Halo View First Look
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.
Initial Mini-Review: Yumiko “Max” Tights
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
TINYsize 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).
Initial Review:WearMoi Dance Belt
I’m an idiot, and didn’t keep the packaging for the WearMoi belt that I picked up on Wednesday. That’s a shame, because it makes it hard to conclusively recommend the right model (it’s definitely a thong-back in the unfortunately-named “nude” colorway with a 3″ waistband).
I can at least say it’s one of the newer-style models, that it really kinda blows my old Capezio warhorses out of the water*, and that it’s a close contender with the Body Wrappers models.
*While it will keep one’s eggs unscrambled, however, I am sadly forced to admit that it will not keep one’s metaphors unmixed. So if you want metaphors as clear as a wide blue window and pure as driven angels’ kisses, perhaps I am not the ideal source.
In design, the WM belt most closely resembles the BodyWrappers M006/M007: pouch affixed below a solid elastic waistband. The pouch is better on the BW models, but the waistband on the WM is … well, plush. It has that sort of fuzzy interior surface like the waistbands on some kinds of underpants.
The WM belts available at Ye Olde Local Dance Shoppe all have 3″ waistbands, but WM’s website allows for customization of the width (perhaps only if you live in Europe or the UK, though: Hi, Yorksranter!), offering 1″, 2″, and 3″ options (Will dance belts ever go metric? Who knows?).
However, after a few hours, the real test of a dance belt’s comfort isn’t so much whether you can handle the waistband, but whether or not the thong is actively sawing you in half.
This is where the WM, like the BW M006 and M007, excels.
One of the chief problems with Capezio’s N5930 is that, when you take a break and sit down for a minute, you quickly realize that the thong is basically a steel** cable wrapped in cotton, soaked in brine, and crammed right up against your tailbone.
**Okay, so it’s not really steel, but it certainly feels like it at times.
That’s about as comfortable as it sounds, and frequently leads to adjustments, which give way to more adjustments when you have to get back in the studio.
Let me tell you from experience: there is nothing as fun as realizing too late that you need to adjust your dance belt and desperately trying to figure out how to do it on the down-low in front of like 40 girls. (Good times, good times.)
The WM and the two BW models share a feature that prevents this particular cascade of humiliation: a wide, flat fabric thong with bound edges.
The BW models have a slight edge in this regard, as far as I’m concerned: the bindings are super-smooth, and the fabric wicks sweat a little better and dries a little faster than the WM’s (however, the BW pouch dries more slowly). I’ve also had one experience of the WM’s thong rolling itself into a cable as I got dressed, but that A) may be because my WM dance belt is slightly bigger than it could be and B) was easily fixed.
Most importantly, neither of them is uncomfortable during breaks: both hold up well to ridiculous schedules like mine that basically involve wearing your dance belt all freaking day because there’s no point in taking it off for like two hours in the middle.
The BW pouch is absolutely the best in terms of modesty and, in my opinion, comfort (it appears to be made from pillows and the happy dreams of adorable kittens or something), so that’s a point in BW’s favor.
That said, the BW pouch also takes foreeeeeeeevar to air-dry when you hand-wash it and a comparably long time to dry when you’ve been sweating your brains out in it for three hours or what have you.
WM’s pouch isn’t quite as modesty-enhanced or silky-sleek, but it does dry more quickly, so point to side WM there. It’s also quite comfortable; the fabric has a nice hand, and the center seam (presumably there more for support than for anything) doesn’t turn into a tourniquet halfway through class.
One last bit on design: WM’s pouch is slightly narrower than BW’s. For me, this is great; I’m not very wide between the hipbones, nor am I, um, (ab.so.freaking.lutely NSFW AT ALL EVER) Rudolf Nureyev (/ab.so.freaking.lutely NSFW AT ALL EVER) or a ridonculous pr0n star, so to speak. However, BW’s pouch might be a better option for some.
Here’s the part where I make with the measurements, which I guess I should have actually done before I ordered all my new dance kit yesterday, because holy hairballs, I have shrunk (as you do).
Here’s my current stats (conversions are rounded to the nearest whole unit for simplicity’s sake, except pounds to stone, because the difference is too big):
Biggest part of my tuchas (right around the gluteus medius): 37″/94cm***
Weight: 149 pounds/68kg/10.6 stone
***This ratio is why it is so freaking hard for me to find trousers that fit right.
I purchased a Large.
It turns out that I split the difference between Large and Medium in BW’s sizes. My waist measurement falls squarely into the Medium camp and my hip/tuchas measurement falls squarely into the Large camp because I am, in short, a “Dually.”
This is consistent with the way the elastic fits: the top is rather looser than it should be, but the bottom is snug enough to do its job really, really well.
Sizing, then, is more comparable to Capezio’s dance belts, in which I would probably wear a Medium (even though their size chart thinks I’m a Small) if I were to buy another one, than to BodyWrappers, in which I am still a large, but a pretty comfortable large.
Fortunately, my magnificent glutei medii (and also my iliac crests, which are like freaking knives these days, y’all) give sufficient purchase to the bottom 1.5″ or so of elastic.
I mention this for two reasons.
- First, the WM dance belt is not only performing admirably, but is doing so under less-than-ideal circumstances.
- Second, when sizing your own dance belt (and every other thing), it’s worth considering things like the measurement of your hip right around your gluteus medius, which tends to be extremely well-developed in male dancers, especially male ballet dancers (thanks, grand battement!).
So the fit, I think, skews very close to true, with a small caveat for those of us who are pretty freaking lean and yet possessed of ridiculous butt muscles.
It’s probably worth noting that the rise is a bit lower than the BW’s rise. That works just fine for me because of the way I’m put together, but if you have a really long torso (or if you’re just plain tall), the BW belts might be a better fit. For me, though — a smallish person with a moderate torso — the rise is about perfect.
As for the pouch: it’s probably adequate for all but the most ridonculous of pr0n stars.
Holy cats, Batman, this thing FREAKING WORKS.
For a long time, I seriously thought my Capezios were fine. Sure, occasional adjustments were required (note: this may well be a sizing issue; I am more than 4″ smaller waist-wise than I was when I started dancing again) — but, on the whole, I felt like things were, you know, staying put well enough.
Then I got my BW M006, which was revelatory. When it was sitting where it wanted to, NOTHING MOVED. Nothing could move. Which is, in fact, the whole idea: “set it and forget it.”
The only problem was that the M006’s rise meant that it sat at a spot that wasn’t (at the time) terribly comfortable, so I kept adjusting it downward, which compromised its effectiveness. Curiously, losing another inch or so off my waist seems to have made the height of the rise matter a whole heck of a lot less, so go figure.
Enter the WM dance belt: the rise is perfect, and the fit is secure — so secure that “set it and forget it” works just as well in lyra class (IMO, the ultimate test of a dance belt) as it does in ballet (okay, so all those freaking échappés are a close second … no pun intended, but I’ll take credit if it’s on offer).
So, basically, if there’s any wiggle room, the lyra will find it and will adjust your junk for you and your better half will sit there laughing maniacally and saying, “You’re not supposed to use that to hang on to the hoop!”
Or, you know, you’ll just pinch your junk or something, which is at least as unpleasant.
Oh, and then you’ll have to (ONCE AGAIN) adjust yourself in front of 40 girls, even if there are only like 16 people in the studio at that moment and three of them are guys.
WM’s dance belt puts an end to that particular scenario (as long as you remember to sort of shimmy around the family jewels, as one does in such situations — there’s a reason that there are fewer guys than girls in lyra).
Meanwhile, in ballet class, WM’s dance belt eliminates all need for mid-class adjustments. There’s no jeté-ing out the studio door at the end of a grand allegro phrase; no OMFG moments in the middle of warm-up jumps.
Obviously, I can’t speak to durability yet, but at around $25 US, WearMoi’s dance belt doesn’t have to last until you retire to be worth the cost of admission.
- Fits true to size, with a low rise and moderate pouch width.
- Construction and materials are excellent. Plush elastic is freaking amazing. Dries faster than BW M006/M007, but the pouch and thong aren’t quite as nice.
- Comfort is excellent. M007 may have a slight advantage due to its sleek, smooth fabric and pouch, but the WM belt is still exceptionally nice.
- Functionality is stellar. Set it and forget it, indeed.
8/10: Very Highly Recommended. (Compare 5/10 for Capezio N5930; ~8.5/10 for BW’s M006/M007)
By user:JD – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6883513
Danseur Ignoble: I’m Feeling Much Better, Really?
Okay, so as always, this recovery process has been slower and more annoying, with more minor setbacks, than anticipated.
Someday, I’ll learn to take the Hoped-For Duration of Recovery and simply multiply it by three or four.
“I’ll be over this in a week or so” will then mean “I’ll be over this in, I dunno, three weeks or a month, give or take,” and I’ll be much less frustrated when, after a week, I’m not Good As New.
Anyway, I am feeling much better, but still not perfectly well. Still also tenaciously clinging to the hope of having something worth auditioning on the 4th. If we bust our buts (yes, pun intended: You know, “When the deadline’s neeeeeear, and it don’t look good — Who you gonna call? BUT BUSTERS!”), we might … maybe? … SHOULD! be able to at least put together a respectable audition, if not one that will make everybody say OMG WE MUST HAVE THESE GUYS!
In other news, we saw The Scorch Trials today and spent the whole movie making Burning-Man related jokes.
It actually wasn’t too bad: its storyline was fairly predictable “twinks versus the old ppl conspiracy versus alien zombie plague” fare, but both installments in the Maze Runner film adaptation series have done a good job mostly avoiding cringe-inducing romantic subplots whilst providing enjoyable visuals and action scenes, even if elements of those action scenes do frequently make one ask, “Haven’t you guys ever seen a movie? Hey, maybe standing around and waiting for all of the alien plant zombies to awaken within two meters of your tasty still-fully-human faces is a bad idea. Wait, what the … WHY ARE YOU CLIMBING THE STAIRS?!”
Oops, potential spoilers below for ppl who care about that kind of thing, so here comes a More Tag:
The Giver — Surprisingly Good
I have to admit, I didn’t expect much of this film.
I first read Lowry’s classic novel in grade school; it has remained an enduring favorite ever since. Given that the trailers clearly revealed major changes to the main characters (fast-forwarding them from twelve to eighteen years of age) and what I assumed to be a predictable teen-romance angle, I expected to be disappointed.
Perhaps because of that, I walked away from the film surprisingly impressed.
Yes, the teen-romance angle was there — but it was handled and employed with significantly more delicacy and grace than is typical. Likewise, the up-aging of the characters was managed without significant damage to their roles in the story or their personalities.
I’m guessing that both of these were marketability decisions — it’s much harder to sell a film about pre-teens than it is to sell one about teenagers. Unfortunately, films about pre-teens, even if exceptionally good ones, are generally marketable to a narrow audience — pre-teens themselves, their parents, and a few people who are willing roll the dice on movies in general. Add the complexity of workin with a mostly-underage cast and their parents, and one can see why a production team might make such a decision.
Meanwhile, movies about teenagers, especially teenagers in the young-adult bracket, are marketable to just about everyone. Teenagers (and many pre-teens) usually don’t want to watch movies about pre-teens, whereas pre-teens are generally pretty happy to watch movies about teenagers, as are teenagers themselves and many adults. And teens (especially 18-year-olds) can be played by people in the 18-and-up bracket, who aren’t subject to all the complicated regulations that pertain to child actors (and who might not come with overwrought parents or guardians in tow).
As such, I’m willing to forgive what initially looked like a story-destroying concession to the almighty dollar*.
Both the up-aging and the romance angle manage not to destroy the story. The romance between main characters Jonas and Fiona is gently done and manages not to become Jonas’ prime mover in his ultimate decision, which means that the decision in question retains its power. Not to say that love is ever a bad reason to do anything — but sometimes there are greater kinds of love than the romantic love for another individual.
And while the Hollywood retelling does occasionally veer towards the black-and-white (no pun intended) morality common to its kind, much of the subtlety and nuance remain untouched.
In short, the power and impact of Lowry’s message come through loud and clear — or, well, subtle and clear, because the message of The Giver was never a knock-you-on-the-head message. Rather, it comes through in all its colors, bright and muted alike.
The film is compelling and surprisingly well-done. There are a few weak moments, but the acting is good and the script is far better than expected.
If you’re on the fence, give it a try. I did (grudgingly!), and I don’t regret it.
Maybe you won’t, either.
*Had the up-aging bit actually ruined the story, I would definite not have forgiven it. Just sayin’.