Selecting the right heart rate monitors to use in your classroom is important. Particularly in school programs, more does not mean better; purchasing a monitor with extensive features increases not only the cost but also the complexity of use. Be realistic about the functions that really support your program and those that only add complications. For example, a unit with barometric altimeters to calculate altitude may be a required component for a climbing program but unnecessary for a general physical education class.

Heart rate monitors are classified according to the following:

  • Type of user
  • Function
  • Activity

See appendix A for a full explanation of these classifications.

Equipment Organization and Setup

Anytime equipment is given to students, organizational issues arise, care of the equipment being first and foremost. Because heart rate monitors are expensive and need to be handled with care, maintenance is important. One of the challenges HZE instructors face is ensuring that heart rate monitors work accurately every time. To achieve this, they must ensure the care and upkeep of the equipment.

As with any new skill or class, setting ground rules and implementing methods that support success, both for the students and the program, are important. Following are good questions to ask yourself:

  1. How do I maximize the time spent in activity rather than housekeeping?
  2. How much responsibility can students assume in getting their own equipment?
  3. How can I quickly check to see that all equipment is returned appropriately?

Because monitors are small and have multiple pieces (transmitter, receiver, and chest strap), a consistent and detailed maintenance system is helpful. First, have a checkout station for the monitors. Some manufacturers include a carrier with the monitors, but few of these actually serve as useful checkout stations. Some instructors use a bag, and others have use of cabinets that they can secure and wheel into the gym for use. I prefer to use a shoe organizer designed to hang over a door with multiple clear vinyl pockets. These are easy to transport to and from the gym and are inexpensive. The clear pockets provide the added bonus of letting me view the status of the equipment at a glance, including how many units are in use, which have not been returned, and whether all components are there. The shoe organizer works well with wrist monitors. If your program uses a projection system that requires only a chest transmitter for each student, the management is simplified because you need only track the transmitter strap and not the wrist monitor as well. In either case, a station that is accessible to students and visible to you allows the students to share the responsibility of preparing for class and gives you immediate feedback on the status of the equipment.

You also need to determine how to track the data you will collect on the students. The ratio of monitors to students in your program will determine the time you will need to collect a full span of base data on each student. These data help them set goals based on their personal physiologies. For more information, see the section Suggestions for Classroom Management and the lesson plans throughout the text.