I’ve recently been trying to live a healthier, more active lifestyle, as my former diet of frequent fast food meals mimicked that of a college student, and my exercise level was nearly non-existent.

To help the transformation, I have been employing the assistance of technology (such as devices like the Nike FuelBand, Fitbit Ultra and apps like Endomondo and GymPact).

Thus, I jumped at the opportunity to review Wahoo Fitness’s Blue HR Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor for the iPhone 4S.

As a relative novice when it comes to healthy and active living (despite my medical training… the irony!), my familiarity with heart rate tracking revolved around the hospital world of EKG’s, cardiac telemetry, and vital signs.

In contrast, it is clear that the Blue HR Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor is not intended for complex medical purposes, but its simplicity, nonetheless, created an easy-to-use, accurate, and helpful assistant for maximizing exercise routines.

What Is the Blue HR Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor?

The Wahoo Fitness Blue HR heart rate monitor is a wireless strap worn discretely around the chest that monitors your pulse and transmits the data via Bluetooth Smart (aka Bluetooth 4.0) to your iPhone 4S or 3rd generation iPad.  It’s biggest strength (and biggest caveat) lies within its Bluetooth Smart technology.

Bluetooth Smart refers to a new wireless Bluetooth protocol that is ideally suited for simple trackers by offering low power consumption and the ability to run for years on standard coin-cell batteries.  Unfortunately, the iPhone 4S was the first smart phone to feature support for this young standard, so the Blue HR is not compatible with older products such as the iPhone 4 or iPad 2. The strap syncs via Bluetooth Smart with an app on your phone in order to track your heart rate during workout sessions, runs, or any other activities.

Hardware and Software Set-Up is a Breeze

In terms of hardware, the product packaging includes an elastic strap containing the Blue HR transmitter, and an instruction booklet. Out of the box, there is no need for charging or installing batteries. The Blue HR strap is then worn like a belt, by wrapping the strap around your back, and snapping the free end to the other end of the sensor, which should be sitting square at the breastplate, or below the breasts.

As a male, wearing an elastic strap at chest-level was an unfamiliar sensation, but not a distraction or discomfort in any way.  The size and shape of the actual sensor resembles a small belt buckle, so its smooth surface doesn’t prominently jut out underneath clothes, although there is a small subtle bump that can be seen if you know what you’re looking for.

In terms of software, the Blue HR has an official app, but also has excellent 3rd party app support for nearly every popular fitness-tracking app.  The long list of supported apps includes well-known favorites such as Endomondo and Runkeeper. To pair the Blue HR with the iPhone, you can add the sensor via the settings app of each respective fitness app.  (This demonstrates one of the interesting features of Bluetooth Smart, in that it is set up within apps, rather than within the general settings for the iPhone).