When people begin barefoot running, they usually start at very low mileage. This is a wise strategy, but may be difficult for runners accustomed to high mileage or high intensity. When they ask for an alternative to running while they make the transition, I always suggest burpee pullups.
I also recommend programs like Pete Kemme’s workouts or Crossfit. The problem- many of these workouts are based on intervals… usually of the “high-intensity” variety. For years, Shelly and I have done these workouts using a stopwatch. It is very difficult to keep an eye on the stopwatch when doing virtually any exercise if both people are working at the same time, or we would be doing the workout alone. This problem was compounded when the intervals vary.
For example, we like to use the Tabata protocol for many exercises. “Tabata” involve doing an exercise for 20 seconds, resting for 10 seconds, then repeating. This is usually done eight times. Keeping accurate timing was nearly impossible with high intensity exercises like psycho pushups or frog jumps.
Enter the Gym Boss. This is a tiny timer roughly the size of a pager. It has an LCD screen on the front, three buttons on the sides, and a clip on the back. At first, it appears to be nothing more than a kitchen timer used to boil eggs and such. Then you turn it on.
The brilliance of the Gym Boss is simplicity and functionality. It allows you to set one or two different intervals (two being important for intervals with varying work and rest periods). It also allows you to set the number of intervals up to 99. Good luck doing any exercise for 99 rounds.
The intervals can also be used to time a run/walk schedule for races. Back in the early days of my ultrarunning career, I used a strict regimen. It was easy to get distracted and lose track of time. I’d end up running or walking too long, tus defeating the purpose of the schedule.
The Gym Boss also features a stopwatch, which came in handy for running-related workouts. Admittedly, I used the interval timer much more than the stopwatch, but it was still handy to include.
The clip was a great addition as it allows you to attach the timer to clothing, a water bottle, or even equipment. I found it useful to attach it to my squat rack.
The Gym Boss also comes in a selection of colors: black, silver, pink, or green. You can coordinate it to your wardrobe!
To make the timer even better, it uses AAA batteries. I get very annoyed with devices that use non-standard batteries. It’s probably a function of doing long runs and having batteries puke out at a critical time. About half of my headlamps use AAAs, along with Shelly’s MP3 player. We always carry a supply in the car and on runs.
FOR ADULTS ONLY- Here’s a fun game to play with your significant other. Set the interval for two minutes. Take turns pleasuring each other for the two minutes. This could include touching, massaging, using items like feathers, etc. When the timer goes off, switch roles. Psychology tip of the day: The “receiver” can amplify the experience by wearing a blindfold or headphones… sensory deprivation amplifies other sensations such as touch. Use your imagination.
The bottom line- if you do any sort of physical activity that requires timing, this is the timer you need. It can be used for lifting, aerobics, running, “bedroom games”, and pretty much anything else you could imagine that requires timing. I wish Gym Boss would have been around years ago… it would have prevented a lot of frustration.
The Gym Boss can be purchased from their website, or help out Barefoot Running University and buy it from Amazon.
[Edit] As a “thank you” to my followers, I’ll buy a Gym Boss timer for one randomly selected follower. All you have to do is “like” this post by clicking the Facebook “Like” button and become a friend of the site using the Google Friend Connect button at the top of the column on the right. A winner will be randomly chosen on Monday morning, January 31st.
Lastly, thank you to everyone that registered for the new forum here at BRU! Monkey Feet, you were randomly chosen to win a copy of The Barefoot Running Book using random.org’s random number generator. I’ll send you an email shortly to get a shipping address.