Although I have a long history of finding it at best annoying and at worst utterly unbearable to wear anything on my wrists, after reading about a million reviews, I decided to give Amazon’s Halo View fitness tracker a try.
You might be wondering why I feel it necessary to actually bother, given that my work involves, like, a metric shed-ton of exercise. And, honestly, that’s an excellent question.
First, there’s definitely a part of me that misses nerding out over workout data like I did in my bike racing days. It’s not even about, like, getting jazzed over progress–I just like data. I was the kind of kid who makes spreadsheets of imaginary things just because.
Second, and much more importantly, I was really curious about the sleep-tracking aspect. I wanted to know whether a bit of wearable tech would agree with my assessments of sleep quality based on how I feel in the morning.
On point the second, so far, the View and I concur, which actually surprises me a little (my faith in tech is generally tempered with a solid dose of realism, and sleep tracking is a lot to ask of a fancy rubber band with a tiny computer strapped in).
I’m not sure what exactly I plan to do with my sleep data, but it’s kind of useful to sync the View, look at the data, and go, “Oh, I feel like I didn’t get any sleep because I didn’t.” Or because I got crappy sleep.
As far as, just, random data is concerned, some of it’s actually pretty useful. The View has a built in oxygen saturation thingy–basically a pulse oximiter for your wrist, and I find it helpful to be able to look at that when I’m feeling a little like my lungs might be trying to go on strike. Because we don’t always localize sensations (including, but not limited to, pain and … weird stretchy feels?) well once we get past the ribcage, a weird vibration or stretchy/constricty feeling that’s probably actually just Ehlers-Danlos doing weird collagen things can sometimes feel like the beginning of an asthma attack, or the way my lungs sometimes feel when I’m sick. A quick 02 Sat check can be deeply reassuring.
Activity tracking is a mixed bag, though I rather expected that. For several normal forms of exercise, there are categories that you can use to log workouts (hit appropriate button -> hit start -> work out -> hit end when you’re done), and because the View logs all your movement whether or not you do that, you can go back and edit workout durations if (okay, when) you forget to turn it on at the beginning of a session.
And you’ll still get points even if you never get around to formally logging a single workout, because the View doesn’t care whether or not you think you’re exercising. If scrubbing the floor gets your heart rate up, it’s going to log that, too.
That said, there’s not really a category that works for ballet (though for some classes, HIIT would probably be a good fit ^-^’), so I just log it as “other.”
That, so far as it goes, is acceptable; even expected (though it would be super cool if there was a “dance” category in the View’s hardware interface).
The place where the View’s Movement tracking features might not be ideal for some come down to the question of Activity goals and sedentary time.
The Halo app uses a weekly activity metric based on a system developed by the American Heart Association. The base weekly goal is 150 points; everything above that is gravy.
With only two days of class and teaching, and a few days left to go in the week, I’m already over 200.
You do get extended goals–300 if you break 150; 600 if you break 300; who knows what after that. I’m looking forward to seeing what it makes of Summer Intensives, or a full-on company week.
What I’m wondering, with regard to Activity goals, is whether the View app ever says, “Whoa, Nellie! Time to take a rest!” Because, honestly, rest is important, and athletes need to rest, and let’s not even get into the topic of exercise bulimia.
Likewise, I’m not exactly sure at what point the View considers you to be sedentary. Like, if you’re Pretty Darned Fit, you can wander around the house a lot without actually doing much to your heart rate. I mention this because it logged some hours as Sedentary that definitely weren’t, though they I guess they weren’t really exercise, either. But I don’t know if it just didn’t notice my steps, or if it only thinks you’re active if your heart rate increases by some unknown amount, or…?
Or, it could be that it just wasn’t used to me yet. That was, after all, the first full day that I wore the thing.
Either way, I wonder what the View would make of someone who spends most of their time in a wheelchair. I also wish it grasped that even when I’m sitting down, I’m almost never sitting still. I do quite a bit of high-volume fidgeting. (Update, even though I haven’t posted this yet: the View uses a combination of heart rate and movement to assess activity level at any given moment. Clearly, I need to swing my arms around more or something when I’m fidgeting ^-^’)
Regardless, you get 8 hours of sedentary time per day, then you lose 1 point for every non-sleeping sedentary hour in that 24-hour period, but Activity points are automatically gained at a rate of 1 to 2 points per minute whenever the View perceives that you’re moving even a little briskly. As such, even though my Halo View has subtracted 15 points for sedentary time, I’m still rocking the Activity goal.
The View app does come with a feature that estimates body fat percentage, but I’ve decided to leave that alone for now. It’s the kind of thing I might find useful in the midst of a full company season, when I can’t eat enough to keep weight on, but at the moment it’s too likely to be triggery, so I’m just not doing it.
I guess I should comment a bit on fit, finish, and build.
Fit-wise, I find the Halo View surprisingly wearable, though it did initially bug me when I first tried using my laptop while wearing it. I accidentally ordered the medium/large band, which is about right on the smallest hole, so I probably should’ve actually ordered the small/medium band like I meant to. That said, I’m planning on ordering an aftermarket band or two.
Part of what makes it work is that the Halo View unit itself is long, but not very wide. It almost spans the entire width of my wrist, but is only as wide as my right index finger, and I think this ratio helps distribute pressure in a way that’s acceptable to my body.
I haven’t had any issues with the band popping off the unit itself, which seems to be a common complaint of early reviewers, though I have managed to accidentally unbuckle it by getting it hooked on my one of the straps of my dance bag.
The display is crisp and bright–honestly, a little too bright for me even on the dimmest setting, but my eyes are pretty sensitive to light. That said, you can disable Lift To View either all the time or in Night Mode, and that keeps it from being a nuisance when you’re trying to sleep.
The onboard interface is pretty intuitive and can, if enabled, display incoming text messagesfrom your phone. It also makes a perfectly good watch, which has proven quite useful to me, even though I’ve never been a watch-wearer before. I’m forced to admit that it’s nice to not have to whip out my phone to check the time (and to discreetly check the time in class, which I usually do because I’m hoping that we have time for another grand allegro exercise ^-^’).
The View purports to be swimming-friendly, which is pretty awesome, though I’m hesitant to wear it in the water with the current band, because I’m not sure my skin would like the combination.
The battery life does seem to run about on par with the promised 7 days, and the charging clip (which I tested when I decided not to wear my View in the bath, though it didn’t really need to charge at the time) is pretty easy to use.
The Halo app offers a bunch of workouts and so forth which are reportedly pretty good overall, but I haven’t tried any yet, so I can’t comment on those.
The app interface overall isn’t terrible, but I do agree with prior reviewer’s assertions that it’s a bit cluttered and a bit prone to rabbit-holing. They’ve also only just added the ability to save favorite workouts, recipes, and so forth, which seems like a glaring omission (still, better late than never).
Overall, I’m glad I bought this thing. It’s doing the thing I hoped it would do–helping me understand how I’m sleeping–and also doing a thing I never expected, which is simply being a watch.
I like the View’s approach to data. It gives you the big picture first as an at-a-glance infographic, and you can drill down from there if you feel the urge. This makes it easier to resist obsessing over granular details that might not be important if you’re not, say, training for races.
That said, for those who are training for races, the View (which lacks onboard GPS) won’t provide data about pacing, mileage, and so forth. For those details, you’ll probably want a more sport-specific activity tracker (or you could use an app like Endomondo for that stuff and something like the Halo View for a big-picture view).
One last thing: the Halo View offers a handful of difference watch faces, most of which offer a “plain and professional” vibe … but if you scroll far enough through the options, you get this one:
It may not be plain or professional, but I like it, so Resting Cat it is.
For aeons, I resisted the siren song of Yumiko. I couldn’t quite bring myself to drop that much cash on tights.
Okay, so like, two years. BUT THAT’S A LONG FREAKING TIME IN BALLET YEARS, OKAY?
Then four things happened:
I realized I’m actually really, really good at looking after my ballet stuff. I still have the tights I bought when I first started dancing again. Hell, I still had the dance belts I bought when I first started dancing again until I realized I was now too small for them.
I realized that good tights are worth having (I have three pair of tights that I wear over and over and over: my blue knee-length capris that I found on sale at a freaking Wal-Mart for $1; my black Official Ballet Tights; and my grey Official Ballet Tights).
I discovered that I know a Yumiko distributor and that I can get a rather nice break on the price if I order through him. He’s also one of my favorite ballet teachers, and it helps keep him fed, etc., and that doesn’t hurt either.
I learned that you can get Yumiko stuff in all kinds of awesome custom colorways without paying ridiculously a lot extra.
So, short story long, I bit the bullet and ordered a pair of Yumiko’s “Max” capri-length tights. I even decided NOT to buy blue, grey, black, or red, since basically that sums up my entire wardrobe. Instead, I went for a kind of eggplant color with a melon-colored stripe. Sounds crazy, maybe, but I really like it!
Anyway, BW brought them to class for me yesterday, and I wore them to rehearsal today.
YOU GUYS, they are SO GOOD.
Pros thus far:
OMG, this fabric. Thin (but not, “Ohai, I can read the label on your dance belt” thin, or even “I can see your dance belt” thin, unless you’re wearing the Capezio N5930, which is identifiable from fecking SPACE because of the way it’s pieced together in front). Light. Breathable. Just supportive enough. Ever-so-slightly shiny. Makes my legs look awesome.
The colors. They are pretty boss. I mean, yes, this combination screams I AM THE GAYEST DANSEUR IN THE ROOM AND I WILL FIGHT* YOU TO PROVE IT, but that’s pretty much how I roll anyway, sooooo…
The fit. Yumiko men’s stuff is pretty much sized by height. Given that and my recent experience performing in a pair of TINY size medium M. Stevens milliskin tights, I went with the medium. The fit, she is very nice.
Also, they dry fast, which is nice because I’m a sweaty li’l bastidge.
*revoltades at dawn, mofo
Cons thus far:
The fit. Obviously, it works for me, but these are definitely tights sized with typical professional ballet-type people in mind. The size chart does extend to XL (far from universal, where dancewear is concerned), but I think that probably basically means “extra tall” in their lingo.
I don’t have pix of these yet, but I’ll try to snag some tomorrow.
Given that my ballet budget is now tightly constrained for the rest of the year (because GOOD reasons!!!), I’m seriously debating whether my next good tights will be M. Stevens or a custom pair of Yumiko’s Cedrics (which you can get with feet and the traditional-ballet-style super-high waist).
Until I figure that out, it’s back to scouring everyone’s bargain bin. Sometimes you find something amazing that way (like my $1 Avias from Wal*Mart).
…I don’t mean lines, like scheduling has finally made D and me so insane that the only way to keep up is to use cocaine (heck, he’s so chill he’s still drinking decaf). I mean LINES, as in Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet(1).
Which, by the way, runs an Adult Summer Intensive (it’s on the Workshops page; 2017 dates aren’t up yet). Taught (in part) by Alonzo King himself. OMG, you guys. I’ll add that to the list when I next get around to updating the list, which might be this evening?
Also Louisville Ballet’s Choreographers’ Showcase, Suspend’s Winter Showcase, and the dance team competition.
If I actually think about all this, I might really just explode, so I’m basically not thinking about it.
That said, I’m taking tonight off to try to do some cleaning, because the rest of this week is booked solid. I need to check in with Mr. BeastMode about the fact that I’m very probably going to miss our first rehearsal for the Spring Showcase performance because I’ll be at Choreographers’ Showcase. I’ll see him tomorrow, though, so no big deal there.
I think, in the interest of not dying of overscheduling, I’m also going to skip Thursday’s modern class this week. I’ll run that by LT tomorrow.
I will not, of course, be missing BW’s class or Killer Class. That said, I suspect my legs will appreciate having an evening off today.
Meanwhile, my cat is draped over my arm, impeding any further progress that doesn’t involve my computer. He will be very disappointed when I have to go to work.
Finally feeling up to Saturday Class, so I figured I’d make it a double. We’re off for the next two weeks (Winter Break, booooooo).
In Advanced Class, barre, adagio, turns, waltz, and terre-a-terre were pretty darned good, petit allegro was acceptable, and grand-ish allegro was a disaster en mènage. I kept alternately effing up tombé-coupé-jeté and leaving out the transitional step that came after. Blargh. Going left, I kept doing my balancé en tournant inside out like a total n00b, which then forced me to do my t-c-j backwards.
At least I haven’t done any backwards turns(1) in a while?
I have no idea when backwards turns stopped happening, but they did, at least for now.
In Nominally-Beginner-But-Actually-Intermediate Class, everything was good except petit allegro, by which time my legs weighed approximately 1,354 kilograms each. I couldn’t get them to do things quickly. In fact, they were not terribly willing to do things at all.
Nonetheless, the entire day was completely redeemed by the girl who asked me after class, “Are you in the company?” (She was my partner for all all the across-the-floor stuff, and she was also pretty good.)
I refrained, of course, from asking her to marry me on the spot, since I’m already married, etc. But it was a very welcome thing to hear, especially on a day when I’m not feeling at my best.
Speaking of The Company, tonight we get to see BW and TB Nutcrackering. Yaaaaaay!
I’m a little sad that we didn’t we get to see BW as the Cavalier last night (because A) broke and B) so freaking insanely busy), but we still get to see one of his Partnering Masterclass performances.
My introduction to BW, by the way, followed the first performance in which I saw him dance a pas de deux. The very next class, he showed up and, if I remember correctly, installed himself on my barre (we were on portables, 4 or 6 to a barre,because there were like 30 people in class).
I proceeded to quietly have a heart attack throughout class. I am marginally ashamed to admit that I felt felt more or less how a teenaged girl in the 1960s would have felt if John Lennon sat next to her in music class. Only, you know, ballet, so both we were both more or less in our underwear.(2)
Ballet: because hero worship isn’t awkward enough.
Yeah, I know. #PatheticFanboy
But I kept it all inside, because I’m cool like dat.
B| <— my cool face
Anyway, I need to go takeashowerchangeandbuyflowersforBW, so that’s it for now.
And then, two weeks to clean, finish the book-keeping for the year, and get back in shape (because holy cow, soooooooo out of shape right now).
Since Ms B got married and there are no longer two BWs among my ballet teachers, I shall henceforth refer to Company B simply as BW (because I’m lazy and it’s easier).
Anyway, class with BW was, as always, good. I didn’t dance as well as I usually do, but everyone has those days. Only three of us again, so once again there was much drilling down deep in the technique. There was also more than the usual array of conversation; we were all tired and disorganized (I arrived earliest, only 5 minutes before class time; BW arrived just after, and everyone else was late).
My turnout took a while to turn on — back to Trap 3 last night meant back to Single Knee Hangs (with ronds-de-jambe), and those make the turnouts tight. (I’m going to have to contemplate that, as I plan to use SNH w/ RDJ to open a trap performance on Saturday.) Not that it was non-existent; it just wasn’t up to the standard of Wednesday’s class.
On the other hand, my grand rond got its stuff together after a fashion. Coming from behind, I was rotating the turnouts later than necessary and thus losing much of the quality of the movement. BW laid on hands and fixed me: he proved to me that I can rotate my hip much further in arabesque than even I thought possible, which made for one high extension coming à la seconde. Like, BW even commented on it to B: “See how high that is?”
I appreciate the fact that my teachers aren’t afraid I’m the least to touch me.
Going terre-à-terre, though, my brain was absolutely determined to leave our the waltz turns. This kept making me end up facing the wrong corner. This may have been fatigue (I’m sleeping better, but still not really well, as you might gather from the fact that I’m posting at 2 AM), or it may have been a lack of Adderall. I forgot my second dose until it was legitimately too late to take take it. Ironically, I was so busy cleaning… Anyway.
I discovered that I haven’t lost my attitude balance, and that I can pretty reliably élevé into it now. After class, BW worked on my arms, which are slowly becoming graceful. Minor miracle, there, all things considered.
So that’s about it.
Trap performance on Saturday should be interesting. I’m resetting some existing choreography to Billy Joel’s “You’re The Only One Who Knows.” Here’s hoping I get through without bursting into tears. Seriously, that’s why I’m not even thinking about using “Leningrad.”
Also, a picture from Burning Man, below the fold since it’s mildly NSFW:
Kids, this is why punctuation is important. That should read:
Pilobolus Master Class; All Up In My Drawers
First: Pilobolus Master Class!
You guys, it was so great.
I feel like I learned a great deal about the process of creating dances through improv, and it was cool to dance in an environment where technique wasn’t even a thing. The guys from Pilobolus basically said, “We love dancers and we love dance technique, but if you’re someone who spends hours every day in class, please check your technique at the door.” As someone who loves technique but can get a bit too invested in it, that idea was very freeing.
I am a horrible person, and have forgotten the names of our ambassadors of Pilobolus, but they were both very cool guys and very good teachers — though this process was as much one of bringing out what’s already there as one of teaching. The teaching part was more about figuring out how to use what’s already there.
I must admit that I went into it a bit worried that I’d be all stiff and horrible because…
…But apparently I overlooked the part where, like, you know, dancing? …When I was worrying about that.
If dance is involved, I seem to do relatively okay in groups of new people.
At the end of class, we broke into three groups and created three short (about 4 minutes) dances in the span of about five minutes, performed them, critiqued them, refined them over another two (two!) minutes, then performed them again.
All three dances were completely different, and all three of them were cool, but one (not my group’s; ours was silly) was really stirring and moving. I hope some of the dancers will take it and run with it, because it was really, really good.
I feel like I want to let this whole experience percolate a bit more, then write about it at greater length. It was, in short, just an amazing two-ish hours (happily, we ran over the original 1.5-hour class time).
It turns out that Pilobolus holds a 3-week summer workshop series (in Connecticut, yay!). I’m going to have to seriously consider whether I can figure out how to afford at least one week this year. Curiously, the name of the third workshop, Vision & Revision, was also the name of my favorite writing class when I was in high school.
And Now: All Up In My Drawers!
I did manage to make it to IKEA afterwards.
My one real goal was to acquire a second Big Blue Bag, which will greatly improve my laundry system. Heretofore, I’ve been using one Big Blue Bag and any of my various not-quite-as-ginormous shopping bags.
The second Big Blue Bag wasn’t essential, but it will make the system run more smoothly, since now I’ll have two dedicated laundry bags of the same size.
While cruising through the store (you guys, it is so nice to walk through an IKEA all alone), however, I found something even better: specifically, Drawerganizers(TM).
Since keeping tights and so forth corralled is a fairly regular topic of conversation among dancers and aerialists in my life, I thought I’d share the current iteration of my system, which mostly comprises hair elastics, a plastic crate, and IKEA’s set of 6 Skubb boxes. (Sadly, the Cincy IKEA didn’t have the aqua ones in stock.)
I’ve been meaning to implement a boxes-in-the-drawers system for a while, but hadn’t found Drawerganizers that worked for me (shoeboxes would have been fine, probably, but we didn’t have any). The Skubb series works really nicely, and I couldn’t argue with the price — something like $8 for the set — or the portability factor. The boxes fold up rather ingeniously; when you set them up, little zippers in the floor panels add tension that keeps them in shape.
So, here’s how things are organized now:
First Floor: Cycling Apparel, Men’s Shirts, and The Occasional Sarong
Bottom Drawer (technically the second drawer from the bottom; the real bottom drawer houses bed linens): this one’s full of bike kit, a few pairs of shorts, and a bunch of t-shirts that I should probably donate, since I don’t wear them enough.
Bike kit used to share the dance clothes drawer (which was the Bike Kit Drawer until I had too much bike kit to keep it all in one drawer), but then the dance kit kind of took over. Anyway, I’ve used the two medium-sized Skubb boxes to contain bike kit.
Overflow bike kit lives in a vertical organizer in the guest room closet, because I am apparently unusually sentimental about my Cabal jerseys, even the ones I don’t wear very often.
And, yes, there’s even a sarong in there, though I don’t think you can see it in this shot.
Next time I’m at IKEA, I’ll pick up a couple more Skubb boxes to corral the things that are still roaming free.
Second Floor: Dance Apparel, Fuzzy Socks, and Thermal Tights*
Top Drawer: Dance kit and almost nothing else.
Until recently, I’ve alternated between folding and rolling my tights, and found that neither really prevents everything from coming undone when I’m digging for that one pair with the pictures of mountains on it or whatevs.
The other day, I hit on the solution of buying a package of brightly-colored hair ties to keep them contained. It works brilliantly.
In combination with the hair ties, the Skubb boxes keep things corralled and controlled. No more tights rolling into the base-layer section; no more dance belts hiding under legwarmers (right now, for decency’s sake, they’re hiding under a pair of socks instead).
Things that didn’t really fit anywhere else take up the extra space in the drawer in front of the Skubbs.
Rooftop Terrace: Aerial Apparel, Clutter, and Mayhem
On Top Of Ol’ Dresser: Denis’ tights live here, along with our white-noise machine (which is really an air purifier), a photo from our wedding, and a terrifying doll that predates my tenure in this establishment. There are also some foam panels that insulate our air-con when it’s installed, but right now it’s still on vacation.
I found the plastic basket at a place called Five Below, but you can find similar ones just about anywhere.
The fact that Denis has his own tights-basket means he no longer asks me where his tights are (when they’re right freaking there!) or roots through my dance-kit drawer, leaving chaos in his wake. Seriously, the man is like a water buffalo sloshing around in a pond when he gets in there.
My married peeps (and anyone with kids or particularly egregious housemates; similar things can happen in kitchen drawers) will understand how this helps keep me out of prison.
La Pièce de Resistance
A cheap keychain-grade carabiner slipped through a convenient opening in the “weave” of the basket holds the hair elastics that aren’t currently in use. I’ve oriented it so the gate can be operated without removing the whole carabiner: you just slide a band up to the top, open the gate, and the band comes right out. The process for replacing one is similarly painless.
I had to think long and hard about how to implement this bit, because my husband is a lazy slob (and will happily tell you so himself). The idea is to make it so freaking easy to put the bands back that it’s basically easier than not bothering.
You guys, I seriously believe in the power of harnessing the path of least resistance. Remember, when (ahem) shaping (ahem) the behavior of spouses, appealing to the natural laziness of the human animal will save you many headaches.
So, there you have it. A tour of how things are staying organized all up in my drawers (dancers be like, “Wait, isn’t that what dance belts are for?” :V).
For my birthday, I got a new pair of Sansha Pro1cs. Our local dancewear store doesn’t carry Capezio’s Romeo shoes, so I got fitted, and I’m going to try these and then maybe order some Romeos down the line if the fit is right, since the ballet-shoe experts at the shop can figure out the size equivalents.
I also got a new dance belt — a second copy of the black one I already had, but I think Capezio has updated the design with different elastic, and as a result it’s about 1,000 times more comfortable than the old one was on Day 1. I wore it to Trapeze and Conditioning classes tonight.
My Mom sent me a copy of Shunryu Suzuki’s Branching Streams Flow In The Darkness. I’m very much looking forward to reading it.
It’s nice to get useful things (okay, so I totally picked them out myself [update: not the book; that was all Mom], but still), and getting to visit the dance-stuff store with B. and Denis was a great deal of fun. Especially since the lady at the dance-stuff store said of B. and me (while chatting about having to warn younger kids about not toppling the portable barre), “…but you guys are seasoned professionals.”
Between that and the million times I heard the word “Beautiful!” during Trapeze 1, I am amazed that my ego actually fit through the door tonight 🙂
I’m having a random tough week. The fact that I slept for fourteen hours last night and keep wheezing makes me think I’m coming down with something. That said, it’s been quite a while (by my standards, anyway) since I’ve been sick enough to be more than a nuisance, so I guess that’s something positive.
Anyway, I may drop off the radar for a bit while I’m trying to get over whatever this thing is, for which I apologize. I hope to be back soon with the first installment in my my much-promised and much-procrastinated-over Cooking With ADHD series.
This block usually contains links to upcoming performances--but right now a lot of things are up in the air. We're still (still!) in the midst of a major pandemic, my primary company remains on hiatus at least through the end of the 2021-2022 season, and I'll be moving across the country later this year.
That doesn't mean there won't be gigs coming up, though--so as soon as I have a better idea when things are happening, I'll post 'em up!
Occasionally, I’ll include an Amazon Affiliate link or two when reviewing or recommending products. If you happen to buy one of those products after clicking an Affiliate link, it won’t cost you anything, but might earn me a small commission. Thanks!