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Vitness Rx tailors workouts to your energy level

Susie Ochs | July 3, 2013
Finally, a fitness system that knows you don't have to go all-out every single day.

On days when your energy is high (according to your Vitality Score, anyway), you'll do the Heating workout. It's only about 15 minutes long but very intense, aiming to keep your heart rate at about 80 percent of its maximum. You can do all the exercises—cross-country skier, pushup jack, single-leg hop cross, and low mountain climber—without any extra equipment, which is nice.

On days when your Vitality Score is low, you'll get the Cooling workout—the app says these are for when your system is "overheated and overwhelmed," and your body needs rest. It's a longer workout, between 30 and 60 minutes, but at a lower intensity, the goal being 65 percent of your max heart rate and lower. The routine the app gave me was six yoga poses to hold for about a minute each; it instructed me to go through the cycle four times or more.

Again, no equipment is needed, and the poses weren't difficult, even though I've dabbled in yoga only once or twice before. The first pose, however, was the sun salutation, which is really a series of poses, so it was a little tricky to remember. Luckily, the Cooling workout video showed the entire yoga routine, so I was able to just play it all the way through, listen to the instructions, glance at my arm when necessary, and then restart it again at the end of each sequence.

On days when your energy is "middle of the road," you'll do a Grounding workout, aiming for 65 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate for between 25 and 50 minutes. The exercises for this set are calisthenic-like moves such as lunge toe touches, straight-leg crunches, and plank pose with single leg lifts. In total I received a set of five exercises (10 to 20 reps each) to repeat three times. But the 3-minute video felt rushed—I had to make a cheat sheet to keep up, but at least I could count reps myself.

An exercise in patience
The white line shows all your Vitality Scores, and the green line averages them out over time.

When you're done with your workout, tap Save on the Heart Rate tab to save your exercise data to the log. Along with the Vitality Score and Heating/Cooling/Grounding Rx (which you can get without working out at all), the app saves the length of time you worked out and how many calories you burned—calculated from your weight and gender entries in the Settings screen.

The Vitality Score displays on a chart, with a green line that shows your average over time and a white line that shows exact points. You can tap Go to Log to see all the data and optionally email it to someone in CSV format. For an exercise system, however, Vitness Rx collects very little data. I can't enter my own notes about how I felt that day, and the heart-rate data isn't represented at all. The system makes no attempt to track weight loss, or even to include a little motivational calendar that shows how many days I've worked out this month.


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