in the evening and not worry about how to get back, as the watch uses GPS to drop ‘breadcrumbs’. The Adventurer then guides you back home with ease. I no longer have to take my phone – not only because of the GPS tracking, but because the watch has 3 GB of built in storage that you can use to put music and podcasts on. The Adventurer then wirelessly connects to Bluetooth headphones and before you know it – you’re out running – and not thinking about how much of a chore it is to exercise. That’s what this watch is all about – it chips away at the little things that wear you down every day from all angles. No phone, no extra bits to wear or carry, no excuses!
It’s durable and waterproof, and integrates with whole ecosystems of gadgets and software. Most impressively – the battery lasts quite long. In hiking mode, the amount of times the GPS satellite pings is reduced so that battery lasts over those long hikes. It’s this type of thinking that make this watch an incredible companion to someone like me – someone who goes running after the office, or spontaneously jumps on a train to a country park over the weekend.
I’ve only just begun to really explore the full features of this watch – but I can honestly say that it has already changed the way I think about fitness, goals, and my lifestyle. I find myself looking at my mile splits and my heart rate zones – trying to push myself longer at slower distances and burn more calories.
I don’t spend time planning routes – I just get out and go. It works great for keeping up with my fitness routine when I’m traveling, especially in unfamiliar destinations. That’s what this watch does for me – just allows me to go.
You can find out more about the TomTom Adventurer watch here. Retail: £269.99. How do you stay active while traveling? How do you track your progress?
Christian Wright is a London native who loves great cars and traveling throughout Old England and New England. Find him on Twitter.