Treadmills & PDAs

Our local LA Fitness gym is stocked full of StarTrac cardio equip. The treadmills are the "Pro" model - $6000.00 units with many features. The staff at LA Fitness are pretty clueless about how to program these, so I downloaded the manual at http://support.startrac.com/documents/manual_protr.pdf. The 60-page manual explains how to enter "manager" and "maintenance" modes to set all kinds of parameters (which you probably shouldn't mess with). But it also explains how to use the "Personal Trainer Studio" to establish your own PIN number and save your custom programs. All the treadmills at my center are set to the factory Manager's PIN number.

But better yet, and not explained in the manual, is the ability of the Pro Treadmills to accept custom programs beamed from your Palm Pilot PDA!! StarTrac provides a free Palm Pilot app that you can download (see below) and create a library of custom programs. Just point your Palm Pilot at the left cup holder and you're all set. Here is the app: http://www.startrac.com/propartner/index.asp

Note that this only works on PalmOS 4.x devices. Meaning a Treo 600, for example, isn't compatible. I expect StarTrac will create a PalmOS 5.x version soon.

This app is useful for exercise programs like interval training (eg: 8 repeats of 1/4 mile sprints followed by slower recovery jogs). It's a pain to key this in every time (100+ key presses).

However, the Pro model has a nice interval feature that is built-in. If you have a Polar Heart Rate Monitor chest strap, then you can tell the treadmill to vary the exercise intensity between two HR levels. I often set it for a 3 mile run between 160 and 140 beats-per-minute. It slowly increases intensity (speed and incline) over the first 3-4 minutes until my HR is up to 160 bpm. Then it decreases intensity until I'm down to 140. I get about 5-6 cycles over the 3 miles, at about 5 minutes per cycle (after the first one). It's a great workout.

I'm sure I'll see a bunch of new faces in January... New Year's Resolutions that will quickly get shelved. But for those who love to run, a PDA and/or the built-in HR interval programs will make it easy. Well, at least the setup part :-)

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